Photo Credits – WWE, Wrestling Examiner & Ringside News
It is incredibly hard for me and many fans around the world to wrap our heads around on what exactly is WWE’s endgame here with the insane amount of talent that the company has cut ties with since last year. The company has fired around 119 talents from their roster and a significant amount of people that have worked backstage or in the office. Now it has become an annual tradition that after Wrestlemania every year WWE would do a spring cleaning and release some talent but what we have witnessed so far has been an absolute slaughterhouse and there are rumors that they aren’t done yet.
Here is the thing that a lot of fans and talent struggle with, there are only so many slots available on TV every week and that is true for every wrestling program on TV, so that means there are times where not all the talent can be in the starting lineup and are forced to ride the bench. So from a business perspective you want to feature your best line up every week. Let me be clear WWE’s creative and most of the other promotions creatives have left a lot to be desired and it is a large reason that WWE and AEW are fighting for the same 2 million fans every week vs the like 4 million from some years ago and the 10 million during the Monday Night Wars.
WWE like WCW did in the 90s just began to hoard talent of the past few years especially when the rumblings of AEW’s launch they began locking down talent to big money contracts to avoid them jumping like the stars did in the war with WCW in the 90s. The problem like I said is that you have limited spots and too much talent that can be featured. It costs the company money for having assets that they are paying for but have no use for and let me be clear that is the company’s own fault for hoarding the talent in the first place without a plan for said talent when they signed them. Anyway, any successful business is not going to keep paying for something when they don’t think the asset is worth keeping whether the asset has already reached its peak in their eyes or that the asset didn’t pay off the way that they thought it would. As a whole most of the talent WWE has released since 2020, was mostly in my opinion not worth keeping as they had either worn out their usefulness or had reached their peak and weren’t going to be huge assets to the already stacked company but could be a bigger asset to another company. There were some talents like Samoa Joe, Aleister Black, Buddy Murphy, Tony Nese, Braun Strowman, Bronson Reed, Bobby Fish and Tyler Breeze for example were talents that I completely disagreed with their releases because most were young/new talent with tremendous upside if given the chance. In the case or Samoa Joe, they smartly re-signed as Triple H knew the type of asset he was both in the ring and behind the scenes and I think Bobby Fish could have been a great asset behind the scenes because he is on the older side.
I do feel incredibly bad for the talent being let go especially releasing them during a pandemic, which makes the company and Vince McMahon come off as incredibly heartless. The old line was always “creative has nothing for you” but now they are using “budget cuts”. Both lines are pretty ridiculous to tell someone and they both essentially mean we don’t want you hear anymore as we don’t view you worth keeping anymore. The budget cut line is the worse one though because the company keeps having stockholders meetings where they keep touting their record profits because of their very lucrative TV deals with FOX and USA, the WWE Network to Peacock deal and record merchandise sales. So it is so blatantly false to tell someone you are being fired for budget reasons when we all know you are far from financially suffering. If they were having financially troubles that we don’t know about then that means they are lying to shareholders which could lead to huge legal problems for them and I don’t think they’d be stupid enough to do.
I know a lot of people have been speculating that Nick Khan was brought in to make the company lean from Vince to sell the company and that is certainly a possibility but my gut says he isn’t selling but I’ve never seen them cut people like this including talent like Aleister Black and Bronson Reed that it seemed the company had plans for and just cut with no warning. So although I don’t think he is selling, I cannot discount this as a possibility. The other thing that fans are insisting on is that this is all Nick Khan’s doing and I can’t discount it may be his ideas because no fan truly knows what goes on behind closed doors in WWE not even Dave Meltzer but at the end of the day all major decisions are still made by Vince McMahon, so the talent being fired are being fired with Vince’s ok.
I did see one fan speculate that Triple H and NXT are being punished for losing to AEW with all of the releases and reports that NXT is going to have a overall. Personally, I think Triple H and NXT aren’t being punished because they weren’t really getting blown out of the water when they were going head to head especially when you consider it was WWE’s developmental brand vs AEW’s flagship show. I do think the fact that now without competition against AEW the show is still drawing less than a million viewers is causing them to revaluate everything. To be truly successful in the wrestling business, you have to be willing to stop what you are doing and revaluate what you are doing if you are not getting the results you want and to make changes to evolve and hopefully improve. NXT is an investment in WWE’s future and Vince and WWE’s creative have wasted many of the assets that Triple H has nurtured in NXT. Hopefully, Vince wises up and the changes to NXT don’t turn into a disaster.
I do think most of the talent released will flourish in other promotions because they have slots to offer that WWE wasn’t willing to offer. One of the constant complaints with talent that fans have is how a talent is being used. Bray Waytt is the perfect example, fans were like “WWE doesn’t know how to book him! They are ruining the Fiend! Let him go to AEW!”, so WWE releases Bray Wyatt and these same fans go “How dare they release him!, you can’t have it both ways. As if WWE is wrong no matter what they do. I’m not saying the release of Bray was good or bad but if WWE wasn’t doing right by him, shouldn’t you be happy he is free to do his thing in AEW because you know he is going there?
Being released by WWE doesn’t mean your career ends, if you truly want it there are other promotions that you can go to and maybe you’ll have a better career and maybe WWE will come calling wanting you back and you can either tell them to get lost or make them pay big time for letting you go in the first place. I for one look forward to what some of these talents are able to achieve in the business.