5 Former WWE World Champions who were released in 2021

WWE has released a number of former World Champions this year
WWE has released a number of former World Champions this year

It has been a year to forget for WWE when it comes to the release of superstars. The company released almost 100 wrestlers this calendar year on all levels and brands of the business.

While it has come as a shock that some of WWE's biggest names have been released from their contracts this year, others have been released from backstage roles as well.

As the year draws to a close, the WWE Universe believed that all of the heartache was over for the year, but it appears that is not the case.

The following list looks at five former WWE World Champions who were released by the company this year.

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#5. Former WWE Women's Champion Mickie James

Mickie James is a former five-time Women's Champion and one-time Divas Champion. The wrestling veteran made her return to the company in January 2017 and since her return was underutilized by WWE.

James brought experience to the women's locker room having shared the ring with the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita, competing in the latter's retirement match.

Instead, in the storylines James was involved in, her age became the focus and was used to humiliate her against younger superstars like Alexa Bliss. Surprisingly, James wasn't able to lift any Championships in the four years that she was part of WWE since her return in 2017..

The star was released from the company alongside several other women earlier this year after her WWE status was noted as unclear.

James was released alongside the likes of Chelsea Green, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and Ruby Riott in April as WWE looked to clear out their Women's Division and push through much younger talent.

James has since made her return to the business and is currently in the midst of her 4th reign as IMPACT Knockouts Champion. She competes for both NWA and IMPACT on a regular basis.

#4. Former 16-time WWE Champion Ric Flair

Ric Flair is a two-time WWE Hall of Famer and holds the record when it comes to world championship reigns in the company.

Flair has made several returns over the years and his daughter Charlotte Flair is still a power player in WWE at present.

Flair's most recent WWE run came to an end back in January when his storyline with Lacey Evans and his daughter was scrapped when The Sassy Southern Belle revealed that she was pregnant on a live episode of RAW. This forced WWE to shelve the storyline between Flair and his daughter.

Flair was subsequently written off TV and wasn't used by WWE before his release back in August.

The Nature Boy has been outspoken about the company and the way he has been treated on his podcast, and he has also made it clear that he will not be returning to WWE any time soon.

Flair's daughter Charlotte Flair is the current SmackDown Women's Champion and has continued to excel in the company without her father by her side.

#3. Former WWE Champion Bray Wyatt

One of the most talked-about releases of 2021 was Bray Wyatt, who was let go by WWE at the end of July.

The former WWE Champion has sat out his non-compete clause but is yet to sign with any of the company's rival promotions. He has instead dipped his toes into acting.

At the time of his release, Wyatt was considered to be one of the company's biggest stars. As The Fiend he competed at WrestleMania in a loss to Randy Orton, and went on a hiatus following an appearance the next night on RAW.

Ahead of his return in the spring of 2021, the former Universal Champion was on hiatus to sell the injuries he suffered at the hands of Randy Orton at TLC in the fall of 2021.

The star himself is yet to speak out publicly about the circumstances surrounding his WWE release. There has been a lot of speculation in recent months regarding WWE's reasons for terminating his contract.

#2. Former WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman

Braun Strowman won the Universal Championship at WrestleMania last year and competed at WWE's WrestleMania Backlash event just weeks before his release.

The former Champion was looking to dethrone Bobby Lashley who was the WWE Champion at the time. He was still part of the main event picture when the company opted to release him from his contract.

The Monster Among Men was a firm fan favorite and was a complete product of WWE and their Performance Center. This is why it came as such a surprise that the company was able to cut someone that they had pushed so hard on the main roster in the years leading up to his departure.

The former world champion is another star who has sat out his 90-day non-compete clause but is yet to decide on his next move in the wrestling business.

Strowman has competed in several matches outside of WWE since his release earlier this year, but isn't yet tied down to another company.

#1. Former WWE Champion Jeff Hardy

Jeff Hardy's WWE release came as quite the surprise when it was revealed earlier today. The move has allowed many current and former stars to pay tribute to Hardy on social media.

Hardy's world championship win didn't come as part of his most recent stint in the company. Hardy and his brother Matt returned to WWE at WrestleMania 33 and aside from winning the RAW Tag Team Championships at the same event, their return had been somewhat disappointing.

Hardy left the company last year and has since become part of All Elite Wrestling whilst his brother Jeff Hardy remained and has been underutilized for more than a year.

Hardy won the WWE Championship back in 2008 and that is still the only time the former star has lifted the title.

The Charismatic Enigma also has two World Heavyweight Championships reigns to his name, both coming in 2009.

Hardy won the title at Extreme Rules before losing it to CM Punk when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract just minutes later. The star later won the title back at Night of Champions and held it for 29 days before again being defeated by Punk at SummerSlam.

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Edited by Brandon Nell
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