WWE roster cuts present a weird dichotomy.
On one hand, the fan in me is really excited that the wrestlers have options to wrestle in higher profile feuds, but on the other, you don’t want to see someone lose their job. It’s a very interesting thought process that wrestling fans have when these cuts occur.
I view it from the lens of hope. Due to the current landscape, there are so many more opportunities than there were previously, leaving each released wrestler options to continue their career. This group, more than others, leaves a ton of potential matchups and exciting feuds. With that being said, here are my preferred landing spots for each of the six released wrestlers.
Aleister Black (Tommy End)
New Japan Pro Wrestling
One of the tough parts about these roster cuts is wanting to pigeonhole them all to AEW. While it would be nice to see AEW get a mass influx of talent, it’s not exactly plausible to expect them to sign everyone. In fact, I think that Tommy End would be an excellent addition to the roster. He could have some really fresh matchups with guys like Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley and Lance Archer. With that said, I think that his best landing spot is with NJPW.
Why New Japan over AEW? I think that his strike heavy offense will blend in better with the house style and create some really fun and fresh matchups. Putting Tommy End in a G1 formant would give the tournament a different element and potential matches with the likes of Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito.
All Elite Wrestling
Is Strowman done wrestling? In this instance, we will be coming at it from the lens that he will be continuing to wrestle. If Tony Khan hasn’t already had conversations with Strowman, it’s a mistake. He is the layup of all layups: a big guy with a true monstrous presence that can work. The fact that WWE wouldn’t pull the trigger on Strowman before it was too late is just another sign that the star-making machine is broken. With how Tony Khan has handled the AEW roster thus far (especially with guys like Jon Moxley and the last 6-8 weeks of Miro), I have faith that Strowman will actually reach his full potential.
Ruby Riott (Heidi Lovelace)
Ruby Riott has one of the most unique looks in the wrestling business. Because of that, she draws eyeballs and has a presence about her in the ring. While her in-ring work can be debated, she is at worst a competent worker and at best a top draw. If I were her, I wouldn’t look to sign a deal right away. I would do a true indie run. She could pop up all over, having runs in ROH, NWA, and Impact. There would be opportunities in all three companies to be one of the top female acts and potentially draw money. I believe she could write her own ticket and have fun doing so.
Buddy Murphy’s cruiserweight championship run was one of the best things that WWE had going for it over the last few years. As with most great WWE things, they didn’t take advantage of it, nor did they focus on it. Buddy was buried on 205 Live where only the hardcore fans were watching regularly. Now that Buddy is outside of the WWE, he has a chance to become the biggest indie stars on the scene.
When I watch him in-ring, it is obvious to me that he is a tape nerd, including a heavy Kenny Omega influence. With today’s landscape, he could become the biggest indie star on the scene. Buddy would be able to wrestle guys like Nick Gage, Lee Moriarty, Daniel Garcia and even the returning Davey Richards. Along with that, he should go over (once things calm down in regards to COVID-19) to Japan and do a couple of tours. Imagine how much fun seeing Buddy Murphy in a Best of Super Junior’s tournament would be. Once he does a big indie run, I think AEW would end up being an excellent landing spot, but the great matches he could have and experience outside of WWE he would gain would be invaluable to the rest of his career.
Someone who felt like a performance center lifer, Santana Garrett never really got much TV time outside of a squash match. She was used on the Largo Loop often, but never really found her footing as a professional wrestler. With her look and time in the business, I believe the NWA, who is starved for talent right now, would be a great way for her to really show that she is better than what WWE was doing with her. If she can make any impact for the NWA, she might be able to turn that into an AEW deal and become another Tay Conti-like success story.
Anywhere but AEW
We all know that Lana and Miro are a couple, and that is what scares me when it comes to Lana’s potential landing spot. The Ravishing Russian manager act was excellent and WWE did a great job maximizing it. While it was great, the act has run its course. Miro is in an excellent run right now as the TNT champion and giving him a mouthpiece, let alone one that he was paired with previously, doesn’t feel like the smartest idea in the world.
As far as Lana the wrestler, she’s fine I guess. While she has improved, I don’t see her as any sort of difference-maker or transcendent star. Her work is mostly inoffensive but nothing exceptional. Maybe an Impact or NWA run is in her future, but as long as she stays away from Miro, I will be happy with wherever she lands.
In the process of writing this, I got really excited about all the fresh matches that are on the table for these six individuals. They all do have (to my knowledge) the standard 90-day non-compete clauses so we won’t be seeing them until the beginning of September. However, once that time comes, I will be really excited to see where and how they make an impact in the current landscape of professional wrestling.
I also wouldn’t be shocked if we see more of these releases coming in the next few months. WWE has spent the last few years signing talent to long-term deals and hoarding it from other companies, but the direction they are moving with new executive VP Nick Khan seems to be one of being more cost-effective rather than eliminating the competition. These roster cuts will be fascinating to watch out for as we move forward out of the pandemic.