Good day, folks. Today, I will be breaking down how the recent WWE talent releases have affected the products of Raw, SmackDown, and NXT. Not much will change, but for those who haven’t thought about it, I’m here to point out angles and associations ending abruptly without explanation on TV.
Hit Row Is Dead?
Hit Row has been used sparingly for a while, and WWE only brought out the trio whenever they needed somebody to job. Since Top Dolla’s infamous suicide dive botch, Michael Cole hasn’t been able to help him with the not-so-subtle digs at his moment. No matter what, Top Dolla has not, and now will not, be able to recover from that. WWE likely felt that his reputation was damaged beyond repair, so they let him go, without punishing Ashante “Thee” Adonis and B-Fab.
From what I have seen, Adonis is the second-best wrestler of the original group (after Isaiah “Swerve” Scott), while B-Fab may still find use as a manager. However, Hit Row’s gimmick was all about them being a stable of rappers, and with only two remaining, it feels like Hit Row is officially dead. Adonis & B-Fab could keep trying to find their way on WWE’s main roster, but now is the time to change it up. They need to be guided by somebody who has been around for a while but is also struggling, like Cedric Alexander, or perhaps Bobby Lashley’s new group?
Dana Brooke’s Mentorship
WWE made the smart decision to bring Dana Brooke back to NXT, not only to help her find her way again but also to mentor new talents like Kelani Jordan. For the most part, it seemed to be working. They had been teasing a heel turn for Dana in recent weeks, while Kelani would notice and discourage her questionable behavior. If executed correctly, this had the potential to be some of the best work Brooke has done in years.
It likely would have culminated with her turning on Kelani, who would then go on to claim her biggest victory to date over her former mentor on a major show. However, with Dana Brooke out of the picture, Kelani is left on her own against the team of Lola Vice & Elektra Lopez. So, either she needs to find a new tag partner, or she moves on to something else. Either way, in the short term, Brooke’s departure hurts Kelani’s development.
Mustafa Ali Will Not Get His Title Shot
Mustafa Ali is no stranger to being in the middle of something, only to have the rug pulled from under him. WWE has tried to push Ali in many different ways. He has been a hacker, a leader of a group of outsiders, and even worked as “Super Positive Ali.” After requesting his release in early 2022, it was declined by Vince McMahon. He was moved over to NXT, where it looked like he could finally find stable, regular airtime. That didn’t happen. He was still being used sparingly.
In the weeks leading up to his release, Mustafa Ali was involved in a triangle feud with Dominik Mysterio and Dragon Lee over the NXT North American Championship. He bemusingly pointed out that Dragon Lee, despite losing to him earlier this month on TV, had been granted a North American title shot against Dominik on Monday Night Raw. This likely would have led to him facing Dirty Dom at NXT No Mercy, but then his release was announced. So, in terms of Dominik Mysterio defending his North American title, WWE will have to make other plans.
In all honesty, it is probably for the better because Ali’s character was in such a weird state that I couldn’t tell if he was a face or heel. Not only that, but nobody would believe him going over Dominik at No Mercy. He was just another name to feed to the rising star. Perhaps now that he isn’t chained to WWE, Mustafa Ali can finally show the world what he is capable of elsewhere. WWE talent releases could be a gain for other promotions.
Drew McIntyre Has Nobody To Turn On
In a similar vein to what we saw between Dana Brooke and Kelani Jordan, WWE had Drew McIntyre teaming up with Matt Riddle in recent months. However, in this case, it seemed that McIntyre was only doing so to be polite, as his character gradually showed increasing frustration with his position on television. This led to heated conversations with The New Day, all while he, Matt Riddle, and The New Day lost matches to The Viking Raiders.
This was likely to lead to Drew McIntyre turning on Matt Riddle to confirm his full-blown heel status. However, now that his tag partner is gone, the months of lackluster build will be quietly forgotten. Either WWE will have to start anew, or they will simply have Drew McIntyre return to take out The New Day without warning. It’s not like any of these guys are doing anything significant, other than working with The Viking Raiders, which they have done many times before.
McIntyre looking to take out The New Day would be something different, but doing so on his own would not be the typical heel way to go about it. They could have paired him up with Dolph Ziggler again, but that’s not happening. There isn’t an easy way forward for Drew McIntyre, so either WWE needs to fully commit to whatever they had planned or keep him away for a few weeks before reintroducing him in another way.
Thanks for reading this piece on the aftermath of WWE talent releases. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.