During the annual WWE "Spring Cleaning," we saw seven WWE Superstars/Divas hit the bricks. Some were surprising, others, not so much. I know a few things about these men and women some do not I guess, as it seemed many were surprised by almost all who got let go.
Some seemed academic to me actually.
Maybe once I explain why the reasons for the cuts, the surprised look on some of your faces may be gone.
Lets start with Slam Master J
SMJ hasn't been able to be used in some time, simply because he can't be. There is no storyline for him to go with, and with the lack of a cruiserweight division, he has no area to slip into. Once he left his Jesse persona for the SMJ gimmick, one of which he used on the Indy scene, he just didn't work.
Without Festus, now known as Luke Gallows of the Straight Edge Society, Jesse couldn't go anywhere, which was why the Slam Master J character was created. He seemed to fit with Cryme Tyme somewhat, but as we know, with that team breaking up, it's unlikely SMJ could go anywhere. The WWE simply had nothing for him.
Now on to Mike Knox
This is a guy I haven't been a fan of for some time. His character is interesting, but turns you off most of the time. He has been a rarity on TV, and I don't know if I've seen him in a storyline this year at all. It's April, almost half way through the year, and he hasn't had a thing. The last notable one was with Rey Mysterio, but after that, he pretty much disappeared.
He was simply just taking up space.
Now to Katie Lea Burchill
I for one am a huge fan of her's. But the problem has always been that she has been used wrong. So much so that she can't look good in the average fan's eyes, which is what the WWE wants.
I wanted to see her as Women's Champion a while back, but they used her the way they wanted—the wrong way. She was behind her storyline brother Paul, and worked for the TV-14 era under her character, but when the WWE went PG, they had to forget the gimmick the two had.
By herself, the WWE couldn't use her as they thought they could. She didn't work for what they wanted storyline-wise, even though she could have worked a while back. With her getting up in age every day, they probably thought they didn't have time to make her a legit star in the Diva's Division.
Lets now go to Jimmy Wang Yang
Yang, the redneck Asian, was a guy many loved. The problem was that he has somewhat of a drug issue. He was let go for a couple of reasons. One was that he couldn't be used for anything but a jobber, as he lacks legit mic skills to be a contender for any title in the WWE.
The same thing applies to him as it did Slam Master J. The lack of a cruiserweight division killed these guys. Also, Yang fell in under that "three strikes you're out" rule. The moron gets warned twice, so it's obvious he deserved to get fired if he failed again.
Now to Kung Fu Naki
We have seen Funaki for years, he is SmackDown's 'No. One Anouncer,' ya know. The problem is that at his age, he can't contribute night-in and night-out anymore. He has been in the WWE over a decade, and was really only sticking around to help other guys and gals coming up.
I would have thought he would have been put down in FCW to help the developmental talent or became a road agent, which is still possible by the way. But he may have just wanted to go, so the WWE obliged. He has been saying he wants to go for a while now, which is why we haven't seen him wrestle often on TV. And he didn't do a ton of house shows either. He'll be the one many miss from the locker room, as many loved Funaki.
Now to the two big names let go , Mickie James and Shelton Benjamin .
When I saw these two were let go, I was somewhat surprised myself, more so for Benjamin than anyone else.
There have been stories of James making the bus late over in Europe, but I doubt that was really the reason she was let go. She did do it on more than one occasion, but I really doubt the WWE would let a name of her caliber go for that reason alone.
The real reason she was released was simply because she, well, kinda asked for it. Like Maria, she wants to get into singing more, and has been telling people that she was going to leave when her deal was up anyway. I was expecting a release myself.
The WWE doesn't take kindly to people doing outside projects of course, but that's only when it kills their performance for the WWE. If they continue to do well for the WWE, and they still make the WWE money, heck, who could be upset then?
She was still nursing an injury, of which she was saying she may go ahead and go because of. I bet it wasn't worth risking more injuries any longer when she was going to go anyway.
In her address after the release, she didn't seem upset by it at all, which probably means she either asked to be let go, or expected the release. It's obvious they still had uses for her, and she could still go in the ring. So, it was not a SMJ thing here.
She just doesn't want to wrestle her entire life, and being a female in the wrestling world, she wasn't going to last forever, it's just simple here people. Vinny Mac likes his ladies 18 to 30, those who go over get lucky.
But hey, we'd take Trish Stratus or Lita back any day of the week, but I'm just saying.
In any case, James has been a joy to watch for years, and probably out of all of these releases, I'll miss her the most.
Shelton Benjamin, as I said before, was the most surprising release to me. For years now he has been a complete bore on the mic. In the ring, he's as good as ANYONE in the WWE, that includes the likes of Daniel Bryan, Triple H, Randy Orton, etc.
The problem will always be that he can't do a legit storyline. People say all the time he is World Championship material, and while his in-ring work is, his mic and storyline skill are in low mid-card-to-jobber form.
Heck, the Generation Me guys in TNA, who just came out of no where and are now in TNA, kinda suck on the mic, but they are better than Benjamin. And they'll get better, how old are they, 12? But all joking aside, Benjamin is not great there and the WWE has done everything they can do to work with him.
The thing is that frustration kicked in. You'd figure he'd stick around because of how good he is in the ring, and the fact that he has garnered a nice chunk of fans. The thing is that these fans, like the Ortonites and other fanbases, see their guy as the best.
This is why I can't be a mark, people. I tell the truth, and it hurts. But hey, the bible says the truth shall set you free, so, I'm doing God proud, woo!
In any case, I always have been and always will be a fan of what he does in the ring. The thing is though that he doesn't work with what the WWE wants to do, which is have guys and gals tell stories through their wrestling AND in actual storylines, one of which he has never been able to do.
He's been around almost a decade and has accomplished so much, and some say he deserved at least one World Title. The thing is, people, Benjamin told the WWE he doesn't want to be World Champion, as he doesn't want the pressure. This is why you never saw it.
This could be another reason they let him go. You gotta keep him out of main event storylines, and there is only so much you can do with him in the mid-cards. So, this was probably a SMJ case again where they had nothing for him.
If he wanted to be a trainer, then by all means, give him that. Pay him whatever you can to do that. No one can say his wrestling is bad, but everything else other than that is.
And keep in mind, fans, of all of these Superstars/Divas, the WWE kept every one of these people around for a while, at least three years for all. When it comes down to it, the WWE tries their best to work with talent, but there comes a time where they can no longer work for your business, that is now for these people.
I'd say that some are a lock for TNA, so we might as well address that now. People like Benjamin, Yang, and even SMJ could work there, you could even throw in Knox.
However, this won't make any of the TNA talent happy to see EVEN MORE former WWE names in the company. While people such as Benjamin would be a great pick-up, they already have a 70 man/woman roster and adding more to it kills off a chance for some to make TV time.
With some only getting paid if they wrestle, and needing the TV spot money, adding more takes money out of their wallet. This is why you constantly hear about TNA originals thinking about taking their leave so much nowadays. Which is not a surprise.
But what do you think?
Where you surprised to see any of these releases, if so why?