Since April, WWE has made talent releases at least once a month.
The reason given to talent has been "budget cuts" with top names such as Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Buddy Murphy, Lana, The IIconics, and more.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani of BT Sport, WWE President Nick Khan explained WWE's thought process behind so many talent releases.
"There is a collective of us," Khan began when asked who makes the decisions and if it was fair to put the blame on him. "Keep in mind, with WWE, there is one boss and that's Vince [McMahon], as we all know. Between Bruce Prichard, who oversees the entire creative process, between Kevin Dunn, who oversees all of our production, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Levesque, all are involved in these decisions with ultimately Vince making the final decision on things."
While "budget cuts" is the reason given to talent, Khan explained that more goes into it than just saving money.
"I don't think there is one explanation for it," he said. "Ultimately, what's looked at is, 'is this person, for us, going to move the needle now or in the imminent future.' We had a two-day tryout in Las Vegas which Triple H and John Laurinaitis and Bruce Prichard were across, as were the rest of us, we've signed over a dozen new talent coming out of that tryout. I'm not suggesting that's why we cut the other talent, but we're always looking for what's next. We live in the present and the future, we don't live in the past. When people leave and move on with their life and careers, that's good by us. For us, it's what works for us and our product at that moment in time and what's going to work down the road and largely, in part, the existing roster is based on that."
A handful of released talent have made their way to AEW with Andrade and Malakai Black leading the list.
When asked for his thoughts on talent heading to AEW, Khan replied with a question of his own.
"Have you ever seen me talk about or think about any competitor?" He asked. Helwani, who has known Khan for years and was a client of Khan's during his time as an agent, said he hasn't known Khan to talk about competition.
"Never," Khan stated. "It's not what I do, it's not what we do at WWE. What I do and what we do, we look ahead. Where are we going? Jimmy Iovine said in the HBO Documentary [The Defiant Ones], you have to look at these things like a horse in the race. They put blinders on. Why? So you're not looking back to see what the other horse is doing. The horse does that, they're gonna trip and break their leg. In my career, I've always operated that way. I know WWE has always that operated that way. We look ahead. Our decisions are based on what's best for us. Whatever anyone else does with that, good for them."
During the recent earnings call, Vince McMahon stated that he didn't view AEW as competition the same way he viewed WCW as competition in the 90s. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
Elsewhere during the interview Khan clarified his "open for business" comments. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
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