Black Thursday: Looking at WWE’s Latest Set of Talent Releases
Posted by Justin Watry on 06.12.2014
411’s Justin Watry looks at the recent WWE releases…
It had been awhile.
Wrestling fans used to know that following WrestleMania, there would be some kind of spring-cleaning with the roster. WWE would cut a few names, from Raw/Smackdown and even developmental. Then a few new/fresh talents would debut. It was just a cycle that had become well known. In recent years, that was not the case. Outside of a couple people requesting their release or simply having their contracts expire, nobody was truly cut for no reasons. In fact, our beloved "sources" even said as such just about a week ago.
Big surprise! They were wrong. On Thursday, WWE announced the departures of multiple personalities. While it is never fun to lose a job, there is no time machine to change what has happened. To move forward, I will break down each talent, my thoughts on them, and where they could be headed next. To start things off, here is my most surprise release of the week...
Yep, this is the most surprising release of them all. I will get to the others, but this one jumped out at me. Just for his professionalism and history in wrestling, he seemed like a 'lifer' that WWE always would keep around. In fact, when Raw or Smackdown comes to his hometown next time, be on the lookout for a "Teddy Long backstage at show" headline. He will keep in touch with everybody and may even be re-hired down the road. Like a Funaki or someone similar, he was well liked and caused no issues, which kept him on the payroll. Always did like his authority figure role on Smackdown - made a match, had a backstage segment, and rarely was involved with major story lines. Exactly what the authority figure should do! Not babble on for 20 minutes each week...
Can not say much about the referee. Sorry.
Somebody just asked me about his status a few days ago. My answer was simple. If his deal is ready to expire, let him go. If he still had time left on the contract, continue waiting it out. Well, no more waiting. Like a lot of other guys, Evan Bourne being misused was brought on by himself. The man was one of the first to pin Sheamus on television, had the backing of John Cena, and came along right when WWE was giving the spotlight to the youth movement. Then injuries came up and yes - TWO Wellness suspensions nearly back to back that derailed any kind of momentum teaming with Kofi Kingston. That all falls on him, sorry folks. To this day, he is on the sidelines. Apparently healthy again, WWE opted to simply move on instead. I assume TNA Impact Wrestling is licking their chops on signing this guy, but if there is no role, then they should not be wasting money right now. Bringing him in for an X-Division match (like the rest of the division) once a month serves no purpose. If, if, if Bourne is healthy and guaranteed a good spot, sure.
One of my three original "it girls" has been shown the door. Not entirely surprising after last Monday night. Not that anybody will believe me, but I was actually going to write that it looked like Aksana was being written out of television when Alicia Fox beat her so fast and was rubbing popcorn in her face. Seemed like the end of the road right there. Regardless, her work in the CLASSIC season three of NXT will always be a highlight. No doubt I will be looking to interview her in the future.
Never saw too much of him in NXT or on the main roster outside of his time with Hunico. Sorry I can not dive into much here. If somebody knows more than me, please write about it in the comment section (insert own joke here).
Already reported to have sign on with Pro Wrestling Syndicate. I fully expect him to get tons of offers and receive work almost immediately. One way or another, he became one of those 'indy darlings' who were held back, misused, etc. Not sure why or how, but it just sort of happened a few years ago. Outside of tag teaming, Curt Hawkins never was given the ball to do much on his own. Whether for a reason or not, that is just how it went for. As noted, I suspect he will find work, keep busy and continue working in the business. The fact he recently opened a wrestling school probably meant he was already thinking post-WWE.
A little disappointed in this release. The dancing dinosaur thing was fun for awhile. However, the end game was always for him to turn on Naomi and Cameron to become the monster he was meant to be. While the WWE Universe did in fact see that transformation a few months ago, it never went anywhere. He did the big turn, aired out his frustrations, and disappeared to NXT. Promising stuff with Alberto Del Rio years ago and even still with his re-introduction in early 2012. After getting bumped of the WrestleMania 29 card? The writing was on the wall...sadly. Hope he keeps wrestling. At age 34, the man is not done just yet.
He is 36 years old (soon to be 37 actually) and was hardly on WWE TV. Had a cool victory at a WrestleMania pre-show a few years back but nothing else.
Only 27 years old. If he keeps going at it, WWE may be looking to bring him back in a year or two. My thoughts on him are similar to that of Brodus Clay. Had potential in the beginning to be something unique. The story line with The Great Khali was ridiculous but whatever. While 3MB were treated as comedy losers, the fact is all three are friends and pitched that gimmick to WWE offices. As you saw each week, they had a blast doing it. For right or wrong, that was able to net them some TV time more often than not. Yes, it was mainly due to WWE officials being 'high' on Heath Slater (notice he was kept), but Mahal was there for the ride. On his own...again, give it some time. Maybe spent a year or two with Ring or Honor or in Japan. TNA does not seem like a fit. WWE may just come calling.
...and so ends the countless rumors of The Chosen One gimmick returning or him getting a single's run. I am going to miss his entrance theme music. This can also shut down yet another person handpicked to be a main event star by Vince McMahon on television - Drew and Elijah Burke ended up getting released. Not going to lie - I was a fan of his early on during that entire story line. Once it was clear he did not have the skills or backing any longer, it was all downhill from there. You could only do so much before moving on. As I wrote with Jinder, the 3MB gimmick was fine for the guys but never had any upward potential. At age 29, every single wrestling company out there will be tripping over themselves to sign him. Even in financial turmoil, TNA is sure to make a bid. ROH should bring him in immediately. If Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling has any legs to it, Drew is the perfect guy to grab. The word potential is an extremely dangerous thing. If used properly, it pays off huge. If not, it backfires in a major way. Drew McIntyre has potential. Now it is up to him to make it work.
Unfortunately, JTG could not survive another round of cuts. There has been a long stand internet joke that he must have something on the McMahon family in order to keep his job for so long. No more, the joke can officially end. My opinion? Meh, the man got a nice shot in 2010 when he broke up with Shad but was off television after that. Never really got a true chance. I have no idea what he does next, but like always - wish the guy luck.
Why Now? - Ultimately, this looks to be a part of WWE trying to save some money with their network below one million subscribers and falling stock price. There may be even more releases coming. If getting rid of 5-10 rarely used talent does the trick (somewhat), then that is the way the cookie crumbles. Also, the other part is obvious: New talent are coming. Adam Rose, Rusev, Paige, Emma, Bo Dallas, and others just came to the main roster, while NXT is rumored to be getting quite a few big independent names soon. Out with the old, in with the new. The circle of life! You can not have a roster of 100 guys doing nothing. When newer, younger wrestlers get signed, there has to be room for them. I wish them all the best going forward and hope to see them back in WWE someday...
What do YOU folks think? Let me know below! Thanks.