POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Assessing this week’s cuts by WWE

John Pollock looks at WWE's cuts and potential landing spots, IMPACT Rebellion press conference, Carnival matches, SmackDown preview & more.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is LIVE tonight at 10:15 pm ET for all members of the POST Wrestling Café as Wai & I review the post-WM edition of SmackDown and open the phone lines for the rest of the show to chat about the past week.

**Wai Ting and I have released a free bonus show covering the WWE’s cuts, AEW’s big number on TNT, Mauro Ranallo calling the main event of Rebellion, Pat McAfee added to the SmackDown commentary team, and Anthem’s purchase of Invicta FC.

**We have our latest edition of POST Puroresu with WH Park and I discussing:
– New Japan’s booking plans and an ambitious schedule over the next two months
– Will Ospreay as IWGP World Heavyweight Champion
– The next KOPW match between Toru Yano and EVIL
– Champion Carnival highlights
– Opening round of Stardom’s Cinderella tournament
– GLEAT announces a show in May
– Keiji Muto vs. Masa Kitamiya later this month for the GHC title

**On Saturday, Wai Ting and WH Park will be joined by Nate Milton on MCU L8R to review the penultimate episode of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier for members of the POST Wrestling Café.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai (10:15 pm ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: MCU L8R with Wai Ting, WH Park & Nate Milton (Patreon)
Monday: Rewind-A-Raw with John & Wai (LIVE at 11:15 pm ET for Dbl Dbl+ Patrons)

WWE CUTS TEN PERFORMERS

One year to the day of last year’s cuts, WWE announced ten performers as part of this year’s round. Thursday’s releases included Samoa Joe (Nuufolau Joel Seanoa), Peyton Royce (Cassandra McIntosh), Billie Kay (Jessica McKay), Wesley Blake (Cory James Weston), Tucker (Levi Cooper), Mickie James, Kalisto (Emanuel Alejandro Rodriguez), Chelsea Green, Bo Dallas (Taylor Rotunda), and Mojo Rawley (Dean Muhtadi).

It was first reported by Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the performers listed all have 90-day no-compete clauses and would be eligible to appear for other promotions beginning Wednesday, July 14th.

While these cuts won’t receive the same level of criticism as last year’s due to the stage of the pandemic, nevertheless, it’s the second significant round of cuts during a pandemic from a company that set records of revenue and profits in 2020. It’s a callous game but one where WWE now has projections to hit and talent cuts are an easy way to alleviate costs, which won’t be reflected until the third quarter results as talent will be paid throughout their 90-day no competes throughout the second quarter. You don’t have to belabor the point, but it still stands that other wrestling companies with a fraction of the revenue of WWE, either made few or zero cuts over the past year.

Samoa Joe is the most interesting name regarding his future and whether it’s an in-ring one. Joe has not wrestled since February 2020, although we’ve seen several examples that support the theory that just because you’re not cleared now doesn’t mean you can’t be cleared in the future. At 42, Joe had transitioned to a role as part of the broadcast team on Raw and was just utilized for several sit-down interviews last week on the NXT TakeOver pre-shows.

If healthy, I cannot imagine any company not seeking interest in Joe as a multi-tool talent when including his on-air work that stood out in a company where it can become difficult to navigate the WWE style of commentary in a positive way. In a normal environment, he would be able to write his ticket and set up a series of dream matches all over the world ala Jon Moxley with a new generation of talent as well as rekindle old rivalries. It will come down to what he wants to do, he can probably run a lucrative Twitch stream without WWE restrictions, he can do commentary, he may be interested in pursuing non-wrestling work, and should have his inbox flooded with offers.

Last month, Joe spoke to SI.com’s Justin Barrasso and shared some insight into his goals and indicating he isn’t done wrestling:

I don’t think my in-ring career is done. I have some really strong goals I look forward to pursuing in the near future.

It’s all about taking the best and healthiest approach to my recovery. When it comes to concussions, the amount of knowledge and science that has evolved over the past decade has been incredible. I’d suffered one on TV, and then one shortly thereafter. For my health and safety, WWE pulled me back, and I was all on board.

There have also been some holdups with the pandemic, in terms of medical availability of certain specialists and facilities, so that’s played a large factor in the timing. But like I said, WWE medical is doing their very best for me to have the healthiest return possible.

The obvious destination is AEW and it becomes the broken record of how much larger can their roster get? It’s not a case of whether Joe would be valuable it’s a numbers game and how many performers you can accommodate over the age of 40? On their own merits, you can make compelling cases for Joe, Christian Cage, Miro, Paul Wight, and Matt Hardy but it’s tougher when the answer is “all of them”. Plus, you have someone like Andrade on the market that might be the most appealing talent.

Chelsea Green would seem like another one to have multiple promotions making offers. She had a series of unfortunate circumstances that didn’t allow her to get going in WWE. Her character work as Laurel Van Ness in Impact Wrestling was very effective and she’d be a great addition to any women’s roster.

Mickie James has been a great performer for the past two decades and seemed terribly underutilized. When she was brought back for the TakeOver match in Toronto against Asuka in 2016, it was evident being in the building that night what a great contributor she could be. On the main roster, she was not one of its focused performers and just seemed without direction. They even placed her on commentary as recently as last week on the TakeOver pre-shows before the decision to cut her a week later. As AEW’s women’s division continues to improve with younger talent rising, I think a figure like James would be highly beneficial to work with all the women including a big match with Hikaru Shida.

Several of the cuts shine a light on acts that were broken up and ultimately, went nowhere. The glaring one is The IIconics, who were not the strongest in-ring team but extremely entertaining in their roles with natural chemistry from their friendship since High School. The break-up was out of nowhere and little was done with either, thus, making the split useless. As a group, it would make sense for a company to go after both and do a mini-reunion since the breakup was handled poorly. For Tucker, he was not even given 24 hours after he turned on Otis before the die was cast and he was immediately relegated to 24/7 purgatory. He needs a refresh as a character to make people forget about his WWE portrayal. Kalisto was another one where they broke up the Lucha House Party and it did no one any favors.

For Tucker, Wesley Blake, and Mojo Rawley, it will rest on what they’re seeking in the industry. For some, leaving WWE is a bitter pill to swallow and don’t want to start from scratch, for others, it’s a chance to reinvent yourself and adopt creative freedom and ownership for your persona. Time will tell in all these cases, but the doors should be opened to at least offer each the chance to make an impression and reinvent themselves. Blake wrestled prior to WWE but the other two have spent their careers working in one system where they should have a strong sense of both its strengths and weaknesses and what they opt to take with them and leave behind.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Friday Night SmackDown airs at 8 pm ET with the fallout from WrestleMania and the two most-discussed matches with Bianca Belair winning the SmackDown Women’s Champion and Roman Reigns retaining the Universal title. Tonight’s show on Fox also features the new broadcast team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee, which was announced on Friday morning. They have announced the following for tonight’s episode:
*SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode (champions) vs. The Street Profits
*Rey Mysterio vs. Otis

**On Friday, WWE announced that the new commentary team for SmackDown will be Michael Cole and Pat McAfee.

**Here are the matches for tonight’s edition of NJPW Strong streaming at 10 pm ET:
*New Japan Cup USA Semi-final: Brody King vs. Lio Rush
*New Japan Cup USA Semi-final: Tom Lawlor vs. Hikuleo
*Karl Fredericks, Alex Coughlin, The DKC & Kevin Knight vs. Jordan Clearwater, Barrett Brown, Misterioso & Adrian Quest

**Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling fell to 132,000 viewers and a 0.04 in the 18-49 demographic on AXS TV. It was IMPACT’s second-lowest viewership figure of the year and down from last week’s numbers of 168,000 and 0.06 featuring Kenny Omega wrestling in the six-man tag on the Thursday debut.

**IMPACT Wrestling confirmed ESPN’s report that Mauro Ranallo will be calling the match between Kenny Omega and Rich Swann at Rebellion next Sunday. Ranallo is only scheduled to call the one match on the pay-per-view but also did voiceovers for a pair of video packages outlining the ways for each one to win. Rebellion will mark Ranallo’s first pro wrestling match he has called since leaving WWE last summer. Ranallo spoke with us last December about leaving WWE and his time with the company.

**IMPACT has posted its full 40+ minute press conference promoting the match between Kenny Omega and Rich Swann for next weekend. The press conference featured appearances by reporters Ariel Helwani, Gareth Davies, Shaheen Al-Shatti, Alex McCarthy, Andreas Hale, Bill Apter, Justin Barrasso, and others asking questions to the performers. Tony Khan and Jerry Lynn were also part of the press conference with Khan stating he would attend Rebellion and bringing Aubrey Edwards as their referee for the match. Khan added that either winner will fulfill dates for the competing group and said it’s easier to do such a schedule in modern times without a full house show schedule and instead, running television and pay-per-view dates. Highlights of the press conference aired on Thursday’s episode on AXS TV.

**On Sunday night, A&E begins its block of programming dedicated to WWE. It begins at 8 pm ET with the first of its “WWE Legends” documentaries beginning with Steve Austin and subsequent docs covering Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Booker T., Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, and Ultimate Warrior. Immediately following the documentary, A&E will air the first episode of WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures hosted by Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon as they hunt down historic artifacts.

**Raw Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley spoke with Kevin Raphael on the Sans Restriction podcast. During the interview, she spoke about her championship win over Asuka at WrestleMania, the desire to have a match with Triple H or Cesaro, a preference to playing a heel character, and her emotions watching the match between Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair last Saturday.

**All Japan’s Champion Carnival tour resumes on Saturday with a show at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring with four tournament matches:
*Suwama (2 points) vs. Koji Doi (2)
*Zeus (6) vs. Yuma Aoyagi (2)
*Shinjiro Otani (2) vs. Jake Lee (4)
*Shotaro Ashino (2) vs. Kohei Sato (2)

**New Japan is running another three consecutive nights at Korakuen Hall beginning Sunday for the ‘Road to Wrestling Dontaku’ tour. Sunday’s show is headlined by Tetsuya Naito & SANADA vs. The Great O-Khan & Aaron Henare.

**The WWE stock closed at $56.46 on Friday.

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About John Pollock 5646 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.