WWE is making record profits this year. The numbers they are ranking in are unheard of. Yet, thanks to their unbelievable television deals with USA Network, FOX and elsewhere, money is no issue to them. Pandemic or not. Live events or not. That didn’t stop WWE from making a whole ton of releases earlier this year. The company took a ton of heat for doing such a thing during rough times for families all over the globe. Now as we near the end of the year, let’s take a look back on those questionable cuts.
Rusev – I didn’t agree with this release. Not only did Lana just recently re-sign with WWE, but Rusev had always been reliable. Face, heel, tag team, brawler. He could do it all and proved as such during 2014-2016. Yes, his steam had run out. Yes, his Rusev Day act had grown stale. Sorry if you disagree. It had run its course by mid-2018. Either way, he was worth keeping on the roster. Apparently. WWE thought differently and let him go. Why would they do it to a guy who had clearly shown his potential multiple times? Simple: Rusev had requested his release before. As we will see when running down some of these names, that played a factor. If you wanted out, then okay. Bye. How has he done since leaving? Well, not so good. In my limited viewing of AEW Dynamite, his character has been a hippie video gamer on Twitch. Dressed like a bum and not at all presented as the Bulgarian Brute we know and love. He may have secured a big, hefty contract…but yeah, no. Maybe the WWE Machine knew what it had and without all that backing, he was just simply “Miro.”
The OC – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson had just signed new deals. However, the same goes as above. They were just about out of the door months prior. AJ Styles had to convince them to stick around. Whether it was due to their big contracts just signed or politics backstage (as they believe), the duo was let go. Definitely surprising…but kinda meh to me. I was never a big fan, truth be told and didn’t follow their Japan stuff. Thus, I didn’t care about that part of their career. They landed in Impact Wrestling months later and well, I’m not watching that program. Probably got a nice payday and got to do their outside projects. My guess is once New Japan Pro Wrestling opens up a bit more, they will head there for another nice payday.
Eric Young – Never a fan. I was shocked he was even signed to WWE in the first place. He went back to Impact Wrestling where he belongs and won their top title in no time. Yeah, stay there. Main Event will be just fine without you.
No Way Jose – Not a surprising release. Just sucks he never got a real shot to do much outside of dancing to a catchy song. I have not seen his name very much since April. Wonder what he is up to?
EC3 – A shocking cut at the time. A not so shocking cut when you add everything up. He tierh had a concussion or constantly had complications from a concussion. He just never got going. Even in NXT, his run was cut short. The main roster didn’t do him many favors either. I was a fan and thought the company would get behind him big time. I was obviously wrong. Something did not go right with his most recent run. Even now months removed from his release, he has worked with Impact Wrestling and Ring Of Honor. Very little actual wrestling in either promotion. Something seems to be going on, injury related or I don’t know. Perhaps WWE knew better?
Drake Maverick – He was cut but then kept working with WWE during the 90 day non-compete clause. Some say it was all a story line from the beginning. Others say WWE re-considered and brought him back under a new/cheaper deal. Rumor has it all of those who were cut did get an offer to stay for a reduced rate. I have no idea if that is true or not. Either way, Drake kept wrestling on NXT, fighting to keep his job in the story line and then got a new contract from Triple H at the end of a taping. An emotional scene for him. Planned or not, he is still with WWE as 2020 ends.
Kurt Angle – Probably a high paid producer behind the scenes. If WWE wasn’t traveling or working live events on the weekend, then yeah, a bunch of staff were not needed. Sad to say of course. Just how it goes. With no live events, the entire live events department had to be trimmed. Angle likely made a bunch of money and wasn’t going to be doing a lot. I would NOT have cut him, mind you. He is KURT ANGLE! You can find something for him to do. In any event, he did stick around and do some ‘extra’ stuff for them. Tough to say if he is truly a free agent or just an unofficial WWE Legend.
Curt Hawkins – Yeah, he has his other projects. Sucks that he has a family and stuff. Obviously, that part sucks, He also reportedly had just signed a new deal. Make no mistake though, Curt will be fine. He is doing more than fine, wrestling in Impact and keeping up with his action figures.
Zack Ryder – Read above, except he has popped up in AEW for a couple of appearances. I don’t want to say that Zack Ryder will end up back in WWE eventually, but I do see that happening. It may not be right away. I just see it happening. His fiance is already there, and he has way too much stock in the Zack Ryder gimmick. Matt Cardona just doesn’t have much to it. Blah. Like others, he had reportedly been looking to leave WWE anyways when his deal was up in August regardless.
Colons – Not much to add here. They had wanted out before and were never doing anything of note. Mostly for the live event crew.
Lio Rush – Talented and super athletic when given the chance. After running out of gas on both the main roster and NXT with different roles, it was either yet another fresh start or release. I have not followed his work since leaving. Not much of anything high profile. I think he is attempting a rap career? Good luck.
Sarah Logan – She just appeared on a Liv Morgan WWE Network special. Plus, her husband is in the company. Rumor has it she is well liked backstage. Recently pregnant, my guess is she gets re-hired down the road. The company loved her so much they were going to make her a trainer. She’s good.
Heath Slater – I never understood the appeal to this guy. He was more or less a lower card clown who lost 90% of his career. Weak link of Nexus, weak link of 3MB, weak link of the freakin’ Corre and even the weak link of his tag team with Rhyno. He did get a final payday from WWE for a one off return bout with Drew McIntyre over the summer. However, that was just a cool thing, buddy to buddy. I did enjoy that moment. Other than that, he showed up in Impact Wrestling, did a rehash of his WWE/free agent story line from four years ago and then hurt himself. Well liked and seems to be a fun guy. No bad words about that side of him. On TV though? I never cared.
Aiden English – He was teasing something big on Twitter a few weeks ago. Apparently, not a single promotion has even bothered to call him since the WWE release. He may be somebody to watch out for. I don’t think WWE lost anything here…but he has a charisma about him.
Rowan – Done nothing and bombed in every opportunity given to him by WWE. Each year, it looked like a new gimmick and a new focus. Failed in all of them. I think the company was moving on, cuts or not. He was done being a featured performer.
Curtis Axel – Never had it. Never, ever had it. His genesis was his end.
Mike/Maria Kanellis – Ugh. This one is tough as both had whined and griped about WWE on Twitter. It became pretty annoying, honestly. Even if they were speaking the truth in many of their posts, it became a bit much because when push came to shove, they RE-SIGNED! Yep, when that big fat contract was put in front of them, they signed. Funny how that all works out, huh? Then when they started up again about a release (more so Mike and NOT Maria mind you), they were flabbergasted and shocked it was actually done. Released, so long. Then they went online to whine and cry about being cut during a pandemic. Unreal. I get it. I really do. Pregnant wife at home and all that. I am well aware of the circumstances. It just didn’t add up when you consider past actions and posts on Twitter…and then doing the complete opposite when money is flashed in your face, only to turn around and do it again when gone. After a quick Google search, Mike has popped up in ROH. Cool. Good for him.
There were others. Behind the scenes, referees, NXT talent, etc. All in all, WWE caught a bunch of crap for letting these talents go. Maybe the timing was bad or even ethically “wrong.” Or maybe the company was simply granting the request of those that wanted out and finally acted on it. I have no idea. AOP were let go also; that move made no sense. Heck, FTR were finally released as well, but they had wanted out and were counting down the days left in their deals. In any event, they were to AEW like others, and their numbers have not moved. I don’t know. WWE has not missed much of a beat with all of these guys/gals gone, and it’s not like they are lighting the world on fire either. Did they really let go of a can’t miss talent? Or was the uproar all about the current climate of the world?
YOU tell me. Still upset over all the releases?
By Justin Watry (Twitter: @JustinWatry)