With a roster as bloated as WWE's, it's hardly surprising a lot of wrestlers begin to feel under-utilised. The birth of AEW and resurgence of New Japan have opened up new avenues for newly free workers to pursue beyond the McMahon-owned bubble. It's the first time since the days of WCW that stars have enjoyed financially viable alternatives to the Connecticut conglomerate (unless you count those days when TNA would nab anyone even vaguely associated with WWE).
Plenty of stars have gone out in a blaze of glory, claiming they don't need WWE. Some move on to become wrestling superstars elsewhere. Others suffer the nightmarish fate of fading into obscurity, failing to expand the horizons they initially felt robbed of. Others leave wrestling entirely, finding themselves a new athletic craft. For Brock Lesnar, UFC success made him a bigger star than his original WWE run ever did. For CM Punk, UFC failure has killed a good deal of interest in his return (though for this list we'll be sticking to those who kept on wrestling).
It's a brave call to bet on oneself (and slightly less daunting than for those who got fired), no matter how it turns out.
10. Damien Sandow
Not the most technically skilled of wrestlers, Damien Sandow made up for it with truly exceptional character and promo work. His pompous intellectual persona oozed potential and was getting over right up until he failed to beat a one-armed John Cena. Slipping down the card, Sandow went full comedy as The Miz's stunt double, taking off thanks to his ridiculous displays during Miz's matches. With WWE again dropping the ball on him, Sandow was released in 2016, later debuting in Impact Wrestling.
His first promo for Impact indicated trouble ahead. Instead of playing to his strengths, the now Aron Rex cut a prototypical anti-WWE promo. Lacking the necessary menace and physical ability to carry off a tougher, more serious character, his shine with fans quickly dimmed. It wasn't long before he was free falling down the card once again.
A late stage attempt at a reboot was ultimately the final nail in the coffin. Returning to an attempt at the funny stuff, Rex became a flamboyant, Liberace send-up for his final days with the promotion. A disappointment all round, Sandow's post-WWE run ultimately tanked the connection he'd built with fans. Recent work with the NWA has done little to really get him back on track either.