Del Rio lost his WWE gig thanks to an incident backstage, details of which continue to emerge. AJ's own incident a year ago reportedly almost had her tenure come to an end. New word on that has surfaced during the discussion of Del Rio's exit.
Other WWE rumors center around firings as well. The latest backstage reports provide a glimpse into the latest budget cuts and some insight into why WWE let Ricardo Rodriguez go.
WWE's budget trimming has yet to stop. Rodriguez was the latest victim. Other less famous members of the WWE team had to find new jobs as well.
The company cutting ties with lower-level talent isn't the only effect of WWE trying to reduce its spending. The folks working behind the scenes are also being wished well on their future endeavors.
PWInsider's Mike Johnson reports that WWE cut several members of its writing staff, noting, "Depending on who you ask, three or five writers were let go from the creative team." Johnson notes that Edward Feldmann, senior vice president of creative, is also gone.
ProWrestling.net added that Kevin Eck lost his job as well.
The feeling that no one is safe persists.
As Johnson reported on PWInsider last week, "In a move that shocked everyone we've heard from, longtime WWE timekeeper and production worker Mark Yeaton was let go by WWE." If decades of duty doesn't get one tenure, then it's not shocking to see a chunk of the writing team be sent away.
One has to wonder how this will affect the remaining writers. If five of their peers are gone, that's a lot of slack to pick up.
WWE can't be a comfortable place to work right now, employees not knowing if another round of budget cuts will trim the payroll even further.
Backstage Word on Ricardo Rodriguez's Release
After Del Rio ditched Rodriguez as his personal ring announcer, airtime for the California native faded. Rodriguez did some Spanish-language commentary work and wrestled periodically at NXT as El Local.
Then WWE released him. An update as to why it did is unsurprising.
History has shown that a non-bodybuilder body isn't as much of an issue if one is a special talent. Mick Foley and Bray Wyatt are examples of that.
Rodriguez didn't have either of those men's mic skills and wasn't stellar enough in the ring to compel WWE to stick him in there on a regular basis.
His release is a blessing in a way, then. WWE wasn't likely to change its mind about Rodriguez and was sure to keep him on the bench each week. The indy circuit doesn't offer the security or the paydays that WWE does, but for Rodriguez, it will provide him the chance to do what he loves once more.
Updates on Alberto Del Rio
A joke reportedly changed Del Rio's career forever. Dave Meltzer was quick to compile info on the situation after word of Del Rio's release began to spread.
On F4WOnline, Meltzer wrote the following:
Based on sketchy stories and what wrestlers have been talking about, at catering, somebody asked the person to clean off his plate. The person joked something along the lines of how that's Del Rio's job. Del Rio found out and confronted him. As the story goes, he didn't apologize and then smiled at him, and Del Rio slapped him.
PWInsider's Johnson added that the person in question was a WWE staffer. Johnson wrote, "I was told that [Del Rio's] side of the story is that he was responding to something said that he felt was racist in nature."
If the staffer did make a racist joke and refused to apologize, it was certainly wrong for Del Rio to strike him, but one would expect WWE to address this person as well. There has been no word on that end.
Del Rio, as Johnson writes in the above report, "hadn't been happy with his run in the company" anyway and may have retired when his contract expired. His violent response to an unpleasant situation just hurried along that process and gave WWE an easy way to make a major cut to the budget.
Mexico's Greatest Export didn't wait long to bounce back, though. PWTorch passed along an announcement from Mexico's AAA that Del Rio will be a part of TripleMania on the same night as SummerSlam.
WWE loses a valuable in-ring asset with Del Rio's departure. Mexico, meanwhile, welcomes him back, his star power having significantly increased since he left his home country.
AJ Lee Story Resurfaces
New information has come out regarding AJ and Michelle Beadle's confrontation at a Tribute to the Troops event last December.
Beadle detailed the incident on Jim Ross' podcast, explaining that AJ yelled at her after she had spoken with CM Punk. That apparently had WWE close to saying bye to the current Divas champ.
On the F4WOnline message board (h/t PWMania), Meltzer noted that AJ was nearly fired for the incident. He added that Vince McMahon overruled the decision to let her go. Meltzer clarified that her relationship with Punk was not the reason for this.
McMahon relied on foresight and thought that keeping AJ around was better in terms of the big picture.
Had AJ slapped Beadle in the mush back then, the narrative would have likely been different. Being the top Diva certainly helps one's case in a negative situation like this, but WWE would have wanted no part of the public relations nightmare that would have come its way.
Fans have seen the company let backstage fights between wrestlers slide, but when the blows get aimed at someone outside that fraternity, punishment is imminent.
For Del Rio, that meant an abrupt end to his WWE tenure. AJ, though, held on to her job.
As much as whatever she told Beadle must have hurt, it can't compare with Del Rio winding back and smacking away.