Breakup Breakout / Professional Wrestling

When a wrestling tag team or stable are inevitably split up, it's almost a guarantee that this trope will come into play. In the case of a female wrestler or valet becoming the breakup breakout to the male wrestler(s) she managed/teamed with, that is Smurfette Breakout.

  • The Rockers are the most infamous example of this in professional wrestling. Shawn Michaels is one of the biggest stars of all time. Marty Jannetty hasn't been relevant in years, and what he's most famous for is being the man that the left behind half of any broken up tag team is compared to. His name is currently used in a redirect to this article. In Jannetty's defense, relegating him to irrelevancy while pushing Michaels wasn't the original plan. At the time The Rockers broke up, Michaels and Jannetty were considered equals in ability and charisma, and the WWF expected to get two singles stars out of the breakup. However, a couple of badly timed injuries hamstrung Jannetty's biggest pushes and his partying lifestyle ended up getting the better of him.
  • In 1996, Jannetty teamed with Leif Cassidy to form the New Rockers. The team wasn't successful and Jannetty ended up being released after losing a WWF Championship match to his former partner Shawn Michaels. Cassidy was sent to ECW after the breakup and was repackaged as Al Snow. He became a main eventer in ECW and was a moderately successful mid-carder during the Attitude Era, while the high point of Jannetty's post-WWF career was losing a PPV match for the WCW Cruiserweight Title against Chris Jericho.
  • During their NWA and AWA days, Terry Bollea and Ed Leslie were a tag team of kayfabe brothers, known alternately as Terry & Ed Boulder, and Hulk & Dizzy Hogan. Bollea, of course, became Hulk Hogan. Ed Leslie became best known as either Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, or "that guy with no talent who only has a job because he's friends with Hogan".
  • The Blade Runners were a tag team between 1985 and 1986, a pair of former bodybuilders trying to break into wrestling named Steve Borden and Jim Hellwig, who you may know as Sting and Ultimate Warrior. Although both men became huge, Sting is arguably the breakout star. Sting became one of the biggest stars of WCW and one of the main draws in The '90s and early noughties, Warrior was a big success in The '90s, but is now best known for his controversial personal life and a series of crossover episodes between Atop the Fourth Wall and The Spoony Experiment.
  • Before the Blade Runners, Sting and Warrior (or "Flash" and "Justice", as they were then known) came into wrestling as part of a five-man group of bodybuilders-turned-wrestlers known as Power Team USA. The other three members ("Commando" Mark Miller, "Glory" Garland Donoho, and "Fury" Ed Brock) went on to do absolutely nothing. Jim Ross joked that they retired to "Parts Unknown."
  • The Hart Foundation - OK, this team had Bret Hart, who went on to become a multiple-time world champion and hall of famer, and... Who?note  Exactlynote .
  • Edge & Christian - Edge has had three times the amount of World titles Christian has, and in a bigger company at that. Although Christian has held more independent titles and is a first generation Grand Slam Champion, the one accomplishment that Edge never managed though he did manage to become a second generation Grand Slam champion. However, they've both gone on to far, far more success than their original leader in the days of the Brood, Gangrel.
    • Speaking of Edge and Christian, during their indy days they were part of a stable called THUG Life which also contained Rhino Richards, Joe E. Legend, Bloody Bill Skullion and Zakk Wyld. Rhino (without the "Richards") had a successful career and held the ECW World Title although he didn't come close to the success that E&C did. On the other hand, Legend only had a short stint in WWF as Just Joe, and Skullion and Wyld never did anything important enough to warrant having a Wikipedia article.
  • The Hardy Boyz - Jeff Hardy was WWE Champion while Matt had the WWE platinum phoenix version of ECW Championship which is relatively meaningless in comparison. Earlier in the decade it looked like Matt was the one who would become the breakout star, as he started the immensely popular Version One character while Jeff got fired. But then the Matt / Edge / Lita debacle happened and Matt's career got completely derailed, and Jeff redeemed himself long enough to win a World Title at least. History would repeat itself when the two would both move on to TNA. Both would let their personal demons get the best of them, but Matt Hardy would go on to get himself blacklisted from the company by faking a suicide while Jeff Hardy got a second chance and managed to redeem himself and become a mainstay in the main event scene. As of early 2014, Matt had been getting himself back on track, and got himself back into the wrestling scene, eventually getting a tag team title run in TNA with Jeff. His comeback continued into 2016 with his first TNA world title, his loss of said title, his subsequent (kayfabe) mental break leading to the incredibly popular "Broken Matt Hardy" persona, eventually getting a second TNA tag title run with Jeff, a brief ROH tag title reign (after their departure from a near-broke TNA) and the team's return to WWE at Wresltemania 33, wherein they won the Raw tag titles in their first match back. If anything, Matt has been the driving force of the brother's renewed success.
  • Inverted with The Radicalz: Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn. Yes, the first two went on to become major stars. Guerrero died. Benoit killed his entire family and himself. Malenko retired in the early 2000's and is still respected for a wrestler of his build and skill. Saturn disappeared, was homeless for quite awhile, and is just now granting public interviews.
    • Saturn was previously the breakout star of the Eliminators, his tag team in ECW. Saturn had runs in WCW and later WWE, and while he barely did anything in either company it's a lot more than his partner John Kronus ever got.
  • "Stunning" Steve Austin and Brian Pillman of the Hollywood Blondes. Austin became six time WWE champion and the only man to win the Royal Rumble thrice. To be fair, the main reason for this was Pillman's untimely death at age 35. At the time, both Pillman and Austin were both very over high mid-carders (Austin being only a few months into developing the foul-mouthed, beer-swilling, anti-hero we know him as today). In fact, Pillman's death came at the beginning stages of a feud between the two.
  • The Thrillseekers: Chris Jericho and Lance Storm. Not a total example. For one thing, they teamed very early in their careers and the team broke up before either of them became famous. Also, Lance Storm became quite a star - he briefly held every undercard title in WCW at the same time and he's still very respected within the business. However, Jericho would become a multiple time WWE World Champion, and acquire fame outside of wrestling as the lead singer of his band Fozzy.
  • America's Most Wanted - One would go on to form an even greater tag team known as BEER! MONEY! The other was Chris Harris, who went on to become IWC phenomenon Braden Walker, who is only remembered for looking stupid during his insanely brief one-month run in WWECW.
    • In fact, Beer Money (James Storm and Bobby Roode) is possibly the most Breakup Breakout team in pro wrestling. Both of its members were Breakup Breakout characters themselves (Storm from AMW, Roode from Team Canada), and when they split, it did the impossible by launching both into the main event (although Roode perhaps more than Storm, making it fit this trope more).
  • D-Generation X - Not a total example as Shawn Michaels was already a big star when the group started, but of the other members of the group only Triple H discovered any real long term success. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn both got stale and couldn't get over either as singles wrestlers or with other tag team partners, Chyna had one of the most notorious falls from grace in wrestling history, and X-Pac became the Trope Namer for X-Pac Heat.
    • Billy Gunn did alright with Chuck Palumbo as Billy & Chuck, but the team relied on their pseudo-homosexual partnership gimmick, which after it ended didn't take them very far. But, yeah, nothing's going to stack up to his run with Road Dogg as the New Age Outlaws.
  • During the last days of WCW, AJ Styles was half of a tag team with a guy named Air Paris. Styles is a multi-time champion in TNA and became a WWE champion in 2016, whereas Paris hasn't had so much as a stint in any of the "big six" (WWE, TNA, ROH, CZW, PWG, Chikara). Paris has done well for himself in some NWA promotions but then, Styles has done so too.
  • The Steiner Brothers: Scott Steiner (HUH?) became a WCW Champion in 2000 (HUH?) and worked in the WWE (HUH?) and in TNA (HUH?), while Rick (HUH?) is currently (HUH?) in a local school board (HUH?). Ironically, before the split, Rick Steiner was considered the better of the two. Then Scotty put on 100 pounds of muscle, bleached his hair, reinvented himself as a Kavorka Man with "freaks" in every city, and started giving insane promos (likely fueled by the stuff that gave him that 100 pounds of muscle). Rick, on the other hand, floundered about in the upper midcard and then turned heel. Although he was a pretty good face, as a heel he was a complete heat vacuum.
  • Harlem Heat: Booker T becomes a six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time World Heavyweight Champion, and who knows what Stevie Ray is doing currently. note ]
  • The British Bulldogs broke up when Dynamite Kid had to retire due to chronic back injuries and a falling out with his tag partner (and real-life first cousin) Davey Boy Smith. Smith renamed himself to The British Bulldog and had a fairly long run as an upper midcarder in WWF.
  • The Second City Saints: CM Punk is a six-time World Champion and was one of the top faces of WWE before leaving for an MMA career, Colt Cabana (aka Scotty Goldman) got released from WWE after a brief run as a jobber. Oh, and did you know there's a third Second City Saint named Ace Steel? Though Colt did eventually become a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, so there's that.
  • Punk was also this to the heel stable The New Breed in 2007 — which he, admittedly, joined for all of two weeks. By that point everyone knew that Punk was the only one of them that had any future in the company as a wrestler. Matt Striker was the only one who lasted a notable length of time, and he did so as a TV personality, having not wrestled in years by the time he was released in 2013. Elijah Burke has had reasonable success in TNA as the pope, and is easily the second-most successful member of the group. Even then, his success is nothing compared to Punk's - his membership and feud with the New Breed is barely a footnote in the face of his ascension to superstardom, while Burke, for all his success, is stuck in mid card hell at TNA.
  • The Fabulous Freebirds were actually notorious for their refusal to break up - if a promoter tried to split the team up all of them would leave the promotion. However, Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy both had notable careers following the breakup of the Freebirds, whereas Buddy Roberts did nothing afterwards. And when the team finally did break up for good, it was with Hayes and Gordy turning face on Roberts. Hayes and Gordy went on to mixed success elsewhere, and Roberts retired. Buddy Roberts was the oldest member and already well-established in the wrestling world as half of the original Hollywood Blonds (not the Steve Austin/Brian Pillman team) long before he joined the Freebirds. He was brought in because Michael Hayes was considered a great talker but a poor wrestler.
  • MNM: Johnny Nitro became John Morrison, won the ECW Title, joined another successful tag team, and was an upper-midcarder on WWE SmackDown being primed for the big time. Joey Mercury... had a few spots returning to ROH, and later joined the Straight Edge Society. Even their valet Melina did better than Mercury, wining the Women's Title on a couple of occasions. Whether or not she was bigger than Morrison, she was until he became Lucha Underground Champion and a Triple A Triple Crown Champion.
  • Subverted with Morrison's tag team with The Mizeveryone figured Miz would be lost in the midcard on Raw after the tandem broke up while Morrison moved on to bigger and better things on SmackDown. However, The Miz became the breakout star of the two, winning the WWE Championship in 2010. Morrison left the company the following year. But then Miz got dropped back down the mid card and Morrison won the aforementioned belts and more outside of WWE, ended up still pretty even with Miz wrestling wise. Miz continues to get more media appearances outside of wrestling due to being more PR friendly and being in far fewer behind the scenes disputes. His run since Wrestlemania 32 has been considered the best of his career, playing the perfect obnoxious heel, with multiple IC title reigns and feuds that have re-elevated the championship back to its historical prestige.
  • WCW had Three Count, a boy band stable consisting of Evan Karagias, Shannon Moore, and Shane Helms. Of the three, Helms has had a moderately successful WWE career as The Hurricane and as Gregory Helms, Moore was mostly a jobber in WWE but had some tag team success in TNA, and Karaigas hasn't done anything. Although, Helms' status of Breakup Breakout came during his WCW days, when he started using the Vertebreaker as his finisher and was given an elaborate entrance and custom theme song.
  • This has happened with Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder as the latter was established as a hot new heel on ECW with his memorable catchphrase and theme music, while the former completely disappeared from WWE television and returned to FCW. Hawkins would later return as part of a very unmemorable tag team with Vance Archer which would later break up with Hawkins going nowhere on Superstars while Archer got released. However, it was during that short period of time that it would look like Hawkins might have a shot at surpassing his partner as ECW went off the air and was replaced by NXT, leaving Ryder stuck on Superstars as well. However, Ryder would become an underground hit when he debuted his Web Original series, Z! True Long Island Story. With a huge following on the IWC, Ryder would eventually turn face and get featured on both RAW and Smackdown as a result (Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler at the 2011 WWE TLC PPV for the United States Championship), all while Curt Hawkins made sporadic appearances as a jobber-to-the-stars before getting released. Hawkins came back to WWE in 2016, but never came close to the heights his former tag team partner had reached five years earlier, or even where he was now.
  • Even if he had moderate success, Billy Gunn hit superstardom in comparison to what happened to Bart Gunn from The Smoking Gunns. Bart Gunn won the (real fighting) Brawl For All tournament, then lost to Butterbean in 30 seconds and was immediately fired - he hasn't worked in the USA since. Billy also outlived Road Dogg in the WWE even if they later reunited in TNA. Bart Gunn actually did fairly well for himself, but in Japan. Since Bart knocked out "Dr. Death" Steve Williams in the Brawl For All and Williams was a very big name in Japan, he gained instant credibility, and he received decent pushes in both All Japan Pro Wrestling and NJPW.
  • In a "rivals" version of this, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis. They debuted together, feuded all through Mexico, Japan, ECW, WCW... then 2001ish WCW released all their luchadors except for Mysterio (and Juventud Guererra). Mysterio later got scooped up by WWE and eventually became a World Champion. Psicosis, on the other hand, got a short WWE run and nothing to show for it. When they met in a Royal Rumble, Mysterio just kinda backhanded Psicosis out of the ring. Mysterio's still a major superstar. Psicosis isn't as big in his native Mexico as Mysterio is in the US.
  • The Rock started out as part of The Nation of Domination alongside Faarooq, D'Lo Brown, The Godfather, and Mark Henry. Rocky of course first became arguably the most popular wrestler of all time, and then made it into Hollywood. The Godfather never really did much in the ring (although his post-Nation gimmick made him a favorite during the Attitude Era, leading to induction in the WWE Hall of Fame), and D'Lo Brown was a successful upper midcarder during the Attitude Era, but never broke into the main event and his star faded around 2003 or so. Mark Henry won the World Title in 2011, putting him in a clear second place.
  • The World's Greatest Tag Team: Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. After the team split up Shelton got three consecutive victories over Triple H, became a three time Intercontinental champion, a former United States Champion and was the highlight of the Money in the Bank match at every Wrestlemania (he, tied with Kane, appeared in more MITB matches than any other superstar). Charlie Haas was primary used as a jobber-to-the-stars and occasionally part of an unsuccessful make-shift tag team. He was even released and re-hired a couple times before being released for good in 2010. A strange subversion here in that the WGTT as a tag team actually has more drawing power than either Haas or Benjamin separately. When they reunited in Ring Of Honor, the Fandom Rejoiced.
  • Not to say that Chuck Palumbo has had an extraordinarily successful career, but he's had a better one than that of his tag partner in The Perfect Event, Shawn Stasiak. Palumbo had a good run as WWE Tag Team Champion with Billy Gunn, was later part of the WWE incarnation of the Full Blooded Italians, and was part of the Voodoo Murders stable in AJPW. Stasiak got to play a gimmick where he was deliberately clumsy, and now works as a chiropractor.
  • Dragon Gate had a stable called the Royal Brothers, with Anthony W. Mori, Henry III Suguwara, and Phillip J. Fukamasa. Fukamasa barely lasted an entire year, leaving Mori and Suguwara a tag team. Then Suguwara turned heel on Mori (and started using his real name Takuya Suguwara). Mori won their feud fairly heavily, and Suguwara was fired for unrelated reasons, leaving Mori as the breakup breakout. But since then, Suguwara re-invented himself on the Japanese indy scene while Mori slid down the rankings to jobber-to-the-stars. Suguwara returned to Dragon Gate after a half a decade absence, and is now somewhere between upper midcarder and main eventer, and leading the Real Hazard stable. A rare case of the breakup breakout situation reversing itself.
  • The British Invasion: Brutus Magnus, Doug Williams, and Rob Terry. Terry, the Butt-Monkey of the stable, went on to become TNA Global champion and thus far the longest reigning champion in the belt's history. Doug Williams is a two-time X-Division champion and one of the top guys of the division. Magnus has been taken off television following his PPV loss to Terry. However, Magnus has become a prominent midcarder after teaming with Samoa Joe and winning the Tag Team titles. Terry has been working mainly as Robbie E's bouncer and Douglas Williams hasn't been on TV in a while. Magnus would go on to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion, after Williams had left the company and Terry had been established as a career upper midcarder. By 2015 Magnus was the only one of the three remaining in TNA, and despite being out of the title scene retained a prominent role on Impact.
  • WWE had the Spirit Squad, a five-man stable consisting of male cheerleaders Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky, and Mikey. Out of the five only Nicky has been continuously employed in the WWE, having been repackaged as Dolph Ziggler, enjoying singles success and eventually becoming a Triple Crown champion. Ironically, the whole Spirit Squad gimmick was used to put over Kenny. That worked to his disadvantage, as he forever became associated with the gimmick. Even years after the breakup, Kenny Dykstra was still the butt of Spirit Squad chants and jokes. Mikey, although never as popular as Ziggler, had a solid career on the independent scene as Mike Mondo. Kenny and Mikey eventually returned to the WWE as midcarders in 2016, but still never came close to Ziggler's popularity.
  • Averted with The Acolytes/APA, as Ron Simmons (aka Faarooq) was already a former WCW Champion prior to the team's creation. However, after the APA's second breakup in 2004, Bradshaw reinvented himself as the Corrupt Corporate Executive John Bradshaw Layfield, when he held the WWE title for almost a year.
  • Played straight with Legacy, though not in the way people expected. Ted DiBiase was initially planned to be breakout with him turning face against Randy Orton and he had starred in the Direct-to-Video sequel to The Marine. The plans got derailed when Orton's popularity caused him to be booked as a face against DiBiase and Rhodes. After Wrestlemania, Ted was given his father's gimmick and failed to get over even with Virgil and later Maryse by his side. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes was drafted to Smackdown and became "Dashing". Cody's been a mainstay of the show, winning the WWE tag team championship for the fourth time with Drew McIntyre, being in World title contention, getting another gimmick overhaul, and winning a WrestleMania match against Rey Mysterio. Rhodes won the Intercontinental Championship on an episode of SmackDown on August 12, 2011 and has become one of the top heels in the WWE. DiBiase left wrestling in 2013, while Rhodes later found success as a face and with a new heel gimmick "Stardust" before leaving in 2016. Since then? ROH World Champion.
  • The American Males: Marcus Bagwell would turn on his tag team partner Scotty Riggs to join the New World Order. The newly rechristened Buff Bagwell would become a capable hand in the nWo and would enjoy a run in the upper-midcard upon the group's dissolution until WCW was bought out by WWE. Scotty Riggs would join The Flock as a job guy for Raven and toil in obscurity upon that group's dissolution. After Riggs jumped from WCW to ECW, Riggs was put in an angle with Rob Van Dam and it looked like he might avert this, but the match between Riggs and RVD was underwhelming, and ECW folded not too long afterwards.
  • Inverted with LayCool. Michelle McCool was already a big player in the women's division when the team formed but Layla was mostly just there as another heel diva. She started out as Michelle's sidekick but was eventually promoted to an equal. When they split it was played straight since Layla retired Michelle and became the top face on Smackdown, until an injury took her out. Layla got hurt (torn ACL and MCL) the same night she retired Michelle. Sitting out for a year recovering killed her momentum and even though she was made Divas Champion when she came back, she was never as over as she was with Michelle.
  • Another example that includes Layla - Extreme Expose. The dance trio on ECW included her and Kelly Kelly who was arguably the most popular diva on the roster. The other girl, Brooke Adams, got released just after they split. However, Brooke joined TNA in 2010, becoming a three-time Knockouts Champion, arguably the best wrestler of the three, and the only one still active since Kelly and Layla have now retired. Much like the Edge and Christian scenario, Brooke is the breakout in terms of in-ring accomplishments, but since Kelly and Layla worked on the bigger stage, the are the de facto breakout stars.
  • In 2004, the tag team "Los Guerreros" was broken up after Chavo Guerrero Jr. attacked his uncle Eddie. Their feud culminated at the Royal Rumble, with Eddie winning. About a month later, both of them became successful at No Way Out, with Chavo winning the Cruiserweight Championship and Eddie winning the WWE Championship. Chavo never quite became as successful as his uncle in the long run (Eddie was already more popular anyway), but was nevertheless a good wrestler.
  • Averted with the Funk brothers, Terry and Dory Jr. While Terry is more well-known than Dory Jr. for his inability to stay out of the ring and his hardcore matches, both were equally successful singles stars in their primes.
  • One odd example that's not born from either a tag team or a rivalry. In 1989 a midcarder for New Japan Pro Wrestling named Keiichi Yamada was reinvented, giving him a gimmick based on a Go Nagai anime that was getting ready to air. Today, Jushin Thunder Liger is one of the most celebrated, accomplished and innovative wrestlers in history while the anime series his gimmick is based on, Jushin Liger, is practically a footnote known more for spawning his gimmick than anything else.
  • Despite showing equal charisma as singles stars, when Team 3D broke up, Brother Ray became Bully Ray and one of the top heels of the company whereas Brother Devon languished in the midcard, only getting a very brief push as TV Champion (the push coming a month after he won the title and being forgotten about after two months). When their contracts expired in August 2012, Ray stayed and Devon left, both with good reason: Ray was in the Bound For Glory tournament for the World Title, and Devon's Television Title was getting no television time. He came back. He's stlll nowhere near Ray's level, now that the latter is TNA World Champion.
  • GLOW
    • The tag team of Hollywood and Vine. After GLOW closed, Vine did nothing of note. Hollywood stayed in the wrestling business in various capacities, and is very easy to find on the Internet to this day, although most of her work is in pretaped and often NSFW matches.
    • T&A was made up of Tina Ferrari and Ashley Cartier. Tina spent years in various women's promotions before arriving in WWE in 1999 as Ivory and would go on to become a 3x WWE Women's Champion. Ashley never accomplished much beyond her and Tina's run with the GLOW Tag Team Titles.
      • Tina/Ivory could actually be considered the breakout member of the entire GLOW roster, as she's the only one to go on to have a respectable career in wrestling after the promotion closed its doors, and the only one to wrestle for WWE.
    • Of Thunderbolt and Lightning, Lightning showed up more as a singles wrestler and continued to show up in post Glow promotions such as the short lived LPWA, sometimes as Cheryl Rusa.
  • When Men on a Mission broke up, Mabel became King of the Ring, and then had midcard runs in WWE as Viscera and Big Daddy V. Mo on the other hand never did anything of note again - he wasn't even kept around long enough to feud with and lose to Mabel.
  • Claudio Castagnoli started out in the European indy scene as part of a quartet called Swiss Money Holding with Ares, Marc Roudin, and Don Heavy. Obviously, Claudio is the breakout - he got a WWE job as Antonio Cesaro. Ares, however, is a breakout compared to Roudin. Ares is currently a fairly successful indie wrestler in the States. Roudin stayed semi-active in Europe through the early 2010s before retiring, but even he's a breakout compared to Don Heavy, who only lasted a couple years and was retired by 2004.
  • Same thing with the Kings of Wrestling. Cesaro actually made it to WWE TV and is getting a big push, Chris Hero was with NXT for about a year before being released. Ironically, Castagnoli was at best Hero's equal and at times the lackey of the Kings, one time unwillingly.
  • Club 7 was a tag team in New Japan Pro Wrestling formed by Giant Silva and Giant Singh who acted as Masahiro Chono's bodyguards. After the team's break up, the two took separate ways: Giant Singh went to became WWE's uber-hyped giant, The Great Khali, while Giant Silva (a former WWF wrestler himself) joined to HUSTLE and tried his hand in Mixed Martial Arts before fading into the darkness. Although Silva is considered the better wrestler of the team (or, at least, is not as bad as Khali is), he unofficially retired in 2011 and only a few remember him, while Khali still enjoying his WWE fame.
  • The Nexus. This was a fairly large stable and provides plenty of examples, so here goes:
    • Daniel Bryan, the first to be kicked out of the group, is the only one to win a world championship and in less than four years became the most over wrestler in the entire company, even beating out CM Punk and John Cena. Now, he's arguably the most over wrestler since Stone Cold and the Rock.
    • In second place is latecomer Husky Harris, who was repackaged as Bray Wyatt, formed The Wyatt Family, and got a huge push, though in 2014 he racked up a nasty PPV losing streak that hurt his momentum and credibility pretty badly. Fortunately, he's starting to regain momentum thanks to a revived Wyatt Family and won the WWE title in 2017.
    • Skip Sheffield, who was kicked out after breaking his leg (causing him to be out for well over a year), was repackaged as the uber-monster Ryback, putting him in a clear third place. Ultimately his success was short-lived, and by 2014 he's only on TV as a tag team jobber with Curtis Axel. In late 2014, he had his push rebooted and became the Intercontinental champion in 2015. However, he pissed off management by complaining about his salary and place on the card before being taken off of TV and eventually released in 2016.
    • The only other members to have any real success were Wade Barrett, the former leader, and ironically the one the stable was suppose to propel to superstardom, and Michael McGillicutty, who joined the group months into its existence and eventually became Paul Heyman protege Curtis Axel. See Ryback's section above on where Curtis Axel ended up, though. The rest are either released or jobbers, the most prominent being Heath Slater, who formed the heel stable Three MB, composed primarily of jobbers that broke up after Jindar and Drew got released. However Slater is a very popular Ensemble Darkhorse.
    • CM Punk doesn't count, as while he ascended superstardom after dissolving what was last of the Nexus, he was already well-established beforehand by being a three-time world champion at the time, and he remains the group's most successful member. Neither does John Cena, for that matter. Although he's far more successful than any other Nexus member, he was much more established than Punk was and had been a superstar for years.
  • Brian Kendrick was briefly the breakout of London and Kendrick (although London was a more established solo star at the time of their formation); he hung around for about a year after the team split, and got a decent singles push as The Brian Kendrick. Paul London, meanwhile, was released just a few months after the team was broken up.
  • Damien Sandow got his start in WWE under the name Idol Stevens as half of the Teacher's Pets. He's had a far more successful career than his tag partner KC James.
  • Eric Alexander, later known as Mr. E, was a perfectly acceptable mid card wrestler in IWA Puerto Rico and WWC on his way to the main event who equaled or out shined all his tag team partners everywhere he went, excepting his Puerto Rican Nightmares tag team partner Eddie Colon in WWE. While Primo's WWE career is hardly the stuff of legend, "Eric Escobar" was seemingly called out of developmental just to reintroduce Vickie Guerrero to WWE TV and to mock his pre WWE success.
  • When the Norfolk Dolls broke apart, both Britani Knight and Melody started to slide nearly into jobber status but Knight bounced back next year and went on to win multiple title belts in many countries and get invited to SHIMMER while Melodi wouldn't get a big break for another five years. Britani later joined WWE's FCW and formed the "Anti-diva Army" with Sofia Cortez as Paige. They broke up when NXT replaced FCW and it seemed like Sofia was going to leave Paige behind. Then Cortez got injured and released while Paige became NXT's first Women's Champion. As of 2015, Paige is a two-time Divas champion and Ivelisse a third of Lucha Underground's first tercias champion team.
  • The Shield broke up in 2014. Roman Reigns is being pushed as the next top babyface and Seth Rollins joined the Authority and won the World Title at Wrestlemania XXXI. Dean Ambrose on the other hand, despite being arguably the most popular of the 3note  went on to feud with with fellow almost-but-not-quite main eventer Bray Wyatt before being moved back into the midcard as part of the effort to revitalize the Intercontinental and United States championships. It's later subverted as in May 2015 he challenging his former Shield teammate for the WWE World Heavyweight championship and even pinned him for the title before the latter was disqualified. By mid-2016, it was completely subverted as all three members have become world champion. In fact, all three were champion within three minutes of each other. Seth won the title off the defending Roman, only for Dean to cash in his MITB briefcase (the second after Kane to do so within the same night they won it) to win the title off him. With this, the Shield officially became one of the most successful factions in the history of the company and easily the most successful since Evolution.
    • Speaking of Seth Rollins, as Tyler Black, he was the breakout of several other stables/tag teams in the indies. He was this to the Black and the Brave in AAW (admittedly because a back injury put Marek Brave into retirement for four years, causing Black to pursue a singles career), and was this to the Age of the Fall, which propelled him into Ring of Honor's main event scene while Jimmy Jacobs languished in the upper-midcard. He's even this to the entire cast/roster of Wrestling Society X, which, while boasting what would become major names on the independent circuit, of whom none not named Ricky Banderas could compare to his success in the WWE, and Ricky had already made his name anyway, WSX hurting his reputation more than anything when the show was canceled over his use of fireballs. The closest would be Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne), who would at least get signed to the WWE and actually win a title during his time there.
    • Dean Ambrose also outshined his tag partner in the Switchblade Conspiracy, Sami Callihan. Callihan did get signed to NXT as Solomon Crowe with a promising black-hat hacker gimmick, but for whatever reason WWE bookers never got behind Crowe and used him so rarely that he requested his own release. Ambrose became a major star in WWE, becoming one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster, winning numerous titles and even becoming world champion. You could argue that Ambrose is also this to Combat Zone Wrestling as a whole, as he has outstripped nearly every major wrestler of that promotion in success and is the first CZW alumnus to become world champion in WWE.
  • Raven's The Gathering in TNA is a bit of a mixed bag. Raven himself doesn't count, as he was a long-established multi-time world champion by the time the group was introduced. Mickie James eventually became one of the hallmark female wrestlers of The Noughties, being the only woman to have ever held every major women's title in North America. Julio Dinero, however, faded into obscurity after leaving TNA. However, none of them can compare to the success achieved by the fourth and final member of the stable: CM Punk, who became a star that can only be matched by John Cena and Daniel Bryan.
  • Jay Lethal was originally a member of Special K (a Ring of Honor stable full of rich kid druggie ravers) under the name Hydro. The fact that Hydro clearly had a lot more ability and potential than his stablemates was repeatedly addressed in-universe, and he was eventually adopted by Samoa Joe as his protege. His career went upwards from there, with a long run in TNA followed by a return to ROH as one of its top wrestlers. As for the other full-time Special K wrestlers though, who knows what Izzy, Dixie, Angel Dust and Deranged are up to these days? As of 2016, mostly semi-active or inactive.
  • Crazzy Steve outlasted the other members of The Menagerie (Knux and The Freak), and went on to become a tag team champion alongside Abyss as half of Decay. That being said, Knux and the Freak were well-established veterans at that point.
  • One very notable example from New Japan Pro Wrestling is the tag team of No Limit. Tetsuya Naito has (despite a rocky start) become one of the most popular and dastardly heels in New Japan's history, forming and leading one of the promotions top heel stables Los Ingobernables de Japon and winning every major single's championship (the IWGP Heavyweight, IWGP Intercontiental and NEVER Openweight titles). Yujiro Takahashi went on to become a member of the Bullet Club...and that's about it.
  • Enzo and Cass: While it may be too early to tell since they only broke up a short time ago as of this writing, it is almost universally agreed that Big Cass will be the breakout. Despite Enzo Amore being more charismatic and a better talker than Cass (though many fans find him to be annoying and obnoxious), Cass is the better wrestler of the two and more likely to get a big push since he's 7 feet tall (and you can't teach that!) and Vinny Mac's love of big guys is legendary.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/BreakupBreakout/ProfessionalWrestling