Thursday, April 15th, 2021.
One year to the day of the infamous mass releases of 2020, WWE had their annual post-WrestleMania spring cleaning with the announcement of ten wrestlers that were being released. All of them will have the standard 90-day no-compete clause. After that expires, they will become free agents in a sense that they will be able to sign with whichever company they desire.
Much like Major League Baseball does with their annual postseason free-agent guessing game, I thought it would be fun to apply that concept to the ten wrestlers released on April 15th. I’ll talk a bit about their past, where I see them now, and give a guess as to where they will eventually end up.
Perhaps the biggest name that was released on Thursday, Joe spent the last year and change providing commentary on Raw, first as just a fill-in announcer and that turned into full-time announcing gig where he was the color commentator on Raw and pay-per-views, often teamed with Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton.
In recent interviews, Joe has repeatedly said that he’s not done with his in-ring career yet. His accomplishments outside of WWE are far too many to mention. Even though he’s not had a match since February of 2020 because of concussion issues, I feel if he can get cleared to wrestle, then the possibilities are endless. Maybe New Japan and the G1 this year? Who wouldn’t want to see Joe wreck shop against the likes of Naito, Shingo, and Tanahashi. Possibly AEW? They do have that new hour of programming coming to TNT this year. I don’t see Ring of Honor or Impact as viable options though, since they only have limited TV time. I wouldn’t completely discount either one though, especially since Joe did a quick stint in ROH in early 2015 in between leaving TNA and signing with WWE.
My guess: AEW, because with the new show coming they’ll need a big name and Joe certainly fits that bill, whether its doing commentary or wrestling. I wouldn’t be surprised to see New Japan try to get in on him as well but I find it a little less likely he’d go there considering COVID-19 travel restrictions.
This is probably the second biggest name on the list. It’s also one of the most surprising considering she just did commentary with Vic Joseph on both nights of the NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver pre-show and made an appearance in the Women’s Royal Rumble match this past January.
I personally think Mickie James still has a lot left to give and there are plenty of companies out there who could use a talented, veteran wrestler like her on the roster to not only work in the ring with the young talent but coach them as well. Ring of Honor could potentially use her to fill a spot in their upcoming women’s tournament, and Impact also has a women’s division that could use some depth. Heck, even her against Hikaru Shida in AEW would be a fun match. Let’s not forget that her husband, Nick Aldis, is still the reigning NWA World Champion either. It’d be a long shot but if NWA decides to build up their women’s division, she’d be a good place to start.
My guess: Impact. She’s got a long history with them and held the Knockout’s Championship three times. Plus, she could have matches with current Knockout’s Champion Deonna Purazzo, Tenille Dashwood, and Jordynne Grace. I wouldn’t completely discount a one-off in Ring of Honor either for the women’s tournament, but that depends on when they film that and if it’s after the 90-day no-compete.
Peyton Royce & Billie Kay
I’m grouping these two together because it only feels right. These two were doomed after the IIconics were split up. Since then, Royce had been getting a small push on Raw but wasn’t gaining much traction. Billie Kay was being featured pretty prominently on Smackdown, with a character where she would offer her resume to people like the Riott Squad and Big E, but the running gag was that she would always ultimately be rejected. As recently as WrestleMania, Kay was teamed with Carmella in the Tag Team Turmoil Match.
As the IIconics, these two were priceless. They won the Women’s Tag Team titles at WrestleMania 35 and had the second longest reign with them at 120 days. The IIconics managed to get the ire of everyone from teams like the Kabuki Warriors to singles wrestlers like Ruby Riott and Bayley. As tag team champions, they did make WWE history by becoming the first Australian duo, men’s or women’s, to hold tag team gold.
My guess: I think the logical place for them to go would be Impact. That’s the only other major wrestling company in the United States right now with women’s tag division and they could instantly be slotted in there against current champions Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz. I really don’t see any other place they could really go.
Green really fell into limbo after splitting from the Robert Stone Brand last May on NXT. On her SmackDown debut in November, she broke her wrist in a four-way match with Liv Morgan, Tamina, and Natalya. Since then, well … silence. This is bit stunning too, since she’d just signed a three year contact in November. Aside from being part of the Robert Stone Brand, it feels like she just didn’t get on track in WWE.
Given her past successes, especially as Laurel Van Ness in Impact, it’s hard to imagine Impact not scooping her back up. However, I feel that might be going backwards for Green if she were to do that. I’m going to outside the box here and say that she may not even officially sign with anyone and will bounce around places like Ring of Honor or NWA. Of course, there’s also the glowing aura of AEW and their women’s division but I feel like she’d get a bit lost in the shuffle there.
My guess: NWA or Ring of Honor. Both companies are working to get their women’s division off the ground and I think she’d be an asset to either one. Imagine Chelsea Green vs. Thunder Rosa in NWA? Or perhaps her against Angelina Love in ROH?
Here’s a tough one. Dallas hasn’t done anything of note since teaming with Curtis Axel as The B Team and hasn’t been on TV since the end of 2019. Having been with WWE for the last 13 years, it’s hard to imagine him working anywhere else. He had so many fun highlights in WWE, the “Bo-Lieve” character, the Social Outcasts with Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, and Adam Rose, the Miztourage, and finally the B-Team. I don’t really know where he could go, though. Maybe work the indies and reunite with Curtis Axel? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a side gig at AEW either.
My guess: Indies teaming with Curtis Axel or AEW
I always felt that Kalisto was the defacto leader of the Lucha House Party and I felt they were a really fun trio. This is kind of another surprising release in a way since Kalisto held several major titles during his WWE tenure like the United States Title and the Cruiserweight Title. I still remember his match against Ryback on the WrestleMania 32 pre-show being a very good match. There’s also the insane Salida del Sol maneuver he did through a ladder on Jey Uso at TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 2015.
As Samuray del Sol on the indies prior to signing with WWE, he wrestled for numerous companies like AAW, PWG, CZW, and others. In thinking of companies currently that work with a lot of luchadores and where he would fit it, Ring of Honor comes to mind. They have talent like Bandido, Flamita, Dragon Lee, and others. He’d also be a good fit in AEW where he could wrestle guys like Darby Allin, Cody, Brian Cage, Jungle Boy, and Hangman Page.
My guess: Ring of Honor or AEW
Heavy Machinery was a huge success and a really fun tag team. I thought they had lots of upside as a fun middle of the card tag team who could be slotted in to either brand. However, the Otis and Mandy Rose storyline pretty much led to their downfall. Otis broke out as a singles wrestler, beat Dolph Ziggler at last year’s WrestleMania, and won the Money in the Bank as well. The most notable thing Tucker did recently was when he turned on Otis at Hell in a Cell and cost him the Money in the Bank briefcase to The Miz.
Having been in the WWE system since 2013, he never wrestled any indies or wrestled for anyone else so it’s hard to pick a spot for him to land. I think the biggest thing with Tucker is that he needs to rebrand himself and try to get a new character up and running. The indie scene would probably be the best for that. I could see him doing a re-hash of his Heavy Machinery character and making the rounds that way. There’s also the ancillary AEW programming on YouTube like Dark and Elevation, where he could also pop up occasionally.
My guess: Indies or AEW YouTube programming
Does anyone remember Blake & Murphy with Alexa Bliss as their manager in NXT? I barely do, but that’s where I first heard of Wesley Blake. Most of his time in WWE was spent as part of tag teams like Forgotten Sons and more recently flanking King Corbin as part of the Knights of the Lone Wolf. He’s a guy who’s been in the WWE system since 2013 and before that trained at Dory Funk Jr’s Funking Conservatory.
With most of his wrestling career in the WWE developmental system, I’m not sure where he could plant his flag. Possibly the indies doing a biker character of some sort? Maybe Impact with a complete overhaul in character?
My guess: Indies or Impact
Alas, poor Mojo. We knew thee well. From the Hype Bros with Zack Ryder to the Andre the Giant Battle Royal win that was assisted by Rob Gronkowski, Mojo had quite the career in WWE. He’d started a new character in 2019 on Raw where he would talk about his lack of success, to what looked like someone else, before it was revealed that he was talking to himself in a mirror. That was quickly dropped after only a few matches.
There’s several options for Mojo. He could jump to Impact and do a reunion with Matt Cardona (Zack Ryder) as a variation of the Hype Bros. With his charisma though, he could also wind up as a studio host or commentator on a football show of some sort. He does have a background in football and tried out for both the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers.
My guess: Impact or football commentator
Do I think all these predictions will come true? Probably not. I do think that some of these guys and gals will land on their feet in the wrestling business. For others, this is most likely the end of their run in wrestling. Perhaps some of the predictions will come true!