A few recently-released WWE Superstars have decided to step away from in-ring competition.
Over the past two years, WWE has released several superstars. Some of these wrestlers later joined other promotions. For example, Ruby Soho and Malakai Black have signed with All Elite Wrestling. Meanwhile, Mickie James and Chelsea Green joined IMPACT Wrestling.
However, some recently-released WWE Superstars have decided to step away from in-ring action. It is now unclear if wrestling fans will ever see them perform again inside the squared circle.
Here are five recently-released WWE superstars who stepped away from the business.
#5. Former NXT Tag Team Champion Tyler Breeze
Nearly a decade and a half ago, Tyler Breeze kicked off his professional wrestling career. The 34-year-old competed for about three years on the independent circuit before signing with WWE in 2010.
Breeze spent five years with WWE's developmental brands, FCW and NXT, before making his main roster debut in October 2015. He later joined forces with Fandango to form Breezango. They performed on SmackDown and Monday Night RAW before moving back to NXT in late 2019.
After spending two more years on NXT, the company released the former NXT Tag Team Champion from his contract last June.
Breeze has not competed since leaving the Stamford-based company. In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, the former member of Breezango announced that he has decided to take a break from wrestling.
"I've wrestled for 14 years straight and I'm okay with taking a break. My body actually likes it and I get enough wrestling at the school to keep myself good. Going out and wrestling on the Indies, I'm not currently taking any wrestling bookings because going out there and getting injured doesn't appeal to me. (...) If there's a match that's fun, then I might do it, but for the most part, I kind of scratched the wrestling itch. If it comes back, maybe, but right now I have enough other stuff on the go. (...) In terms of jumping back in the ring and wrestling right away, I don't have an interest for it. I like the other outside stuff I'm going and exploring that and giving my body a break," he said. (H/T: The Sportster)
In the same interview, the former NXT Tag Team Champion also spoke about the possibility of joining AEW, disclosing that he has no interest in signing with Tony Khan's promotion.
#4. Former NXT Tag Team Champion Fandango
After competing for nearly seven years on the independent circuit, Fandango (AKA Dirty Dango) signed a contract with Vince McMahon's company in 2006. The 38-year-old spent several years in developmental, during which he won the fourth season of NXT in 2011, before making his main roster debut in 2013.
Fandango had nearly a three-year singles run on the main roster, during which he chased the Intercontinental and United States Championships. However, he failed to win any singles titles. He then joined forces with Tyler Breeze in 2016 to create Breezango.
Although Fandango and his partner had a few shots at the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, they failed to capture the titles. About a year after moving back to NXT in 2019, Breezango finally won their first gold when they defeated Imperium to capture the NXT Tag Team Championship.
WWE released Fandango from his contract in June 2021. After his departure, the former NXT Tag Team Champion returned to the independent circuit. Nonetheless, he announced last month that he is stepping away from the ring in a couple of months.
"I'll be stepping away from the ring in couple months. Goodbye forever," he tweeted.
Fandango last competed on April 30 when he lost to Derek Dillinger at an IWC/NEW event.
#3. Jake Atlas
In 2019, Jake Atlas officially signed with WWE after competing for a few years on the independent circuit. However, he lost his in-ring debut against Dexter Lumis in April 2020.
Atlas competed for nearly a year and a half on NXT. The company then released him from his contract in August 2021. Following his departure, the 27-year-old returned to the independent circuit.
Last September, Atlas announced that he was stepping away from the business in a statement he posted on his Twitter account.
"I'm not concussed or 'banged up.' I simply just can't keep going anymore. Take your mental health seriously, both for yourselves & for each other, because we only have one life to live. Thank you to anyone who did support me for 5 years. I didn't do much, but what I did was fun. I'm stepping away from wrestling completely right now so please don't ask me to do interviews/appearances. I'd like my privacy to be respected. At 26 years old, I've got my entire life ahead of me & I'm choosing to explore completely different industries to find my passion again. Unfortunately, it was unhealthy for me the entire time. I just learned how to hide it really well. I hope that friends & fans I've made alike continue to support me no matter what," he wrote.
Nearly three months later, Atlas came out of retirement and joined AEW. He has since competed in two matches. In his in-ring debut, he defeated Serpentico on AEW Dark: Elevation. However, he lost his second bout against Adam Cole on AEW Rampage.
Atlas has not competed since January after sustaining an injury during his match against Cole.
#2 & #1. Former WWE Women's Tag Team Champions The IIconics
Cassie Lee (FKA Peyton Royce) and Jessie McKay (Billie Kay) joined WWE in 2015. The two real-life best friends spent nearly three years in NXT before making their main roster debut in 2018, joining SmackDown as The IIconics.
Over the next few years, the Australian duo were one of the most entertaining tag teams in WWE. They also won the Women's Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 35 after winning a Fatal-Four-Way Match against The Boss 'n' Hug Connection, Nia Jax & Tamina, and Beth Phoenix & Natalya.
Nevertheless, WWE released both wrestlers in April 2021. Six months later, the two ladies made their IMPACT Wrestling debut at Bound for Glory as The IInspiration. They defeated Decay to capture the Impact Knockouts Tag Team Championships.
After spending nearly six months in IMPACT Wrestling, Lee and McKay issued a joint statement announcing that they would be stepping away from in-ring competition indefinitely.
"Former IMPACT Wrestling Knockouts World Tag Team Champions The IInspiration (Cassie Lee and Jessie McKay) confirmed today that they will be indefinitely stepping away from in-ring action. (...) We first want to thank Scott D'Amore and the entire IMPACT family. We have had such an amazing experience, working with the incredible IMPACT staff and roster. We will cherish these IMPACT memories forever. We are excited to start a new chapter in our lives and explore other opportunities that may come our way," they stated.
According to some reports, the former WWE Women's Tag Team Champions are stepping away from the ring to give acting a shot. McKay has already landed her first acting role, starring in Matteo Rossi's latest movie, The Charisma Killers.
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