WWE Rumors on Mustafa Ali, Ciampa's Booking and NXT's '90-Day' Timeline for Releases

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 3, 2022

Photo credit: WWE.com

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.

Ali Possibly Losing Push Already?

There is reportedly some belief that the way Mustafa Ali was booked on Monday night's episode of Raw could be a sign that WWE is already souring on his push.

Ali lost a handicap match to United States champion Theory and The Miz in a matter of minutes, and Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News) opined that it was "not a good thing" for the recently returned Superstar.

Meltzer noted that WWE chairman Vince McMahon usually gives acts a few weeks to get over with the crowd, but the fact that Ali lost in just his second week back may be a sign that McMahon is already unhappy with the reactions he has gotten, or lack thereof.

On last week's Raw, Ali had his first match in six months, and it was a winning effort against The Miz.

Ali had been off television for months after publicly requesting his release from the company, but the two sides apparently came to some sort of an agreement to facilitate his return.

In his first segment back, The Miz and Theory made mention of Ali's absence, but Ali rolled with the punches and didn't seem to take any offense to it.

Ali has made it his stated mission to take the U.S. title from Theory, but he may be entering into a different rivalry instead based on what has happened over the past two weeks.

Following his win over The Miz last week, Ali was attacked by Ciampa. The same thing happened after his loss to Miz and Theory this week.

United States Championship contention could potentially be in Ali's future, but it looks like he will have to go through the two-time NXT champion first.

WWE Reportedly Changed Plans for Ciampa

Despite Ciampa turning heel on last week's episode of Raw, he worked as a babyface in a Main Event match against Apollo Crews before Monday's Raw.

According to Fightful Select (h/t Manik Aftab of Ringside News), that represented a change of plans on WWE's part, as Ciampa was originally supposed to work as a heel against Finn Balor on Main Event.

Last week, Ciampa attacked Ali following his match against The Miz on Raw. That seemed to cement his heel turn, but fans were treated to a different version of Ciampa on this week's Main Event.

Despite that, Ciampa was a heel once again on Raw, as he took out Ali following a loss to The Miz and Theory in a handicap match.

Main Event isn't a high-profile show and is almost never integrated into Raw or SmackDown in any way, but it is still a show available to WWE fans on Peacock, meaning those who watch Main Event and Raw will see two different versions of Ciampa.

Meanwhile, instead of working Main Event, Balor had a significant role on Raw, as he saved AJ Styles from a two-on-one beatdown at the hands of Edge and Damian Priest.

Balor and Styles did the "too sweet" hand signal afterward, suggesting that they have officially joined forces against Judgment Day.

As for Ciampa, the different personas are likely just a sign that WWE places little importance or emphasis on Main Event and what happens on the show compared to Raw or SmackDown.

NXT Talent Reportedly May Only Get 90 Days to Prove Themselves

On the heels of WWE releasing several Superstars from NXT last week, a report has surfaced regarding a potentially new mentality within the company when it comes to NXT signees.

According to Meltzer (h/t WrestlingInc's Matthew Wilkinson), WWE may now only give signees 90 days to show improvements after they sign before deciding whether to release them or move forward with them as developmental prospects.

Some of the 10 performers who were released last week seemingly fell into that category, while others were veterans who had been with the company for a while.

Dakota Kai and Malcolm Bivens were reportedly released due in part to having no intention of re-signing with the company before their contracts expired, per Fightful Select (h/t Jack Atkins of Cultaholic).

Dexter Lumis was also released despite appearing regularly on NXT over the past couple of years. No reported reason was given for his departure, but the fact that NXT is now more slanted toward young wrestlers could be the culprit, as Lumis is 38 years old.

Other Superstars who were released despite appearing most weeks on the show were Harland, Persia Pirotta and Draco Anthony, all of whom signed with WWE last year. Their departures may have been a case of WWE not being happy with their progress.

Since NXT became NXT 2.0, WWE has placed emphasis on younger and less-experienced performers, making it more of a true developmental brand.

That has helped WWE quickly build some new stars from the ground up, but it has come at the expense of veterans.

As more young performers get opportunities on television early in their careers, the sink-or-swim nature of the situation could lead to some serious roster turnover.

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