On an eventful day marked by the thrilling news of WWE's grand return to Australia for the much-awaited Elimination Chamber next year and the inauguration of SmackDown's fresh television partnership with the USA Network, WWE took a significant step of initiating a large-scale talent release this Thursday.
From the main roster, the list of notable departures comprises of names such as Dolph Ziggler, Mustafa Ali, Elias, Shelton Benjamin, Riddick Moss, Emma, Aliyah, and “Top Dolla” AJ Francis. The NXT roster was not spared either, with talent like Quincy Elliott, Shanky, Bryson Montana, Yulisa Leon, Dabba-Kato, Kevin Ventura-Cortez, Alexis Gray, and Daniel McArthur receiving the axe.
The complete directory of WWE's main roster releases can be accessed here. This massive reorganization comes in the backdrop of WWE's strategy to streamline its financial outlay. It's been well-documented that the wrestling behemoth aimed to pare down expenses in the range of $50 million to $100 million, especially post their strategic amalgamation with UFC, culminating in the birth of the TKO Holdings Group.
This fiscal strategy recently led to the sidelining of several of WWE's employees.
Meltzer Unpacks Releases
Prominent wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer, in a recent issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, elaborated on the underpinnings of these releases.
He highlighted that the primary rationale behind this significant reshuffle was the discord between the remuneration of the talent and their utilization. In essence, talents drawing main roster salaries without being active or prospective key players on the same roster were the primary candidates for this cutback.
To encapsulate the essence of these decisions, a WWE official provided Meltzer with a succinct rationale, stating, “It's the balance between tenure, remuneration, and the return on investment”. For fans and industry insiders speculating about the future of these talents, it's important to note that main roster talents come with a customary 90-day non-compete clause, allowing them to explore new opportunities from December 20th onward.
Conversely, the NXT talents have a shorter 30-day non-compete window. This development undoubtedly sets the stage for an intriguing end to the year in the world of professional wrestling.