William Regal, Danny Burch, Timothy Thatcher and the Road Dogg (Brian James) were among the latest WWE cuts, according to reports by Jeremy Lambert and Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com
Other cuts included referee and producer Scott Armstrong, James’ brother. Also on the list were writer and producer George Carroll, coaches Hideki Suzuki (also of the Diamond Mine faction), Ace Steel (Chris Guy) Allison Danger (Cathy Corino), writer Dave Kapoor and Associate Producer Ryan Katz.
Kappor had also been manager Ranjin Singh, working with the Great Khali in the past. He’d been part of the NXT staff since 2013.
This latest wave of releases seems to pound down whatever nails were left in the coffin of the Black and Gold, HHH-led era of NXT.
The cuts were part of a housecleaning in Orlando. HHH was taken out of the drivers’ seat even before his cardiac event, and before NXT 2.0 launched. Now many of the people he worked closely with have been removed.
Not all had been with the company for long. Danger had just been hired in October 2021. Carroll came on board in 2020 and Steel in 2019. The rest, however, had long-term runs with WWE and the NXT brand.
Regal had been with WWE for 21 years, signing in 2000. He had been working for WCW since 1993 before that. Regal had been part of the training team at the Performance Center. To fans, he was better known as the figurehead commissioner of NXT since 2014.
Regal held an unusual spot as a babyface authority figure. He was respected by fans after his long career as an excellent in-ring talent. His decisions nearly always came down on the fans’ side. His entrance music was ominous sounding, but the fans of NXT greeted him as a hero. They knew his arrival meant something they had been hoping for was about to come to fruition.
He had a gritty, stiff working style that meshed well with the Black and Gold NXT. Fitting him in with the new version turned out to be too much to ask.
His on-air role had diminished over the last few months. He hasn’t been seen since the NXT 2.0 re-boot.
James was a star for WWE, particularly during the Attitude Era, as Road Dogg. Aside from Shawn Michaels, he’s one of people most associated with HHH.
He was part of the Degeneration X faction with HHH, Michaels and Billy Gunn. Dogg and Gunn were the New Age Outlaws, a team that held the WWF World Tag Team titles five times. They also held the RAW Tag Team title once. He’d been a producer since 2014, mostly at NXT.
Burch and Thatcher had been in prominent on-air roles over the past year. Both were working strong-style or MMA-flavored gimmicks. Thatcher feuded with Matt Riddle before he lost his first name upon going up to the main roster. Burch had been in a hard-hitting tag team with Oney Lorcan.
Both Burch and Thatcher were working with younger wrestlers in the Performance Center. Neither had been featured on TV much since the re-boot.
The men worked grittier in-ring styles than what we have seen from the new stars. Burch’s strong style and Thatcher’s UFC-type submission and grappling didn’t fit in with the slicker work asked of the new talent.
On that note, Suzuki’s years of training and working a mix of Japanese strong style and Billy Robinson Catch style became a square peg in a round hole.
THE FUTURE FOR THOSE RELEASED
The names that spring out are Burch and Thatcher. They could find work with other companies if they chose to. Both are very good wrestlers, but they enter a market even more flooded than it was before. Suzuki had a long career with various Japanese promotions before his time with WWE, so he could go back to that if he chose. The rest are facing a difficult job market.
THE FUTURE FOR NXT
It’s an even clearer symbol than its visual makeover that NXT is no longer meant to be the WWE’s version of an exciting indie company. Mainstays such as Johnny Gargano, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Tomasso Ciampa have put over younger stars favored by NXT’s new braintrust.
Ciampa and Strong are staying. O’Reilly left and is already part of a key AEW storyline. Gargano is a free agent.
While most following the events in NXT knew about the new approach to the brand, there were hopes it would be a mix of the great wrestling we’d seen over the years mixed with the development of new talent. These cuts are more evidence that’s not going to be the case.
The HHH era is truly over and seems to be over for good at NXT 2.0.