In an unfortunate turn for the professional wrestling world, WWE has initiated significant talent cuts following its merger with UFC into TKO Group Holdings. In a wave of releases, a number of key figures with the WWE have parted ways with the company. This report acts as the wrestling fans’ all-inclusive update on these recent shake-ups.
Mustafa Ali, WWE’s vibrant and dynamic performer since 2016, broke the news of his departure from the company on social media on September 21. Ali, who made a mark wrestling on SmackDown, 205 Live, Raw, and recently NXT, debuted his talents in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic tournament.
Around the same time, WWE veteran Emma revealed her release. Emma, real name Tenille Dashwood, returned to WWE in the Fall of 2022 and competed in several singles matches on Raw, SmackDown, and Main Event.
Rick Boogs, another noticeable figure in WWE, was also let go, ending his journey with the WWE that began on the NXT brand in 2017.
But WWE’s talent purge didn’t stop there. Aliyah, Elias, Top Dolla, Riddick Moss, Shelton Benjamin, and Dolph Ziggler also saw the end of their WWE journey. Over100 employees found their careers abruptly halted as the WWE sought to consolidate its resources in the aftermath of the merger.
Dolph Ziggler, an undeniable powerhouse in the wrestling world, held multiple championship titles under his belt, including the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. After a surprise move to the NXT and a victorious face-off against Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship, Ziggler eventually returned to the main roster.
Shelton Benjamin, another key loss, had an illustrious career in WWE, becoming a part of The Hurt Business alongside Bobby Lashley, MVP, and Cedric Alexander. Elias, an excellent heel with a trademark of using musical performances to generate significant heat, was phased out despite his dynamic new character, Ezekiel.
Riddick Moss, known for his role as Madcap Moss, won the 2022 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale before his release. Emma and Aliyah also suffered the same fate. Despite considerable success early into their careers, they struggled to secure consistent screen time and positions on the roster.
Impactful figures such as Rick Boogs, who debuted on the main roster in 2021 and displayed his legitimate guitar skills and charm, were also abruptly released. Similarly, Top Dolla, former NFL defensive tackle and an integral part of the successful Hit Row group, said goodbye to the WWE career.
WWE’s recent talent cuts signal a shift in the wrestling industry as it responds to changing business models and mergers. While these releases are definitely a shock to the system, wrestling fans worldwide eagerly wait to see where these talented individuals end up next, and how this new era of WWE will shape up in the coming months.