Originally published at POST NEWS UPDATE: Thoughts on recent WWE releases
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.
** Following WWE’s third quarter earnings call, a total of 18 wrestlers were cut from the company. The releases do not come as a shock to me anymore because I think it’s clear that WWE views majority of their contracted talent as expendable and whether that specific talent is supported by the viewer or not, they want to be sure they can keep the ball rolling without them. Being a talent in WWE must be worrisome at times because if you’re not amongst that upper echelon of talent from their point of view, you can easily be cut loose and judging by the plethora of former WWE talent interviews out there, it seems like it’s difficult to even find out where you stand.
With the amount of money that WWE is bringing in, optics and how these releases look is the last thing on their mind. Following the past two WrestleManias, mass releases have taken place and going into WrestleMania 2022, I’m sure that will be something that viewers and talents will think about here and there. To play devil’s advocate, I understand that every single talent that is brought into a company is not destined to become a megastar but as a company owner, writer, producer and those alike, if you don’t have the idea in your head that you want to make the wrestler into a star or further boost their stardom, then what is the point of doing the job? This is professional wrestling, it isn’t a difficult concept when it comes to crowd reactions and how the audience may feel about a certain talent. If you present a wrestler as a star or give reasons to the audience why said talent is important, they will react accordingly.
When I think about Keith Lee being released, him not being able to rise to prominence on the main roster is disappointing because he has all the tools. Lee garnered a great deal of fanfare prior to WWE that was capitalized on while he was in NXT but there is a clear disconnect between the previous version of NXT and the powers that be in WWE. I do have to mention that Keith was out of action for months due to health reasons and had WWE not caught that, things could have gone left as Keith said himself, so credit to them for that. But when Lee returned, it was in his home-state of Texas and he suffered a loss. Something simple such as airing the video of him addressing his health issues and allowing the crowd to hear what he has been through over the past year, introduce him and let him speak his mind in front of a live audience would have done far more than any match could have. The ‘Bearcat Lee’ name is another example of how the on-screen presentation of Lee was mishandled but bypass that for a moment. He gets the name change and then what? Was there a program coming or a slow build to his first major program since returning? Or is this another example of one individual not understanding a talent, making a change on a whim and hoping it sticks? And when it doesn’t stick, it’s no longer his problem.
For talents like Ember Moon and Gran Metalik, I believe it’s a case of the creative head not seeing the potential in them from the beginning. I first saw Metalik wrestle as a part of the New Japan Pro Wrestling and CMLL Fantastica Mania tour and it was clear then how talented he is. Going into his WWE run, I’m curious as to how someone did not see his performance in the Cruiserweight Classic and not want to slot him into an Intercontinental or U.S. Title program. Ember Moon’s main roster run was an up and down one that included two injuries. The first was an elbow injury and the second was an Achilles rupture that occurred while chasing after the 24/7 Title. Ember’s return to NXT was solid for what it was. She left with an NXT Tag Team Title reign and was featured on television on a consistent basis.
It would be easy to run down the list of talents who were released on 11/4 and point out the remaining ones who WWE missed an opportunity to spotlight. But truth be told, although it is going to be a crowded free agent market, I’m almost certain that most of these talents will find a fair amount of success outside of WWE and will have no problems finding work and that is currently on display. Blake Christian (Trey Baxter) is returning to GCW, Oney Lorcan (Biff Busick) is scheduled for wXw’s 16 Carat Gold weekend in 2022 and more of those announcements are to come.
A big focus point to me is now that wrestlers outside the company are seeing more of these frequent mass releases, how will that impact their views on potentially joining WWE if they are offered a deal. I think for now, the days of WWE trying to go after top independent talents are done, but it seems like they will be showing interest in pro athletes, aspiring wrestlers with little-to-no prior experience and independent talents who have not been wrestling that long so they can shape them into what they feel that talent should/could be.
It is going to be interesting to see how the wrestling landscape looks over the next several months and one thing for sure, the independent scene is only going to grow stronger with some of these talents along with the Ring of Honor roster hitting the scene. IMPACT Wrestling, AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling will also have a variety of options to choose from. As New Japan further expands into the U.S. as they’re doing now, they have a wide selection of talents to choose from to add to these STRONG shows and possibly recruit over to the Japan-based roster. It is never good to see a group of people lose their jobs but there is plenty of opportunity on the other side, as we’ve seen time and time again.
** During a recent episode of the Tama’s Island podcast, Tama Tonga shared his thoughts about the Katsuyori Shibata exhibition match at the NJPW G1 final show. Tama questioned if Shibata being back in the fold is a positive or negative and he weighed in on both sides.
I don’t know if this was like — I can’t tell the situation; if this is good or bad for the company on the show?
** At IMPACT Wrestling Bound For Glory, ‘The Kiss Demon’ Dale Torborg competed in the ‘Call Your Shot’ Battle Royal. He recently joined The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast and recalled when he was flown to Vancouver, Canada so his likeness as ‘The Kiss Demon’ could be captured for the WCW Mayhem video game. He was soon told that the material couldn’t be used because of the KISS-WCW contract.
WCW, I think was afraid to do merch for me because of the contract. They just really kind of shied away. They flew me to Vancouver to do the video game Vancouver to their video game shoot, took all the pictures, did everything and then they said, ‘We can’t use you because of the contract’ and they were wrong because there was something that it — they only… I don’t remember exactly but something happened that if I was more than or 50 percent or more of whatever the entire entity was, that more money went to KISS. But if I was less than 50 percent of the whole, then it was just a normal deal but, you know, so I don’t know.
Dale felt that the character was not resonating with the audience more because there was no merchandise being made. He once again mentioned that the powers that be in WCW were weary about what they could and couldn’t do with the KISS-inspired character. Dale contacted Gene Simmons and Gene said that he’d talk to WCW so things could work out better for Dale, but WCW never called. Gene also agreed to be a part of the ‘New Blood Rising’ show in 2000.
Like I said, WCW people were afraid and I actually — the cool thing is I went to Gene and I said, ‘Listen, part of the reason why this character’s not getting the push is because they can’t make merch off of it’ and he said, ‘Have them call me. I’ll change the deal to make sure it’s gonna work for you.’ They never did. WCW never did.
Gene agreed to do a pay-per-view with us. I just told Sting about this, he had no idea. That ‘New Blood Rising’, Gene agreed to do it with us and they never called him.
He went on to share that he introduced WWE’s Edge to Matt Tremonti, founding member of Alter Bridge and that led to Edge having his current theme song.
So Alter Bridge, I’ve got their gold record because Alter Bridge are really good friends of mine. They used to be .
So that’s how Alter Bridge thing came about too. So I actually got — on Adam’s, one of his DVDs, there’s a song called ‘Ghost of Days Gone By’ at the end of it and that’s how I suggest, I’m like, ‘That’s the perfect song I think to end that whole thing’ and that’s what they did.
** Prior to Hit Row’s B-FAB being released from WWE, Top Dolla sat down with Corey Graves and Vic Joseph to record an episode of After The Bell. Top Dolla touched on the idea of there being a leader in Hit Row. He said there is no leader and each member can shift in and out of that position if need be.
There was a lot of people on the internet that get mad and say, ‘Oh well, you know, Swerve is the leader of Hit Row in NXT and now Hit Row sucks because Top Dolla’s the leader on SmackDown.’ There is no leader in Hit Row. Just like there’s no leader in The Shield, there’s no leader in Hit Row. We all are leaders because we all feel like we’re stars. We all feel like we were waiting for our opportunity and it just so happens that it all came at the same time and if Swerve is in a storyline where he going after the tag titles, we shift and let’s go here. If it’s me doing a solo thing, we shift. There is no leader, we’re all leaders so that’s what makes our crew cool too because there’s no egos involved. Do we gain anything from bickering over who should shine more when we could all just shine?
He brought up the communication between Hit Row, Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and Shawn Michaels in NXT. Top Dolla recalled Michaels and Levesque explaining that they can’t tell Hit Row how to be cool.
I mean, the cool thing is — and I’m forever grateful to Hunter for this and Shawn — is the fact that like, they even said it, they’re like, ‘Bro, we’re in our 50s. We can’t tell you how to talk, how you should sound cool and be rappers, you know? We don’t know.’ So even from the very beginning, we got to do our own thing. They tell us what they wanted and we went out and did it how we would do it and every single time, whether we were doing it in the ring like our intro promo or we were doing the vignettes in the studio. I was trying to get them — we were doing them at the PC but I was trying to get them to come to my crib. Like I have a very professional, cool-looking recording studio in my house so we were trying to make it even more real and authentic.
Top Dolla went on to discuss Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott and Ashante Thee Adonis and what they add to the group. The idea of Hit Row came from Top Dolla when he was on the indies but he stated that this go-around, he has stars alongside him in this current version.
The guys that I’m with is the pretty boy but he also can work with anybody and then you got me, I’m the gigantic rap, you know, bully on the mic that’ll say anything to anybody and isn’t scared of nobody which, as — coming from not being from TV six months ago, a lot of people don’t have that confidence in themselves but I do. So I think that, you know, there’s a lot of things that we can bring to the table that we still haven’t shown on SmackDown yet.
** Bobby Fish spent five years of his career in Ring of Honor and he spoke about the company’s forthcoming hiatus while on Highspots Wrestling Network’s ‘Virtual Gimmick Table’ show. Fish said he wants his friends in the ROH locker room to be taken care of as well as their respective families.
It is what it is. I have my time there, fond memories. My concern is for the boys, you know? It’s never good to see a place that provides jobs for the boys and the girls to have a place to work and to get a paycheck and for that to go away is never a good thing so, yeah. I mean I just wish the best to all the — to the locker room, you know? To the locker room there and that’s who I feel for at this time. I don’t know the ins and outs and management and all the other stuff at Sinclair and whatnot and frankly I don’t care. The friends that I still have in that locker room, I want them to be successful and taken care of and take care of their families and all that good stuff, you know?
** It was noted in the 11/5 Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Taylor Wilde will be out of action for the foreseeable future due to personal reasons. Wilde was removed from the IMPACT Wrestling roster page, but PWInsider was told that Wilde being removed from the page should not be viewed as an indication that she or the other removals are being let go.
** NJPW1972.com caught up with Zack Sabre Jr. and asked him about his exhibition match against Katsuyori Shibata on 10/21. Sabre Jr. said being in the ring with Shibata again was like picking up right where they left off.
And he looked like he was in the best shape of his career . Plus I’d heard these rumors that he was a very hands on coach in the LA Dojo, I knew he was in the ring with them, practicing. So he was on my mind.
It was like picking up where we left off. I wrestled him in March 2017 over the British heavyweight Championship…
He almost died for professional wrestling. Seriously. It’s hard to not accept that handshake as much as my usual instincts would be to decline. You know, I bought a special Japanese edition of Monopoly just in case the next time we compete can’t be in a wrestling match, but I think he’ll be putting his ring gear on again, and I’m waiting for it.
** ‘Courier & Press’ pushed out their chat with King Xavier Woods. He explained why advancing his education was important to him on top of being a pro wrestler. Woods said he always wanted to have a plan B and his Achilles tear in 2019 reassured him that advancing his education was the right move because he wasn’t sure if he’d wrestle again.
Because of that exact stereotype. It is a bit unusual for a wrestler to pursue those types of things. I think that in the past people have had a certain perception of what it is that we do. They see a bunch of guys and girls who scream and punch each other in the face, but it’s much, much more than that. It’s a very intricate art. You have to understand many things about the world, whether that’s being a master of pop culture or of psychology or some sort of art, because that allows you to open up your brain to new areas and to think outside the box and do something different. If we were doing the exact same things that (previous WWE wrestlers) were doing in the 1980s and 1990s, we wouldn’t be artists. We wouldn’t be creating. On the flip side of that, being a professional athlete is a very fickle job because it’s such a dangerous thing to pursue. I tore my Achilles (tendon) in 2019 and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to come back to wresting. And even if you don’t get hurt, your body is finite, you can’t do this forever. So, I wanted to make sure that I had that plan B and I feel like a PhD is a pretty solid plan B.
** Lucha Central Weekly’s latest interview was with Gino Medina. While speaking of people who believed in him early in his in-ring career, he credited his trainer Booker T along with WWE’s Bruce Prichard.
I had two people that really believed in me early on that kind of — they pushed me and those two people were Booker T and Bruce Prichard and those two people are like two of the biggest names in wrestling so when you have two people like that believing in you and telling you, ‘Hey kid, you got something.’ Like, ‘Hey kid, we love you in the ring. You just gotta really be sure of yourself’ and when you have those two people believing in you, you have no other choice than to believe in yourself and kind of try to see what they see in you, you know? So yeah, they just gave me the ball at Reality of Wrestling and they gave me a championship and I was like, ‘Alright, I’m the champion now so I can’t turn back. I just gotta be on my game.’
Gino aspires to be like the late Eddie Guerrero. He is impressed by how Eddie garnered a diverse fan base. Gino added that at times, he feels he can only connect to the Hispanic demographic.
It sounds a little cliché but it’s literally one of my goals to be one of the top guys of all-time as a good competitor, you know? I just hear people talk a lot about Eddie Guerrero and still talk about him now, and that’s just kind of a little motivating to hear, and like it’s a little weird just because — let’s talk about it. It’s a little weird because, you know, to me, sometimes I feel like being Hispanic, being Mexican, I feel like I can only connect to only to that demographic. But then seeing Eddie Guerrero being — everybody looking up to him, you know? White people, Black people, Asian people, Hispanic people. Everybody loves him, you know? And I feel like I wanna be that. I want people to look past the nationality and be like, ‘Okay, that’s a good wrestler right there’ and to me, that’s my end all be goal.
** While speaking to Nottingham Post, Doudrop recounted being told that she was being moved to the Raw brand and reflected on how quickly things have happened for her since the transition.
At first I honestly thought it was like some kind of joke. I thought I’d got the date wrong, because they called me on March 1. And I was like, is this April Fool’s Day, have I got the date wrong? And then I think I just collapsed in a heap, inside I was screaming. It was a surreal moment then. And honestly, I’m still thinking, ‘What is going on?’ It just feels like I get used to one scenario and then something else happens. I get used to being on Raw and then it’s like, ‘Okay, you’re going to go to Saudi Arabia.’ And now, ‘Okay, you’re gonna go on this tour.’ And I’m just like, what is life?
** Ahead of Zack Sabre Jr. challenging Shingo Takagi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Title at Power Struggle, Tokyo Sports asked Sabre Jr. for his thoughts about Kazuchika Okada carrying the previous version of the IWGP Heavyweight belt. Sabre Jr. said Shingo is still the world champion but added that he’s never been a fan of the Tokyo Dome challenger carrying a briefcase.
I never liked the briefcase system so I’m glad to see it go. Whether or not you think Okada should carry around a 4th generation belt like a kid with a toy is another matter, haha. I guess it’s Okada’s way of reacting to Will Ospreay carrying around a toy belt in the US. All I care about is the facts. Shingo Takagi is the real heavyweight champion of the world. I don’t care if the championship is new or if the fans don’t like that the old belt is gone. Takagi is the real champion, and that’s all I care about. I couldn’t beat Ospreay, so when I become champion, I have to defend my title against him and prove that I am not only the best British wrestler in the world, but also the strongest foreign wrestler in Japan. And if Okada wins against Tama Tonga (on the 6th in Osaka), he will get the right to challenge for the title at the Tokyo Dome as the G1 winner. Those are the facts I’m concerned about. Anything else is just a kid playing with his toys like a fool.
** Twisted Sisters (Thunder Rosa & Holidead) vs. Britt Baker & Madison Rayne:
** Beyond Wrestling ‘Uncharted Territory’ Results (11/4) White Eagle in Worcester, Massachusetts
– Pre-Show: Masha Slamovich def. Davienne
– Rhett Titus def. Jora Johl
– Megan Bayne def. Ashley Vox
– Discovery Gauntlet Tag Team Match: Waves & Curls (Jaylen Brandyn & Traevon Jordan) def. BRG & Mac Daniels
– Alec Price def. Slade
– Chris Dickinson & Willow Nightingale def. Janai Kai & Yoya
– Matt Makowski def. Tracy Williams
– Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora Wrestling World Championship: Trish Adora (c) def. Jordan Blade (w/ Eel O’Neal)
** Mandy Rose was interviewed by Muscle and Fitness.
** Tokyo Sports published their interview with Great-O-Khan.
** Sky Sports caught up with Drew McIntyre to talk MMA.
** John Kiernan, who helped create theme music for Tony Nese, Mercedes Martinez, Ring of Honor and United Wrestling Network was a guest on the Last Minute Wrestling Podcast.
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.