After moving on from Bray Wyatt and Hall of Famer Ric Flair, WWE has released 12 more talents — all from NXT.
WWE has conducted another long list of superstar cuts.
According to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com, WWE has released the following 12 NXT talents: Bobby Fish, Mercedes Martinez, Jake Atlas, Bronson Reed, Asher Hale, Tyler Rust, Giant Zanjeer, Zechariah Smith, referee Stephon Smith, Leon Ruff, Kona Reeves and Ari Sterling.
The news came during the final hour of this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown. It also comes six days after the company announced the release of Bray Wyatt, and four days after they granted Ric Flair his release that the Hall of Famer requested.
Friday evening marked another drastic development in the WWE. The company started performing large numbers of budget cuts in April of last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dozens of wrestlers and employees (including producers and on-air personalities) were released in that first wave of cuts, including numerous NXT talents.
Drake Maverick, one of the notable cuts, was brought back on a new contract soon after. Samoa Joe was released from his contract this past April, only to return to the company two months later. So for all we know, some of these released NXT talents may end up coming back to WWE.
It’s also worth noting that Adam Cole’s WWE contract is on the verge of expiring. He reportedly attended this week’s episode of SmackDown for a meeting with WWE chairman Vince McMahon. Needless to say, the NXT roster has lost valuable depth, and it’s now more crucial than ever that they manage to retain Cole.
Before the long series of releases began last year, McMahon was supposedly keen on stockpiling talents in order to prevent them from joining the rival AEW promotion.
But a lot has changed over the past 16 months. McMahon and WWE officials have suddenly valued saving money rather than keep a deep roster in place. He knows the risk in that these talents can walk over to AEW or other promotions. Friday’s news is just another example of how difficult the WWE business is.