Top Five Wrestlers Who Gambled on Themselves By Willingly Leaving WWE

Brian Damage

“Making it” in pro wrestling is a hard enough task. The ability to make ends meat just by wrestling everyday is certainly not achieved by all who decide to put on pair of tights and lace boots up. While being on the WWE roster isn’t the be all and end all of a wrestler, getting to wrestle on the largest wrestling company in the world is definitely an ambition for many. Today, we will look at the top five wrestlers who decided to take a gamble on their careers and themselves by voluntarily walking away from money and stability that WWE can provide to carve their own path. These five risked a lot and eventually their gambles paid off.

Juice Robinson

After being mired in WWE developmental hell for a few years and being used mostly as enhancement talent to put over newer stars…Robinson requested and received his release from NXT and under WWE’s thumb. He made a named for himself and became a star with New Japan and that helped him get bigger bookings in places like Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor and eventually a shot in AEW.


Despite receiving a push on WWE’s main roster, the team formerly known as the Revival were not satisfied with the trajectory of their careers. Once their WWE contracts expired, instead of accepting a pay raise to re-up with the company, the team made the decision to try and see what else was out there for them. They ended up in AEW and won numerous titles including the AEW, Ring of Honor, AAA and IWGP tag team titles. They have firmly reestablished themselves as a top tag team by walking away from guaranteed WWE money.

Kenny Omega

Kenny Omega was once a developmental talent in WWE’s farm system. His frustrations with developmental’s backstage politics and not being able to grow creatively, led Omega to request his release and it was granted. It took a few years, but Omega would end up one of the biggest foreign stars in Japan and that Ultimately led to a big contract in the United States with AEW.

AJ Styles

This next selection is a little bit different as he wasn’t under a WWE contract. While AJ Styles was never officially signed to WWE, he did wrestle some dark matches and compete as enhancement talent on their C shows. WWE did offer AJ a developmental contract, which he turned down due to his family being located elsewhere in the country. As we all know, Styles built himself and his brand the hard way by wrestling on the independent circuit and then landing at TNA where he became one of the pillars for that company. AJ would then go to Japan and make himself into an even bigger star, before finally agreeing to a WWE contract.

Cody Rhodes

If anybody had a bigger gamble on his own career, it was none other than Cody Rhodes. While stagnating as a lower to mid card talent on WWE’s roster…Cody made the ultimate decision to walk away from the company that gave him his biggest opportunity for the unknown. There was no big money AEW to fall back on. He returned to the independents and wrestled everywhere. His patience and persistence definitely paid off huge dividends as he helped found All Elite Wrestling and eventually returned to WWE garnering a big, money contract. Something that would have never happened if he had decided to remain with WWE years ago.

11 thoughts on “Top Five Wrestlers Who Gambled on Themselves By Willingly Leaving WWE

  1. I would add Matt Cardona to the mix. Here’s a guy that started off as part of tag team under the watchful eye of Edge. Then became this cheesy heel in WWECW that allowed him to become this loveable underdog that became an internet sensation that fans wanted but the brass didn’t want. Then after nearly a decade where he had a great WrestleMania moment in winning the IC title only to lose it the next night and just became another guy. He is fired yet would use the indies and other companies to reinvent himself and through his work in GCW by becoming the most hated man there and winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Matt Cardona became a made man.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d add Jeff Jarrett to the mix. All the things that put Cody Rhodes at number one could also be said about Jarrett (chose to walk away from the company rather than accept that WWE only saw him as a midcarder, choosing to go to WCW after they gave Jarrett a second opinion that he might be a main eventer. Like Cody’s ROH run, it didn’t completely take for him as a true gamechanger for that company, but Jarrett also fell upward and helped found TNA, the first challenger to WWE since the monopoly went through.)

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Frankie Kazarian is another. His run in WWE short. But, he left. Starting team with Christopher Daniels in TNA. Then in ROH. Then in AEW. He’s not a superstar. But he definitely got better. Though I did like him in his first TNA run (which was before WWE)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like it when people who fed up the hierarchy of WWE and better themselves as that was BEOFRE Devil Puppet Vince McMahon had to retire after 40 years of hell within the Titan Towers.


  5. Wheres Moxley, Danielson, Claudio, McIntyre, Lashley, Christian Cage, even Jeff Hardy both times he left. Nash and Hall also. They may have never became da legends they r 2day w/out jumping ship


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.