WWE is considered by many wrestlers and fans as the mecca of wrestling; You’ve pretty much made it to the top of the industry if you work there. But for some wrestlers their time in WWE results in being wished well in all their future endeavors and they are faced with the prospect of being without work. When a talent leaves WWE they generally either end up in TNA or they go back to working on the independent scene. Not too many wrestlers become bigger outside of WWE or TNA but there are some exceptions to the rule. I take a look at three guys who have gone from working in one or more of the major American promotions and have made themselves into bigger names than they perhaps were back when they were in WWE or TNA.
The first of those is a guy we recently featured an interview with on the site with questions by Kendra and myself (which can be read here), Zach Gowen. We all know Zach had a run in the WWE back in 2003 to 2004 and was ultimately let go from the company following an injury. We also know Zach’s story which he laid out in detail on the Finding Zach Gowen DVD which I reviewed recently here. So what has Zach done since he left WWE? Well he’s overcome his personal demons, become a father, and has since worked for companies such as Juggalo Championship Wrestling, Ring of Honor, IWA Mid-South, and Prime Wrestling. Zach mentioned in his interview to us that he is now getting approached by younger talent who are asking him more and more for advice about the business, and he also revealed on his DVD that he is getting more and more bookings now he has straightened himself out. Zach is a name that a lot of fans get behind at shows and I believe that since he has defeated his demons and changed his life he is in more demand now than he ever has before. He seems to be doing well enough by the sounds of it to pick and choose his own dates when he works and Zach is a name that can put bums in seats on any show because he is a great talent. I enjoyed his work back in WWE and from what I have seen of him since WWE he has only got better.
Our next talent is a man known to WWE fans as Festus, but there may be some of you who know him as the D.O.C. from TNA. Nowadays though he goes by the name of the Big L.G., Luke Gallows and he is taking the independent scene by storm right now. As Festus in WWE it’s fair to say that Gallow’s WWE career wasn’t memorable until he became a member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society, until that was bought to an abrupt end. He moved on to TNA as the D.O.C. but again he didn’t have the most memorable fo runs there for me, despite being a member of the Aces and Eights stable. It was when he went to New Japan that Gallows stepped out of the shadows and became a big deal on the independent scene. He prides himself on working solidly, even through injury as his appearance on Colt Cabana’s new Wrestling Road Diaries Too DVD can confirm, and he is another talent being booked constantly on shows outside of WWE. He is in much higher demand now than he ever has been in the past and I believe it’s only a matter of time before we maybe see him back in the WWE again. I’m a big fan of the Luke Gallows character but I never got behind the Festus or D.O.C. characters, and it’s great to see that a character he started in the Straight Edge Society is still rolling strong.
Finally we have a man who was part of greaser tag team Deuce and Domino in WWE before he went on to become Cliff Compton. Compton is unique to this list as he is the only one to win a title in WWE when he and Domino won the WWE Tag Team Championships in 2007. His run with WWE ended in 2008 when he was released from his contract and while he did briefly return in 2010 to Florida Championship Wrestling, Compton has managed to become much like Gallows a big name on the independent circuit. He has since gone on to work for companies such as Ring of Honor and Ohio Valley Wrestling. Compton also features in Colt Cabana’s Wrestling Road Diaries Too DVD and he shows how much he has come on since his WWE days. Compton is in high demand and he keeps his name relevant by appearing on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, as does Luke Gallows. I was a big fan of Deuce and Domino back in their WWE run but since he has left WWE I have become a bigger fan of Cliff Compton as a singles wrestler.
I haven’t included Colt Cabana in this list for the specific reason of he was already majorly over as a guy who wrestled on the independent scene before he came to WWE, but he really could be looked at as the prototype for making yourself a success on the indies. Yes CM Punk and Daniel Bryan also did it too but both are currently employed by WWE at this time, although it would appear Punk’s days are numbered. But the heart and determination of the three guys above shows you that there is a life after WWE. A lot of wrestlers will fade into obscurity once they leave WWE, even if they stop off in TNA first, and there is a sad reality to the wrestling industry in that today’s hero’s can become tomorrow’s forgotten memories. Luckily the three men in this article haven’t taken the fateful road to obscurity and sat back to wallow in their own self pity. Instead they did something to help their careers; They simply made themselves bigger and better and grew their following.
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