Thursday brought another rash of WWE releases as part of cost-cutting measures that have become an annual event at this time of year.
Samoa Joe, Peyton Royce, and Billie Kay headline the list of performers unexpectedly out of work, but for them, and the rest of the unemployed, today’s wrestling landscape offers them countless chances to enjoy the opportunities they didn’t have in McMahonland.
Looking ahead, where will pink slips on Thursday afternoon continue their career to greater success than in WWE until their non-competitive clauses are up on July 14?
Find each competitor released with this look.
WWE – Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe is the most famous name on the release list, a veteran whose work across the globe made him one of the world’s best-known wrestlers.
Joe is an undeniable badass, submission-and strike-based artist. Even at his advanced age, he feels like a boxer, destined to knock the butt of everyone who opposes him. He’s a talented speaker, as experienced in last year’s Raw commentary, and his words bear weight.
One of wrestling history’s most prominent independent stars, he had a wealth of experience to teach to every company’s stars for whom he signed.
Given his limited ring time at this stage, his style, and his general badassery, Joe’s one and only company should focus on AEW.
There are endless dream matches and brawls that would immediately pique fans’ attention. Joe has a lot to give AEW, from obvious fights with Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley to contests with younger stars like Darby Allin and even Jungle Boy.
And in return, it may be his last chance to start a national company on a grand scale.
The Iconics (Peyton Royce)
The IIconics are a squad pigeonholed as a comic act from day one in NXT. Great speakers with solid-enough in-ring capacity, they were always the team that spoke about how legendary they were, just to shriek and wail as they defeated their opponents.
They enjoyed success when they reached the main roster and even won the Women’s Tag Team Championships, but never really achieved the kind of success their talent indicated they were capable of.
Thus, when last summer’s squad was broken up and the decision was made to run with Peyton Royce as a singles star, she failed. What was her character, and how did fans take her without The IIconics’ comedic edge?
As it turned out, the response wasn’t even imaginative.
Billie Kay was able to maintain that aspect of her success, becoming one of WWE television’s bright spots entering 2021. Her appearance at WrestleMania showed she was in line as Carmella’s new partner for a drive, but her release ended that pairing.
Suggesting that Kay and Royce should reunite for a run around the globe as the team that never got its fair shake in WWE, but that would be too fast. They should concentrate on developing individuals. Kay is the amusing, personality-driven performer, and Royce is someone who can walk the fine line a little more straight.
A destination like Impact makes most sense for Kay. Not only does it have a diverse community of women, it also favours wacky and fun.
Royce, who could play the same part very well, feels ready to take the next step in her career. A run with AEW, with her husband Shawn Spears, would be a logical destination.
Mickie James is one of the greatest female wrestlers of all time, a legend and future Hall of Famer.During this last stretch, she deserved so much more than she had and her ability to continue wrestling lends itself to any number of promotions that might benefit from her star power.
With Billy Corgan’s National Wrestling Alliance re-emergence, James can find herself the biggest fish in a small pond.
What James will mean for this promotion, and his roster, is a seasoned athlete who can help raise young stars to heights they could never have achieved without their star power. That her husband is the world champion there doesn’t hurt matters.
We also saw AEW veterans in the fold, hoping to elevate their youthful roster. Some are Serena Deeb, Thunder Rosa and Ryo Mizunami. Adding James to the fold would be a big get for that promotion, but one would have to wonder how long it would be before she lacked the reps to make her time worth it.
Smaller promotions like NWA, Impact, or Honor Ring will suit her better.
Chelsea Green is a star waiting and WWE’s failure to understand that and drive her as such is representative of their artistic weaknesses.
The character she played in Impact Wrestling was one of those larger-than-life characters tailor-made for WWE. It allowed her to showcase both her entertainment and in-ring abilities, propelling her to the top of the wrestling industry’s commodities list.
WWE never got it, taking away her personality during her tenure in NXT, and failing to follow up when it came time to call her to the main roster.
Now Green can choose where she wants to continue her career.
Fiancee Matt Cardona works for Impact and Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore has already shown interest in getting her back into the fold.
Cody Rhodes co-signed Cardona’s statement that his significant other is a star, instantly raising eyebrows that might interest AEW in adding Green to its women’s division. By tweeting a Canadian Destroyer’s GIF at Penta El Zero Miedo, she delivered fuel to the Lucha Bro back in Lucha Underground.
Other than Samoa Joe, Green might well be the most sought-after free agent, a diverse, multi-talented star with the world’s upside. Look for her to make her feel as soon as she can.
Kalisto is an interesting example, as his initial single push seemed to suggest Rey Mysterio’s second coming. He won the U.S. Championship and seemed to be on a fast track to a major push, only to lose Rusev’s title and get into mediocrity.
There was a Lucha House Party and some shots at tag team gold, but he never gained the kind of success he made early in his main roster career.
Still an incredibly talented worker, one of the best on the release list, he can be a star elsewhere. His style suits All Elite Wrestling’s lightning-quick, high-flying, but he could easily go to Mexico and get the main event star there.
Impact and Ring of Honor are options, particularly the latter. They would almost certainly be secondary luchador options.
Mojo Rawley’s WWE stagnation was never for lack of commitment. He still worked hard, he only struggled to communicate tangibly with viewers.
Too often, the hyped character met groans when his heel character was underdeveloped and lasted such a short time that he never had the chance to expand or evolve it. Another of those original NXT call-ups, he’s one of those stars who could have used more time in NXT before being pushed to the main roster.
One of Wrestling’s good guys, a WWE ambassador who could always be seen alongside Titus O’Neil and Natalya as they engaged in various charity activities, was an asset to the organization.
It wouldn’t be shocking, at least initially, to see Rawley back with WWE in the near future.
Or at least start his own charity or motivational company and return to his community.
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