In a surprising turn of events, WWE revealed a significant number of main roster releases early today. This news follows shortly after the wrestling behemoth publicized its staggering $1.4 billion deal with NBCUniversal, setting the stage for SmackDown's anticipated return to the USA Network in 2024.
The list of released talent includes big names such as Riddick Moss, Aaliyah, Hit Row’s Top Dolla, Elias Mustafa Ali, Emma, Rick Boogs, Shelton Benjamin, and even former world champion Dolph Ziggler. Speculations are rife that additional cuts, particularly from the NXT roster, might be unveiled as the day progresses.
Fightful's Exclusive Insights
Fightful Select provided some exclusive insights into this move:
- Roster Discontent: The sudden cuts have certainly not gone unnoticed, causing palpable frustration among the roster. The juxtaposition of a major NBCUniversal deal announcement followed by talent releases didn't sit well with many.
A prominent WWE star commented on how most of the released talents "never really got their shot" given their minimal booking history.
- Strategic Timing?: A few insiders suggest that WWE's strategy might have been to align the talent cuts with the NBCUniversal deal and the upcoming Elimination Chamber stadium show announcement.
They speculate this move might be to dampen the negative blowback and ensure smoother sailing for the company. Interestingly, several talents expressed their initial belief that WWE had left behind the era of mass layoffs.
- 90-Day Non-Compete Clause: Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful shed light on the post-release trajectory of these talents.
He confirmed that a majority of the wrestlers who faced the cuts today are bound by the conventional 90-day non-compete clause.
The decisions behind the scenes at WWE are sure to influence its trajectory in the upcoming months, especially as they transition back to the USA Network in 2024.