|Bourne officially among the released today|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE has engaged in a mass layoff of superstars not seen in at least three years. The list of releases numbers ten this time around: Aksana, Brodus Clay, Camacho, Curt Hawkins, Drew McIntyre, Evan Bourne, Jinder Mahal, Marc Harris (a referee), Teddy Long, and Yoshi Tatsu. Of the nine, Mahal and McIntyre come as the biggest surprises. 3MB has been one of the staple acts on RAW in the last couple of years, even if they were just time-fillers and enhancement talent. The other names aren't as shocking, but any time a wrestler loses his or her job with WWE, it's not cause for celebration unless they have connections with better paying companies in Japan. WWE is the only well-paying gig in American wrestling right now, and a lot of really talented people lost jobs with it. I don't necessarily think anyone of the above will be out of a job for too long, even if the benefits and salary end up being paltry in comparison. The following are predictions based mostly on gut feelings and past history. I don't have any projections on Harris, because WWE refs outside of Charles Robinson, Scott Armstrong, and Drake Wuertz (Younger) all seem to blend together for me.
Aksana: I doubt she'll continue on as an active wrestler. She may hit the convention circuit, but much like released Divas such as Kelly Kelly, Maxine, and Kaitlyn, her calling will more than likely be outside of a wrestling ring.
Brodus Clay: Of all the releases, he's the one I'm having the most trouble projecting for the future. My guess is he'll end up fluttering off to TNA, although I wouldn't be surprised if he had a gig outside of wrestling as well. He seems to be on the weight-loss train, and he actually has looked a lot more slimmed down in his NXT appearances as of late.
Camacho: He's young and has a potential-laden future ahead of him. I see one of two paths. The one I initially went with was that he'd join Barri "Mason Ryan" Griffiths in Pro Wrestling Syndicate and build his indie career from there. One that was pointed out to me on Twitter is New Japan Pro Wrestling. His brother Tama Tonga is currently working there as a member of the Bullet Club (hail Hydra). Family ties could end up getting him work in what is now the second biggest wrestling company in the world.
Curt Hawkins: Hawkins feels like he'll follow his fellow Long Island WWE expat Trent? (Barretta) in a residence on the indies. He has a wrestling school open as well, one which will have a feature match on the next Beyond Wrestling show. He may be the next "big" name to start wrestling the Biff Busicks and Chris Dickinsons of the world at the big Fete Music shows.
Drew McIntyre: My gut tells me he'll head back to the burgeoning English/Scottish wrestling scene, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did some dates for major American indies or even went to TNA.
Evan Bourne: Bourne had the biggest career pre-WWE of all the releases as Matt Sydal. I think he'll get the Chris Hero/AJ Styles victory lap around the indies before settling back to Dragon Gate, both US and Japan. With Ricochet as the Open the Dream Gate Champion AND the new NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Champion, Sydal has a golden entree back into his old stomping grounds for a major, headline feud.
Jinder Mahal: Out of everyone released, Mahal seems like the most likely to head to TNA, or at least lay low on the indies until Global Force Wrestling starts up.
Teddy Long: After the smoke clears, I imagine he'll sign a Legends deal and settle into retired life.
Yoshi Tatsu: Tatsu came from NJPW, and if I had to guess, he'll return there as well.
Still, I'm not happy that anyone got released. The mass releases in conjunction with the repetitive booking WWE tends to implement with matches on television feels like the company failed those wrestlers. Granted, Bourne may have signed his own release with his affinity towards marijuana, and I'm glad WWE kept him during his recovery so he COULD heal up from his multiple injuries that have kept him out for two-plus years. But does any reason exist why WWE has to throw Antonio Cesaro vs. Rob van Dam every week when they had a young, improving, hungry guy like Camacho waiting in the wings ready to throw hands with the Swiss Superman?
The booking patterns just don't make sense, even if the fiscal reasoning for their releases might end up being a stark reminder that cash rule everything around me, CREAM get the money, dolla dolla bill y'all. The WWE Network numbers haven't been great so far, which might have put some writing on the wall for the lowest guys on the totem pole. Either way, today absolutely sucks.
ETA: JTG has also been released today. He was the subject of a recurring and quite frankly annoying meme asking how he was still employed despite lack of television time. His former partner, Shad Gaspard, has been active in the indies out west, specifically for the International Wrestling Federation in Arizona. I smell a possible Cryme Tyme reunion in the works, and I would find it both hilarious and awesome at the same time if they got themselves booked for PWG's DDT4 tournament in 2015.