Former NXT North American Champion Bronson Reed has discussed his release from WWE and why he thinks he found himself let go from the company.
In the space of less than six weeks Bronson Reed – now known as Jonah Rock – went from holding championship gold in WWE to no longer being employed by the company.
On his JONAHDROME podcast Reed has spoken candidly about his release from the company but first says he felt like a made man after capturing the NXT North American Championship in May from Johnny Gargano:
“I thought I was a made man. In speaking to Hunter after the match, I shook his hand, hugged him, and he said, ‘Bronson, you are money.’ From there, I thought I was a made man. Everything moved so quickly. I was champion for a few weeks, I got put into some different storylines, and I thought I was going onto more singles-based storylines as North American Champion. Speaking upon creative, it seemed to me from creative that I was going to be North American Champion for a long time, at least until the end of this year. Then things, all of a sudden, changed.”
With plans seemingly changed, Bronson Reed was now in demand to try out for the main roster, although he doesn’t name names but says others did point out that rather than travel for a dark match, those that wanted to see Reed compete could do so any time they liked:
“I got asked to come do a dark match for Vince McMahon at SmackDown. I wasn’t 100% sure why, but all the rumblings and talk backstage was that ‘they are going to call you up.’ When I arrived backstage at SmackDown, I won’t name and shame anyone, but some of the boys were like, ‘Why are you doing a dark match when they can just log onto Peacock and see you are a current champion in NXT?'”
Despite that, Bronson Reed says he had a good experience at SmackDown and even got an exclusive audience with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon:
“Overall, the experience was great. My only feedback was that I needed to smile more. I was like, ‘If that’s all I need to do, everything else is good, I can definitely smile more.’ All of a sudden, over the weekend that week, they had me come back to Raw.”
“I had a meeting with Vince McMahon. The first dark match I had, I got pulled aside by John Laurinaitis and he said, ‘Come to Vince’s office. Vince wants to meet you and have a chat.’ I waited outside of Vince’s office, went inside, and he was a lovely guy. He’s a little scary. When you meet these sort of people…I’m a little bit more used to it now that I’ve met some of the best of the business, so it’s not so much of a thing where I get starstruck. It’s just, ‘Hey, this is the big boss.’ I met him, spoke to him about Australian wrestling, and it was a good chat. I thought everything went well and that was that.”
From there, Reed competed again on Main Event and made sure to smile more with the only feedback regarding a tattoo he has in tribute to his wife Paige:
“Again, no real feedback, Johnny Ace was backstage. Drew said to me, ‘let’s wait to see what Vince says.’ We waited for Vince, Raw is going on, he’s a very busy man. He said, ‘Good work,’ and that was it. I thought I did a pretty good job. I didn’t get told anything. Never got told that my work wasn’t good. All it was, was, ‘you need to smile more.’ In my Main Event match, I made sure to smile. Laurinaitis mentioned about my tattoo, that maybe I needed to cover it up, which I think is pretty silly.”
Fast forward to August 6th and Bronson Reed recalled getting the phone call nobody wants, the call to let him go from his WWE contract. Although he wasn’t given a specific reason why he was let go, Reed believes it was down to body image and the company’s new direction away from hiring independent wrestlers:
“I’m sitting at home, watching SmackDown. I always try to watch the product. I try to watch as much wrestling as possible; WWE, AEW, IMPACT, New Japan, current Indies. I was watching SmackDown, I get a call on my phone and see it’s Connecticut. I answer the phone very confidently and very happy. It is John Laurinaitis, here I am expecting, ‘Come to Raw on Monday’ or ‘Next week, come to SmackDown.’ Instead, he goes, ‘Bronson, I just need to let you know, we are exercising our right to release you from your WWE contract.’ I was gobsmacked. I made sure to ask, ‘Why?’ He went on to say, ‘No, it’s just a no at this time. Keep working and the door is always open.'”
“I have no clue why they would release me other than it has something to do with look. I 100% think it has to do with body image or the fact that I was an Indie wrestler and had been wrestling for fourteen years and they are going in this new direction of hiring young talent that are athletes outside of wrestling.”