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5 WWE Superstars who excelled following their release

Cody Rhodes excelled following his WWE release, but who else did?
Cody Rhodes excelled following his WWE release, but who else did?
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Callum Altimas

For some WWE Superstars, being let go by the company can bring an end to your time in the business. It can be seen as the be all and end all, and if you aren't working for Vince McMahon, there's no point working in the industry at all.

For others, though, being released can be a chance to start afresh. It can offer them the opportunity to reinvent themselves and completely change how fans perceive them.

With so many different wrestling promotions all over the world, there is plenty of work out there for former WWE Superstars and those who are committed can really thrive outside of the company. Whether it's to prove the doubters wrong, or to work their way back to the promised land, there are some wrestlers who actually fare better after they've been let go.

On that note, here are five WWE Superstars who excelled following their release.


#5. Zack Ryder's is thriving right now in numerous promotions

Zack Ryder has won championships all over the indies since his release
Zack Ryder has won championships all over the indies since his release

Zack Ryder was the last man fans expected to enjoy the level of success he has outside of WWE.

The 37-year-old had spent the vast majority of his career in the company up until his release in 2020. He felt like a WWE Superstar and many weren't sure how he'd fare outside of the company.

Now going by his real name, Matt Cardona, the former Intercontinental Champion has been a glorious success. Wrestling in numerous promotions across the United States, Cardona has won a plethora of different titles.

From GCW to NWA and Impact, he has been a success everywhere he has competed and continues to show anyone who doubted him just how foolish that was.


#4. Gail Kim showed WWE were foolish for letting her go

One of th finest in-ring female wrestlers of her generation,Gail Kim.her rivalry with Awesome Kong in TNA has always been a particular favorite of mine. https://t.co/bRig1Hvg4V

Gail Kim's WWE career actually got off to a great start. She won the Women's Championship in her debut match and was immediately considered one of the best talents in the women's division.

Out of nowhere, though, she was released due to budget cuts in 2004 and eventually joined TNA. It was while in TNA that Kim would prove how foolish WWE were for letting her go.

She would go on to have an incredible career with the promotion, becoming the first ever Knockouts Champion as well as the first woman inducted into the promotion's Hall of Fame.

The now 45-year-old did try her luck in Vince McMahon's company once again in 2008, but chose to leave on her own terms in 2011, unhappy with how she was treated. She soon returned to TNA and continued to solidify her status as the greatest Knockout in the company's history.

With seven TNA Knockouts Championships to her name, Kim did more than alright for herself following her release.


#3. Bobby Lashley improves leaps and bounds following his release

Bobby Lashley used his release to become much better
Bobby Lashley used his release to become much better

Huge things were expected of Bobby Lashley when he first broke onto the scene. He had the look and size to be a major star for the company.

He was pushed right out of the gate as well, but there was just something missing. Despite his impressive accolades, he could never quite reach that next level to solidify himself as a main event level star in the company.

He was released in 2008 and eventually showed up in TNA. While his first run with the company was brief, he returned to TNA in 2014 and became a major player for the promotion. Winning just about everything he could, Lashley showed the world that he was more than capable of being the face of the brand.

His time in the indies and in TNA saw him improve his wrestling skills and his work on the microphone. He would win the TNA World Championship four times, as well as numerous other titles, before returning to WWE in 2018. The Almighty eventually won the WWE Championship following his return, something that seemed out of his reach during his first run.


#2. Drew McIntyre used his release to eventually become WWE Champion

Check out Drew Galloway vs. Lashley from Slammiversary 2016. Watch all your favorite classic IMPACT matches at impactplus.tv. https://t.co/cIqd18ax5p

Early on in his career, Drew McIntyre was heralded a future world champion by Vince McMahon himself. The Scotsman was pushed hard from the get-go and won the Intercontinental Championship.

That was the high point of his first run, though, and he quickly fell down the card. McIntyre would eventually form 3MB with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal, becoming a low-level comedy act.

It came as no surprise that he was released soon after, but rather than sit and ponder what could have been, Drew quickly took advantage of the opportunity. Wrestling all over the world, he rebuilt his image and was one of the hottest wrestlers outside of WWE.

His time in TNA, Evolve and ICW showed everyone just how great a performer he was and it wasn't long before he was resigned by McMahon. Following his return, the 36-year-old has won the Royal Rumble and numerous world championships.


#1. Cody Rhodes literally created WWE's biggest competition in decades

Cody Rhodes excelled everywhere he went following his WWE release
Cody Rhodes excelled everywhere he went following his WWE release

Having become disillusioned with his Stardust character, Cody Rhodes requested his release in 2016, and was given it.

He'd grown tired of being held back by the company and decided to try his luck elsewhere. It's safe to say it more than paid off. From his superb work in New Japan and Ring of Honor, to his time in TNA, Rhodes showed a willingness to wrestle everywhere.

His intent to prove himself on the indies was clear immediately, as he revealed a list of wrestlers he wanted to face shortly after his release. Alongside The Elite, Rhodes made history when they held the biggest independent wrestling show of all time, All In. They then went on to create All Elite Wrestling with Tony Khan and the rest is history.

Cody returned to WWE earlier this year at WrestleMania 38, and it's clear he's a much bigger star returning to the company than he was when he left and his release and how much he thrived following it is responsible for that.


We got the AEW Women's World Champion to run down the Forbidden Door Card with us here.

Edited by Genci Papraniku
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