7 WWE Stars Who Should Follow Dean Ambrose, Leave WWE After WrestleMania 35
The wrestling world is on the verge of a major shift, and it is opening up opportunities to everyone. Dean Ambrose may be taking advantage of just that by deciding not to renew his contract with WWE, as the company announced in January.
The Lunatic Fringe is one of the biggest stars in modern WWE. While his status has risen and fallen over the past few years, he has been consistently featured at a similar level to his Shield counterparts. It is rare to see a star of this caliber leave the company.
While the former WWE champion would almost certainly win more gold if he were to remain, he is betting on himself by leaving, believing he can do better. It is likely due to feeling the crushing limitations of the WWE system on his work.
Before his heel turn, The Lunatic was verging on a comedy act at times, performing with a frantic fervor that made his matches often unwieldy without showcasing his best traits. Even after turning, he has felt out of place.
Many others likely feel the same way, and with All Elite Wrestling recently arriving with an emphatic statement and New Japan Pro-Wrestling shifting its focus, two big wrestling companies are opening their doors and fresh opportunities to talent.
Much like Ambrose, these are seven other wrestlers who could use those opportunities and take a step forward they may never get to with WWE.
Tag team wrestling has never been a priority in WWE. Some rise above that with charismatic personalities and constant work like The New Day and, eventually, The Usos. But it is rare that tag teams ever become stars without breaking up.
The Revival was not just the best tag team in NXT, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder were also the best wrestlers in the company, putting on performances second to no one. When they came up to the main roster in April 2017, injuries derailed their run, and they have barely started to recover.
While Raw has recently turned to focusing on the pair, their ceiling is still limited. They would have to convince WWE to change its culture in order to stand out at the level they would outside the system.
The Young Bucks are a major part of building up AEW and will be looking to create a tag team division that outshines those in every other promotion. Dawson and Wilder would be stepping into a gold mine if they were allowed to leave and join the new company.
While it may not happen as quickly as they would like, the two will get an opportunity to leave, and taking it would be the best bet for them.
Mojo Rawley has unfairly become the butt of many jokes as of late. While WWE initially seemed to commit to the formerly happy-go-lucky performer, his steady improvement has come at the expense of screen time. It seems that the better he gets, the less he is featured.
Recent vignettes have hinted at a fresh start for him, but it's hard to believe it will lead to anything. He should be the perfect star for WWE. He's a big, charismatic, athletic athlete and cuts promos with more intensity than many on the roster.
His main failings have been his sloppy in-ring work and connection to Rob Gronkowski. While it would seem a boon to be a friend of one of the most famous NFL players around, he has been overshadowed by the New England Patriots star, with the biggest win of his career—the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33—only coming because of his pal.
If Rawley left WWE, he would be given a second chance to stand out. It's hard to say if AEW would be interested, but the former football player would certainly make a splash in Impact Wrestling, which has been known to revitalize cast-off WWE stars.
Just taking a few years away from the company could make a big difference, allowing him to spread his wings and find his voice.
It would be justifiable to forget Shelton Benjamin is still on a WWE roster. The Gold Standard has barely been used since making his return to the company in 2017, not even playing the veteran role one would expect.
He has felt out of place at a time when WWE is waiting to bring in new young talent. While he is likely making solid money for a role that often leaves him watching from backstage, there's no reason this incredible athlete should be on the sidelines.
Benjamin has traveled the world, spending almost as much time working for other companies as he has for WWE. His resume includes stops in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Ring of Honor, and he could easily return there and make a splash.
At 43, he is still in impressive shape, and other companies would gladly take him and rely on his strengths. He may not be a great mic worker, but he can get great work out of anyone put in front of him in the ring. He just needs the chance.
Chad Gable is a Raw tag team champion, but he hardly appears on the brand. He and tag team partner Bobby Roode are far more talented than they have been portrayed on the main roster, but Gable has a much better chance outside the company because he's only 32.
He could be anything he wants outside WWE. Like former tag team partner Shelton Benjamin, he is wildly underappreciated by WWE management. The one reason may simply be his size. He makes so much look effortless, but he is 5'8" in a company wherein stars generally start at 6'0".
Not every promotion would see Gable as a tag team specialist alone. It is likely every major company outside WWE would be clambering to bring him in if he left. He would fit right in with AEW, which is already the new home for an underused WWE star in Neville.
Gable, though, would also likely work perfectly in Japan because of his fast, fluid style. It feels like he might just be the wrestler with the highest upside of anyone who could leave in the coming year.
It takes a special kind of star to get massively over on his own, but Rusev did just that with a simple concept. Rusev Day was a breakthrough moment for The Bulgarian Brute, who forced WWE's hand with his growing popularity.
It took the company months to bring him back down to where he was on the roster, but somehow The Super Athlete is right back in the midcard heel role he had before it all started. Nothing was done with a star who became one of the most popular acts in the company with just two words.
Along the way, Rusev has become one of the better entertainers in the company. He can work with anyone and succeed. His recent matches with stars such as Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles showed a man who is ready for a main event run.
He will just never get it in WWE. All other companies would gladly give him that chance. He is entertaining and popular, which will translate well to AEW or Impact. Moreover, he has proved he can work a physical style that would match up perfectly with NJPW's roster.
The Bulgarian Brute has an opportunity similar to Ambrose to break away from WWE's confines rather than coast to the next small spotlight. If he left, he would also likely bring Lana, who would get more opportunities to succeed as well.
No one has more desperately needed to leave the WWE system for the past five years than Dolph Ziggler. One of the most highly decorated performers to never feel like a top star, The Showoff has been coasting for years on lackluster booking.
Arguably one of the best athletes in the company, he has been derailed by a few injuries, including a concussion that ended his one real world-title reign.
Despite brief moments of recognition, such as his performance in the 2014 Survivor Series elimination match and his recent great run with Drew McIntyre, he has always fallen back down the ladder. The company does not value him as highly as it should, despite his years of service.
While he may not be a brand-defining talent, he has not been given the chance to prove how high he can reach. While stars like McIntyre and Cody Rhodes left and forged their own path successfully, Ziggler waited for an opportunity that never came.
The Showoff would be the biggest free agent in the business if he left. While he has shown more interest recently in branching out from wrestling into comedy or politics, this may just be because he has not yet seen what it is like to work outside of WWE.
AEW, NJPW, Impact, ROH and every major wrestling company would be good fits for Ziggler, who has proved he can work with anybody given the right spotlight.