What Does The Release Requests Say About WWE?

Just a few days ago, Oney Lorcan publicly announced that he requested his release from the WWE, putting him as the latest on the list of performers that have expressed the ability to exit the company. So, is this trend a bigger indication of the status of the company?

Lorcan, the former Biff Busick, made a name for himself all across the independent scene before he inked a WWE developmental deal in 2015. Despite notable in-ring ability and just over four years under contract, Lorcan hasn’t really been given the chance to do anything of substance in the organization. Sporadic appearances for NXT and NXT UK only yielded him one match at a Takeover event, a multi-team ladder match. Other than that, he hasn’t been featured or had any major storylines at any point in his WWE tenure. He had a handful of appearances for the 205 Live show, which garners about as much exposure of the witness protection program. At 33, Lorcan should theoretically be in the prime of his career so unless management has some type of meaningful plans for him then it doesn’t make sense for him or the company to stay under contract. Don’t get me wrong, Lorcan is a talented athlete, but he might’ve gotten typecast as a utility worker because he isn’t known for his promo ability. The automatic answer in the current sports entertainment climate is for an underutilized talent to jump to All Elite Wrestling, but considering that there’s still a portion of their roster that hasn’t been established on TV yet, Lorcan might be better suited for either New Japan or Ring Of Honor, where he can avoid being lost in the shuffle. Hopefully, he gets the release because it’s very doubtful his role will change, even with the public request on social media.

Speaking of social media, Sin Cara also took to Twitter to announce that he also officially requested to release from his deal. This seems like an easy decision for everyone involved because management can simply do the same thing they did when Mistico, the original Sin Cara, left the company, and put someone else under the mask to portray the character. WWE owns the rights to the persona, which is the only perceived value of the gimmick and it’s not as though they’ve invested a lot of TV time into the current competitor under the mask so there’s really nothing to lose to allow him to walk away from the Sin Cara character. That being said, it’s puzzling why the company continues to recycle the gimmick with different athletes using the mask because it hasn’t gotten over as early as Mistico botching several moves in nearly every match. Perhaps, the mask does well for merchandise sales, but either why, it would be the right call to grant the request and find someone else to put under the mask for episodes of main event or an occasional Raw appearance.

Luke Harper wanted to leave just a few weeks after Wrestlemania earlier this year, but was denied. Of the athletes that recently wanted to quit the company, Harper is probably the best example of someone that mismanaged by the writing team. They had the perfect combination of Harper and Rowan as the stablemates of Bray Wyatt, but when the booking beat Wyatt into powder and disbanded the group, none of the trio regained the momentum it originally had. In fact, despite the in-ring ability, the mic skills, and magnetic charisma, Bray had to be completely repackaged as the Fiend to have any chance to get over again. Harper has the size that WWE looks for and can go bell-to-bell, but doesn’t have polished mic skills, which is why it made sense for Bray to cut promos for the stable. With as agile as Luke Harper is and the look that he has, there’s no reason he isn’t used more prominently in some form or fashion on WWE programming. According to The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, Harper’s deal will expire in roughly six months because of time added from when he was on the sidelines with a wrist injury. At 39, he’s probably at the latter stage of his career so it doesn’t make sense for him to fade into obscurity just to get a WWE pay check. He made a brief return a few months ago to team with Rowan in the Daniel Bryan feud,but hasn’t been seen on television after that. This is a scenario where AEW would probably be the best bet for him in his post-WWE career because of the skills previously mentioned. It would be very interesting to see him compete against those athletes without some of the restrictions of the WWE style.

Mike Kanellis is a unique scenario because rumors of a potential request to leave the company surfaced earlier this year before it was reported that he signed a new five-year contract with the promotion. However, just last month, Kanellis took to social media to publicly express his intent to leave the organization. After he debuted in mid-2017, he disappeared from television to go to rehab and he has subsequently stayed clean, which is great for him. But, it also stalled his momentum and when he returned, the novelty of a new face had worn off so he was regulated to secondary programming. A few months ago after Paul Heyman took the role of executive director for Raw, Mike and Maria resurfaced on the brand for a rather embarrassing angle that was dropped a shortly after that. At this point, his character was made to look like a fool and he has no star power under the WWE banner. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really make a difference if Mike Kanellis is under WWE contract or not. While he worked for ROH and TNA previously, he didn’t necessarily have a major run as far as a main event star in either promotion. A lot of the hype around him was always based on his potential to be a major star, but it looks like that potential wasn’t realized on the global stage of WWE. At 34, he’s still young enough to theoretically have a solid career, but even with a release, considering the damage the most recent storyline did to his character, what exactly does he bring to the table for other promotions? Plus, he signed a five-year deal after rumors of a possible release before that so he knew what he was asking for when he signed a new contract. Basically, unless management looks to cut the budget at some point in the future, Kanellis might just have to accept his role as a relative non-factor in the industry while he collects a WWE payday.

The ACH controversy in recent weeks is a very complex situation, and most of it is based on his personal opinion about how the WWE conducted business, which he certainly has the right to his opinion. He was very vocal about an offensive t-shirt designed, but later apologized for lashing out about it, including some offensive comments about ROH star, Jay Lethal. When it appeared that the situation was resolved with the WWE’s decision not to sell the t-shirt that was the basis of the problem, ACH posted a profanity-laced video on Twitter to announce that he quit the company. During a Q&A on Twitter a few days ago, ACH explained his reasoning for the prior video and explained that he deals with mental health issues, as well as plans for the future. Mostly importantly, I hope that ACH is doing okay with the mental health issues that he mentioned because that’s definitely more important than anything to do with professional wrestling. I’ve seen a wide array of opinions on this subject on social media, but nobody can tell ACH how he should or shouldn’t react to a situation. If he was insulted by a t-shirt design then he has the right to express it. At the same time, it would also be unfair to label everyone involved with the WWE as the same thing. ACH mentioned on Twitter that he wasn’t legally allowed to sign elsewhere yet so it seems like he’s still under contract at the moment, but it would probably be better for everyone involved if he could continue his career in a different promotion.

So, what does the list of release request say about the company?

Truthfully, it doesn’t really say anything about the promotion because there have been disgruntled wrestlers as long as there has been a wrestling business. Someone dissatisfied with their spot or booking isn’t anything new. No, there isn’t some mass exodus among the WWE roster, despite the Meltzer narrative that is designed more to cater to his audience than anything else. That being said, the requests for releases is another aspect of the competition in the business because there are more options in the industry.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta