The majority of the recent WWE releases — specially including that of Damien Sandow, Alex Riley, Zeb Colter, Wade Barrett, El Torito, Santino Marella and Hornswoggle — were mostly just a case of the characters having run their course and WWE having nothing for them creatively.
Santino is a different story as he’s dealt with a neck injury with complications that effectively ended his in-ring career. He's already branched out to a new career with his Canadian-based Battle Arts Academy and was recently married.
Alex Riley and Damien Sandow were both considered promising prospects but Riley’s in-ring work never got to where it needed to be and Sandow, in my opinion, never got the proper support from a storyline perspective (he turned some duds into gold).
Barrett intended to walk and that appears to be what we’re about to see with Ryback. I would be shocked if Adam Rose survives his most recently legal issues, compiled with the Wellness violation that he was very vocal in criticizing.
Multiple sources have informed us Vince McMahon wants several names up from WWE NXT and the cuts appear to be a way to make some room for the inevitable.