An annual tradition, WWE releasing a bunch of talent right after WrestleMania, took place once again on April 15. I wanted to spend some time looking at the recently released names and seeing how they fit into the current wrestling landscape and made some predictions about where I expect them to land over the next several months.
AEW and NJPW
Is Samoa Joe healthy? Reportedly, it seemed like Joe could not get medically cleared and thus was cast as a commentator. Joe was as good as one can be as a WWE commentator, but fans desperately wanted him to see him back in the ring. Assuming that Samoa Joe is healthy and can keep wrestling, the possibilities for him are endless.
In WWE, Joe was reasonably pushed. He was a top guy in NXT and while he never got a world title run on the main roster, he was at least presented as a legit threat to the top stars, which cannot be said for most of the people who have been released. Outside of WWE, Joe will be a main event star wherever he decides to go. As a big name, AEW would seem to be the top landing spot for him, and he would be great in a company that would protect him and also allow him to cut his own promos.
If Joe wanted to go to NJPW, I’m sure he could work a Moxley-like schedule. He could also go back to Impact or ROH, although that seems like a step-down for Joe. One thing I definitely want to see him do is work a Bloodsport show, which seems like it was made for someone like Joe.
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
It’s not a coincidence they were released together. I assume that they will continue to work together moving forward. AEW in theory would be looking for women’s talent, and Royce being in a relationship with Shawn Spears is also a telling sign. My issue with that is I simply don’t think they are very good in the ring, and I don’t know if more below-average workers is something AEW needs. I think their personalities and the fact that they are an established tag team fits better in Impact, where they do have a women’s tag team division, and would probably get a good chance to shine. ROH is also apparently looking to boost their women’s division as well, and they could land deals there.
James is a veteran wrestler with some name value, and should be valuable to AEW who could really use another woman with a lot of experience. She hasn’t worked a ton over the last couple years, but assuming that was because WWE didn’t want to use her and she is physically ready to go, she can be an asset anywhere. She could go back to Impact, and she could walk in and be the ace of ROH’s women’s division and be really valuable in that role. The NWA is also a possible landing spot, given her history and personal relationships.
Green had a roller coaster run in WWE, but she is a very capable worker who has done successful character work in the past. She was a part of the well-received women’s four-way at ALL IN, so she has worked with a lot of the AEW decision-makers in the past. There simply aren’t a lot of women with Green’s skills available on the free market, so while I expect her to land in AEW, other promotions looking to buff out their women’s division, Impact, ROH and NWA, will surely be on the hunt for her.
The former Samuray Del Sol was just breaking out on the indies when he was signed by WWE. Kalisto is an excellent worker who could have interesting matches with any of the high-flyers and luchadores roaming around the wrestling world. I’m not sure if Kalisto will end up in AEW, since they do have a lot of great, smaller talent. He should be able to find plenty of work somewhere, with Impact and ROH interested in him. While the scene in Mexico has been ravaged by the pandemic, he will likely also have options down there as well. I think ultimately I see him working frequently for Impact, while also being a name guy on the independents and frequently working in Mexico.
Blake did well in NXT with his tag-team partner Steve Cutler, who was also recently released. A reunion might be in order, and every promotion would probably be interested. Blake (and Cutler) was in NXT for a very long time and is TV-ready; I could see Impact as a good landing spot, or NWA as their style should fit in well. Blake is also the kind of guy who we’ve only seen in one role, he could get a new gimmick and be a completely different performer when we see him again.
Dallas has been in WWE since he was a teenager and is just 30 years old. Think about that; he is almost a decade younger than Damien Priest. Anyway, Dallas is a really interesting case. He hasn’t wrestled since 2019 so it’s unclear if he is medically cleared, or if he even wants to keep wrestling. He was a joke for a long time in WWE, but in the early days of NXT he was successful as a serious contender and also does have some charisma. I don’t think he has enough buzz to end up in AEW without proving himself somewhere else first; I think NWA or Impact might be open to giving him an opportunity to show what he can do outside of WWE.
Do not sleep on Tucker.
Tucker was never pushed seriously in WWE and never even had that big of a run in NXT, but we do know that he is a big, athletic guy that can really work. He was an All-American wrestler in college. Those guys are just not available on the free market. WWE signs athletic big guys by the barrel, so they can sometimes get lost. Outside of WWE there will always be a shortage of them, and Tucker can actually work. He should show up on AEW Dark, go by his real name (Levi Cooper) and have some sort of shooter gimmick and just start wrecking people. Put him on Team Taz so he doesn’t even need to talk. I think this is a lay-up for AEW.