POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: WWE cuts lead to more questions of supply & demand

Lead story on the state of the industry following another round of WWE cuts, Paul Heyman interview, major fights on this date & more.

Photo Courtesy: WWE


**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at 11:15 p.m. ET with reviews of SmackDown and AEW Rampage. The show will be live for all POST Wrestling Café members and we will be taking your calls on Zoom at the end.

**We have a POST Daily News update for Friday with a big discussion on the latest WWE cuts, Kenny Omega off the TripleMania Regia show, AEW Dynamite’s viewership, and a preview of the Survivor Series on Sunday. Today’s news show is free on both YouTube and the free POST Wrestling feed.

**On Sunday night, we will be live with the Survivor Series POST Show for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the Café with a rundown of the pay-per-view and your calls.

**The November edition of The Wellness Policy is available for everyone with Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman chatting about the importance of community and welcoming Davie Portman from upNXT on this month’s show.

**On Saturday, I’ll be a guest on the “Deep Dive” podcast with Rich Fann at the Pro Wrestling Torch site.


The all-too-common pattern of WWE cuts continued Thursday night with eight names added to the growing list of ex-WWE talent.

John Morrison, Tegan Nox, Shane Thorne, Drake Maverick, Jaxson Ryker, and the remaining members of Hit Row – Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott, Top Dolla, and Ashante ‘Thee’ Adonis – were the latest cuts to an overall number that would have been unfathomable two years ago.

The overall impact to the industry and the respective performers is unknown but common sense suggests that the industry cannot support such a constant stream of free agents that are coming off WWE runs that would seek comparable livings outside of it.

WWE has fundamentally shifted its philosophy on talent acquisitions and stockpiling from participating in an arms race for the stars outside of the company into one that has flooded the open market. It is a market that cannot possibly find the demand for the enormous supply of stars.

AEW is only a viable option for so many with a promotion stocked to the brim with talent that runs its own risk of reaching a level where hard decisions need to be made or talent becomes unsatisfied without featured status. As AEW has cemented itself into a strong standing with national television exposure, increasing its pay-per-view business roughly 62 percent in 2021 and expanding its television footprint this year, there are fewer “needs” for the company rather than “wants” if a particular talent becomes available that can fulfill one.

We are still understanding the full impact of the pandemic on the entire pro wrestling landscape. While there are success stories like Game Changer Wrestling that have emerged and created their own unique space in the market, there are far more that we don’t hear about and don’t have this excess budget to book higher-priced talent, who may have come at a bargain prior to their WWE runs. This is combined with an Indie market that missed out on its most lucrative week of the year in 2020 with WrestleMania and a toned-down version in 2021.

It is a sad reality that no company benefited from the pandemic more than WWE, which had its most profitable year in 2020, which will be outdone in 2021. If there was ever a company that could afford to stockpile, it was this one, but WWE answers to a different master than their fanbase, which is far from a master in the era of fixed revenue for a publicly-traded company. On the other end is Ring of Honor, which went above and beyond taking care of its talent and are left in a precarious state with their future at best, unknown.

The national stage is both encouraging and concerning. AEW is the most viable competitor WWE has seen since the end of WCW and ECW unless you consider the impact UFC had on WWE’s pay-per-view business from 2008-14.

The other side of the coin to AEW’s success appears to be a larger fanbase gaining their fix from AEW at the expense of past support of promotions like New Japan and Ring of Honor while making it tougher for a subgroup like NJPW Strong or upstart in MLW to gain traction.

In 2019, it was a wonderful time for talent where it appeared WWE would be as aggressive as ever in rewarding any talent with name value with larger contracts to offset a perception battle of losing stars to AEW. On top of that, NXT and AEW were after the latest independent stars and seeking the stars of tomorrow at a rapid pace and sped up the process of talent working the independents to signing their first major contract. Now, NXT is out of that game for the most part and has eliminated that option for a lot of aspiring talent given the system they have in place and the product they are seeking through NXT 2.0. Due to restrictions and other factors, the U.K. and Japan are not the same viable options they were several years ago with talent looking at a reduced pool of independent outfits.

Today, it’s a scarier landscape if you don’t fit a specific need for a company. Ring of Honor’s shift from one offering contracts to a pay-per-show entity is going to have a terrible effect on the industry. IMPACT Wrestling is a viable entity but only to a point and has not seen their business grow in any meaningful way, so how many big free agents are they likely to sign, and will any one name make enough of a difference in IMPACT’s business to justify a heightened cost?

New Japan remains in flux with the travel restrictions and/or securing visas for new talent that have led to a colder product in 2021 despite churning out high-quality matches but among the same crop of stars that the audience has been exposed to for years. They need new blood and have a lot of potential with the AEW relationship and mixing things up but cannot execute much right now.

More and more people are questioning if another national player could emerge. The question is whether there is an audience that could support one. There are so many factors required from massive start-up costs, the ability to secure national television on a viable network, and increasingly focusing on strong wrestling smarts. There are very few Tony Khans that could check off those boxes and it’s questionable if the average wrestling fan is left demanding more content when they get so much. While IMPACT is not on the highest-rated network, it’s not like it’s a network in obscurity either and their television figures don’t represent a swelling fanbase demanding more.

On the investment side, there is a strong pitch to be made to anyone focused on the WWE and AEW television deals that come due in a few years and arguing that there is money on the table for a network that sees the audiences those two companies draw and trying to gain a piece of it. Ten years, ago, the television revenue rewards were not there that make pro wrestling a lot more attractive while making significant inroads in the level of advertisers seen on WWE and AEW programming.

The sad reality is that there are not 80 full-time positions for all these cuts in 2021 to find landing spots. There will be some. There will be independent offers but it’s nearly a guarantee that talent will need to be realistic about the financial opportunities out there and some may see this career as more of a side hobby or move on to another endeavor completely.


**From the eight WWE cuts on Thursday:

*John Morrison (John Hennigan, 42) – He was part of a featured act with The Miz, which hurts Miz’s return as it’s unlikely Morrison’s departure will even be acknowledged. His age is probably the contributing factor to a company geared towards a younger roster. This one is exceptionally tough as his wife Taya Valkyrie was released several weeks ago and the couple had uprooted to move to Florida. It’s a different environment than the one Hennegan left in 2019 but he’s a quality performer that should have options.

*Shane Thorne (Shane Veryzer, 36) – He came into the system with Mikey Nicholls and as TM-61 and didn’t have a substantial NXT tenure that was offset with Nicholls opting to leave the company. On the main roster, he was part of the doomed Retribution stable that went nowhere. He was quietly moved to SmackDown but never gone anything going after his time in Retribution. It would be obvious to reconnect with Nicholls and potentially land in New Japan Strong/NJPW proper.

*Tegan Nox (Steffanie Newell, 27) – She overcame numerous injuries to her knee going back to the first Mae Young Classic, which was one of the major stories from the 2017 version. She was called up in the summer and paired with Shotzi, where it appeared that they were being positioned for a program for the women’s tag titles that never materialized despite the non-title wins. They split her and Shotzi at the draft and it became apparent that there was nothing for her on Raw.

*Drake Maverick (James Curtain, 38) – A super talented performer, who won the night on Thursday with his “exit video” that so well produced and underlines the level of talent sitting around in that company that is reduced to 24/7 segments. He is one of those performers that can be inserted into any role and he’s likely going to make it work and you would hope he lands somewhere notable.

*Jaxson Ryker (Chad Lail, 39) – Most were surprised he was kept on board after his 2020 tweets and history came to light that led to stablemates Steve Maclin and Wesley Blake being removed from television as collateral damage. Lail resurfaced as a singles act being paired with Elias and then a feud between the two before they gave up on Ryker. Once he was thrown into the 24/7 mix, it was not a good sign for him and his age wasn’t going to help his cause.

*Top Dolla (A.J Francis, 31), Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott (Stephon Strickland, 31), Ashante Thee Adonis (Tehuti Miles, 30) – The idea that Hit Row have all been released is mind-boggling for anyone that watched the act come together and instant gain notoriety in NXT as a fresh and young group that echoes everything NXT is gearing itself toward. While there may be more to the story, which is the only way to explain these specific cuts, it goes against so much of what is said about going out to “grab the brass ring” and take your spot. The four exemplified the mantra that is spoken and it got them nowhere. The unit is stronger together than apart and the only question is whether a company will bring in a four-person group and understand that Francis and Briana Brandy are still new to the industry when it comes to the in-ring side. I see a lot of upside by going after these four and don’t have the stigma of a failed WWE run as they were only on the main roster for a minute – and literally started an angle last week with Jinder Mahal and Shanky.

**Here are the matches scheduled for Friday Night SmackDown airing at 8 p.m. ET on Fox from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut:
*Sasha Banks vs. Shotzi
*Fatal Four-Way: Sheamus vs. Ricochet vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Cesaro (winner is added to the men’s Survivor Series team)

It’s the final episode before the Survivor Series and overall, it’s a very cold show. The most interesting match is Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, although very little of the substance to the match has been explored on television, although I’m certain the match will be engineered to play off it. They have kept the talent appearing on opposite shows to a minimum this year with The Usos on Raw. Tonight is their only chance to do some final promotion whether it be Big E. and/or Becky Lynch or the usual chaotic brawl involving two of the teams to end the show. I think Flair needs a big promo tonight to drive everything home and ideally, something with Lynch to convey the real issues in a believable way, which is often tricky in WWE’s formatting and laying things out. The perfect scenario is the one you had with CM Punk and Eddie Kingston and while I’d structure a segment differently between Flair and Lynch, that’s the feeling for the match you want by the end.

**AEW Rampage is a taped episode from Wednesday night in Norfolk, Virginia with the following matches airing at 10 p.m. ET on TNT:
*Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus vs. Adam Cole & Bobby Fish
*TBS Tournament: Jade Cargill vs. Red Velvet
*Darby Allin vs. Billy Gunn

**Paul Heyman spoke with Ariel Helwani for BT Sport prior to the Survivor Series. The first portion of the interview focused on the alliance with Roman Reigns and the beneficial nature to both parties since the pairing last year. Heyman shot down the potential of a match with The Rock at WrestleMania 38 (which Dwayne Johnson has as well) and pushed towards the direction of the Brock Lesnar rematch, which was funny as Helwani responded that, “we just saw it”. Heyman also threw out Big E. and Drew McIntyre as options and the potential of Rock the following year when they are in California at SoFi Stadium.

On AEW, he called them “a viable entity” but avoided stating what he thought of the product, good or bad, because it doesn’t matter what he says and AEW should not listen to his thoughts as he is not the audience to go after. He acknowledged that the ‘Us vs. Them’ marketing tool is an effective one and worked for ECW and AEW has some of that with their audience backing the idea of what AEW represents. He noted that there is a trap in paying attention to what the other side is doing and counterprogramming, which is exactly what WWE did on October 15th by opting to go head-to-head with a commercial-free block. Helwani did bring up the head-to-head programming that night but they didn’t get into the outcome or AEW’s performance in those 30 minutes.

Heyman said he pays attention to everything in the industry to study and gain knowledge of what is working and what resonates as well as paying attention to the lesser focused content because it could be relevant down the road.

This was taped earlier in the week before the latest round of cuts, but it was interesting to hear his answer regarding past cuts. He argued that talent needs to be aggressive when a spot opens, to go out and outtalk and outperform everyone else, and singled out Mustafa Ali as someone that pushes against the boundaries. The timing of this and an act like Hit Row finding themselves without jobs was remarkable.

**WrestlePro has announced that Killer Kross will be wrestling Flip Gordon at their event on February 5th in Rahway, New Jersey. The card will also feature Scarlett Bordeaux taking on Harley Cameron and Matt Cardona vs. Dan Maff.

**Brandon Thurston has a breakdown of the quarter-hours from Dynamite on Wednesday. The peak segment in total viewers came during the 9-9:15 p.m. ET block that featured the ending of Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida, the Malakai Black promo, and the segment involving MJF and CM Punk with 1,049,000 viewers. The peak in 18-49 was the main event between Sammy Guevara and Jay Lethal with 507,000.

**Bobby Lashley spoke with Steven Muehlhausen of DAZN promoting the Survivor Series and was asked about two African-American performers wrestling for the WWE Championship regarding himself and Big E:

The biggest thing for me is I like to make sure that it’s a norm. I want to make all these things the norm. Like when I won the title, they were like, ‘Oh, you’re the third African-American, you’re the third black champion, and then Big E was the fourth’.

I’m like, ‘We don’t need to put that next to it anymore. It’s just the norm’. I want it to get to the norm with anyone. We don’t want to say, ‘You’re the second African-American, you’re the second Mexican, you’re the second this’. It’s not even about that anymore. I think it’s just making it a norm. Everybody gets the opportunity to win that title. We put in the work. You do the things you have to do. You hustle, and you have the opportunity to win it, and it’s no asterisk by your name. It’s just here’s the guy. Here’s the guy who it is now. I’m glad that we broke those barriers and started to make this a norm. But ultimately, I just wanted to be, ‘Here’s your champion, period’.

**The line-up for 205 Live tonight at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network:
*Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs. Valentina Feroz & Yulisa Leon
*Malik Blade vs. Edris Enofe
*Amari Miller vs. Tiffany Stratton

**MLW has added Ho Ho Lun to the ‘Blood & Thunder’ TV taping in Dallas, Texas on Friday, January 21st.

**Drew McIntyre was interviewed by TV Insider about the pay-per-view on Sunday and being moved to SmackDown.

**Liv Morgan was interviewed by Complex about the ongoing program with Becky Lynch and her thoughts on the Survivor Series.

**Arda Ocal and Jimmy Korderas reunited on the You Know I’m Right podcast to discuss their days on Aftermath TV and a bunch of pro-wrestling-related subjects.

**The WWE stock dropped to $52.66 on Friday.


**The UFC Fight Night card takes place from the Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday. The show will be broadcast on ESPN+ in the U.S. with the prelims airing on TSN in Canada and the main card on UFC Fight Pass. The top two fights are intriguing as the card is headlined by a women’s bantamweight fight between Miesha Tate and Ketlen Vieira. The latter was working towards a title fight, but inactivity and some inopportune losses have derailed that path. Meanwhile, Tate ended a nearly five-year retirement this past July defeating Marion Reneau and if she can add Vieira’s name to her wins, could be closing in on a championship fight with the winner of Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena. There is also a welterweight fight between Michael Chiesa and undefeated Sean Brady that is going to answer questions regarding Brady’s ceiling. Chiesa is coming off a loss to Vicente Luque this past August while Brady has not had a blemish on his record but has never fought anyone the level of Chiesa.

Here is the full card for Saturday with all fighters making weight:

MAIN CARD (6 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Miesha Tate (135.5) vs. Ketlen Vieira (136)
*Michael Chiesa (170.5) vs. Sean Brady (170.5)
*Rani Yahya (135.5) vs. Kyung Ho Kang (136)
*Joanne Wood (126) vs. Talia Santos (125.5)
*Davey Grant (135.5) vs. Adrian Yanez (135)


*Pat Sabatini (145) vs. Tucker Lutz (145.5)
*Rafa Garcia (155) vs. Natan Levy (154)
*Loopy Godinez (115.5) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (115.5)
*Terrance McKinney (155.5) vs. Fares Ziam (156)
*Aori Qileng (126) vs. Cody Durden (126)
*Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (145) vs. Sean Soriano (146)
*Luana Pinheiro (116) vs. Sam Hughes (115.5)

**CFFC has a card from Tunica, Mississippi tonight airing on Fight Pass at 9 p.m. ET. The card is headlined by a bantamweight fight between Deandre Anderson and Da’mon Blackshear for the vacant title.

**After Saturday, it’s an extended break for the UFC and Bellator with neither company running a card next weekend following U.S. Thanksgiving. Bellator returns on December 3rd with a show from Mohegan Sun with Sergio Pettis vs. Kyoji Horiguchi for the bantamweight title. UFC returns December 4th with a Fight Night card headlined by Jose Aldo and Rob Font.


Bret Hart won the WWF Championship for the third time on this date in 1995, ending Diesel’s one-year run as champion at the Survivor Series:

Triple H returned three weeks later in 2000:

One of the greatest fights in UFC history when Dan Henderson fought Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua at UFC 139 on this date in 2011:

On the very same night, Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler had one of the greatest fights in Bellator history in Hollywood, Florida:

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About John Pollock 5659 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.