WWE announced another round of cuts after it’s quarterly investors call Thursday. They listed budget cuts as the reason. The list was quite the variety pack.
None of the names were in top-line programs when they were released, but some big names were on the list. Some were just beginning a push or getting a new one. Others were steady presences but hadn’t quite risen to the top. There were also some projects WWE gave up on.
With the recent announcement Ring of Honor would release its talent from their contracts and go on hiatus, these workers find themselves entering a flooded marketplace. AEW, New Japan and IMPACT do not have room for all of them, but many are talented enough to be strong additions to a roster.
AEW’s strength is taking top level talent who weren’t being featured well in WWE (Jon Moxley, Malakai Black and Miro are the most obvious examples) and giving them a place to shine. IMPACT has shown a predilection for bringing in people with bigger names rather than underrated workers. There are names on the list that fit both profiles.
The list was made up of Keith Lee, Nia Jax, Eva Marie, Karrion Kross, Mia Yim, Scarlett, Ember Moon, Frankie Monet, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Trey Baxter Oney Lorcan, B-Fab, Harry Smith, Jessi Kamea, Katrina Cortez, Jeet Rama and Zayda Ramier.
Lee is the name that jumps out on this list for two reasons. First, he just began a new push as “Bearcat” Keith Lee, working a more traditional WWE big-man style. The second reason is he’s been chronically mis-used, even when he was winning titles in NXT. Lee would be an excellent pick-up for another organization.
Lee might not be as tall as WWE likes their big men, but he’s strong and has shocking agility. Anyone who has seen his indie work knows he was never allowed to truly show what he could do in WWE. If allowed to work his own style, he could become a huge star. Lee heading to AEW would make a lot of sense for both sides.
Jax was the biggest WWE name on this list. She’s been a factor since she first began showing up on NXT TV in 2015. She was pushed to the top on NXT, challenging Bayley for the women’s title two months after her first TV match. After being drafted by RAW in 2016, she became a main roster star and stayed one. While her pushes varied in intensity over the years, she was figured into the top stories for women throughout her time in WWE.
A negative on Jax is that while she was a top name, she also built a reputation within the business of injuring people, such as Becky Lynch and Kairi Sane. She’s experienced, but she is not a great worker. Despite that, her star power could carry her somewhere else for a while. IMPACT might be the best landing spot for her.
Scarlett’s release is puzzling. She already was exactly what WWE had hoped another released worker, Eva Marie, would become one day. Scarlett has a look at can be marketed to the key male demographic. She leans into the sexy persona effectively. She can talk and she is charismatic. That’s everything they wanted from Marie but didn’t get.
If the battle is for males 18-49, it’s easy to imagine Scarlett finding a spot somewhere else.
Moon began with a strong NXT push, eventually winning the NXT Women’s Championship in 2017. After losing it to Shayna Baszler, she went to the main roster, where she promptly got lost in the shuffle. A return to NXT in 2020 seemed to signal good things were ahead, but after a brief tag team run with Shotzi Blackheart, the NXT braintrust seemed to lose interest in her.
Moon is a strong worker who would be an excellent addition to AEW’s crew. They could drop her in right away and she’d fit. She could also work with the greener members of the roster and help bring them along.
Yim and Monet also have experience and could help, but there are only so many spots available. AEW has enough workers to fill its three hours of TV, plus AEW Dark and AEW Dark: Elevation, so some highly qualified talent will be left out just because of the numbers.
— TAYA VALKYRIE (@FrankyMonetWWE) November 4, 2021
Lorcan’s case is interesting for those same reasons. Hardcore fans salivate at the thought of seeing him in the ring against AEW’s top wrestlers. He has good matches every time, and there is a wealth of fresh opponents for him in AEW.
Lorcan was never put in a position to draw in WWE and wouldn’t be a credible main-eventer at first. AEW must ask itself if his work and reputation among the hardcore fans are worth giving him a contract. New Japan Strong makes sense for him also.
Kross, meanwhile, has size and intensity. He’s not as good in the ring as others on this list, so in a crowded marketplace, he might struggle to find a home. A return to IMPACT might be the best option for him if there’s mutual interest.
Trey Baxter is already booked for GCW in December, so he jumped right back into the indie scene. He’s a talented guy at only 24 years of age. He seems poised for a strong indie run before landing somewhere new.
Gran Metalik is a spectacular worker who never fit in the WWE system. He and Lince Dorado should be in demand in Mexico. Metalik would be an intriguing addition to New Japan’s junior heavyweight division should he be interested when things open up again. As of now, the red tape needed for foreign stars to work in Japan is a high hurdle to jump.
As for the others, it could be a tougher climb. B-Fab showed some charisma in her short time on TV with Hit Row. She also showed she is a long way from being ready to wrestle. Eva Marie has a great look but hasn’t seemed to be a great fit so far. Kamea’s in-ring progress stalled years ago.
Others will have to prove themselves on the indies all over again. It’s a buyer’s market, and the front offices of AEW, Impact and New Japan have even more intriguing names to consider than they did yesterday.