Over the last 14 months, there have been several rounds of talent releases by WWE, some being on-screen releases, some being corporate or backstage talent. June 2nd, 2021, saw the latest wave of releases announced, this time focussing on performing talent, and some of the names released raised many eyebrows to be sure.
The releases of Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Murphy, Ruby Riott, Lana and Santana Garrett have led to a lot of questions being asked around WWE’s intentions and whether there is the intention by its owners to sell the company. It also has led to much speculation about which promotions the released talent could wind up in next.
Here, we take a look at which promotions we feel would suit each of WWE’s released talent best at time of writing.
Considering Braun is a former Universal Champion, had a major marquee match against Shane McMahon at this year’s WrestleMania and made his last appearance for WWE in a triple threat Heavyweight title match at WrestleMania Backlash, Strowman is perhaps the most surprising name to see on the list of released talent.
Or perhaps not. It has since come to light that Braun was signed to a contract worth a substantial amount of money. If the company was looking to cut costs, it makes sense they would look at high earners like Braun, although of course, this does raise questions about who WWE sees as its future headliners.
In any case, where next for Braun? He certainly has a larger than life personality, presence and charisma. He isn’t a high work rate-style wrestler though, in the way AEW’s bigger men like Lance Archer, Brian Cage and Miro to an extent are. With that in mind, unless AEW feels the need for added star power, and I’d argue they’re doing pretty well in that department already, then I can’t see Braun becoming All Elite in the near future.
The problem is, Braun knows he was worth top dollar and may expect the same to be paid to him by whichever promotion he signs with. Discounting AEW, that really only leaves New Japan as a possibility; however, I can’t see Braun fitting in with the style of wrestling prevalent in ‘The King of Sports’ at present. I can’t imagine him holding his own with Shingo, for example, or Ishii.
Realistically, for a big man with his presence and skills, MLW and Impact would suit him a lot better. Both companies would certainly benefit from the name signing and Braun would certainly bring something to the main event end of both companies. The only question is: would Impact or MLW be able to meet Braun’s price tag, or would Braun have to lower his contract expectations?
Again, Aleister Black was a surprising name to see released, considering he only just appeared back on TV and seemed to be n the verge of getting another push. This raises the question of how quickly this list was drawn up and why; why push a man, only to fire him a few days later?
Out of all the names released yesterday, I really do think that the world is Aleister Black’s oyster. He has what MLW would call a hybrid style of wrestling, being able to mix and match through hard-hitting offence and aerial manoeuvres. As such, and with his intensity and penchant for the dark in his presentation, he would certainly stand out in many promotions, just as he would seem at home in many promotions also.
I do believe that if AEW was going to take a punt on any of the talent here, Lana excepted (I’ll come to her in a moment), then it would be Black. He just feels like he’s made to be All Elite. Should they not take the chance, he would certainly fit in well with Impact, MLW or ROH. I could see Impact perhaps being the one to get his name down on the dotted line, as they still have a relationship with AEW, meaning Black could still possibly wrestle there without AEW footing the bill, and Impact does have a recent history for picking up released WWE talent.
I’d still be surprised if Black doesn’t become All Elite though.
Buddy Murphy was an integral part of 205 Live and was an incredibly talented performer within the Cruiserweight division. Sadly, much like 205 Live itself, WWE only ever seemed to get partially behind Murphy. Even during his run with Seth Rollins as his henchman, he was semi-forgotten about again as soon as their feud with the Mysterios was over.
All of this is a shame, as Murphy has a hell of a lot to offer. He has been dismissed by some fans, who perceive his skill set as emulating Kenny Omega’s a little too closely, and that might put off AEW a little bit, but somebody of Murphy’s abilities and athleticism would go down a treat in Ring of Honor or MLW. Partly because I’d really like to see it, I think there’s a strong chance of Murphy popping up in ROH.
Here is another performer WWE never really seemed to get fully behind, using Ruby in fits and bursts, which made it difficult for her to build and maintain momentum. Apart from the fact that wrestler testimonials given in the wake of her release paint her as perhaps the kindest, most considerate locker room ever, Ruby Riott is a talented performer and would benefit from being with any company that was willing to get behind her and give her a consistent push.
Ruby’s distinctive punk look would perhaps fit in well with AEW, but with some major talent having left over the last twelve months, such as Taya Valkyrie, Kylie Rae and Tessa Blanchard, Impact could certainly benefit once more from another new face on the Knockouts scene. Meanwhile, ROH are currently looking to build up their women’s division with names currently being revealed for their Women’s Championship tournament. Some of those names are big names and Ruby would certainly add that little bit of extra star power to proceedings and she would certainly benefit from a tournament looking to showcase the best female talent the company has.
The Knockouts division is one of the best women’s divisions in North America. ROH is starting afresh with their women’s division. Either company has their positives in this scenario and I think either of them would make a great home for Ruby Riott at present.
The easy assumption to make here is that Lana would follow her husband, Miro, into AEW. But there’s nothing to say Lana might not prefer the attention of either Impact or ROH’s women’s divisions for reasons outlined above. The only downside here is that both Impact and ROH’s divisions are perhaps more work rate based than would befit Lana’s abilities. Having said that, Lana had noticeably been trying to raise her game in the months after Miro had been released from WWE. So it stands that Lana might find the likes of Impact or ROH more desirable.
Still, if we’re being realistic, I do think we’ll see Lana be All Elite. And once Kip Sabian returns, if he brings Penelope Ford with him, there’s a ready-made intergender feud just waiting to happen.
Santana Garrett is a veteran of the independent circuit while also wrestling with established women’s promotions such as Shine and Stardom and the likes of Impact too. That the WWE utilised her so poorly and for long sections used as not much more than a glorified jobber is absolutely shocking. They really didn’t realise what an accomplished performer they had on their hands.
With that in mind, I can’t see her anywhere else other than Impact and ROH at the moment. I would have said Japan but with the pandemic, that’s going to make things more difficult in that respect. The idea of ROH pushing their women’s division to the forefront might be appealing to Garrett but, as she has previous history with TNA, I could see her going to Impact and challenging Deonna Purrazzo for the Knockouts title. And I for one would be very happy to see that one.
Where do you think WWE’s released talents will go next? Let us know in the comments below!