The latest round of WWE releases not only caught fans by surprise but have also led to speculation around the very future of the company.
On June 2nd, WWE released Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Lana, Ruby Riott, Santana Garrett and Buddy Murphy.
The departures of Strowman and Black appear especially noteworthy as the pair have been featured heavily in recent times. Strowman faced Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 37 before competing for the WWE Title at WrestleMania Backlash just a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Black has only very recently returned to WWE television following a lengthy absence. The former NXT Champion appeared in a series of vignettes before arriving on SmackDown as a new variation of his character.
Following the releases, it was reported that Strowman’s departure may have been linked to his existing deal, a contract worth upwards of $1 million per year. However, that may only tell part of the story.
The most recent departures come after a series of WWE releases going back to April 15th.
Reflecting on the news on Wrestling Observer Live, Bryan Alvarez noted that there are a lot of people within WWE who believe that the cuts are linked to the company being sold.
“Aleister Black said that he was told that it was budgetary reasons and if you remember, Alexander Wolfe also publicly stated that he was told that it was budgetary reasons. I don’t know if you guys are aware of this or not, I’m sure you are, but WWE is making more money now than they have ever made ever all time. In the history of the promotion dating back to 1963, Stone Cold Steve Austin on top, Hulk Hogan on top, The Rock, all of that – they’re making more money now than they have ever made ever. They don’t need to cut anybody. So what’s the crux of all of this? Okay, I’m not saying this inside information. I have no idea. But I do know it. I guess if you want to report this, you can. There are a lot of people in WWE, in and around the business, fans – It’s no secret. Everybody believes Nick Khan is setting this company up to be sold.”
Expanding further, Alvarez pointed to the company seemingly doing everything it can to cut costs. Adding that he believes this is being done in preparation for a sale.
“How do you say it’s budgetary reasons when you’re making so much profit? Well, it’s budgetary reasons when you decide that there’s a finite amount of money that you’re going to spend on talent. You could profit a trillion dollars but if you decide our talent budget is $50 million, then you can cut somebody because now your talent budget is at $55 million but you want your budget to be at $50 million. So $5 million for the people need to be cut for budgetary reasons, even though you could easily up that talent budget to 100 million if you wanted to. But they don’t want to. Why? Why don’t they want to? Well, it very much looks like we are paring everything down. We are unloading people with large contracts. We are unloading people that we are not doing anything with. We are finding out that, in fact, ‘Wait, we got a social media department for TV and a social media department for the internet. What do we need two of them for? What’s with the redundancy? Oh, well, we got to get rid of one of those.’ Everything is being pared down. I don’t know what’s going on. But as an outsider looking in, talking to other people… I mean, who doesn’t see this? They’re setting themselves up for a sale. That is my belief.”
Speaking on Twitch after the news of his departure broke, Aleister Black discussed his time in WWE. Black explained that he had a good relationship with Vince McMahon, but that the last two years felt like a slow death.
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