The usual can-of-internet-fan-outrage has been opened, once again, after the WWE released multiple wrestlers on Thursday, September 21st, 2023. Most of the wrestlers listed either haven’t been on television for a while or were working for NXT. To me, it’s just another day of cost cutting at a publicly traded corporation. Places who have cut THOUSANDS of employees are laughing at the WWE and TKO.
Let’s be honest here… Among the 2020-2022 WWE releases, as well as the late 2022 Triple H re-signings of previously released wrestlers from those years… Have any of them proved Vince McMahon wrong and “stuck it” to him? Not really… Many have tried to sign with All Elite Wrestling (AEW), and they have all failed to get beyond being “one of the boys”. I take that back… I personally thought Brodie Lee, formerly Luke Harper, was on his way but he passed away unfortunately. He was the one guy whom I thought was severely under-utilized in the WWE and was on his way to making himself a big name in AEW. Other than the great Lee, we’ve seen nothing significant at another promotion and Vince/WWE seems to be proven right for releasing them.
You could give me the late Bray Wyatt, whom I’d agree was inspiring when he returned with his initial return promo during late 2022… But then we had the return of Firefly Funhouse and the abomination known as the LA Knight vs. Bray Wyatt Match at Royal Rumble 2023.
But everyone else… Eh.
Here’s the question that I want to ask today’s generations of wrestlers… Where is your fire?
Why aren’t you PISSED OFF that the WWE overlooked your talents? Where is your motivation to revamp and revise yourself to make the WWE regret that they released you?
Here’s the dirty secret of the WWE Attitude Era, you know, when the WWE abnormally grew form 1997-2001… They did it on the backs of former WCW wrestlers and talent.
– Undertaker was told he wouldn’t be a big star by Ole Anderson in WCW during 1990. What did he do? Joined the WWE for the gimmick of a lifetime and seriously lasted 30 years in the WWE and drew them billions with his character alone. Seriously.
– Mick Foley was Cactus Jack in WCW, and Eric Bischoff didn’t like his character at all. Rather than making any tweaks to his character, they just released him.
– Steve Austin was on his way up the card in WCW during 1994, but then Hulk Hogan arrived and all of his older former WWE friends got signed. Making matters worse, Austin was fighting through some injuries. WCW released him via FedEx Letter, I believe.
– Triple H was liked in WCW, but only for the Tag Team division. Wasn’t allowed to be a singles wrestler.
– Jim Ross helped bring many great talents through WCW as their early big breaks, but the second Eric Bischoff took over after the faltering Bill Watts during early 1993, Jim Ross was on the chopping block. Had Bischoff kept Ross and maybe had him assist with Talent, WCW would have been a powerhouse early AND WWE wouldn’t have had its 1997 turnaround with the talent that Ross signed (Austin and Foley, by the way).
– Chris Jericho wasn’t allowed to grow beyond the midcard with the many overpaid former WWE stars that WCW signed. By early 1999, he let his contract expire and then had the greatest debut of all time.
What did each of those legitimate ALL TIME GREATS have in common? Their previous employer took their talents for granted and it PISSED THEM OFF to prove them wrong.
Here’s another good case to consider, but this guy was more proactive and asked for his release instead. Cody Rhodes was going nowhere as Stardust, so he boldly asked for his release from his WWE contract. WWE granted it to him, so Cody was off to prove himself on the Independent scene, in Japan, and at smaller promotions like Impact or Ring of Honor. By wrestling anywhere and everywhere, a groundswell of fan support happened and it helped spur Cody and friends to draw 10,000 for the infamous “All In” event that convinced a billionaire to start a wrestling promotion with his son called AEW. Then, through 2022, when WWE had a chance to get Cody back, Vince McMahon personally flew to Cody’s home to talk him into rejoining WWE. He’s getting paid millions and he is on his way to a World Title in the near future.
Cody was PISSED OFF at the WWE and wanted to make them pay… Literally, made them pay… millions of dollars!
This is what makes me wonder if the WWE will go for CM Punk or not… Lots of risk there, but I could see Punk being so pissed off at AEW that he’d go out of his way to be on his best behavior in the WWE.
Look, I’m not here to belittle the released WWE or NXT performers. I’m sorry that you lost your job… But I question this: How much do you want it?
How badly do you want to be a top pro wrestling star?
Because I’m here to tell ya, life is going to get tough…
(1) AEW’s roster is already too big, even with 3 shows and 2 brands.
(2) Impact’s budget is limited.
(3) NWA’s budget is really limited.
On the latter two points, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW)‘s budget was limited during the 1990s, but did that stop Mick Foley and Steve Austin from joining them following their WCW releases? Nope… And both made the absolute most out of their tenure in ECW. The 3 Faces of Foley and “Stone Cold” were born there because Paul Heyman took the filter off of both. Foley and Austin could have bigtimed ECW, but they didn’t… They treated it like it was the big leagues and took it damn seriously. In return, they repackaged themselves to be amazing free agent signings for Jim Ross in the WWE and helped build confidence in Ross as Talent Relations manager. So what if Impact and NWA are small… Go there, make a big name for yourself. Draw well in Impact or NWA, the WWE will beg for you to return.
Internally, look at LA Knight. Vince McMahon wanted him to be the manager of the modeling stable that had most of its members released yesterday. Seriously… Did he cry about it? No, when given the chance to return as LA Knight, he worked extra hard and made personal tweaks to his character to appear like a brand new character.
The question again, is, do any of these wrestlers WANT IT? Do you want to prove the WWE wrong?
Maybe wrestling in the 21st Century with the WWE has made you soft? Maybe earning 6 figures as a developmental wrestler has ceased that hunger? Maybe working in the air conditioned Performance Center has given you a big head? Maybe working fewer dates than past generations hasn’t toughed you up?
Something is missing from today’s generations of wrestlers because I don’t see the ANGER of wrestlers getting released and trying to prove the WWE wrong. Sure, they’ll shed tears on their Social Media accounts or start shooting when they play video games on their Twitch account… But how are you going to “stick it” to the WWE for releasing you?
Did David Letterman cry when he was passed over for Jay Leno to replace Jimmy Carson on NBC’s The Tonight Show? No, he went across the street to CBS to create his own 11:30pm nightly show as competition to the Tonight Show instead and was a pain in their arse for like 25 years. Many pro athletes gets passed over in drafts and use that denial as revenge against teams later. Tom Brady going to late and being passed over by many teams fueled him.
I could go through the entire list of WWE/NXT released talents and speculate who will go where… But I won’t. I’m not convinced that any of them want to stick it to the WWE for releasing them, including longtime veteran Dolph Ziggler who spent 20 years with WWE and was praised both by the Rock and John Cena for his work after he was released.
Where is your fire at? Where is your anger at the WWE firing YOU just as they sign a new $1.4 billion, 5 year deal to host WWE Smackdown? Where is your anger at the TKO issuing stock trading between $80 to $100 per share? Where is your anger at WWE being valuated at $9 billion? Where is your anger at WWE ticket sales going up, viewership increasing, and merchandise sales moving again? WWE, TKO, and Endeavor are making money HAND OVER FIST yet they feel the need to release you. Why aren’t you angry?
Look at the United Autoworkers (UAW) labor union right now. They were willing to go on strike to get better earnings, even as the top auto executives cry “poor mouth” in spite of their companies making record breaking profits. Then, you have Hollywood… Every studio is screwing actors out of royalties because streaming wasn’t defined in their contracts and executives at the studios are paying themselves more than ever to eat into all revenues made from movies. While many movies have flopped, many haven’t… Freakin’ Barbie just pulled in over $1 billion. LOTS of accounting games being played with Hollywood productions, trust me. The Actors AND Writers know all of this and are trying to “stick it” to Hollywood by striking. UAW, Actors, and Writers ARE WILLING TO STARVE in order to make a point.
Where is the fire in your belly, released WWE wrestlers? It’s very likely that some of you have been leaking hateful stuff about Vince McMahon to dirtsheets anyway, so why not get revenge by overperforming and reinventing yourself elsewhere?
Stop venting through killing groups of people in a video game and get real revenge. Channel your anger into proving Vince McMahon wrong and becoming very successful as a pro wrestler elsewhere.
Because if you don’t, you proved him right.
Be like Mick Foley, Triple H, Jim Ross, and Chris Jericho who each proved Eric Bischoff of WCW wrong in the long-run.
Stick it to the man!
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