What’s Next For Released Talents?

Social media stirred yesterday, as very similar to April of last year, a slew of WWE performers were released from their contracts. As of this writing, a total of ten competitors were let go from the organization. Some of these departures were surprising, while others were more than expected, especially when it always looks good on the next conference call that the publicly traded organization keeps the budget in mind. Granted, the company could’ve kept everyone employed during the pandemic and still had record-setting profit based on its TV contracts, but the corporate world is about protecting the bottom line. Some fans might take this as an opportunity to criticize WWE, but the vast majority of these releases were for talent that weren’t used on the shows anyway. Obviously, what they could do next and the potential to flourish somewhere else is a different story, but it wasn’t like anyone was campaigning for Tucker to main event Wrestlemania.

Mojo Rawley, a former football player that had the biggest moments of his career based on the fact he was friends with Rob Gronkowski, was the latest release, and in truth, I don’t think he continues in the industry. I could be wrong, but Mojo is one of those guys that was trained within the WWE system from scratch and I’m not sure his skill set, as limited as it might’ve been during his WWE tenure will translate elsewhere. Sure, Impact Wrestling could sign him to try to use his name from football to get some buzz, but with almost a dozen potential signees on the market, is Mojo the best investment to make from that batch of talent? If Mojo’s heel turn should’ve been given more of a chance is a different matter, the point is, he played football and started in the WWE, does he really want to work for a smaller organization or the indies after that? If I had to guess, I’d say there are better odds that Mojo launches a sports podcast than continues a pro wrestling career.

I thought Bo Dallas was very entertaining, and it was disappointing that he got typecast for the majority of his time in WWE. That said, he hasn’t wrestled in over a year and a half so there wasn’t much of a reason for the company to keep him on the roster if he wasn’t going to be booked for TV. At just 30, Bo Dallas still have a career ahead of him, and I think he will be one of the talents that had to get away from the WWE system to reinvent himself before he returns as an even better performer. For example, Drew McIntyre was a main eventer for the past year, but he had to be released to be able to prove that he was more than just a comedy act. A run outside of the WWE will actually be an opportunity for Bo Dallas to prove to the office that he’s a more capable performer than they gave him credit for, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually returns to the organization for a fresh start. Considering that AEW already has a packed roster, New Japan Pro Wrestling or even the NJPW Strong spinoff might be the best place for his post-WWE stint.

It’s unfortunate that Chelsea Green suffered a broken wrist during her debut on Smackdown late last year and that seems to be what led to the end of her WWE tenure. Green isn’t necessarily the most polished in-ring wrestler, but she definitely made her segments memorable and maximized her minutes on television, with the prime example being her run in TNA prior to when she signed a WWE deal in 2018. She actually had a broken wrist once before during one of her initial matches in NXT so prehaps, management views her an injury prone. Either way, she will probably return to Impact since Matt Cardona already works there, and she will probably have a good run under the Impact banner again.

Kalisto is a very talented athlete that got completely pigeon-holed into the role of a gloried jobber within the WWE. The Lucha House Party was more about a low brow reason for Hispanic wrestlers to take a pinata to the ring than anything that showcased their skills or the lucha style. He will undoubtedly have many options to continue his career, as he worked in Mexico prior to when he inked a WWE deal. Ring Of Honor, with its emphasis on lucha libre could be a realistic option. New Japan would probably schedule him for its Super Jr. tournament, and even AEW could be on the table. If anything, the biggest hurdle for him might be attempting to change the perception of his character after he was booked like an enhancement talent for the vast majority of his WWE run. The problem is, Kalisto has very minimal star power because of the way he was presented on Raw for the better part of a decade.

Speaking of star power, Tucker was released and has almost zero star power to build on in his next venture. That’s not a jab against him, but rather the status of his character. The office went with Otis, and basically, Tucker became the “Marty” of the team. After Heavy Machinery disbanded, management seemingly had no plans for him so it doesn’t make sense to keep him on the roster. Tucker might have potential, but it remains to be seen, simply because he rarely had the chance to do much outside of the Heavy Machinery gimmick that was designed to feature Otis more than anything else. That said, I don’t see him landing in one of the major promotions because similar to Mojo Rawley, with the list of talent that was just released, is Tucker really going to be a priority?

Much of the same can be said for Wesley Blake, he essentially got lost in the shuffle and wasn’t used for anything worthwhile so there’s no reason to keep him under contract. Maybe he has the potential to flourish in another organization, but it’s doubtful that he’s at the top of the list to be offered another contract since he has almost zero star power, despite the WWE TV exposure.

The Iconics being released was a surprised, merely because Billie Kay had a notable amount of TV time recently. However, I have to be honest, I wasn’t a fan of their work and couldn’t name a decent Iconics match so regardless of the “outrage” on social media, particularly for Billie Kay’s release, I don’t think it was a mistake by the company. The team will probably be reunited somewhere, though.

As far as releases I disagree with, Mickie James should still be under contract, and in my opinion, she was completely underutilized during her more recent WWE tenure. I’m not sure why she was scheduled for television so sparsely during the pandemic era, but Mickie is a polished pro that would be an asset to any roster. As an accomplished veteran, she would probably be a very good addition to the AEW women’s division to work with some of the younger talent.

Obviously, the most surprising release was Samoa Joe, specifically because he just did commentary for Wrestlemania less than a week ago. I might be wrong, but I have to think that there’s more to this story than the office just didn’t have anything for him. Joe, who was on the shelf with a concussion in recent months, did a really good job as an announcer, and it would’ve been great if he stayed in that role. As much as I enjoy his stellar in-ring work, considering the injuries and his age, a transition to the announce desk might’ve been the best way to utilize his skills at this point in his career. It goes without saying that Samoa Joe is one of the best of his generation, and the fact that he didn’t get a main event run will be another glaring example of when WWE brass missed the boat on a tremendous talent. Sure, Joe worked for the company during Brock Lesnar’s major push, but I would argue that Joe as champion for at least a few months would’ve done more for the ratings than Brock’s sporadic appearances. Still, I’m wondering if the concussion had something to do with the release or if the company wouldn’t clear him to return to the ring. Make no mistake about it, assuming he’s cleared to wrestle, Samoa Joe will be able to work wherever he wants and the offers will be there. At 42, Samoa Joe’s best option might be a few key matches in AEW and New Japan instead of a full-time schedule.

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