Planet Kayfabe: 2021 Release Thoughts
By: Paul Matthews
Hello everyone and thanks again for reading Planet Kayfabe. Did you enjoy Wrestlemania? Call it “progress” call it whatever, but I’m not a fan of the 2-night format. I could do the “wait and see” approach, but I don’t like it. I feel it dilutes Wrestlemania as a huge spectacle he same way I feel having multiple world titles dilutes what it means to be a world champion these days. No, that is not the only reason. We’ve been on this downward slope since the WWE Network started and the art of a strong push towards a big event became lost on WWE and can you remember the last truly great go-home edition of Raw before Wrestlemania? It seems like it’s been at least a decade. Giving away Wrestlemania for free certainly didn’t help either. Now, you can get Wrestlemania for about the price of a large latte at Dunkin Donuts, so whop-dee-doo. Everyone get’s a world title. Everyone gets on Wrestlemania. Everyone gets a belt.
Well, not everyone.
There was a slew of releases in WWE yesterday, “WWE has come to terms on the release of Samoa Joe, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Mickie James, Chelsea Green, Tucker, Kalisto, Mojo Rawley, Bo Dallas and Wesley Blake as of today April 15, 2021.” The wear from Sean Ross Sapp is that new (and former) executive VP of talent relations, John Lauriniaitis cited “budget cuts” as the reason for the releases which is always WWE’s story even when they boast headlines of record profits even in the pandemic.
My heart doesn’t bleed too much for those released, so I’m not trying to come off as anti-WWE, but the ‘budget cuts’ excuse is ridiculous. This company is pocketing cash by the boat load more and more every year thanks to their TV contracts and this new Peacock deal, yet the supposed “family” at WWE chops off the legs of life-long backstage employees left and right as is they’re struggling to keep the lights on. I mean, give me a break. This company couldn’t keep a guy like Gerald Brisco on the payroll for whatever left of life he has, but they throw 10 years and millions of dollars at a retired Undertaker just to make sure he didn’t go to Starrcast and rub elbows with AEW. Mark Yeaton? Mike Chioda? Times are tough and you’re weighing down the ship too much. Gotta let you go. Bill Goldberg? Sure, come have a 2 minute nostalgia match once a year for a couple million. Then we gotta hear about what a “family” WWE is. Yeah. WWE is like a family. More like a mob family that takes care of you until the one time you step out of line and you’re whacked over night.
Some thoughts on these more recent releases, though. The one that stands out as the most baffling to me on the surface is Samoa Joe. Samoa Joe as an active wrestler was still very good for WWE and he was also one of the best promos they had and I wouldn’t argue against you if you felt he was the best. After a few injury setbacks he was put on commentary where he was great. Now, he’s out and they have some guy on Raw, the live “A” show, doing commentary with no experience in the genre and learning on the spot on live TV. I can’t be too hard on WWE because obviously all the details aren’t out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if Samoa Joe wants to wrestle and WWE didn’t clear him or had no plans to use him in an major angles.
Of all these releases, Joe is the only one I’d say AEW should pick up. He has a lot of history in Impact, but AEW would be the better financial option especially at this stage of his career, obviously. AEW is not shy when it comes to signing old ex-WWE guys so I’m sure Joe will get an offer, but if I were Tony Khan, I would only pursue Joe out of this mix. Online everyone is speculating who will end up in AEW from this batch of released WWE talent. AEW can’t sign all of them and their roster is big enough as it is. They don’t need anyone else. They don’t even need Samoa Joe, but if he wants to work and AEW is offering he’s the one guy I think they should go for.
The release of the IIconics is somewhat of a surprise. WWE has these fancy new women’s tag belts but no actual female tag teams. Now, I know the IIconics are no Midnight Express, but they were a decent act together when they weren’t overly exposed. They were fine as heels. They were fine in their roles. I’m sure Peyton Royce will land in AEW with his husband Shawn Spears. As for Billie Kay, I’m not sure what the future has for her. She’s not good on her own. If you think that’s too nice, then fine. She’s a terrible wrestler. However, she was carried well in the IIconics tag team and wasn’t shy on the mic at all. The two were a good pair, but if they both land in AEW or even Impact or anywhere it’s going to be tough, especially for AEW. If they took that same WWE act to AEW I don’t think it would get over well with their fans. Plus, they’d need a new name and catchphrase and if they did the same thing it would come off as just a knock-off version of a routine from another company.
As for people like Mickie James, Bo Dallas and Mojo Rawley, again, no surprises here. Mickie James is now 41. She will be 42 later this summer. I’m not sure if she wants to continue wrestling, but it’s going to be tough out there for a woman her age with not much left and not really that much of a name to make some big splash. Bo Dallas, I hear he might retire from wrestling all-together. He started a Real Estate company and may just just fine falling back onto that instead of just being a just sitting in the WWE lockerroom waiting to have his number balled. Mojo Rawley is a guy that I can maybe see a company taking a shot with just based on his physique, but I don’t see him at almost 35 years old suddenly becoming a good wrestler. At his size, he could get by if he was even just an ok worker, but he’s not and anywhere outside of WWE you’re going to have to be a great worker to cause a buzz on the indy’s. This isn’t 2003 when any name off a WWE roster could do decent on the independents just by being associated with WWE.
Even though the whole “budget cuts” thing is silly, I can’t say I’m that sad to see any of these people go. It’s not like WWE was using thing and it’s not like they can’t do better elsewhere in this current wrestling climate. Should I really be up in arms that Samoa Joe, who probably wants to wrestle, won’t be stuck behind a desk anymore? Should I be sad that Bo Dallas won’t be chasing some geek 24/7 belt? Not really. I know it seems harsh that WWE, the biggest wrestling company in the world, is the only company releasing a bunch of talent during the pandemic, but that’s business. You don’t have to like it, but that’s how it is. Last year they laid off a ton of road agents and even though it sucks for them, what was WWE supposed to do? They weren’t running house shows and there were active travel bans and other restrictions. It’s not like some of those names wont be hired back either, but I’m sure it wont be that many since I doubt WWE will be running as many house shows as they did prior to 2020.
There are my thoughts on the recent releases from WWE. I hope Tony Khan isn’t wiping his hands and licking his chops too much. By the way, what was the deal with his big long humble-brag Tweet about Taz being out in the rain and moving everyone in or something right after the Wrestlemania rain delay? What a mark, I swear. I’m pulling for that company, but damn is Tony such a mark and it’s like everyone’s in on the secret but him.
Thanks for reading everyone. For NoDQ, I’m Paul Matthews. Take care and God bless.