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Thoughts on Thursday’s WWE Releases

On Thursday, eight WWE superstars, one authority figure, one diva, and one referee were released from their contracts. Some needed to be cut, some will probably be back at some point, and some cuts were just baffling. These will be in the order listed in WWE’s press release (found here).

JTG

JTG

A brief history: JTG got his money, money, yeah, yeah with Shad Gaspard as a member of Cryme Tyme. The duo never won tag team gold on the main roster, but were fan favorites for nearly their entire existence. JTG, however, couldn’t keep that fan support in his singles career, and wound up relegated to the lower card, working as a jobber on NXT Redemption of all places. A new look and a heel turn both fell flat. After his last match on WWE TV, a loss to Santino Marella on Superstars (which features what is easily the best Cobra sell in the history of ever, seen here), he was not heard from until his release. That day, he tweeted “Damn ! Why I pick up my phone !” but later an admonishment to “Stay Tuned Everyone.”

Why was he cut? This one’s simple. Dude hadn’t been on WWE TV in eight months. His lack of visible usefulness had become a meme in the IWC that included everything from the “How long has JTG been employed?” clock to fan theories that said he was the best Dungeons and Dragons GM ever. Out of all the people that were cut, JTG is one of the two most obvious choices.

Should he have been cut? In my opinion, yes and no. Yes for the reasons listed above and the fact that it appears the WWE have gone towards a more MMA-based style of promotion, which doesn’t really leave any room for full-time jobbers or even a lower card. That being said, I would gladly call myself a JTG mark. The man knows how to sell, has a great moveset, and had the charisma to turn a gimmick that was (on the surface and in some of its subtext) nothing but racist into a fan favorite that even had William Regal dancing.

Money, money, yeah, yeah.

Money, money, yeah, yeah.

What’s next? Probably some independent promotions on the West Coast; Championship Wrestling from Hollywood would be a good choice. If TNA had more money, I’d put them at the top of the list.

Will he be back? No.

Drew McIntyre

Drew McIntyre

A brief history: Before his WWE debut in 2007, McIntyre was one of the top workers in the British independent scene. For comparison’s sake, the two other British indie stars that signed to the WWE around that time were Sheamus and Wade Barrett. In 2009, Mr. McMahon called him a future world champion. He looked to be on track to proving the Boss right, becoming the sole survivor in his Survivor Series match and winning the Intercontinental Championship at TLC a month later. After that, he won the WWE Tag Team Championship with Cody Rhodes, but never truly recovered from losing it. After a losing streak storyline failed to result in anything meaningful (he was fired by Teddy Long, possibly teasing a face turn, when he was reinstated after beating Hornswoggle of all people), he was placed in 3MB. Drew, quite frankly, was 3MB’s weak link.

Why was he cut? Whether Mr. McMahon’s faith in McIntyre was scripted or real, Drew never lived up to the hype. His finisher was later co-opted by Bo Dallas (and done better) and he never was great on the mic. His in-ring ability wasn’t too terrible, but the man was a charisma vacuum. His theme song was the best thing about him.

Should he have been cut? Yes. Before I hear any complaints about his release being the demise of 3MB, Heath Slater’s charisma should ensure that everything will be fine. 3MB might reform with two new members, but McIntyre wasn’t needed and won’t be needed anymore.

What’s next? The British independent scene.

Will he be back? No.

Jinder Mahal

Jinder Mahal

A brief history: After about five years working in independent promotions, Mahal entered the WWE in 2010 and started on the main roster in 2011, feuding with Khali. While he also feuded with Ted Dibiase Jr. and Ryback, it’s possible that the most notable thing he’d done before 3MB was making it to the finals of the NXT Championship “Gold Rush” tournament, losing to Seth Rollins. As a member of 3MB, Mahal was able to prove that he had a decent ability on the microphone and some comedic chops, even if they were only an Office-esque breed of awkward humor.

Why was he cut? To be honest, I have no idea. Maybe the WWE thought 3MB had run its course?

Should he have been cut? No. Mahal was an up and coming ring worker who was able to show some ability on the mic. If 3MB had run its course, a trip to developmental could have done him some good.

What’s next? A tour around the US and Canada’s various independent promotions.

Will he be back? Maybe.

Aksana

Aksana

A brief history: A former female bodybuilder, Aksana first came to the main roster as Goldust’s rookie in the much maligned NXT Season 3, playing a “green card marriage” angle with The Bizarre One. She then worked sparingly in the ring, mainly working as Teddy Long’s girlfriend (and later Cesaro’s girlfriend). After breaking up with Cesaro, Aksana moved to in-ring work. Her brutal moveset and excellent spinebuster made her look like a Diva on the rise.

Why was she cut? Rumor has it that it boils down to a history of unsafe work. Remember that eyepatch that Naomi was wearing? Aksana dropped a knee into that eye, breaking Naomi’s orbital bone. She later dropped the same knee onto Nikki Bella’s throat; she luckily wasn’t injured. That history of botches is apparently what caused her to be future endeavored.

Should she have been cut? No. With the WWE running a very sparse women’s roster at the moment, it would have behooved them to keep as many of them as possible. If she’s unsafe, send her down to developmental to work on that. She was making progress, and most of that is probably gone now.

What’s next? Bodybuilding magazines.

Will she be back? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Curt Hawkins

Curt Hawkins

A brief history: Curt didn’t exactly have a storied career in the WWE. He started in La Familiab — you know, the stable run by Edge and Vickie Guerrero — winning the WWE tag titles with future United States Champion and “Hoeski” singer Zack Ryder. After that team broke up, though, he floundered. He teamed up with Tyler Reks as part of the incredibly entertaining last few months of NXT’s not developmental phase. It seemed that the team was destined for a push until Reks quit the WWE to spend more time with his daughter. Hawkins never recovered.

Why was he cut? There wasn’t any reason for him to be there. Like JTG, he was on TV sparingly at best, but unlike JTG, he spent an inordinate amount of time jobbing in NXT. That’s how you know your career has gone down the tubes, especially since he was still referred to as a main roster superstar.

Should he have been cut? Yes.

What’s next? Hawkins has already signed with New Jersey indie promotion Pro Wrestling Syndicate. He also runs a wrestling school called “Create-A-Pro.”

Will he be back? No.

Teddy Long

Teddy Long

A brief history: I’d love to find someone to tag team this part with me as a tribute, but unfortunately the people I know who are wrestling fans are those that I converted only recently (thank you WWE Network!). Theodore “Teddy” Long has been in the wrestling business for longer than I’ve been alive. He’s been a manager, referee, and most famously a General Manager. His catchphrases as GM, “tag team match playa!” and less notably “haterade” have entered the wrestling fan’s lexicon.

Why was he cut? First of all, he wasn’t cut. According to PWInsider, his contract expired and he is retiring. However, if he were to have been cut, with the Authority storyline still in full effect and the brand split dead, authority figures aren’t much needed anymore.

Should he have been cut? Yes. The WWE has referees, a racist manager (Zeb) and the authority figures have been taken care of. Teddy made the right decision to retire to spend time with his grandchildren.

What’s next? Retirement.

Will he be back? No.

Camacho

Camacho

A brief history: Trained by The Dudleys of all people, the son of professional wrestling’s Meng, the toughest man alive (or dead), Camacho has basically been in developmental for his entire WWE tenure. He worked with Hunico for a bit on the main roster until Hunico fell victim to a torn ACL. Near the end of his career, he grew more and more heelish, ending with a feud with resident Russell Brand imitator Adam Rose.

Why was he cut? To be honest, I’m just as confused as you are. I can’t think of a single good reason for this cut, and several bad reasons.

Should he have been cut? No. Worst case scenario, he could have been repackaged to what he should have been all along: The Son of Meng. Some would say that this is a bit too smarky of a gimmick, but Randy Orton’s gimmick was originally “Son of Bob Orton” and Camacho’s dad had a much stronger reputation.

What’s next? Some independent work, possibly New Japan or AAA. I’ll be shocked if he’s not back in WWE’s employ within five years. He’ll be the next Damien Sandow.

Will he be back? Yes.

Brodus Clay

Brodus Clay

A brief history: A former bodyguard for Snoop Dogg, Brodus Clay started on the main roster as a relatively generic monster who added some existential concepts into his promos. However, apparently Vince Russo was in charge of his debut; while the vignettes portrayed his real character, he showed up as The Funkasaurus — complete with dance, cheerleaders, and eventually a proto-stable (Tensai became Sweet T and the Funkadactyls started wrestling). Sadly, he was placed in a feud with the debuting Xavier Woods, lost everything related to the Funkasaurus character, and snapped. He wound up knocking some of Adrian Neville’s teeth out in NXT before being cut.

Why was he cut? The worker outlived his usefulness. For a character that was marketed to children, his merchandise sales weren’t very good. At all.

Should he have been cut? Yes. While the repackaging as a heel wasn’t terrible and his matches with Neville were good, he never showed enough charisma to make fans upset at his turn.

What’s next? Like Hawkins, Clay has already signed to New Jersey’s Pro Wrestling Syndicate.

Will he be back? I doubt it, but he seems like the kind of guy who could get an OK Rumble return pop.

Evan Bourne

Evan Bourne

A brief history: Don’t do drugs, kids. Also, don’t get into car accidents. Bourne, formerly Matt Sydal, was the WWE’s premier spot monkey for four years, with the best shooting star press since Billy Kidman. He was one of the top guys in WWECW (especially out of those without previous Raw or Smackdown experience) and a former tag team champion. That team, Air Boom (with Kofi Kingston) was a consistently entertaining part of WWE television until its demise in February of 2012 due to Bourne’s second Wellness Policy violation. He then shattered his foot in a car accident and hasn’t appeared on WWE TV since.

Why was he cut? Rumors say that the classic “creative has nothing for you” is to blame. They wanted to bring Bourne back to WWE TV, but it just didn’t happen. That foot has been healed for quite a while.

Should he have been cut? No. Pardon the snark in my first couple of sentences, but I am a full-fledged Evan Bourne MARK. The man is legitimately one of the top ten cruiserweights to work in the WWE. Air Boom was supposed to be the comeback of the tag team division, and they could have done that again.

What’s next? Matt Sydal will show up in Ring of Honor the moment his non-compete clause clears, mark my words.

Will he be back? No, and I am sad.

And finally, last but not least (I really can’t comment on referee Marc Harris)…

Yoshi Tatsu

Yoshi Tatsu

A brief history: Puroresu and American “brawler-style” wrestling go together (especially in the US) like peanut butter and unsmashed peanuts. Same substance, but you don’t want both of them on your sandwich at the same time. Yoshi Tatsu was proof of that. A technically proficient product of WWECW, his finisher was a roundhouse kick (perfectly OK in Japan, not so much here). He had a very thick accent, was never provided a manager, and the most charisma he ever showed was during his time learning guitar on The JBL and Cole Show. The racist “I worship my own action figure” gimmick he received during the early half of NXT Redemption definitely didn’t help his case. Really, the best thing I can say about his WWE work is that his character controlled really well on WWE 13 and that my brother was a fan.

Why was he cut? Creative never had anything for him during his time in the WWE. Most Japanese workers in the WWE suffer the same fate (compare Kaientai in Japan/the bWo to Kaientai in the WWF). Unfortunately, it comes down to a clash of styles in the same way that Mistico had, except that instead of botching everything, the fans just didn’t consider it entertaining.

Should he have been cut? Yes, and Zeke’s gonna kill me for this one. Assets, in finance as in wrestling, are only as good as the people controlling them.

What’s next? He’ll be back in Japan, possibly in Dragon Gate. I could also see him working the American indies for a while, especially ROH or DGUSA.

Will he be back? No.

Am I right? Wrong? Must I have been on something while writing this? Leave your responses in the comments, and have a great day!

About ThePhreakShow

Jerron Yost (AKA The Phreak) is the wrestling and MMA writer for g33k-e.com. When not overanalyzing fake or legitimate violence, he can be found trying to slog through his Steam backlog or listening to some crappy mixtape he found in the depths of DatPiff.com.

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