Within the last year a new pattern has emerged with WWE Superstars wanting to leave the company while still under contract — requesting their releases online.
It could be said that it began with Tye Dillinger in February of 2019. The longtime WWE Superstar was granted his release not long after he publicly requested it online in a Twitter post. In the following weeks he went on to establish a new wrestling school with his close friend WWE Superstar Tyler Breeze. Not long after that the Perfect 10 appeared at All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view and shortly thereafter signed a contract with the company. And that’s kind of where the trouble began.
Allow me to explain. We may be in the midst of the Wednesday Night Wars between WWE and AEW, but it’s easy to forget that up until 2019, AEW didn’t exist. Prior to the AEW’s founding, WWE hadn’t faced major competition from another wrestling company in nearly twenty years. So at the time of Dillinger’s release alongside Hideo Itami (aka KENTA) and TJ Perkins, there wasn’t much concern in WWE that they’d be providing talent to their competition, because well, they didn’t have any.
AEW may have been founded on January 1, before the aforementioned talent were technically released, but they didn’t really starting picking up steam until Double or Nothing tickets sold out in under 4 minutes and went on to become the biggest PPV in pro wrestling history that wasn’t produced by WWE or WCW.
So when all of the events and hype surrounding AEW signing hugely talented stars and breaking ticket sale records began to pick up pace, it didn’t come as a huge surprise when WWE denied Luke Harper his release after he publicly requested it in April 2019.
Though arguably the final nail in the requesting your release coffin came in May 2019 at AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view, when Jon Moxley, formerly known as Dean Ambrose in WWE, made his surprise debut. Now to be clear, Moxley did not request his release from WWE, he finished out his contract as he originally agreed upon. But he was one of WWE’s biggest stars and seeing him break the internet with his surprise debut with the competition clearly rattled some cages (as well it should).
Which brings us to today. Within the past five weeks three WWE Superstars have publicly requested their releases online: Mike Kanellis, Sin Cara, and Oney Lorcan. So far there are rumors surrounded WWE’s responses to each Superstar, but nothing has been confirmed.
WWE is absolutely overflowing with talent. The company has three live weekly television shows and still has a pile of Superstars sitting around doing nothing. It’s been rumored that recently the company has considered releasing talent that it doesn’t believe will provide any value to AEW. This may be in part because they have so many wrestlers that they simply don’t know what to do with them.
So what does WWE think about this new trend with Superstars airing their business with the company in public? Wednesday afternoon on a conference call with media, Triple H, WWE in-ring talent and Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative, weighed in on the subject. Suffice to say, he isn’t thrilled about it.
Some of this, for some talent, some of it is legit. Some of it, in a moment of time, um, I think when you get to the bottom of it, I don’t understand people airing – if you have an issue, talk to us. If you think ‘oh, I’m gonna go put that on the media’ that’s not a way to go about doing your business. If I had a complaint with a talent, I don’t go on Twitter and complain to them, I speak to them. So I’ve never understood that process, if it’s legit.
Now there are a lot of people out there just getting clicks… I watch guys do it all the time. Sometimes I wish they wouldn’t, sometimes they just think it’s funny. There’s a moment in time with they hit something and it gets them a ton of buzz and they go [laughs] ‘I’m just messing with people’. You know, it is what it is, you let people say what they’ve got to say. But for us, there’s also a lot of talent that – I think there are moments in time when things happen, people get frustrated, they say some stuff. It’s like any long-term relationship, you say some stuff, you’re fighting and you’re like ‘I don’t want to see you any more’ and then you come back a few minutes later and are like ‘I was just mad at the moment, and of course I want to stay in this relationship’ and you know, [laughs] it is what it is.
But there’s a silliness to it, to me there’s a maturity issue of it’s not how you handle business. Anybody that’s out there that is serious about it that’s talking on the internet – that ain’t the place to do it. We all have phones, we all have cell phones… you handle your business like a professional. Everybody likes to think we don’t stick to the word and everybody likes to say professional wrestlers, the key word in front of that – professional. That’s what we’re trying to change about the business and make people more professional.
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