April 15 has gone from being a day that people fear due to the IRS to being a day that even I.R.S. and the family of Mike Rotunda fear due to WWE making it their new day of annual bloodletting for talent. This year, the company released nine talents: Samoa Joe, Bilie Kay, Peyton Royce, Chelsea Green, Mickie James, Tucker, Kalisto, Bo Dallas, Wesley Blake, and Mojo Rawley.
Some, like the Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson), came off as far bigger stars after getting let go during from WWE during the pandemic. Since then, they’ve hosted their own Talk’n Shop-A-Mania pay-per-view, been consistently pushed in IMPACT!, and are now being featured on AEW TV regularly in the main event segments.
Rusev has also regained a lot of his lost fire after debuting as ‘Miro’ in AEW. Lio Rush has rebuilt his career on the indie scene, in between shots with AAA and New Japan USA. Heath and Eric Young have carved niches out for themselves in IMPACT!, with Young having already gotten World title win.
Maria & Mike Bennett have done fairly well in ROH after being cut from WWE, as has EC3. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder have managed to do well in IMPACT! And were featured in the RetroMania Wrestling video game. This year’s run of talent finds itself in a different world, as things should be getting better in terms of bookings right around the time of their mid-July, when 90-day no-compete clauses end.
If Samoa Joe isn’t still injured, AEW could play host to a sea of fresh matches for him. As a manager, he would fit right into the Taz-role, badass ex-wrestler with to credibility lead a group. He has done just about everything in IMPACT! and ROH, when he was in his physical prime. I see AEW being the best overall fit for him, with IMPACT! functioning as either a bridge to introduce him on television, or a home base where he could be showcased as a guest star, like the Good Brothers with IMPACT! or Thunder Rosa in NWA.
Speaking of NWA, that seems like the most natural fit for Mickie James, another recently cut talent. Her husband is NWA Worlds Champion, Nick Aldis, plus they are building up Aldis’ valet, Kamille, for a Women’s title run. James and Kamille could be a ready-made feud if booked well.
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay would fit with the revamped IMPACT! Knockouts Tag Team division, which could use more steady teams, but I’m not sure if that’s the best role for them. I predict Kay playing the role of Rebel to Royce’s Britt Baker, which I think makes sense. These two have an undeniable chemistry together and are stronger as a pair than apart. Royce’s husband, Shawn Spears, is in AEW, so there’s another possible option for creative, although we haven’t seen Spears and Royce’s on-screen chemistry yet. I like the idea of Pinnacle truly wanting all the titles and having Peyton go after the AEW Women’s title, maybe with a Billie Kay run-in.
Chelsea Green may wind up being the best-suited for AEW out of all of the released female talent. While she completely reinvented herself as “Hot Mess” Laurel Van Ness in IMPACT! She had tremendous chemistry with Britt Baker at the All In event in Chicago where she felt like someone who could have been a cornerstone of AEW’s women’s division had she gone there. AEW would be a fresh environment for her and with her mix of star power, looks, skill, and ability to change roles and adapt, she would be a perfect fit.
Tucker is probably going to wind up having to prove himself on the indie scene for a bit before a national-ish company picks him up, unfortunately. I can see him being a fine henchman for someone, but don’t see a role as a pushed act for him right away.
Bo Dallas’ main roster career has been over for a while and he’s already prepared for a life outside of wrestling with Liv Morgan on a farm. I don’t see him doing much beyond an appearance here and there prominent indie groups. I wouldn’t expect him to try for a spot in a major or minor company right now, unless he’s motivated.
Kalisto has an interesting chance here since IMPACT! would benefit from someone like him to help round out the X-Division.
I could see Mojo Rawley doing well as a motivational speaker or an on-air host for a sports company, or maybe an ambassador for pro wrestling and football as a whole who maybe does some indie dates. Age may work against him, but it’s not like he’s in his 50s. He’s still 34, so time is of the essence so that he doesn’t get permanently injured. I can see him being a great name for IMPACT! to pickup and get in the ring with guys like Black Taurus for hard-hitting matches that would allow him to make use of his natural intensity.
WWE’s talent cuts in 2020 wound up being gains both wrestlers and for other groups, with some acts completely rebuilding their once-damaged reputations. Will 2021 be any different?