There have been plenty of speculation that the WWE is in the beginning stages of a number of financial cutbacks. Having reported a strong quarter, the company's 2017 revenues to date are far less than they'd promised shareholders and in an effort to make back some of the net gains that were being advertised, the WWE feels spending less is the key to helping solve their immediate woes.
Every year, the WWE also trims the fat off the roster. Talent who have fizzled out or had trouble getting over get released and head back out into the harsh and far less financially stable world of independent wrestling. Last year it was guys like Damien Sandow, Santino Marella, King Barrett, Hornswoggle, Alex Riley and Zeb Colter. Already in 2017, the WWE has released Jack Swagger, Eva Marie, Simon Gotch, Tajiri, and Austin Aries. As Goldberg would say, "Who's Next?"
We've put together a list of 15 wrestlers most likely to be a casualty of the upcoming WWE roster cuts. Will the company release all 15 WWE Superstars? Perhaps not. Could they? Of course. Last year alone on May 6th, the WWE released eight different talents.
This year, the damage could be worse. With a full Performance Center and NXT hopefuls potentially on the cutting room floor, the WWE may face its largest set of cutbacks yet. Still, this list focuses exclusively on the WWE's main roster.
Who makes your list that isn't on ours? Who did we put on our list that you think shouldn't be there? These are the 15 Superstars Likely To Be A Casualty Of Upcoming WWE Roster Cuts.
15 Titus O'Neil
Titus O'Neil seems to fit WWE programming like a square peg into a round hole. Someone once said that no manager can be effective if he's bigger than all of the wrestlers he manages. Well, Titus is arguably the biggest manager in the history of the WWE and his stable consists of an odd collection of talents. None of them seem to make sense together. But, what else is there for Titus to do?
He clearly has trouble getting over as a wrestler and he's had his share of issues with WWE brass, including being suspended for an on-camera incident play-fighting with Vince McMahon. O'Neil has far less positive going for him than he has negative that could lead to his release. It won't come as a surprise to anyone.
14 Aiden English
His character started as an annoying/artsy opera singer in NXT. That gimmick was ditched to team him up with Simon Gotch and form the Vaudevillians. They were one of the more popular teams in NXT and the characters had real potential when they got called up to the WWE roster. But, when Enzo got inadvertently hurt during their initial run (both teams came in and were supposed to represent the new WWE tag division), Enzo and Cass' pause seemed to halt the Vaudevillains momentum as well.
Then Gotch was released and English found himself in no-man's land. The WWE has put him back on SmackDown Live as that annoying opera singer and he recently picked up a surprising win over Sami Zayn. It won't be enough to secure his employment and he's likely to be cut if his character doesn't catch on.
13 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox is not playing a role of any importance in the WWE. She's always been a lesser personality on Total Divas and she's toying around on shows like 205 Live and not making a dent in terms of her own in-ring career. The only time she seems to be in the hunt for a title is when she's a part of a multi-woman match or a throw-in as part of a battle royal.
There's really no chance she'll surpass any of the women in the division who are giving the women a strong name in terms of wrestling talent and if the WWE does make room for some of the ladies of the UFC, the company will have to replace some of the new salary coming in with old salary going out. Expect Fox to be one of those salaries out.
12 Big Show
The WWE will likely just let the Big Show's contract run out. He may even get a rightfully deserved farewell tour. But, his time is now to be phased out of the company and the WWE needs to move on. He's currently being used to help get over both Big Cass and potentially save Enzo's job and he's not really doing well with either. It's not his fault; the Big Show just isn't a draw anymore.
Big Show might be one of the wrestlers the WWE cuts and then the WWE Universe will actually miss after he's gone. You wouldn't think so considering that it wasn't long ago he was getting "please retire" chants, but, sometimes you don't know what you've had until it's gone. Big Show is a gamer who gave his heart and soul to the WWE.
11 Dolph Ziggler
There are rumors that Dolph Ziggler has been pulled off WWE television because the WWE is going to repackage him and reintroduce him to the world. That change is long overdue. Perhaps it's so long overdue that WWE Universe may not even care or buy into it. Is it too late for Ziggler to be taken seriously as a single's wrestler again?
He was a cheerleader and a Playboy pre-madonna. Then he claimed to be the best in the world, but he lost more matches than he won. He's got incredible talent as an in-ring performer but the WWE Universe doesn't seem to be solidly behind him anymore. It was one thing when he was the underground guy the WWE was holding back. He's not that any longer. He's basically a giant question mark.
10 Erick Rowan
He was once a feared member of the Wyatt Family. Now, Erick Rowan is available, but rarely if ever used. Braun Strowman seems to be the only member of the Wyatt's whose future looks brighter than it does bleaker and of all four members, Rowan is the least likely to make something of himself as a single's competitor.
The WWE completely abandoned their attempt to push him as an odd and creepy wrestler who had a tormented soul. Then they inexplicably stuck him back as Bray's personal lackey and he got unceremoniously pushed aside by everyone he was trying to protect Bray from. Is he a Wyatt? Is he on his own? If no one knows what you are, why would they care to watch you?
9 Curt Hawkins
What was the point of Curt Hawkins? When the WWE brought back some old names as part of the brand split, it seemed obvious that returning talents would and should include wrestlers who had done something significant or were a draw in some way. Hawkins was none of those things.
Instead, he was immediately placed into the role of an enhancement talent with a gimmick no one really understands. He talks a big game but he loses every match in seconds. He looks foolish and he's not even a serious contender to be considered a threat to other jobbers. He's probably not a highly paid employee so his release won't save the company much, but that's not the point. He's not doing anything useful. There's no need to keep him.
8 Dana Brooke
She might be getting a look as part of Titus Worldwide, but that's not saying much. Dana Brooke has been a disappointment since her call up from NXT and this odd placement of her with Titus and his group (an already odd collection of WWE Superstars) is just more proof the WWE has no idea what to do with her.
When she was working in tandem with Charlotte, she was interesting. But, the WWE threw that away without the payoff of a big match between the two and the whole storyline fizzled out. She's not even close to a top tier performer in terms of wrestlers among the women and she looks to be getting in worse shape versus better shape. None of these are positive signs that things are on the upswing.
7 Jerry Lawler
Jerry Lawler's role in the WWE keeps getting smaller and smaller. The only thing left is no role at all. At this point, he's being used on WWE pre-shows for pay per views and while he was being used on post-shows, the WWE seems to be canceling anything that isn't fully scripted. It leaves Lawler pretty much out in the dark.
With guys like Corey Graves and JBL getting any of the WWE Network shows that are "talk show" oriented and with Renne Young looking for additional duties since her two shows were canned, there's not going to be a spot opening for Lawler anytime soon. Lawler's layoff is merely a matter of when and not if. He's old school and the WWE is moving away from that in a major way. They're moving more towards guys like Peter Rosenburg or Sam Roberts.
6 Curtis Axel
Axel is a "maybe" based on one thing and that's how well he performs in his new role as a member of The Miztourage. Unlike many of the other groups that Axel has been a part of in the past, The Miz is very much over with the WWE and considered a valuable asset by the company. By sticking Axel (and by association Bo Dallas) with The Miz, the WWE is hoping the three can be turned into a legit threat as a group. So far, so good.
That said, if this trio doesn't pan out and The Miz goes back to working his magic on the mic with only Maryse by his side, this is likely the last the WWE Universe will see of Curtis Axel. He's tried everything else and this is literally his last chance to make a mark or be cut forever. Bo Dallas might see a similar fate.
5 Darren Young
The WWE wanted to make Darren Young great again. It didn't work and it's hard to make someone great again who wasn't necessarily great, to begin with. The most Darren Young got over was as part of the tag team with Titus O'Neil as the Prime Time Players. With Titus likely on his way out too, you can't put back together a tag team with only one member.
Young will likely become a casualty of the numbers. The WWE seemed keen to give him multiple chances but he's not being utilized and as such he's one of the easier cuts to make if the objective is to shed money on talent that few people realize are even still employed by the company. Bye bye, Darren Young. If Bob Backlund is still under some sort of contract, you can say goodbye to him too.
4 The Colons
They are pretty good workers, but after they were repackaged from their El Matador gimmick into a Peurto Rican Time Share gimmick, you knew things weren't good. Once that didn't go over (who would have guessed?) they were presented on SmackDown Live as The Colons. The WWE Universe hasn't seen or heard much from them since.
The Colons are an enhancement tag team and will likely never be more than that. If teams like American Alpha and Anderson and Gallows couldn't and can't get the attention they deserve(d), a team like The Colons are doomed. The WWE can cut two salaries at once by getting rid of this team and they probably will. Perhaps they can head over the Peurto Rico to wrestle? They should be able to get a good deal on a trip.
3 David Otunga
In the WWE Superstar Shake-Up, Otunga was moved to Raw. Pretty quickly he was off of television to shoot and play the lead role of Agent James “World” Lawson in the movie “Katrina”. He's not been spoken of since. Booker T came in as a temporary replacement and Otunga may not get his old spot back.
So too, if the rumored budget cuts affect WWE Studios/Films like many think it might, Otunga's employment (much of which was safe based on his acting background) may be in jeopardy. If the WWE stops making movies and Otunga isn't needed on Raw, there's really no place for him. As a lawyer, it's not like he needs the WWE. Otunga may be one of those roster cuts nobody really notices, unless you purposely pay attention to the list of names on the WWE roster cuts.
They've tried Emma, they've tried Emmalina and they've gone back to Emma. Nothing works. She's got a reputation for speaking her mind, even if it's to put her foot in her mouth and while she may be correct in her assessment of how the WWE is using her on weekly programming, Emma is going to find that her desire to be vocal about her status may hamper her more than it does help her.
In a Women's Division that is already stacked and as a talent the WWE didn't believe could pull off the Emmalina gimmick (despite the major push they put into that character), she's quickly going to be viewed as an unnecessary expense. It won't be long before the WWE tries to get her off the books. She deserved better, but she won't be missed.
1 Enzo Amore
Triple H will likely go to bat for Enzo a few more times before he's officially released but Enzo has made his bed and now he has to lay in it. Already on the outs with the boys in the back, it won't take long for the WWE and a guy like Vince McMahon to sour on Enzo if he's nothing more than a mouthpiece who isn't a credible opponent inside the ring.
The best wrestlers also have a personality and just being the best in the ring isn't enough anymore. But, while Enzo has tons of personality, he's currently using it to overshadow his lack of in-ring talent. That won't last. If he doesn't find a way to get back in the good graces of those around him in the company, Enzo is set to be the most publicized roster cut of 2017.