I write a wrestling column every Monday and Friday for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It can be found online at TribLIVE.com.
Independent wrestling promoters and Jeff Jarrett just had an exciting Thursday of potential new employees after the WWE future endeavor storm hit.
WWE released 11 talents: JTG, Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal, Aksana, Curt Hawkins, Theodore Long, Camacho, Brodus Clay, Evan Bourne, Yoshi Tatsu and referee Marc Harris.
None of these releases should be surprising. If someone said WWE was going to release people and you had to make a list of potentials, none of these talents would be immune from the list. I know, because I made my own list.
A few weeks ago on the video wrestling talk program I co-host, Chair Shot Reality, during a segment discussing the amount of money Vince McMahon recently lost, I read a text from a WWE source just minutes before the cameras started rolling. The text said to expect mass cuts to take place in the near future. A few of the released names were in my head of potentials.
Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal and Brodus Clay are the highest profile names who have people talking. McIntyre and Mahal were getting regular television time as part of 3MB. McIntyre also was once dubbed “The Chosen One” by McMahon himself. Not saying the three didn't have talent, but it was clear WWE dropped any attempt at viewing these guys are serious assets in the long term for the company.
WWE has been publicly losing money. However, I think these cuts could have happened regardless. Sure, they get magnified due to the substantial losses, but it was time.
You have Rusev, Adam Rose, Bo Dallas on the main roster and expectancy for guys such as Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and The Ascension to soon come up from NXT. It's out with the old and in with the new. I'm not saying those released all were utilized or given the best chances. But they all had been around for a long time, and we've seen failed runs from all of them.
Not everyone on the roster can be main event stars. You need guys to lose to the up-and-coming guys being built. You need bodies to fill out a long European tour or split live event tours domestically. But even then, there are only so many spots.
With everyone released, rightly or wrongly by WWE creative/management, they had been tossed against the wall a few times to see if something would stick.
JTG wasn't relevant since Cryme Tyme.
McIntyre's wife caused problems when working with WWE, and it seems he paid for it ever since.
Mahal was taken seriously as a competitor for a few weeks like Khali. WWE uses the circus attraction of Khali's size and his ambassadorship to India. Mahal became a chuckle of not-funny WWE comedy to put the Middle Eastern guy in a turban in a rock band and tell him to play air guitar. So much for “Don't Hinder Jinder.”
Aksana was starting to grow on me in the looks and in-ring department. Sadly, she never exploded through the television with personality. WWE has a talented crop of Divas coming up through NXT. Plus, she never played the backstage politics to get ahead. Sad, but true.
Curt Hawkins was a body to fill low-level matches. Probably capable of more, but WWE had no interest.
Theodore Long had a great run with the company in a variety of roles. Nice guy, but his act was worn out.
I don't know much of Camacho because I didn't see much of him. I know his father who wrestled as Haku or Meng was considered one of the toughest ever by his peers. I guess making him a gangster on a bike was the best WWE's 16 writers could come up with.
I thought Brodus Clay had the most potential, given his look, size and mobility. As I said, I'm not surprised by anyone, but I have the most questions concerning the evaluation of Clay from his WWE superiors.
Evan Bourne had been with the company for six years and I felt like I saw him for two. Injury and suspensions took up too much time. Another nice guy, but there are those coming up in NXT who can wow the crowd with high-flying moves, are more marketable looking and can talk.
Yoshi Tatsu had a good run but was never not in a low-level filler role.
Marc Harris was a bad referee. Made some bad mistakes on national television and responded with an aroma of arrogance. From those I've talked with, many of his peers didn't think much of him. I'm sure he'll be selling valuable 8x10s of his WWE glory days in the black and white stripe for years to come.
WWE management has responsibility for the failures, but unfortunately often they are above blame and prosecution in the system.
Let me address a few questions or myths I've got from fans since the releases.