WWE sent shockwaves through the professional wrestling world Saturday when it announced the release of Bray Wyatt after 12 years with the company.
Since Wyatt had been one of WWE's top stars over the past several years and a successful mover of merchandise by all accounts, few could have expected the promotion to cut ties with him.
Now, Wyatt is the latest in a long line of significant releases since March, joining the likes of Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Andrade and Mickie James.
In the wake of Wyatt's WWE departure, here is a look at some of the biggest rumors regarding his release.
Wyatt Reportedly Received Medical Clearance Recently
Prior to his release, Wyatt hadn't appeared on WWE programming since Raw the night after WrestleMania 37 in April.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Felix Upton of Ringside News), Wyatt was off television because of "medical reasons" and had only recently gotten cleared to return.
Meltzer added that before WWE could put him back on TV, it decided to release him, telling Wyatt that the move was done for "budgetary reasons."
Wyatt's last match in WWE came at WrestleMania 37 against Randy Orton. Surprisingly, Wyatt lost the match when he got distracted by Alexa Bliss.
Bray appeared in a Firefly Funhouse segment the next night on Raw but never resurfaced on television after that.
It is unclear what Wyatt's medical issue was and how long it had been impacting him, as he was kept off television for a few months before the build to WrestleMania as well.
Given that Wyatt has reportedly been medically cleared, it stands to reason he will be able and ready to wrestle immediately should he sign elsewhere.
Wyatt Reportedly Had Creative Issues with WWE
Leading up to his release, Wyatt was reportedly frustrated with the creative direction of his character.
Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp reported such as part of a live stream Saturday on YouTube shortly after Wyatt's release was announced.
Sapp said those who he spoke to within WWE told him Wyatt "wasn't receptive" to some of the ideas pitched to him if they didn't fit his vision of the character. Also, Sapp said he had been told that Wyatt has "not been all in on wrestling as of late."
Wyatt is widely regarded as one of the best creative minds in wrestling, and it is easy to see why, as he brought the original Wyatt Family leader character to life and eventually transitioned into the split personality of Firefly Funhouse Wyatt and The Fiend.
Some strange creative decisions regarding Wyatt's character were made in the months before his release. It started at TLC in December when Orton beat The Fiend in a Firefly Inferno match.
When The Fiend returned in March, he was burnt and mangled, although he was back to normal for his WrestleMania match against Orton.
The booking of the WrestleMania match was surprising given that The Fiend was widely expected to win and go on a big run after the fact.
It is unclear if losing at WrestleMania played into Wyatt's dissatisfaction, but it was a less-than-ideal way for him to go out.
Wyatt's Relationship with McMahon Was Reportedly Strained
Wyatt reportedly may not have been on the best terms with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon prior to his release.
According to PWInsider (h/t Upton), the relationship between Wyatt and McMahon "ran very hot and cold at times."
It is a somewhat surprising revelation given that Wyatt was seemingly provided more slack and leeway from a creative perspective than almost anyone else in the company, which isn't something McMahon takes lightly.
That type of treatment is normally reserved for only the top stars in the company, with Roman Reigns, John Cena and Orton serving as current examples.
PWInsider also reported that McMahon giving WWE President Nick Khan carte blanche to make significant financial decisions may have contributed to Wyatt's release as well.
It was noted by PWInsider that McMahon has given Khan "the ability to run things far more than anyone else has historically been able to accomplish," and because of that, there is "likely less of a pushback" from McMahon when the idea of releasing a high-priced wrestler is discussed.
A similar situation seemingly happened with Strowman last month, as Strowman was one of WWE's top guys and was likely being compensated like one as well.
If Wyatt's release was indeed financially motivated, it marks a continuation of the shift away from WWE's previous stance, which was to sign and pile up as much talent as possible.
WWE Reportedly Almost Released Wyatt Previously
While Wyatt was released from WWE on Saturday, the company reportedly considered releasing him prior to that.
WWE parted ways with multiple Superstars shortly after WrestleMania and did so again in early June.
Since Wyatt appeared on Raw the night after WrestleMania 37, it is likely safe to assume there were no plans at that point to release him. That could mean Wyatt was considered for a June 2 release, which is when Strowman, Black and a handful of others were let go.
WWE's roster moves have reportedly been financially motivated in the midst of WWE continuing to report record profits thanks largely to its billion-dollar television deals with Fox and NBC Universal.
The true motivations behind Wyatt's release are only known by McMahon and a select few others within WWE, but the decision remains a puzzling one given how much popularity and support Wyatt had cultivated over the years.
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