WWE releases unfortunately unfolded.
There was some frustration among members of the roster we spoke to that WWE announced a $1.4B Smackdown deal and then cut talent. One top star said that most of the list barely had a chance considering they weren't booked, and called it a circle that couldn't be escaped.
Another brought up that the company released Emma just after the WWE Elimination Chamber show announcement in her home country.
The line of thinking from many on the roster is that WWE aligned these cuts with the announcement of Elimination Chamber and Smackdown rights fee deal in order to minimize the negative impact on the company.
Most of the deals have 90-day non competes attached to them.
Several talent that we spoke to had even thought the days of mass cuts were behind them, and deals would simply be allowed to expire. That had appeared to be the method of late.
Among them is Dolph Ziggler, who actually was ready to leave WWE years ago, but got talked into staying with the company. Those that we spoke to this week said that originally, his WWE deal was set to extend into next Summer.
Aaliyah was a name that many in WWE expected to be on the list. She'd been signed with the company since 2015, and was drafted to Smackdown in 2021, but barely used. She did become a Tag Team Champion, but had not wrestled on or off television once in over a year since losing the titles. We were told that she was rarely if ever brought to TV, and was not factored in creatively.
Aliyah had been factored out of creative for over a year, and any time we'd ask for an update on her, we'd simply be told that she wasn't injured, and wasn't being considered for anything at that point.
Mustafa Ali had asked for his WWE release back in 2021, but it was quickly rejected and he was taken off of TV. We're told that as things stood, his WWE deal was up in the Spring/Summer of 2024. Those that we spoke to in NXT had no knowledge that he was going to be released, and noted that he'd even worked through an injury to make his NXT run happen.
Elias has not been on TV in quite some, but we're told that he has not been injured of late. In fact, we'd learned that he'd been pitching ideas up until a month ago. Fightful had been asking about his contract status for quite some time.
Riddick Moss had been a favorite of Paul Heyman when he was running the show, and was someone that Heyman felt that they could get to the main event level. Unfortunately, many others in the company didn't share that sentiment and he struggled to get booked.
Shanky was another name that was never brought up in a creative sense once Triple H took over creative. The company did want him to perform in India recently, but there were no plans for him to return other than that. It was another situation of the company feeling as if the progression in the ring wasn't there. He wasn't considered as a part of the new Indus Sher, and never planned for anything extended in creative. Those that we spoke to said that he was liked backstage.
Quincy Elliott was one name said to have not been a surprised. WWE coaches didn't feel like Quincy was improving in the ring, and between some social media controversies, caused a number of headaches for the company.
Matt Riddle wasn’t around backstage in WWE, even before his release.
Fightful Select has confirmed that contrary to rumors last week, former Tag Team Champion Matt Riddle was never planned for the September 18 WWE Raw show. One source that we spoke to said that the rumor likely emerged from outdated information, and that he was never in the creative plans for the show.
Riddle had been off the road from WWE since alleging that an officer at JFK airport sexually assaulted him, leading to an internal investigation by the Port Authority. Riddle was removed from the September 11 Raw, and taken off the road from WWE. He was never planned for a return.
Those we’ve spoken to claimed that since then, Riddle was not factored into immediate creative plans. He was doing some grappling training per usual this week, and was said to be in good spirits before his release. However, one WWE higher up said that he burned through too many chances while in WWE.
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