Olympic Gold Medalist; The Bulgarian Brute - 6 WWE Superstars released in 2020: where are they now?
The year 2020 was tough for WWE and for the world in general. The COVID-19 pandemic was spreading throughout every country, causing chaos and sickness around the world.
When it came to WWE, a lot of changes had to be made. This included the roster, which meant the company had to take drastic measures.
A lot of roster cuts were made starting in 2020 that would continue into the following year. Wrestlers were forced to find work elsewhere and have a career outside of the company. Since 2020, what are these wrestlers up to?
Without further ado, let’s look at six WWE Superstars released in 2020 and where they are now.
#6 & #5. The Fallen Prodigy (Mike Bennett & Maria Kanellis)
They began a gimmick with Sami Zayn that lasted a few weeks. Unfortunately, things went south immediately as Bennett was placed into rehab and Maria became pregnant.
Mike's only noteworthy match came as a participant in The Greatest Royal Rumble match, being eliminated in just three seconds by Mark Henry. He would go on to mostly wrestle on 205 Live and chase after the WWE 24/7 Championship.
He and Maria expressed their unhappiness with the company as they wanted to be released from their contracts in January 2020. Ultimately, they got their wish on April 15, 2020, as both Mike and Maria were released due to budget cuts related to the pandemic.
Bennett is currently part of IMPACT Wrestling, leading the faction called Honor No More alongside Maria, Eddie Edwards, Matt Taven, PCO, Kenny King, and Vincent.
#4. The Bulgarian Brute never reached his full potential
Rusev was one of the most talented stars WWE had on its roster between 2015 and 2020. Alongside his wife Lana, Rusev dominated the WWE scene and won the United States Championship three times.
He feuded with the likes of John Cena, Jack Swagger, Ryback, The New Day, and Bobby Lashley, just to name a few. He also teamed up with Wade Barrett, Sheamus, and Alberto Del Rio to form a stable called The League of Nations for a period of time in WWE.
He and Lana shared an on-again, off-again relationship as Rusev would feud with Dolph Ziggler and Lashley after Lana had “cheated” on him with the two superstars.
Rusev was released on April 15, 2020 due to budget cuts related to the pandemic. He is currently a member of the AEW roster competing as the character Miro (a shortened version of his real name, Miroslav). He recently feuded with members of the House of Black faction.
#3. WWE's Top 1 Percent Superstar
EC3 was destined to be in the “Top 1 Percent” for the company. After his amazing run in TNA (IMPACT Wrestling), he made his return to the company in 2018 following an ill-fated original stint as Derrick Bateman.
EC3 was placed on the NXT brand and showed a lot of potential in becoming a rising star for the brand, continuing the momentum he had left behind with TNA. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.
EC3 was lost in the shuffle on the brand before being promoted to the WWE main roster. Much like Mike Bennett, he was mainly used in the lower card and was mostly seen competing for the 24/7 Championship. He never got back to that same level he once had in TNA.
EC3 was ultimately released on April 15, 2020 due to budget cuts related to the pandemic. EC3 is currently in charge of CYN: “Control Your Narrative”.
#2. An Olympic Gold Medalist's last stand
WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle made his return to the company in 2017 after being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He would go on to be named the RAW General Manager and compete sporadically in matches.
Most notably, he replaced Roman Reigns due to medical issues as he, alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, wrestled The Miz, Braun Strowman, Kane, Cesaro, and Sheamus in a 5-on-3 TLC match at TLC (2017).
Angle would have his last feud with Baron Corbin, losing to Corbin in his final match to date at WrestleMania 35 (2019). Angle continued to make sporadic appearances for the company up until his release on April 15, 2020, due to budget cuts related to the pandemic.
Kurt Angle is currently running his own podcast called “The Kurt Angle Show”, and made an appearance on Monday Night RAW several weeks ago in a segment with The Street Profits, Chad Gable, and Otis.
#1. The rise and fall of Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder was a star that was never supposed to make it in WWE. He worked hard to get himself over by using social media and the internet to his advantage. Ryder was mostly a jobber with the company, but he did have notable success here and there.
His biggest match with the company came at WrestleMania 32, as he replaced an injured Neville (PAC) in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. Ryder would do the unthinkable and win the title; however, the reign lasted only 24 hours as he dropped the title the following night on RAW to The Miz.
Ryder would be delegated back down to lower tier status and never got another significant push in WWE. He was released by the company on April 15, 2020 due to budget cuts related to the ongoing pandemic.
Ryder would go on to have a very successful career outside of the company under his real name, Matt Cardona. He is currently wrestling for IMPACT Wrestling, GCW, AEW (briefly) and the NWA.