May 6, 2016, will be remembered as “Black Friday” in the WWE. Last week, the company released eight superstars in their annual post-WrestleMania roster purge. Shown the door were Damien Sandow, Alex Riley, Santino Marella, Hornswoggle, El Torito, Cameron, Zeb Colter, and Wade Barrett. The Inquisitr noted early this week that it won’t stop there and that WWE was planning on more releases for later this month.
Two more names have already been added to the list without as much fanfare due to their positioning in the company. WWE confirmed the releases of both The Brooklyn Brawler and Christian this week. The Brawler, whose real name is Steve Lombardi, 55, had been employed by WWE for over 30 years, including time as both a performer and a backstage producer. Christian had already retired from in-ring competition as concussions kept him out of action since 2014. This release does not affect his standing as a co-host on his WWE Network show with Edge.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, two other names are still on the bubble that were expected to be announced among the original eight releases. Ryback and Adam Rose remain under contract with the WWE, but they likely sealed their own fates with their respective actions over the last two weeks. Ryback spoke out publicly against the WWE in a lengthy blog post following a contract dispute with Vince McMahon. Rose, who is currently serving a 60-day suspension, was arrested Wednesday after a domestic dispute and was suspended indefinitely.
In the WON, it was reported that both Ryback and Rose’s names were on a list that was floating around that contained the names of those who would be released in the first round of cuts. Interestingly, Cameron’s name was not on that list, but her tweet in support of Ryback may have been her final strike. WWE will likely just wait out Ryback’s final months of his existing contract before not renewing him, and Rose’s arrest will end his tenure almost certainly.
As for the next round of pink slips, PWInsider is now reporting that those will be announced after the WWE’s next pay-per-view, Extreme Rules. Typically, the company prefers to announce the releases on a Friday, so if that is the case, the key date to circle on the calendar would be May 27, which would go along with the original reporting of the end of the month. More importantly, there are rumors of three surprising roster cuts among those expected to be announced, but no names have been made public yet. The only information at the moment is that one would be a shock, one is expected to be a woman, and the third is a “top superstar.” It’s always possible that any of those on the chopping block could save their jobs by conceding during a last-ditch contract negotiation, but for the most part, WWE has their minds made up.
As Vince McMahon pointed out during this week’s First Quarter Earnings conference call, the WWE is expected to have its biggest roster ever in the next few months. He mentioned how several top stars (John Cena, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt) would be returning from injury to coincide with the debuts of many NXT talents. This influx of superstars is the reason Damien Sandow was released, which came as a surprise to many. Sandow was told that he did nothing wrong, it was just a matter of timing and that the WWE needed to make room for this new era of invading talent.
It’s been noted that Hornswoggle, Zeb Colter, and Sandow have all had no trouble finding work outside WWE, and there continues to be speculation surrounding the next steps for Riley, Barrett, and Ryback. If the reports are accurate, we may be wondering about much bigger stars later this month.
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