POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: WWE cuts six performers

A look at Wednesday's releases by WWE, Aleister Black speaks, Mark Henry on joining AEW, Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley, Tito Ortiz steps down.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I did a POST News Update covering Wednesday’s WWE releases. You can download the show by searching for POST Wrestling wherever you listen to podcasts or on our YouTube channel.

**We have also released a 40-minute interview with Academy Award-winning director Bryan Fogel covering his latest documentary ‘The Dissident’. This was a great discussion on the making of the doc, the distribution struggles, the legacy of Jamal Khashoggi and his murder in 2018, and a decision not to use the audio from inside the consulate when constructing the scene covering Khashoggi’s murder in the documentary.

**We also have a great chat with David Bixenspan discussing the recent Ultimate Warrior documentaries and David’s reporting on Warrior over the past few years. In this show, we cover his many business battles with Vince McMahon, the nature of his departures from the company, the subjects in the docs, and more.

**Wai Ting and I will be LIVE this Friday night just after Midnight ET for a review of Friday Night SmackDown and AEW Dynamite. The live stream is open to all POST Wrestling Café members.

WRESTLING NEWS

**WWE made their latest round of cuts on Wednesday surprising many with the level of stars cut. The releases of Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Lana, Ruby Riott, Murphy, and Santana Garrett were first reported by Fightful and later confirmed by WWE in a website post.

In the case of Strowman and Lana, both had signed multi-year contract extensions in 2019. Strowman confirmed it was a four-year extension while Lana signed a new five-year deal and announced in November 2019 “I just signed a multi-million-dollar deal with WWE”. In 2019, it was a different landscape with the arrival of AEW and WWE securing many of its talents to large-scale deals including Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows who were part of the cuts in 2020. Today, there is a clear strategy of cutting down costs and making a leaner company that extends from in-ring performers to key personnel in the office. The overall goal of such cost-cutting is unknown but opens the door for speculation of what WWE is planning.

Strowman was the most surprising given his stature and few main event stars on the Raw side. He had just completed a championship program with Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania Backlash several weeks ago but had not appeared on Raw since the pay-per-view. In October of last year, Strowman was on Lilian Garcia’s podcast and stated he would never wrestle outside of WWE for anyone but Vince McMahon. Getting your release can change that thought process but Braun never came from a pro wrestling background, was making a large amount of money, and sometimes that’s a tough transition to make.

Black should be inundated with interest and comes at a surprising time after just kicking off an angle with Big E with weeks of vignettes prior. At one point, Black was rumored for a major role as an opponent for Brock Lesnar but instead, they went with Drew McIntyre in a decision that turned out great for the company with McIntyre becoming a legitimate top star. However, Black was discarded and there was a lot of missed opportunity given his unique talents. One source at the company told me that the return ‘did not go smoothly’ so there may have been other factors at play.

Presumably, all talents will have 90-day no-compete clauses. The interesting timing is that it, in theory, it would allow anyone on that list to appear at ‘All Out’ on September 5th.

If travel restrictions are eased, NJPW could be aggressive as they desperately need a shot in the arm of new blood with Black, Strowman, and Murphy among the types of talent they would covet.

Lana (C.J. Perry) was a performer that received a lot of criticism but also worked exceptionally hard to improve. Over the past year, she relocated to Florida to improve and that’s a work ethic you never sleep on. If Tay Conti proved anything, it’s that companies should have an open mind regarding talent coming out of the WWE system that may have been handicapped by the system and limitations. It’s not to say Lana is a great hidden talent but I’d at least want to see her in a different environment given the previous example of Conti, who could be a major star within several years and likely wasn’t given much thought when she was released last year. Perry issued the following statement:

I will never forget the fans, and the love they showed me. Whether it was a tank, power-suits, flags, CRUSH, Rusev, 900 partners, weddings or tables: I tried to always entertain you, and you definitely elevated me. Thank you.

Riott is a veteran who wrestled as Heidi Lovelace prior to signing with WWE in 2016. Her WWE career was stalled by double shoulder surgery that took her out in 2019. It’s a further blow to the fledgling women’s tag division that was already low on teams and has now lost two more in Riott & Liv Morgan and Lana & Naomi. Riott would be a great fit in IMPACT, AEW, Ring of Honor, or any other company emphasizing its female division.

The larger issue is the financial state of so many companies that have run either limited or no events with fans over the past year. What is their capacity to sign so many free agents when you include cuts from earlier this year?

For those cut, there is some silver lining especially for those affected by WWE’s ban on certain third-party platforms that won’t have those restrictions.

**Murphy issued the following after the news of his release:

So Today ends my 8 years with WWE! What a crazy ride! Highest of Highs, Lowest of Lows, but weather I had 3 minutes or 20 minutes I put all my effort into my performances! Nothing is harder when all you want to do is wrestle but you can’t! In my opinion I haven’t even hit my peak yet and I’m excited to see what the next adventure holds. I was lucky enough to work with some of the best talent in the world and learnt a tremendous amount. But trust me… the whole world will know what I meant by “Best Kept Secret” Thank you all!

**Aleister Black spoke for an hour on Thea Trinidad’s Twitch stream addressing his release and reflections on his time with the company taking a positive outlook.

**On Wednesday, Mark Henry appeared on his own Busted Open Radio show with hosts Dave LaGreca and Bully Ray to discuss his move to AEW and what led to his decision to leave WWE after twenty-five years:

I’ve always wanted to be an executive; I’ve always wanted to get credit for the things I say, and my job depends on how well I do that. As a talent, it’s undeniable, you go in you have a good match, you have another good match and you have a string of matches people grow to know you like that. But in the world of being in the office, you know, you’ve got to have pelts on the wall. If you don’t have pelts on the wall people tend to go, ‘uh, well what’s he doing?’

Asking for credit is as you [Bully Ray] said looked dirty upon, it’s as dirty as asking a wrestler ‘Hey man, how much did they pay you?’ Because in our business everyone is trained and coerced to not talk about money because it’s just, like, the way it’s always been. I just felt like that’s a bad policy, I mean the best way to know your worth is to know what the standard is so you can make an even negotiation of what it is you’re doing for what you’re saying you’re going to do. I’m not saying everybody’s worth it, but you have to go by the open market, you have to go by market value.

My deal was up [with WWE]. This is not something that was recent, I go back to five months, six months. I wanted a position in the office, and I wanted everything that comes with it. I talked to Vince himself, he said, ‘write it up, you’re somebody I’ll hear from, I’ll listen from.’ I was told that there was a lot of cleaning house and there was a lot of cuts that were happening and there was a lot to come. I’ve seen hundreds of people in the company go and I still felt like knowing this I’m valuable enough that I wasn’t going anywhere. But when your deal comes up and the rights, you know, the legalities part of it, comes up to where are you going to go next and what you’re going to do. I always wanted to do more, I’m a busy body. If I’m not doing what I know I can do and especially if I think I can do it better than somebody else and I can’t get that opportunity then I have to start looking for that opportunity somewhere else, and I did.

**Friday’s edition of AEW Dynamite on a different night that their regular timeslot averaged 526,000 viewers and 0.20 in the 18-49 demographic. The show did 109,500 viewers in Canada on TSN 2 with 51,200 in the 25-54 demo. AEW will be airing on Friday night this week due to the NBA playoffs. This week’s episode of Dynamite has several factors working in its favor compared to last week with the fallout from a successful pay-per-view, a much stronger line-up, and having crowds back may make a small difference. Overall, Friday is still a rough time for them and time will tell if they can grow an audience in that slot once Rampage debuts in August.

**NXT didn’t crack the top ten sports programs in Canada on Tuesday night and finished with an average of 34,000 viewers on Sportsnet 360.

**Monday’s episode of Raw in Canada averaged 163,500 viewers and 79,800 in the 25-54 demographic on Sportsnet 360. That’s actually a remarkable number considering they went against Game 7 of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens series that averaged 4,824,700 viewers.

**NJPW drew better on Thursday with 447 fans at Korakuen Hall for the ‘Road to Dominion’ event. The card was headlined by a NEVER Six-Man Tag Team Championship match with champions Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, and YOSHI-HASHI retaining the titles against Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI. The promotion’s next event is the big Dominion show this Monday, which only has three matches announced and will be headlined by Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi for the vacant IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.

**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics outlines why he is skeptical of the theory that WWE is preparing for a sale.

**A match between Oney Lorcan and Austin Theory has been added to NXT next Tuesday. It joins the previously announced match between Ember Moon and Dakota Kai as well as an appearance by musician Poppy.

**David Bixenspan has reposted a 2016 article he wrote for Fighting Spirit Magazine on Mick Foley where he interviewed Foley with a wide-ranging discussion.

**Variety has a feature on Sonya Deville (Daria Berenato).

**Stephanie Chase of Digital Spy spoke with Adam Pearce about his role as an authority figure on WWE programming and also his role in training Bad Bunny in the months before WrestleMania:

There was a need, I think, for someone on our broadcast to fill the old G.M. role so to speak without going that far and naming a General Manager because we wanted to stay away from that. But they needed someone who had a little bit of authority and respect of the talent and I’ve been around the industry for a long time and I’ve come up so many of our superstars in various ways and different paths and all ended up in the same spot. It was almost like, these guys used to listen and work for Adam before, so it was a natural. It’s been fun.

**Jado has suffered an injury and was did not wrestle on Wednesday’s ‘Road to Dominion’ event at Korakuen Hall. The 52-year old was scheduled for a six-man tag and was replaced by Gedo.

**Al Getz of the Charting the Territories site reported that Marjorie “Midge” Bell Thompson, who was the ex-wife of Sputnik Monroe, died back in February at the age of 84. She did some wrestling promoting in Alexandria, Louisiana.

**Joseph Montecillo spoke with Wheeler YUTA for Fanbyte. In the interview, he shared his influences before becoming a wrestler, an affinity for the Art of Wrestling podcast, and his current path on the independents.

**AJ Styles turns 44 today, and Lex Luger is 63.

**The WWE stock closed at $56.01 on Wednesday.

MMA NEWS

**Jake Paul is set to make his debut for Showtime Sports in a professional boxing fight against former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley. MMA Island was the first outlet to report the fight with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani adding additional details that it will be contested at 190-pounds.

Paul is 3-0 as a boxer and recently signed a multi-fight agreement with Showtime following his recent victory against Ben Askren for the Triller promotion. Woodley’s contract with the UFC expired after his loss to Vicente Luque this past March at UFC 260 and was his fourth consecutive loss. Woodley, 39, will be making his professional boxing debut against the YouTube star-turned boxer. The news of Jake Paul’s fight comes days before his older brother Logan will be fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami this Sunday night.

**ESPN’s Marc Raimondi relayed the rules for this Sunday’s fight between Mayweather and Paul. There will be no judges, no official winner will be read, knockouts are legal, a knockout is up to the discretion of the referee, there will be no headgear worn, twelve-ounce gloves and it will be contested over eight 3-minute rounds.

**After six months, Tito Ortiz is stepping down from his role as Mayor Pro Tem on the city council of Huntington Beach, California. The Orange County Register cited Ortiz’s belief he’s been a target of “character assassination” by the media and that City Hall members have leaked information that led to his decision. Ortiz provided a statement adding that the attacks have extended to members of his family. Several weeks, ago Ortiz’s sons were sent home from school when they showed up at school without wearing masks.

**Brock Lesnar made his MMA debut on this date in 2007 at the infamous K-1 Dynamite event at L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Lesnar was 29 years old and three years removed from his last appearance with WWE. During that stretch, he had a legal fight with WWE contesting a ten-year non-compete clause, an ill-fated run with NJPW, and an attempt to gain a spot on the Minnesota Vikings prior to his decision to pursue mixed martial arts. Lesnar’s original opponent was going to be Hong-man Choi, who was flagged by the commission for a health issue and replaced by Kim, who was a silver medalist in Judo at the Olympics in 1996. The fight lasted 1:09 with Lesnar stopping him with strikes and Bill Goldberg roaring in celebration while on commentary. The event was not a success but it propelled Lesnar’s MMA career and was signed by the UFC several months later and would debut for the promotion in February against Frank Mir.

*****
POST NEWS UPDATE: WWE Releases
John Pollock & Wai Ting discuss WWE’s releases of Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Lana, Ruby Riott, Santana Garrett and Murphy. Plus, Friday Night Dynamite ratings.
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*****
POST INTERVIEW: ‘The Dissident’ director Bryan Fogel
John Pollock & Wai Ting are joined by Academy Award-winning director Bryan Fogel (Icarus) to discuss ‘The Dissident’, his 2020 documentary about the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s attempts to silence international dissent.
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Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the June 1st 2021 episode of WWE NXT featuring Pete Dunne vs Kyle O’Reilly vs Johnny Gargano and the return of Adam Cole!
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REWIND-A-RAW 5/31/21: Drew vs. Kofi, Jimmy Smith, Mick Foley A&E Biography
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Raw featuring Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston, the debut of announcer Jimmy Smith, a review of the Mick Foley A&E Biography, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are done!
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POST INTERVIEW: David Bixenspan chats Ultimate Warrior
John Pollock is joined by reporter David Bixenspan to discuss the recent documentaries on the Ultimate Warrior.
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*****

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About John Pollock 2723 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling.He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.