In the middle of April, WWE cleaned house with the release of nearly two dozen superstars during the coronavirus pandemic. For the last year, Vince McMahon was seemingly working diligently to lock up as much talent as possible since he likely didn’t want stars going to other promotions. Rumors are now swirling that WWE is no longer worried if released superstars go to All Elite Wrestling or anywhere else.
Rusev, Lio Rush, Zack Ryder, The Revival, Curtis Axel, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and many other superstars were released just one month ago. Due to noncompete clauses in their previous contracts, they are not allowed to wrestle for any other promotion until it expires.
All of those big names would not likely have been granted their release before the coronavirus pandemic if they had asked for them. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, by way of Wrestle Talk, things have changed, and WWE is no longer worried about where they’ll go.
“They [WWE] know it’s not one of those situations like it was a couple of months ago when somebody might go and help the opposition right now. I mean, they’re not concerned with that anymore. I mean, that’s the situation.”
Gallows and Anderson will have the opportunity to sign with AEW, Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, or even go back to New Japan Pro Wrestling. All of the released superstars have several opportunities ahead of them, but it all depends on what may come their way.
Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley were two of the first big names to sign with AEW. That has been a trend over the last six months. Brodie Lee (Luke Harper) and Matt Hardy were both allowed to leave WWE, and it took very little time for them to find a new home in Tony Khan’s company.
There are no independent wrestling organizations running shows at this time due to the government restrictions. WWE and AEW are allowed to continue taping weekly TV episodes and pay-per-views, but with strict guidelines in place.
One month has passed since WWE released all of those superstars, and most noncompete clauses are for 90 days. It wouldn’t be until mid-July when they are allowed to sign with AEW or other wrestling promotions.
By the time all of those clauses expire, the landscape of professional wrestling will likely look vastly different. It is not out of the question for WWE to bring back some of those superstars if they see fit.