10 Wrestlers Who Never Recovered From Their WWE Release

Life after WWE isn't always peachy.

Rikishi 2000 Royal Rumble

Life after WWE can be a daunting prospect for the recently released superstar. Vince McMahon’s company are the sport’s last remaining global force, and while far from perfect, nobody can match WWE for job security, financial clout, and global exposure. WWE’s industry stranglehold looks unbreakable at this point, and while companies like NJPW and Lucha Underground give wrestlers an opportunity to make a full-time living elsewhere, it can still be difficult.

Most wrestlers have to stay busy with multiple companies after leaving WWE. For some, like Drew Galloway and Rey Mysterio, everything works-out perfectly. The smaller stages are littered with athletes like them who were underutilized in WWE anyway, and have used their skills and work ethic to forge highly-successful post-WWE careers. This is the path that recent WWE releases like Cody Rhodes and Ryback will look to follow, but things don’t always work-out this way.

Countless wrestlers have fallen by the wayside after losing the safety net of a guaranteed WWE contract. For a multitude of reasons, wrestlers often struggle to adapt on the indies, have their credibility shot to pieces in TNA, or lose interest in the sport all-together. The “future endeavours” letter is more often a curse than a blessing, and while the impact is amplified in today’s competition-free wrestling world, history is littered with former WWE superstars who have failed to rebound.

Here are 10 wrestlers who never recovered from their WWE release.

10. Braden Walker

Rikishi 2000 Royal Rumble

The wrestler formerly known as Braden Walker is one of the most-decorated tag team wrestlers in TNA history. As Chris Harris, he won TNA’s Tag Team Championships on seven different occasions (six with James Storm: his partner in America’s Most Wanted), and looked to be on the rise as a singles star following feuds with Storm and Christian Cage.

His TNA career ended on January 11, 2008, and Walker was snapped-up by WWE less than two weeks later. Things looked to be on the up-and-up for Walker, but it was all downhill following his July debut. As if being assigned one of the most generic “Create-a-Wrestler” names in recent history wasn’t enough, Walker looked to have gained several lbs since leaving TNA, and his brief feud with Armando Estrada never got off the ground.

Walker was released from WWE less than a month after his debut, and if you remember him, chances are it’s for his atrocious catchphrase:-

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“I’m Braden Walker, and I’m going to knock your brains out.”

Walker’s weight gain, bad promos, and uninspiring performances saw him become a laughing stock in WWE, and his career went from bad to worse. His reputation was so damaged that he struggled for indy dates after leaving, and an ill-fated 2011 TNA return lasted just one set of TV tapings. Walker is currently lost in the wrestling wilderness, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.