WWE shocked the wrestling world today with a series of releases that appears to be ongoing, as they've been updating the WWE.com page announcing them since it first went up this morning. As of this writing, 10 talents have been cut, and they are:
- Drew McIntyre
- Jinder Mahal
- Curt Hawkins
- Teddy Long
- Brodus Clay
- Evan Bourne
- Yoshi Tatsu
- Marc Harris (referee)
I can't even remember the last time WWE did a big batch of cuts like this, and lately, they haven't even been big on cutting people in general, instead letting contracts expire. There had been reports to this effect for a few months, including one from PWInsider.com (h/t WrestlingInc.com) last week that stated that there was a belief that this was to avoid controversy.
Let's take a look at each wrestler (well, and the one referee) to take a look at why WWE might have cut them:
Was initially pushed way too hard before he deserved it. When he got really good, it was too late, and he's effectively been a comedy wrestler for close to two years as part of 3MB. He was never going to rise back up the card regardless of his ability.
The former Tiger Raj Singh felt that his Punjabi speaking skills helped get his foot in the door with WWE, but he was never pushed as a star in a way where it would matter and has always been a prelim comedy wrestler. More than anything else, seeing both Mahal and McIntyre here makes me wonder if Heath Slater, the one remaining 3MB member, is going to show up on this list later today.
The Russian model who was trained from scratch by WWE never improved close to as much as she should have in four and a half years. That was evident when she accidentally broke Naomi's orbital bone earlier this year with a terribly ill-advised kneedrop. Clearly her segment on Raw this week, where Alicia Fox turned on her, was a way of writing her out.
In spite of being with the company for over eight years and on the main roster for seven years, he's still just 29 years old. Ever since he went back to developmental in 2009, he's been a prelim guy, and he hasn't been used at all in months. According to his entry on WrestlingData.com, he hasn't been used on the main roster since the tour covering the last weekend of January/first weekend of February, and before that, he hadn't worked since the first tour of October.
I can see why WWE would cut someone who was doing nothing. He'll probably do fine. He has a blossoming wrestling school on Long Island, Create a Pro Wrestling Academy, and living in the Northeast, he'll have no difficulty getting indie dates. Also, this happened today on Twitter, and I'll let it speak for itself:
He had been off TV for almost a year, as he hadn't been used since he stopped being SmackDown's authority figure (this time it was "Senior Adviser"), a role he had held on and off for nine years. He was the longest tenured talent to be released in this round of cuts, joining the company as a referee is December of 1998. In 2003, he was repackaged as a heel manager, a role he had excelled in during his time in WCW.
As that run goes, he's probably best remembered for managing Rodney Mack as part of the "Five Minute White Boy Challenge." He didn't last long as a manager, becoming SmackDown general manager the following year and doing a really solid job for years. He became the subject of various Internet memes for how much his character repeated the same tropes (making a tag team match between guys who were feuding, making someone face Kane or the Undertaker, etc., all with identical dialog each time).
Again, he wasn't being used, so you can't fault WWE for cutting him too much, but it's sad to see someone fired after such a long run with the company. After almost thirty years in wrestling, this is probably the end of his major league career.
The son of Haku, the was inexplicably used as Camacho, a Mexican character, for the last two and a half years. It got him out of developmental, but the character, introduced as a bodyguard for Hunico (the current Sin Cara), never went anywhere, and he never really improved much as a performer. Perhaps his brother, who wrestlers as Tama Tonga in New Japan Pro Wrestling, can try to get him a job there. He could improve in a fresh environment with a different style.
Showed a lot of promise when he started on the main roster on the original version of NXT, eventually becoming Alberto Del Rio's henchman, but never recovered from being rebranded as the Funkasaurus in January 2012. He did well as a comedy babyface at first, but the act quickly grew tired, and his heel turn at the end of last year fell too flat to do any good. The angle, where Xavier Woods borrowed his entrance music and valets, didn't help any, either.
Once he became the Funkasaurus, there was no turning back. There was a pretty short shelf life to the character and it would forever brand him as a prelim guy, keeping the heel turn from gaining steam. Having said that, his firing surprised me, because he's an agile big guy with a unique look and I'd expect someone like that to get more chances from WWE.
This is a weird one. Aside from a single match in NXT last year, he was out of action for about two and a half years. First, in January of 2012, he was suspended for 60 days for violating the terms of the WWE Talent Wellness Program for the second time. He suffered a broken foot in a car accident right at the end of his suspension, which then put him out of action for a year. He came back for one match in NXT a year later, in March of 2013, and hadn't been seen since.
I don't know if he was considered high risk due to the disciplinary actions or what, but if that's the issue, why wasn't he cut? Why pay him to sit on the sidelines for so long?
At any rate, he should have no problem making good money in Japan and on the indie scene. As Matt Sydal, he was doing really well when he got signed and it shouldn't be too different now. Having been off TV for so long, though, he won't be able to command quite as much money as he would if he was relatively fresh off WWE television.
Real name Naofumi Yamamoto, I'd be shocked if he didn't go back to Japan and try to get a spot in New Japan Pro Wrestling, the company that originally trained him. Aside from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30, he hadn't been used on the main roster in almost a year. He was always skilled in the ring with a likable charisma, but WWE never seemed to know what to do with him.
This is probably a blessing in disguise for him. While not on a developmental contract, WWE wanted him in Florida training at the Performance Center daily, and at 37 years old with his talent, he was treading water badly. Even though he was an incredibly smooth in ring wrestler, he was doing drills meant for less polished talent.
In October, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t F4WOnline.com, subscribers-only link; h/t WrestlingInc.com), he was turned down when he asked if he could move to Texas because he had found a Japanese community he wanted to move to. If they wanted him to keep working out at the Performance Center and he wasn't happy there, this is the best move for all involved.
The referee who got into an argument with former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas on social media about whether or not he botched the finish of a match between AJ Lee and Natalya. That's about it, really. He hadn't been in WWE that long.
Thankfully, nobody else has been cut while I wrote this. Let us know what you think about the releases in the comment section.