6 WWE Superstars who allowed their contracts to expire

WWE has released hundreds of superstars over the years, cutting their contracts at earlier dates. Whether it was due to budget cuts, creative differences, or legal reasons, many former Superstars saw their time in the company brought to an end prematurely.

There have been examples, though, of talent deciding to leave the company on their own accord. Some stars let their contracts expire, opting to step away from the promotion.

Vince McMahon’s company has been considered by many to be the be-all and end-all in the wrestling industry. But for some wrestlers, simply being signed to a WWE contract isn’t enough.

On that note, here are six WWE Superstars who allowed their contracts to expire.


#6. Rhyno chose to leave despite being offered more money than ever before

Rhyno chose to leave as he wasn't being used enough
Rhyno chose to leave as he wasn’t being used enough

Rhyno decided to leave WWE once his contract expired despite being offered the biggest contract of his career.

The former ECW star ultimately left the company in 2019 as he felt he was underutilized. He decided to turn down the pay increase in order to wrestle on the independent scene.

Following his departure, Rhyno rejoined Impact Wrestling and went on to win the Impact Tag Team Championships as a member of Eric Young’s faction, Violent By Design. The War machine would also reunite with his former WWE tag team partner Heath.


#5. Johnny Gargano chose not to renew his contract after his son was born

Johnny Gargano left WWE after his son was born
Johnny Gargano left WWE after his son was born

Johnny Gargano was synonymous with NXT, so his decision to allow his contract to expire in late 2021 was a shocking one for fans.

Shortly after his son was born, Johnny Wrestling decided not to renew his deal as he was interested in spending time with his family. The 34-year-old had been with NXT for six years and accomplished all there was to do in the third brand.

It’s unclear where Gargano will resurface once he’s ready to return to wrestling. Whether a return to the Stamford promotion is on the cards or he’s ready to test himself elsewhere remains to be seen.


#4. Candice LeRae allowed her contract to expire when she was on maternity leave

Candice LeRae was on maternity leave when she decided to let her contract expire
Candice LeRae was on maternity leave when she decided to let her contract expire

Similar to husband Gargano, Candice LeRae decided to let her contract with WWE expire as she was content with spending time with her new family.

LeRae was on maternity leave when her deal expired with the company and she decided not to sign a new one.

The 36-year-old had been with NXT for five years, winning the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships once alongside Indi Hartwell. LeRae is currently focusing on raising her newborn son and it’s unclear if she intends to return to wrestling anytime soon or where she will appear if she does.


#3. Adam Cole let his NXT contract expire so he could join AEW

Adam Cole’s decision to allow his contract to expire felt like a huge blow to the company at the time. He had previously been linked with a move to the main roster and it was rumored that the company had plans for him to become a manager. Shortly after, his contract would run out and he decided not to renew his deal.

Close friends, The Young Bucks, started their own promotion in AEW. The former NXT Champion was eager to join up with them and quickly did so once his deal with WWE came to an end.

Cole left the company in August 2021, after four years with them, and wasted no time in making the jump to AEW. He arrived in Tony Khan’s promotion the very next month at All Out.


#2. Bryan Danielson let his WWE contract expire shortly after main eventing WrestleMania

Bryan Danielson let his contract expire shortly after he main evented WrestleMania 37
Bryan Danielson let his contract expire shortly after he main evented WrestleMania 37

Bryan Danielson had an incredible career with WWE, winning the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Championship numerous times. His decision to leave the company once his contract expired in May 2021 was a shocking one for many fans.

The 41-year-old spent over a decade with the company and seemed like he’d remain there for the rest of his career. However, The American Dragon was eager to compete with the up-and-coming talent in AEW.

It was a surprising move considering the former Ring of Honor Champion had recently main-evented WrestleMania for the second time. A major reason for his departure was his determination to wrestle without the shackles of limitations WWE would put on him and his moveset.

Several months after his deal expired, Danielson arrived in AEW. He has put on some incredible matches against the likes of Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page since.


#1. Jon Moxley announced months beforehand that he wouldn’t be renewing his contract

Jon Moxley’s departure was announced several months ahead of time. The 36-year-old letting the world know he wouldn’t sign a new deal once his contract expired.

Moxley was with the company for eight years wrestling under the name Dean Ambrose, but had grown tired of his booking and lifestyle. The decision to announce his departure months earlier was a surprising one from Vince McMahon, but allowed Moxley to embark on a real farewell tour.

It gave fans the chance to see The Shield reunite for one final time, with the former WWE Champion’s final match in the company being alongside his stablemates Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.

Following his departure, Moxley appeared in different promotions before settling primarily in AEW and New Japan. The Death Rider has won championships in both, including the AEW World Championship and the NJPW US Championship.

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