WWE released eight more wrestlers on Nov. 18, just two weeks after another round of cuts. This makes 80 names cut by the company in 2021. Once again, budget cuts were cited as the reason by WWE.
John Morrison, Teagan Nox, Hit Row, Drake Maverick, Jaxson Ryker, and Shane Thorne made up the latest list. This group is now left to navigate an even more difficult landscape. With so many wrestlers available with Ring of Honor releasing its workers from contracts and other WWE cuts, there is more competition than ever for spots in other companies.
As we wrote two weeks ago, AEW, IMPACT, New Japan and AAA can only take so many. There is talent in this group who will likely pick up some of those spots. The rest may have to hope for an indie resurgence coming out of the pandemic, a plausible scenario considering the amount of talent out there.
- Morrison (John Hennigan) bet on himself years ago after his first stint in WWE and it paid off, becoming a star for multiple promotions, including IMPACT and AAA. Unfortunately, upon his return to WWE, he was put right back where he had been – in a tag team with Miz. He seems like a good fit to go back to AAA. He’s been gone long enough the fans would be excited to see him again and he knows the style.
- Drake Maverick (James Curtin) has already put a great video on Twitter affirming his love of the wrestling business. He will be in heavy demand from the indies and should get a look from other companies. His size was a factor in WWE, as was his age, but AEW and IMPACT are less concerned about these things if a worker can perform – and Curtin can certainly work.
- Nox (Steffanie Newell) is talented wrestler whose career in WWE was hindered by injuries. Despite several long spells out of action rehabbing her knee, she connected as a babyface with NXT fans. Newell is Welsh so she could go back to the UK and work for companies there. Stardom in Japan might be a possibility in the future. She’d be a solid addition to any women’s division in the U.S. as well, so she has options.
- Isaiah Scott (Shane Strickland) is a smaller guy so he had a ceiling in WWE other companies would ignore. He’d be an interesting pickup for New Japan’s junior heavyweight division, one that could use new blood once things open up again. In the meantime, he’d fit in AEW, IMPACT and even Mexico. He should find a landing spot among those.
- It gets more difficult for the others. Thorne (Shane Verzyer), certainly has talent but he doesn’t stand out in North America with so many others out there. He had success in Japan, so that’s a possibility in the future for him.
- Ryker (Chad Lail) will have a tougher road if IMPACT doesn’t bringing him back. They might, but he did not make himself a bigger star in WWE and hasn’t shown the workrate you’d expect from an AEW signee. The best option for him if he chooses to stay in the business could be life on the indie circuit if IMPACT isn’t interested.
- The other members of Hit Row, (Tehuti Miles and A.J. Francis) never had time to really establish themselves. Francis looks like he has potential, but there have been backstage issues with him already. Word gets around on things such as that. Plus, his Twitter persona has been nasty toward people in AEW, which he may end up regretting. It won’t be easy for them going forward.
The three members of Hit Row were the only ones pushed at the time of their release. They had received significant promo time on both NXT and the main roster, but it wasn’t enough to save them. Maverick and Morrison were doing comedy bits, but weren’t figured into any major plans. The others were working, but not in prominent spots. Nox was teaming with Shotzi, but they spun Shotzi off as a singles wrestler and they hadn’t started anything new for Nox before Thursday.
One can only imagine the people at AEW, IMPACT, New Japan and AAA crunching numbers while looking at a menu of possible roster additions that grows week after week. But for the talent left behind in WWE, only a select few can feel secure.
Lee and Hit Row were getting pushed. Jax had been a star for years. In today’s environment, which has quickly become a buyers’ market, the possibility of being in the next round of cuts is daunting.