In a news release posted on the company’s official website, WWE announced on Friday that it has parted ways with Akam and Rezar, aka The Authors of Pain (AOP). The duo was best known for previously holding the NXT and Raw Tag Team Championships.
According to Wrestling Inc., the decision to release AOP came more than five months after Rezar was sidelined with a biceps injury, thus forcing WWE to take Akam off television while waiting for his teammate to be cleared to compete. The outlet noted the duo was among the wrestlers who had caught the eye of former Monday Night Raw executive director Paul Heyman, who was reportedly instrumental in giving them a bigger push on the red brand’s programming. At that time, AOP had been getting quite a bit of TV exposure as part of a faction with Seth Rollins and Murphy.
Citing an August 27 report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Wrestling Inc. added that AOP was expected to make their return between September and December, but would no longer be part of Rollins’ stable. A week before that, Akam and Rezar’s former manager, Paul Ellering, revealed he was supposed to return to television earlier this year to manage the pair as he did during their time on NXT. However, these plans apparently fell through as a result of Rezar’s injury and the coronavirus pandemic also forcing WWE to hold its shows without fans at the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
As of this writing, it remains uncertain why WWE made the decision to release both members of AOP.
The team formed in February 2016, more than a year after Akam joined WWE in October 2014 and shortly following Rezar’s arrival in the fall of 2015. The pair made their debut at NXT TakeOver: The End in June 2016 and won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic five months later. As recalled by CBR, they defeated #DIY (Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano) to win the black-and-gold brand’s Tag Team Championships in 2017.
Following their impressive NXT run, Akam and Rezar made their main roster debut in April 2018. They later shortened their pairing’s name from Authors of Pain to AOP in September and won their only titles on Monday Night Raw in November by defeating Rollins in a handicap match for the brand’s Tag Team Championships. That year, they were also briefly managed by Drake Maverick, though some of their comedic segments received poor reviews from fans and journalists alike, according to a previous report from The Inquisitr.