Vince McMahon told Harper in writing that WWE will not release him from his contract, according to Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
On April 16, Harper posted a statement on Twitter and Instagram saying he requested to be released from his WWE contract.
“As of this evening, I have requested a release from WWE. The past 6 years have been a simply, amazing journey around the world and back with lifelong friends and family. I am proud of it all and proud to say I shared the ring with my co workers.”
“This decision, as difficult as it was, feels right for myself and WWE. My goal in the future is to continue to grow as a performer and person and continue to make my family proud.
“Thank you. From the top to the bottom of WWE. Thank you to the fans for your undying support. Thank you everyone.”
— Luke Harper of WWE (@LukeHarperWWE) April 16, 2019
Rather than terminating his deal, though, WWE triggered a five-month extension. According to Meltzer, WWE added the time he missed due to injury. Unless the company allows him to leave earlier, Harper will be with WWE until April 2020.
Before Harper requested his release from WWE, the creative team had plans for him to feud with Sami Zayn after WrestleMania 35, but McMahon canceled it. McMahon said that he didn’t “get him” and complained that he couldn’t even do a Southern accent. That stems from McMahon wanting him to do a Southern accent in 2015.
Harper underwent wrist surgery last October, which put him on the shelf until March. During his absence, he regularly pitching ideas for his return but everything got turned down.
After competing at a few house shows, Harper returned to television at WrestleMania 35 as an entrant in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. According to Meltzer, Harper worked the match after McMahon asked the creative team why he wasn’t in it. This is why he worked the match as a surprise entrant.
Harper defeated NXT Superstar Dominik Dijakovic the day before at WrestleMania Axxess. Their match aired on the WWE Network special WWE Worlds Collide, which featured bouts between current NXT Superstars and NXT alumni.
Harper’s program with Zayn was scheduled to begin on the Raw after WrestleMania but he was told that he wasn’t needed for the show. After going home, Harper was told to appear at SmackDown LIVE in Brooklyn, New York — Harper lives nearby. In a dark match, he was used as the opponent to test out EC3 having Drake Maverick as his manager. The producers planned a bunch of spots for Maverick in the match, but McMahon hated them and the match.
The creative team held a meeting before the Superstar Shake-up and they discussed which brand to put Harper on. This prompted McMahon to rant on Harper, who said that he can’t do a Southern accent and that his match with EC3 was bad. With WWE having absolutely no plans for him, Harper decided to ask for his release.
Harper is officially listed as a member of SmackDown LIVE, but this could change if WWE decides to use him again.