Reacting to WWE Roster Cuts & Where Should Dolph Ziggler & Others Go Next?


Despite record profits every quarter for the past 3+ years, gutting much of its workforce and essentially saying “we won’t be firing the wrestlers themselves”, mere days after the TKO merger, WWE went ahead and released roughly 20 Superstars.

This isn’t surprising. Frankly, I’m shocked MORE talent wasn’t released. I didn’t trust that WWE and TKO were telling the truth in the slightest bit, and that in and of itself is already disappointing, let alone knowing so many people across the board lost their jobs this week.


While there isn’t much to say about employees that were in the marketing departments or WWE Network jobs or anything of that sort (other than a generic “I hope you find something even better as soon as possible” sentiment), when it comes to the on-screen talent, we can certainly break down those releases with more detail.

So, as has become custom here (unfortunately), I present to you my reaction to these Superstars who were let go today and where I’d like to see them go next.

Note: Keep in mind that this is my perspective of someone else’s career. Obviously, my opinion does not, and should not, mean anywhere near as much as their own. If I say I’d love to see someone go to AEW and they have zero interest in that, or that I think they might fit better in Impact, but their plan is to become a real estate agent, then good for them. This is just a fan doing some fantasy booking in the world of pro wrestling the same as how if you asked me who I’d like to see cast as the next James Bond, I’d list off a few actors who I’d be down to see take on the role. Generally speaking, I wish them the most success in whatever their actual goals and preferences are.

NXT Talent & WWE Performance Center Recruits

Let’s just get these out of the way. Several talents weren’t used on screen at all, or if they were, it was quite minimally, to the point that I don’t really know anything about them.

This includes Alexis Gray, Brooklyn Barlow, Bryson Montana, Daniel McArthur, and Kevin Ventura-Cortes.

Of those, I think I’ve only seen one Barlow match, so it’s hard to judge anything about their futures or flip out and say “What?! WWE let them go!? That’s insane!”

Ideally, if this isn’t the career for them, they’ll figure out a better avenue soon enough. If this is something they’re passionate about, then they should likely tour the indie scene and get some more reps in and build a bigger name for themselves. Once they have a reputation, who knows, WWE could easily be calling them back down the line.

Yulisa Leon

I always lumped Leon together with not only her tag team partner Valentina Feroz, but also Erica Yan. They all debuted around the same time, had about the same characters and the same rough level of promo and in-ring capabilities. When Yan was released and the other two stayed, I was a little surprised, but nowhere near as surprised as I am now that Leon was cut but Feroz wasn’t also given the axe.

Again, that’s not me wishing that upon her. But since they were a package deal for basically their whole careers, and we haven’t been witness to virtually ANYTHING that indicated WWE saw more in Feroz than Leon, I just assumed they were viewed as being on the same chopping block tier.

Update: Supposedly, she asked for her release. Interesting. Maybe she knew WWE was keeping her at that level forever and figured she’d rather try out another place before wasting too much time there?

Leon hasn’t been by herself. She’s only been in a tag team. Is she going to shine way more by not having those shackles, or was she being held up by Feroz and will sink on her own?

If she’s keen to staying in Mexico, rather than trying to make a name for herself in the United States, I think those promotions would be the best fit for her.

Dilsher Shanky

Shanky was so very clearly hired for two reasons:

  1. He was one of the many talents signed when they were trying to get NXT India off the ground, so they were buttering up that idea, just like what they did with Saudi Arabia. More on Mansoor later, by the way.
  2. He’s tall. So WWE must have said “well, let’s at least see if there’s something there.”

But how quickly did people like Giant Zanjeer get released? Strangely, Shanky stuck around. They put him with Jinder Mahal, fast-forwarded to their trope that happens with EVERY SINGLE giant wherein Vince McMahon just clearly loves to see them be a happy-go-lucky dancer for some reason, and poof, Shanky was gone.

He had been MIA for so long that most people seemingly forgot he was on the roster, so it was clear he wasn’t going to survive the next round of cuts.

We didn’t see much from Shanky. What we did see wasn’t all that impressive, if I’m being honest. He was just a generic tall guy. If I’m one of the big promotions in the United States (AEW, Impact, NWA, etc), I’m not going to be breaking the bank for him. But if he’s still interested in wrestling, maybe the Indian market could make him an absolute star over there.


Speaking of a giant, Dabba-Kato had a bad run in WWE. He’s been around longer than I’m sure you’re aware, offhand. Babatunde was in the Greatest Royal Rumble, for example. He’s been with the company since April 2016. Whether it was his real name or Dabba-Kato in Raw Underground or Commander Azeez with Apollo Crews, or back to Dabba-Kato in NXT, it just felt like WWE didn’t really care to do anything with him.

Frankly, once Omos became a thing, it seemed like they promptly pushed Babatunde to the side and said he was old news. That annoyed me, as I thought there was more to Babatunde.

But to be transparent, when he worked the EVOLVE show, I had broken down my prediction of his match as “Babatunde is big. Not a lot of people are. So he’ll win.” and that was it. That became a running joke on my site and podcast and sadly, since he never really did anything else, it became the one and only talking point, eventually.

However, it bares repeating. Babatunde is BIG. And not a lot of people are! This guy could be a monster henchman for anyone, similar to how Satnam Singh is used in AEW. I’d like to see him go to AEW, but I think a more realistic projection would be Impact Wrestling or NWA. I could see him being a prominent big man in Impact, or a huuuuge threat to the title scene in NWA.

But really, if I’m fantasy booking, I’d like to see him even more so go to New Japan Pro Wrestling to see what he can do there, or to just go into the movie industry. A guy his size could make more reliable and steady cash as a stuntman and working those typical “big bodyguard/monster” type roles similar to what Kurrgan did.

Quincy Elliott

Not to be harsh, but I never saw the brightest future for Quincy Elliott. I gave him a chance to impress me, but it didn’t happen in the ring or on the mic. Some people were calling him “the next Goldust” but I think that was mostly face value and not actually taking a look at the performer himself.

Quincy’s release doesn’t surprise me. He’s another one that hadn’t been used on television more than a few sparing appearances which haven’t happened in however many months that I forget the last time he was on screen. Last Halloween Havoc? Or was it the Halloween Havoc before that?

The place I could see him excelling the best in would be just traveling the indies while working on other projects. I mean, he does have himself labeled as “artist” on Instagram. Maybe he wants to try out something beyond pro wrestling, and that might be more of his calling.


WWE no longer stands for Walk With Elias. He was super over for a while and had a gimmick that worked really well, but WWE never pushed him for any steady amount of time. It seems like they got stuck in a groove where they just wanted him to punch in and punch out, even though he was able to cross over into some other stuff with WWE Music Group and you’d think WWE would want to capitalize on that more. Lots of missed opportunities, and then, they got bored with his act.

Of course, Ezekiel was a TERRIBLE direction to go if they wanted to spice things up. I don’t think anyone really thought that was going to help. We all saw that as an albatross and of course, instead of singing a new tune and hearing church bells, it was more of a death knell.

Elias is a jacked, charismatic dude. Whether he wants to keep the same basic gimmick under a new name, or if he wants to try out something entirely different, I’m interested to see what happens next.

I would entertain him going to any company, really. AEW could use another talker. Impact could certainly be a big spot for him. He could probably win the NWA Championship tomorrow and I wouldn’t be shocked. I would say, though, that I can’t picture him particularly succeeding in ROH or New Japan, and since he’s 35, I’m not sure if MLW or some other promotions would be a good fit. He’s definitely someone I think has the tools to succeed, though, and I hope that happens sooner, rather than later.


Poor Aliyah was in NXT longer than most people are on the main roster. They finally brought her up to SmackDown, had her do a few things like beat Nattie for a Guinness world record and win the tag titles, and then, her injury screwed everything up.

We may never know the answer to this, but I’m curious why she wasn’t brought back for so long. Was she still just injured all this time? I doubt it. And if she wasn’t, why not at least have her wrestle on house shows or if you didn’t see much in her, put her on television as an enhancement talent?

Nhooph is 28. She’s got more seasoning to her now than ever before. She could EASILY be signed to Impact or NWA in a heartbeat. I’d like to see her do some guest spots in AEW and ROH, too, if not be outright signed to a place like ROH. I’m assuming she’d go by her Jasmin Areebi name, so be on the lookout for that.

Shelton Benjamin

The Gold Standard has been on my list of “should’ve probably won a world title” for so many years that I forget when I originally put him on it, but I know ECW existed at the time.

Shelton’s release doesn’t surprise me because of how little he was used. WWE clearly wants to do The Hurt Business 2.0 but with The Street Profits instead of Shelton and Cedric Alexander (who I’m surprised they didn’t also cut today, but if that happens tomorrow, I want Cedric in ROH immediately).

Benjamin is so good. He’s one of the absolute top wrestlers that I would think of as a no-brainer to sign to a Performance Center coaching gig. If he still has enough left in the tank that he doesn’t want to retire in the ring yet, I could see him turning down that offer, but if WWE didn’t at least offer it to him, they are INSANE. The same goes for Drew Gulak in the future, by the way, too.

If I’m Tony Khan, I’m scooping him up. Yes, it’s another older WWE talent, but he can still work, has more value to his name than some of the guys in AEW that could be cut because they’re going nowhere fast, and he’d be an incredibly valuable asset to work with those younger guys. Being in AEW allows him access to ROH, too, and that brand can definitely use him.

Top Dolla

Based on his career so far, Top Dolla was one of my top people to watch when it came to releases. I just imagined there was no way he would make it out of the cull untouched. Surprisingly, I thought all members of Hit Row would go, or at least both Top Dolla and B-Fab while keeping Ashantee. Curious why B-Fab is still around given how little WWE has done with her.

The writing was on the wall. Top Dolla never had much steam and the most important things he’s done in the company were hosting the treasures show and botching jumping over the top rope.

Naturally, as mentioned, I don’t wish him any struggles whatsoever, as I don’t know the guy. But I do think this is probably it for him in pro wrestling. I don’t have faith any company is going to sign him to a legit contract. He could make appearances on the indies, sure, but I think he’ll be stepping into a different career path instead.

Rick Boogs

Ugh, WWE did this guy dirty. He’s a great example of someone who got over out of nowhere in NXT and instead of running with him, WWE waited so long that he lost all his momentum. Then, he got over on the main roster and his injury completely derailed his career. By the time he came back, WWE barely wanted anything to do with him, and instead of actually going with the Elias tag team and trying to do something there, they teased it for several weeks and then split them up in the draft. Why??

Boogs deserved a better shot. He’s as strong as an ox and has more energy to him than 90% of the wrestlers out there. Give him a contract.

Where do I think he’d shine best? Probably Impact. Maybe NWA. I don’t think we’ll see him in AEW or ROH, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it. No way he goes to New Japan but the fact that he’d stand out so much makes it an intriguing idea to me. If I’m Impact, I’m trying to snatch this guy up.

Riddick Moss and Emma

These two only got engaged in June and now, they’re both going to be looking for new jobs. That sucks. I feel so bad for them.

Unfortunately, they’re also two talents I saw getting released from a mile away. WWE just wasn’t doing anything with them for basically a full year.

NWA or Impact would probably welcome Emma back with open arms. I don’t think AEW would sign her, and I don’t think ROH would be particularly useful.

On the contrary, I do think Riddick Moss could be a good fit for ROH, though. That’s where I’d like to see him go more than anywhere else. But if they end up being a package deal, both going to Impact or NWA makes the most sense to me.

Mace and Mansoor

When these two were pushed aside in favor of Maxxine Dupri joining Alpha Academy, it was a sign of their future releases, for sure. I was still holding out some hope that WWE would let Maximum Male Models do their own thing, but we never really saw them again.

When it comes to Mace, or Brennan Williams, he’s always had something to him that I think WWE failed to notice. Not only is he tall, but I could tell there was more charisma not being tapped into. I wanted to see more from him. Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise, and he’ll show up in another company and start firing on all cylinders.

I’d like to see him in AEW or ROH if I had the ability to pick and choose where he goes.

And when it comes to Mansoor and having more than what WWE allowed to come through the screen, did you see his tweet announcing his release? This right here proves that WWE dropped the ball with him!

He’s funny, charismatic, and legitimately truthful in pointing out that he has a good look to him and is only 27 years old. I’m not surprised he was let go, given the way he had been booked for the past few years, but I AM surprised that WWE didn’t see ANYTHING in him enough to invest more into utilizing him. Definitely a waste.

With that in mind, I’m hoping if he wants to stay in the world of pro wrestling, that we get to see him pop up somewhere that he can shine. AEW is pretty stacked, and he’ll get lost in the shuffle there, but if he could go to Ring of Honor, that might be the best spot for him. If not, Impact Wrestling could maybe be just as good or better of an option. My pick goes for ROH, though.

Mustafa Ali

This has been a LONG time coming. Ali was requesting his release from WWE how many years ago? WWE didn’t grant it to him, he stuck around for a constant barrage of do-nothing mini-pushes that mostly had him jobbed out and any time he started building momentum, he was promptly sabotaged again.

How was that seemingly a mission from WWE, to keep doing that over and over? Once is business. Twice is bad luck. Thrice becomes an interesting coincidence to watch out for, and for it to happen even more than that means it’s more of a conspiracy.

If WWE never saw anything much in him, why was the company so hesitant to let him go? That baffles me. “You’re not good enough for us to push, but we’re afraid if you go elsewhere, it’ll help that other company so much because you’re so valuable. Can you just not go there, but also not be of any real value to us, either?” Stupid.

I don’t know if he has a million ideas they squashed and that his future is going to be 100x brighter because he’ll finally get a chance to do them, or if he has a ton of ideas, but that they’re mostly crap. Since we didn’t get to see virtually any of them, it’s impossible to know. But I bet he has so much more to offer than we’ve seen, and I’m more willing to bet that he’ll make a bigger splash in another company than that we’ll look back and say WWE reining him in was the best thing for him.

Granted, I don’t think if he were to sign with AEW, that he’d suddenly be in the main event. People still have some levels and we have to be realistic. But I do think he could be a top star in Impact, THE top star in NWA, someone who would tear it up in New Japan and easily a Ring of Honor television champion.

Dolph Ziggler

All. Elite. Wrestling. It’s a no-brainer. If AEW doesn’t sign him, then I don’t know what the hell Tony Khan is thinking.

Not only does he have an in with so many of the wrestlers there being buddies of his, I’m sure, but his brother, Ryan Nemeth, has been in AEW for years as well. They could be a tag team or Ziggler can just go it solo, but Nick Nemeth is an absolute MUST get.

Assuming he has a 90-day no-compete clause and we can’t see him until December, the moment he’s available, I want him on Dynamite or Collision casting aside that stupid Dolph Ziggler name and immediately starting a feud with any of the dozens of names he could have a classic with.

Give me Nemeth vs Kenny Omega, Adam Page, The Young Bucks, Brian Cage, Jack Perry, Daniel Garcia, Billy Gunn even. Let’s see what Nemeth and Bryan Danielson can do without the WWE shackles. There’s no way Nemeth against Darby Allin or Sammy Guevara wouldn’t absolutely rock. He could probably give Eddie Kingston an even better match than we’ve seen so far from him, too. Nemeth vs Jon Moxley? I’m sold. Nemeth vs Jay White? Konosuke Takeshita? Ricky Starks? C’mon!!!

Dana Brooke

The narrative around Dana Brooke for something like a decade, it feels, has been that she’s a super hard worker and that means she deserves more credit. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that notion. You can work your ass off and still not be worthy of a promotion. That’s just a fact of life. If hard work meant a 1:1 ratio for success, yours truly would be a millionaire right now.

But I will say that despite having an overall totem pole position that was mostly “midcard at her peak”, and lots of valleys where she was lucky to be jobbing on Main Event, I always thought Dana Brooke did get the shit end of the stick more than she deserved. She clearly did work really hard to improve her physique over the past few years and she always seemed game for anything—be it some dumb romance angle with Reggie, an accountant gig with Titus O’Neil, the horrendous 24/7 Championship nonsense, you name it.

No, I don’t think she should’ve won the Women’s Championship. Yes, I do think she could have won the Women’s Tag Team Championship at some point if they had given her the right partner. Maybe reteaming her with Emma could have worked. Or with Nattie. I liked the pairing with Mandy Rose for a little bit, for instance.

Had Brooke been able to tap into the “buff blonde” aspect more, it could have worked. She is clearly hot and powerful and muscular. One look at her should be easy to work with all that. Instead, WWE tended to give her more of a sad sack character and it never was going to get over. She’s been doomed for years, sadly.

While I wish things would have panned out better for her, I do think it’s fair to say she won’t be going to any of these major companies and becoming their next big thing. AEW might bring her in for some guest spots, but I don’t think she’d get a contract. Ring of Honor doesn’t seem like a great fit. Impact would probably welcome her, and NWA could potentially make her a champion. Those two companies are the best bets. But if I’m Ashley, I’m probably thinking I’m tired of taking bumps and I’m going to start a different venture that is less taxing. She could do more modeling, fitness competitions, or anything else like that, and probably make just as much money if not more, without all the back-breaking (literally) labor and travel and disrespect.

Where would you like to see these wrestlers pop up next? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

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