The rumors were true, and today saw WWE release a handful of talent with the potential for even more to come later on or possibly within the week/month. Some of this was a shock, while other news was impending for quite some time. Overall, what is the damage we’re looking at here?
Somehow, this gimmick went on for far, far too long. This was a release that should have happened several years ago and I really don’t see the justification for having kept him around all this time. Considering the career of most little people in pro wrestling, he surpassed the average when he became a regular performer, but by no means was he worth the paycheck after splitting from Finley. Using him for “laughs” hadn’t worked time and time again with the bastard son angle and Anonymous Raw GM reveal and so on. Why did it take so long to cut ties?
This isn’t a shocker, but it’s disappointing for sure. Alex Riley was someone that I thought from day one had a great look to him, a lot of charisma and was talented in the ring. Generally speaking, I think he’s one of the most underappreciated wrestlers the company has had over the past 10 years. He could have been something big, but for whatever reason, that never came to fruition. Some speculation in the past has said that it was due to John Cena holding him back, but there’s no proof of that. Maybe he had rubbed some people the wrong way and never got back in their good graces, or maybe he didn’t apply all of his potential in a way that WWE took notice. Whatever the case, Riley had all of the tools for a successful superstar, and it’s sad to see that he was never able to reach even the status of becoming Intercontinental champion at some point, when the sky could have been the limit.
Wayne Keown aka Dutch Mantel aka Zeb Colter has so many years in the business and has done so much that we could go on and on about his legacy, but the best way to sum it all up is that he’s a guaranteed Hall of Famer whenever WWE wishes to induct him. This isn’t a release that is coming out of any harbored resentment or lack of enthusiasm for his skills, nor is it due to a Wellness Policy violation or anything of the sort. Simply put, he’s a retired veteran who was brought back to be the manager of Jack Swagger, stuck around a little after that, and when they tried to revamp things with MexAmerica and it failed, he was taken off television until his contract ran up. I’m sure everyone still respects him as a performer and holds him in a positive light, but this just makes sense not to pay someone as an active roster member if you have no plans to use him on television for the time being.
Similar to Hornswoggle’s case, the situation with El Torito is actually even worse in some capacity. While he does not leave as annoying of a legacy, that’s mostly because WWE didn’t try to cram him into as many spots for as long as Hornswoggle. For the most part, El Torito just was the mascot and third-party to Los Matadores with a few other side adventures, rather than sticking around well beyond his invitation and getting in the way. Check your calendars for the last time we saw El Torito and you’ll see why this came as no surprise. He had some interesting things that he accomplished while employed, such as his Royal Rumble appearance and the WeeLC match, but there wasn’t much of a future for him as a performer, so I’m okay with WWE dropping him from their crew in order to make room for some new talent.
Ariane Andrew had a roller coaster ride of a career in WWE. Her stint in Tough Enough was rocky, with her coming off as a joke more than any other competitor, yet she ended up proving herself to be the longest employed from that bunch, finding a niche as one of the Funkadactyls for a long while. When that duo split, she struggled to find an identity for herself, but carried on her performance in Total Divas for a few seasons, justifying her spot on the roster.
After moving down to NXT to train some more, hone her craft and develop a new identity, we didn’t see much of her. Perhaps things just didn’t progress as intended, or maybe she grew disillusioned with the job, or WWE just could never figure out anything creatively to do with her. One way or another, Cameron had spent a good portion of her recent time missing in action, and after supporting Ryback on his crusade to express his disapproval of how WWE is handling some business, this seemed like a guaranteed upcoming release. Kudos to Cameron for being able to turn things around to make as much of a career as she did for herself. I can’t say I’ll miss her necessarily, but I can definitely say I would rather her still be employed than a few others (namely Rosa Mendes).
This was a bit of a surprise, as I wasn’t even aware that Santino was still technically on the company’s payroll. Since it had been so long since he appeared on television outside of a random appearance at the Slammy Awards or something along those lines, I just assumed he had branched off from WWE quietly to focus on the Battle Arts Academy facility he has up and running in Canada, while WWE just didn’t make a big fuss over it.
Since that’s the case, this is no big loss, as he had basically already been gone anyway. Santino was a great character and I’m sure if WWE can bring him in for a guest spot here and there, they’ll continue to do so, but it just makes sense not to have him on a more lucrative contract if he’s not a regular performer.
We all saw the writing on the wall when Barrett was excommunicated from The League of Nations as “the weak link” of the bunch and unceremoniously kept off television thereafter, never getting a chance to fight back in any capacity. Shortly after, the group would break up anyway, kind of rendering the whole thing pointless other than to take a stab at Barrett and downgrade him one last time on his way out.