April 15, 2020, was a very dark day for the American sporting world. As nationwide events were called off, WWE announced that a slew of pro wrestlers would be losing their jobs. And these cuts weren’t limited to lower-rung talent. In a shocking twist, some extremely prominent superstars were let go – with fan favorites in the mix, too.
This was all despite the fact that WWE events were still taking place. Although most major sporting franchises in the U.S. had been forced to shut down by April, pro wrestling can be adjusted and controlled more than, say, baseball or football. In fact, it’s actually technically considered to be “sports entertainment.” Ultimately, then, WWE was declared “essential business” by governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, and this allowed the company to run scaled-down matches from its performance center in Orlando.
Still, following a conference call headed up by CEO Vince McMahon, WWE announced that it would be releasing a host of stars. An official statement explained that the company had gone through “an extensive evaluation of its operations over the past several weeks.” The cuts would also reportedly save WWE around $4 million on a monthly basis.
WWE was also apparently seeking to improve its cash flow by delaying spending on a new headquarters. Strangely enough, though, the statement claimed that the franchise was definitely in the black. The message said, “Additionally, the company has substantial financial resources – both available cash and debt capacity, which currently total approximately $0.5 billion – to manage the challenges ahead.” And this naturally begged the question: why were people losing their livelihoods when WWE was not in dire straits?
McMahon emphasized that WWE was still doing well, too, when its financial report for the first quarter of 2020 was released on April 23. Yet he did provide an explanation of sorts for slimming down the roster, saying, “Now we are in the midst of unprecedented times which require us to be especially nimble, creative and efficient in order to ensure the long-term value of WWE.”
And this particular round of cuts was unusual in both its scale and timing. In the past, WWE would often have a purge of talent in the months following Wrestlemania – its biggest show of the year. May 2016 saw the release of eight stars, for example, while 11 were similarly let go in June 2014.
The cull in early 2020 was much more extensive, however, getting rid of everyone from developmental talents who had barely been seen on television to established stars who had worked on Wrestlemania 36 less than two weeks earlier. All in all, 22 wrestlers were given their pink slips, along with three coaches, ten producers and six creative staff. Nine match producers were also furloughed – presumably with the intention of being brought back at a later date.
Aleksandar Jaksic and Alyssa Marino were just two of the prospective stars who ended up being released before they’d even been featured on TV. Jaksic had been a semi-professional basketball player in his native Germany and had only begun wrestling at untelevised NXT house shows in late 2019. Marino, meanwhile, had become a new member of the NXT roster in January 2020, but she had just worked untelevised live events before her contract was ended.
Avid WWE fans may have been familiar with Dan Matha, who was similarly let go. Promotional vignettes aired hyping his NXT debut in October 2016, so the company had clearly seen something in him at one point. But, as it happens, his only TV exposure wound up being in the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble match in Saudi Arabia. And while Matha’s ring name was changed to Dorian Mak in June 2019, he never actually made it to TV under that moniker.
MJ Jenkins and Deonna Purrazzo were also released. Jenkins had mainly performed on NXT house shows; Purrazzo, by contrast, had made some main roster appearances as an enhancement talent. And Purrazzo said that she actually welcomed the decision, writing on Twitter, “The people closest to me know this is something I’ve been struggling with wanting for the better part of the last year.”
Two tag teams with some pedigree in the company were let go, too. Bidding farewell to WWE were Primo and Epico – two members of the legendary Colón wrestling dynasty and real-life cousins who had enjoyed a reign as tag team champions. Primo’s time with the company had been particularly long-lasting, as he had debuted in 2007 and won tag team titles with brother Carlito prior to joining forces with Epico.
Also among the wave of releases were Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows – a team who had played a prominent role in a Wrestlemania 36 storyline in March 2020. They had been a big part of the “Boneyard Match” against AJ Styles and The Undertaker and had even signed new five-year contracts in summer 2019. The pair had won the Raw Tag Team Championship twice in WWE.
Mike and Maria Kanellis had similarly signed new deals with WWE in summer 2019, yet they were released as well. This may have been less of a surprise to fans, however, as Mike had gone public with his desire to leave WWE in October 2019 – only a few months after re-signing. The real-life married couple had also welcomed their second child just nine weeks before being cut.
Another duo to go were Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. They had both made their WWE debuts in 2007 as The Major Brothers and had gone on to experience mixed fortunes in the company. Hawkins had been rarely used as anything more than an enhancement talent, only getting his time in the sun in 2019 when he and Ryder became tag team champions. In fact, this was the second time that Hawkins had been let go from WWE; he had previously been fired in 2014 before being re-hired two years later.
Ryder fared much better than Hawkins, even if his tenure in WWE was still frustrating at times. In 2011 he captured the public’s attention with his YouTube series Z! True Long Island Story and became hugely popular with fans as a result. Ryder also became a United States and Intercontinental champion during this period, and for a while it looked as though the sky was the limit for the budding star.
However, Ryder soon settled into a stop-start career. The wrestler would go through long periods where he wasn’t featured on TV and would lose matches when he was. He still maintained his popularity with fans, though, and captured the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 32 while being watched by the largest WWE crowd on record.
But, disappointingly, Ryder lost the title the very next night – ruining any momentum the win may have built for him. And when Ryder spoke to YouTube interviewer Chris Van Vliet in May 2020, he revealed that he had initially believed the victory would be his start on the road to a main event spot. The former WWE pro lamented, “I really thought this was gonna be it. It wasn’t.”
Eric Young, Lio Rush and No Way Jose are three other released talents who never fully managed to find their footing in WWE. Young, as WWE watchers may know, is a TNA original who came to NXT in 2016 to lead the stable SAnitY. The group failed to make an impact, though, when they were brought to the SmackDown roster. And in the end, they were quietly broken up, with Young instead embarking on some backstage producer work before his release.
No Way Jose, by contrast, had few career highlights of note during his two years on the main roster. But things were different for Rush, who experienced many highs and lows in his relatively short time with WWE. He held the NXT Cruiserweight Championship for 63 days, for instance, and worked on Raw as Bobby Lashley’s hype man. Rush would find himself embroiled in controversy, however, after being accused of insulting industry veterans.
Another release that surprised many fans was that of Rowan – a member of The Wyatt Family. He had been in the midst of a push on Raw and had even recorded a singles victory over Roman Reigns at Clash of Champions in September 2019. Rowan had also won the SmackDown Tag Team Championships on two occasions.
Ethan Carter III – a.k.a. EC3 – was also released, and this move may have struck fans as a missed opportunity. Carter had gone by the name Derrick Bateman in a previous run with WWE before heading to TNA. The star then resurrected his career as EC3 and was re-signed by WWE in 2018. Yet again, though, his career just never caught fire.
EC3 allegedly fell out of favor after a match he was booked to win easily against Jon Moxley – a.k.a. Dean Ambrose. And on the Talk Is Jericho podcast, Moxley claimed that he knew the booking would hurt EC3. He explained in 2019, “The crowd does not like this, because it’s transparent what’s happening, and this is not a – this is not good for EC3, because now he’s gonna get the backlash.”
“So, it was an unfair position for [EC3] to be put in,” Moxley continued. “We get to that weekend, [and] I’m working with EC3 on house shows. Now, I’m the biggest babyface on the show. [But] I’m a heel, I’m thumbing him in the eye, I’m making fun of the town, [and] it doesn’t matter. They’re violently rejecting him as the babyface, and they’re cheering the hell out of me. It’s got nothing to do with him, it’s like anti-WWE.” For his part, EC3 tweeted that he would not post a motivational quote and was not a victim, writing, “I am not the first, I will not be the last.”
Heath Slater was another star to be released, and this one stung fans. Slater is most fondly remembered for his tag team run with Rhyno in 2016 and the “I got kids” gimmick that saw him positioned as a father desperate to provide for his many children. He is also associated with the Three Man Band stable alongside Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal.
The Three Man Band – a.k.a. 3MB – only truly became notable after the later accomplishments of McIntyre and Mahal. Both had been released by WWE in the past but had reinvented themselves outside the company. And after the two had been re-hired by the franchise, they had both won the WWE Championship.
In May 2020 Slater was asked on The Wrestling Inc podcast why WWE had decided not to push for a 3MB reunion. He responded, “Maybe because I wasn’t ready… because I wasn’t. I mean, I could have [performed] and [gone] through the motions. That could have been alright, but maybe it was all on me and was my fault.”
Overall, Slater knew he had become jaded. And he added, “It’s one of those things where – I ain’t gonna lie – I was burnt out for a little bit. That was all on me, and I don’t blame anyone as I could have easily stepped it up at any time. I guess I needed that smack in the face just like [McIntyre] and [Mahal] got.”
Sarah Logan, on the other hand, had wrestled on Raw only a few days before finding herself caught up in the mass releases. She is married to Erik – one half of WWE tag team The Viking Raiders – but had struggled as a singles competitor after her stable The Riott Squad had been broken up. And in June 2020 she announced on Instagram, “A lot has changed in my life recently, and I have stepped away from wrestling for the foreseeable future.”
But arguably no firing was as shocking as that of Rusev, as WWE aficionados had been clamoring for the three-time United States Champion to be elevated to the main event scene for several years. His most notable gimmick – in which he amusingly declared every single day to be “Rusev Day” – had become massively popular with the WWE fanbase.
And while Rusev had apparently been frustrated with WWE for a number of years, he was still enjoying himself in the ring. The star told The Sun in 2019, “It doesn’t matter about storylines or things like that. One day you ride a tank, but the next day, you do nothing but main event dark matches. So, it’s a big wave, [and] you just gotta ride the wave and do the best with anything that is given to you.”
Rusev went on, “You gotta enjoy everything you do, and you gotta control what you can control because some things you can’t. And there’s no point being mad. So, whatever I can control, I do, and if not, I’m just having a blast with it.”
Fans will know, though, that two of the April 2020 releases have already since returned to WWE. While legendary Hall of Famer Kurt Angle had been employed in a producer role following his in-ring retirement match with Baron Corbin at Wrestlemania 35, he had still been part of the mass cuts. Then, less than two months later, he appeared on television as a special guest referee for an NXT match with Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher.
Angle then featured on the May 29 episode of SmackDown Live to introduce NXT superstar Matt Riddle to the main WWE roster. And, interestingly, Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.com revealed at the time that people within WWE expect Angle to be rehired in a new capacity. The whole curious situation therefore led many to wonder why Angle had even been released in the first place.
The other superstar who has already returned is Drake Maverick. And, in fact, his situation was actually turned into a storyline. As of early June 2020, Maverick had re-signed with WWE on an NXT contract – meaning he would reportedly be earning less than before.
Before this, Maverick had posted a moving video to social media after finding out that he’d been released. At that time, he had already been booked to compete in a tournament for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship on his way out of the company. And Maverick’s emotional outpouring led to a campaign from supporters eager to keep him on.
So, as supporters began pushing for Maverick to be rehired, WWE took note. The star wound up making it to the tournament finals, in fact, although he ultimately lost. But there was hope in sight. Maverick was quickly offered a new contract by NXT head honcho Triple H – and gratefully signed it.
A few more superstars were then let go by WWE in the weeks following the mass releases. On April 30 Curtis Axel was fired – ending 13 years of employment. The son of wrestling legend Mr. Perfect had been both a multiple tag team champion and one-time Intercontinental Championship winner. He had struggled for TV time and relevance, however, in the years preceding his release.
WWE similarly released two high-profile acquisitions from outside wrestling – despite having paid vast sums to bring them into the company. Mixed martial arts star Cain Velasquez had debuted in October 2019 and wrestled Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia on October 31. After that lackluster effort, though, he went down with an injury in January 2020 – then had his employment terminated three months later.
Finally, lifelong wrestling fan and NFL legend Rob Gronkowski was released just ten weeks after debuting with WWE. The retired “Gronk” – hailed as the best tight end to ever play professional football – had been brought in to lend some celebrity credentials to Wrestlemania 36.
In the end, Gronk reportedly asked for his release as he had decided to come out of football retirement to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s been suggested, though, that he had allegedly rubbed people the wrong way during his short time with WWE. Sources within the company reportedly told the website Fightful that the sports star had been difficult to work with – and that the franchise was better off without him.
Gronk, Axel and Rusev aren’t the only stars to leave WWE in recent times, though. In 2019 a whole host of names said goodbye to fans, with some big-hitters among them. And yet others may follow them through the door before 2020 is out, if rumors are to be believed.
When people think of pro wrestling, the images that spring to mind no doubt belong to the rings of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Yet WWE is actually encountering some genuine competition to its brand for the first time in almost two decades. In fact, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has taken the industry by storm – and has already poached several well-known WWE talents. The biggest name so far is megastar Matt Hardy, who jumped ship in March 2020, and he’s not alone. Here are 20 superstars who left WWE in 2019 – and 20 more who could soon follow them out the door in 2020.
20. Dean Ambrose
In January 2019 it was announced that Dean Ambrose, a former WWE Champion, would be leaving the company after WrestleMania 35 in April. It is believed WWE tried to convince him to stay by offering a much-improved contract – but it was to no avail. You see, Ambrose subsequently signed with AEW and became its World Champion in February 2020, wrestling under the ring name “Jon Moxley.”
19. Tye Dillinger
Tye Dillinger, a popular talent on WWE’s developmental brand NXT, experienced some success on the main roster’s SmackDown following his call-up in 2017. After injury stunted his progress, however, Dillinger requested his release from the company in February 2019. He then signed with AEW, wrestling under the name “Shawn Spears.”
18. Hideo Itami/KENTA
Hideo Itami endured a tough five years with WWE – before requesting his release in January 2019. The Japanese star debuted on NXT in 2014 but said he struggled to adapt to the WWE ring-style. He also suffered a devastating shoulder injury that derailed his momentum. So Itami moved back to his native Japan to wrestle under his pre-WWE ring name “KENTA.”
Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) veteran Rhyno did the unthinkable in 2019 when he left WWE – turning down a contract offer worth more than double his salary. He then immediately moved to Impact Wrestling. The star later explained his reasoning to Wrestling Inc., saying he could better serve the industry by helping discover and nurture young talent.
T. J. Perkins wrestled for WWE from 2016 to 2019, and during that run he won the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic tournament and the Cruiserweight Championship. Yet Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio alleged that his release was due to “disciplinary” issues, with some company insiders apparently declaring him hard to work with. But TJP has since wrestled for Impact and New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW).
“The Natural” Dustin Rhodes is currently rolling back the years in AEW, battling against (and alongside) his younger half-brother, Cody. Rhodes – who wrestled in WWE as the enigmatic Goldust – had let his WWE contract run down in early 2019. But the star may have already been planning the move to AEW, because after the customary 90-day no-compete clause in his agreement was up, he immediately debuted there!
14. Luke Harper
The story of Luke Harper’s WWE release is a long and torturous one. In fact, it took eight months from the time Harper first asked for his release to the time the managers finally granted it. And WWE reportedly added six months to Harper’s contract due to an injury layoff he’d had following a wrist issue. But the wrestler was eventually able to sign with AEW.
13. The Ascension
At one point, Konnor and Viktor – a.k.a. The Ascension – were the longest-reigning tag-team champions on NXT. But the pair were never able to emulate that success on WWE’s main roster. Sadly, then, The Ascension were released in December 2019 after eight months in which they didn’t appear on television. Since their release, though, Konnor and Viktor have wrestled for New York’s Outlaw Wrestling promotion.
12. Sin Cara
In November 2019 Sin Cara announced on Twitter that he’d requested his release from WWE. He posted the statement in Spanish, saying he felt that he had become stuck in a position where he wasn’t valued as a talent. Less than a month later, WWE unsurprisingly granted the release – despite the Mexican superstar reportedly having three years to run on his contract.
11. Jordan Myles
Jordan Myles had a short tenure in NXT that unfortunately ended with a significant amount of acrimony. You see, Myles signed in February 2019 and won the NXT Breakout Tournament, before going on to face NXT Champion Adam Cole for the belt. However, the newcomer was released in November 2019 after airing his grievances on social media over a WWE t-shirt design he believed was “racially insensitive.”
10. Stacey Ervin Jr.
In an Instagram statement on April 26, 2019, Stacey Ervin Jr. claimed he is the “highest flyer” to ever perform for WWE – in terms of the height and airtime of his leaps. Sadly, though, the former gymnast never debuted on the main roster and only made one NXT TV appearance. Ervin Jr. subsequently requested his release from WWE, allegedly due to a concussion scare.
9. Arn Anderson
Legendary “Four Horsemen” member Arn Anderson toiled for WWE as a road agent/producer from 2002 until February 2019. Then he was unexpectedly fired. Wrestling Inc. revealed in March that Anderson had reportedly allowed Alicia Fox to wrestle a match despite her arriving intoxicated. So when Vince McMahon found out, Anderson was apparently given his marching orders.
8. Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko worked for WWE from 2000, initially as a performer. He then became a road agent following his retirement from the ring. But in 2019 he left the company of his own volition. In an interview with RF Video, Malenko claimed he had other business interests outside of wrestling that he wanted to explore. But, less than a month later, the star joined AEW as a senior producer.
7. Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff, the former WCW president and public general manager of Raw, was surprisingly rehired by WWE in June 2019 as executive director of SmackDown. However, he was fired just four months later. Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer Live would later claim that Bischoff was unfamiliar with the current WWE product and talent roster and was often elusive backstage.
6. Dasha Fuentes
The story of Dasha Fuentes’ release from WWE is seemingly harsh. Initially signed in 2014 as a wrestler, she was assigned to developmental. Fuentes then transitioned to ring announcing and backstage interviewing, before debuting on the main roster in this role. However, the star was fired in April 2019 – and revealed to Chris Van Vliet that it was due to “a tiny little blip” in an interview with Roman Reigns.
5. Kurt Angle
Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle returned to WWE in 2017 in an on-screen general manager role. He would sporadically wrestle over the next few years, too, before competing in a retirement match with Baron Corbin at 2019’s WrestleMania 35. The 50-year-old Angle told Collider Live that the match was his decision, as he knew people were saying he had become slower and looked in pain while wrestling.
Angle wasn’t the only performer to hang up his boots at WrestleMania 35. Guardians Of The Galaxy star Dave Bautista had returned to WWE to work a feud with Triple H, and the pair engaged in a brutal No Holds Barred match at the event. That very night, though, Bautista announced on Instagram that he’d experienced his “story book ending” and was “officially retiring from Sports Entertainment.”
3. Brie Bella
In a March 2019 episode of reality show Total Bellas, Brie Bella announced that she had retired from in-ring competition. She told her twin sister, Nikki, that she intended the women’s pay-per-view Evolution to be her last event – and after it she would be “fully retired.”
2. Nikki Bella
Nikki Bella announced her own retirement on Total Bellas the very same month as her sister, Brie. In June 2019, however, Nikki revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that it wasn’t her choice to retire. In fact, she had struggled with neck injuries and then found out she had a cyst on her brain. So the medical professionals called time on her career.
1. The Rock
Dwayne Johnson became possibly the biggest film star in the world after he left WWE in 2004. But over the years he has come back to the ring for select runs. In 2019, however, Johnson announced on Live with Kelly and Ryan that he had “quietly retired from wrestling.” This meant that an impromptu six-second match with Erick Rowan at 2016’s WrestleMania 32 was his last bout.
20. Andrade and Charlotte Flair
This might seem like a stretch considering that both Andrade and Charlotte Flair have experienced huge success in WWE in recent years. Andrade has won the United States Championship, for instance, and Flair has held women’s championships a record 11 times. Yet Fightful reported in November 2019 that Andrade and Flair applied to trademark different ring names: La Sombra and Ashley Flair, respectively. So perhaps the real-life couple are preparing for a move away.
One of the most popular wrestlers on WWE’s roster, Rusev has also been one of its most underused performers in recent years. In fact, the star is currently involved in a lengthy contract dispute with the company and hasn’t been seen on TV since the January 20, 2020, episode of Raw. Maybe he’ll show up in AEW before the end of 2020?
18. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio, arguably the most famous Luchador to wrestling fans worldwide, was involved in a main-event storyline with Brock Lesnar in late 2019. Yet Mysterio lost that bout. And though he was to perform at WrestleMania 36, the star was forced to miss the taping due to ill health. For what it’s worth, Cody Rhodes has also publicly said he’d love to sign Mysterio for AEW once his contract finishes.
17. The Revival
It seems a foregone conclusion that The Revival will leave WWE in 2020. After all, the tag team have already asked to be released twice. Reports have also surfaced that the pair have filed trademark applications for the name of their finishing move and their catchphrases. They have allegedly turned down new five-year deals, too, and insiders say The Revival are simply not happy in WWE.
Ethan Carter III, a.k.a. EC3, has endured two terms in WWE, both of which have been frustrating. Having departed in 2013, he worked hard to make himself a star in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA, now dubbed Impact Wrestling) and was rewarded with a return to WWE in 2018. However, aside from a pursuit of the 24/7 Championship, which was mostly played for laughs, EC3 has experienced little success and limited TV time.
15. Mike Kanellis
Mike and Maria Kanellis signed five-year contract extensions with WWE in June 2019. But only four months later, Mike asked to be released. Maria became pregnant with their second child soon after they signed, too, and though this was worked into a storyline, it quietly fizzled out. Former WWE wrestler Bubba Ray Dudley told Busted Open Radio that he’d heard that the couple had “misled” WWE in negotiations and that there may be some backstage bad feelings toward them.
14. Eric Young
A “TNA Original,” Eric Young spent 12 years with that promotion before somewhat unexpectedly signing for WWE in 2016. He then led the bad-guy stable SAnitY in NXT, but since moving up to the main roster that group has disbanded. Young now mostly appears on TV in losses to younger, more spotlighted superstars. And at the age of 40, his time in WWE may be running out.
13. Sasha Banks
Following a four-month hiatus in the aftermath of WrestleMania 35, during which it is believed she contemplated quitting WWE, Sasha Banks returned. It seemed like she and the company had put everything behind them. But, considering rumors have swirled for several years about Banks being unhappy, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if she left WWE for good in 2020.
12. Cedric Alexander
In 2019 Cedric Alexander’s star was on the rise. He even teamed with Roman Reigns on several episodes of Raw and challenged A. J. Styles for the United States Championship. This push stopped abruptly, however, and he was soon losing in short squash matches. Vince McMahon had reportedly given up on him, and Alexander then voiced his frustrations on Twitter. So he could perhaps join AEW in 2020, where his wife wrestles under the moniker Big Swole.
11. Lars Sullivan
Few wrestlers have stoked as much controversy in a short time as Lars Sullivan, real name Dylan Miley. And 2020 could just be the year when WWE decides to cut ties with the injured superstar. What happened? Well, soon after Sullivan debuted on the main roster in 2019, evidence emerged of old racist and homophobic posts he had made on a bodybuilding forum. It was later revealed that he had once performed in homosexual pornographic movies, too.
10. Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura is an icon of Japanese wrestling and has been a featured WWE performer since 2016. Despite Nakamura winning the NXT as well as the United States and Intercontinental Championships, some believe he hasn’t been allowed to fulfil his potential in the promotion. And although the star is apparently happy with life in America, it’s possible he could decide that he wants a new challenge in 2020.
The “Swiss Superman” Cesaro is another superstar who fans feel has never gotten his due in WWE. Despite being widely regarded as one of the best wrestlers, the wrestler rarely rises above the midcard. Yet on Busted Open Radio, WWE “Hall Of Famer” Mark Henry suggested that Cesaro hadn’t already left because he may want to work with WWE in a backstage capacity.
8. Robert Roode
Robert Roode has featured in a notable tag team with Dolph Ziggler since mid-2019. In late 2019, however, Roode was suspended for 30 days for violating the terms of WWE’s wellness policy. And according to WrestlingNews.co, WWE will release the stars it feels won’t be simply snapped up by the likes of AEW. So perhaps the 42-year-old Roode should be on his best behavior for the rest of 2020.
7. Ember Moon
SummerSlam 2019 saw Ember Moon challenge Bayley for her SmackDown Women’s Championship. This was Moon’s WWE peak. It was followed by a losing streak of five matches and then an ankle injury that kept her out of action. So the star may want to leave the company in 2020 – especially if a rumor about Vince McMahon not liking her is in any way true.
6. Peyton Royce
One half of The IIconics tag team, Peyton Royce may decide to move on from WWE in 2020 for a few reasons. The first is that she and Billie Kay have barely featured on television since losing their WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship in August 2019. But also her husband, Shawn Spears, left WWE for AEW in May 2019 – and she may want to follow him there.
Glenn Jacobs, the seven-foot-tall athlete who has portrayed the demonic character Kane in WWE since 1997, is now the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. This move into politics, plus the fact that he is 52 years old, would surely indicate Jacobs will retire from the ring in 2020. However, he has been resistant to the idea, telling the After The Bell podcast, “I’m never gonna leave WWE.”
Now 53, Bill Goldberg lost his Universal Championship bout in April 2020 at WrestleMania 36 to Braun Strowman. And retirement rumors have swirled around him for years. Goldberg also recently told the Total Slam podcast, “I’m considering my retirement match in Israel.” Perhaps 2020 will see the Jewish superstar wrestle that fitting last match, then.
3. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is the only person in history to hold both the UFC and WWE World Championship titles. This makes him a special attraction, and he is remunerated accordingly. Even so, Lesnar’s latest WWE contract expires in May 2020, and it’s conceivable that he may want to move away from pro-wrestling. He could potentially return to mixed martial arts or take some time off, for instance.
2. Big Show
“The World’s Largest Athlete” Big Show returned to Raw in January 2020, following a year-long injury layoff. But he hasn’t been seen on WWE TV since. Perhaps that’s due to him filming The Big Show Show, a Netflix sitcom where he plays a fictionalized version of himself. With a burgeoning acting career and limited ring time, then, perhaps 2020 will be the time Big Show calls it a day.
1. The Undertaker
The world believed The Undertaker had retired following WrestleMania 33. You see, the Phenom left his gloves, coat and hat in the ring in a poignant symbolic gesture. But he surprised many by continuing to wrestle semi-regularly for the next few years. Rumors suggested November 2020’s Survivor Series pay-per-view is being earmarked for his legitimate retirement, though, as that event is where The Undertaker debuted 30 years ago.