WWE chairman Vince McMahon in 2007 (Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Employment as a wrestler for WWE must be a nerve-wracking experience.
Surprise rounds of cuts have become common in recent years, as the once-world dominating company attempts to shore up expenses in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rapid rise of upstart rival promotion, AEW.
Now, another round of firings have struck the locker room of NXT, WWE’s ‘developmental’ rung where newer talents polish their skills before being called up to bigger shows.
Here is everything you need to know.
Who has been let go?
Among the 10 names released by WWE, many of the names - like Persia Pirotta, Raelyn Divine, Draco Anthony, Vish Kanya, Mila Malani, and Blair Baldwin - are likely unfamiliar, even to hardcore fans.
These wrestlers are mostly fresh trainees, who hadn’t yet built up enough experience to make it to any of WWE’s weekly television shows.
But a number of bigger names who have appeared on TV - and some in prominent roles, too - are included.
These names hint at a growing dissatisfaction within WWE, once a wrestling dreamland, now just another option in a pro-wrestling landscape that includes the equally as popular - and arguably more artistically nourishing - AEW.
New Zealand’s Dakota Kai for instance, who is said to have anticipated her release and told WWE management she did not intend to renew her contract.
Last year, WWE reportedly urged Malcolm Bivens - who has featured prominently on NXT as a ringside manager figure - to re-sign with the company, and he did, resulting in a short extension to his contract.
But when the question of renewal came up again in February, he reportedly turned down the off
Another surprising release is that of Harland - real name, Parker Boudreaux - who was signed in February 2021 and came to the company with a lot of hype, as he was compared to a young Brock Lesnar.
But according to rumours, NXT coaches felt Harland - whose background is in American Football - had not progressed enough in the ring for their taste.
Several NXT storylines were impacted with little to no notice before the batch of releases, according to one official.
Harland was involved in the current plot between Joe Gacy and NXT Champion Bron Breakker, but was abruptly removed from segments earlier this month.
The full list of released talents is as follows:
- Dexter Lumis
- Malcolm Bivens
- Dakota Kai
- Persia Pirotta
- Raelyn Divine
- Draco Anthony
- Vish Kanya
- Mila Malani
- Blair Baldwin
Why were they released?
According to Fightful Select, WWE Talent Relations Director John Laurinaitis sent an internal email to the organisation to announce the departures.
Budget cuts, he said, were the reason for the releases.
“Due to budgetary cuts, and with immediate effect as of today, 4/29/2022, we have come to the terms to release the following,” the email read.
Will the released wrestlers show up elsewhere?
The wrestling landscape is a very fertile one right now, and some of the names on the list would make great additions to rival wrestling promotions’ rosters.
Dakota Kai, for example, would likely be a great fit for AEW’s women’s division, which has so far failed to create quite the same buzz the company’s male equivalent has.
The NXT wrestlers that were released on 29 April are all bound by 30-day non-compete clauses, meaning they cannot perform anywhere else for around a month.
On Sunday 29 May, they will officially become free agents.