NEWS: WWE Announces Major Releases Including Rusev, Kurt Angle and Zack Ryder During Coronavirus Outbreak 2020

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WWE have officially announced the releases of a number of wrestlers and staff today on the 15th of April 2020. This comes a day after WWE was considered an “essential service” in Florida and it marks a dark couple of days for the company, with many families of the wrestliers also suffering during a time where almost every business has been affected in the world in some way by the current coronavirus outbreak.

The names as of 10pm in UK time are as followed:

  • Kurt Angle
  • Rusev
  • Zack Ryder
  • Primo Colon
  • Epico Colon
  • Luke Gallows
  • Karl Anderson
  • Eric Young
  • Drake Maverick
  • Maria Kanellis
  • Mike Kanellis
  • No Way Jose
  • Sarah Logan
  • Mike Chioda
  • Lio Rush
  • EC3
  • Aiden English
  • Rowan
  • Heath Slater
  • Curt Hawkins

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Producers Lance Storm, Billy Kidman, Mike Rotunda, Dave “Fit” Finlay, Pat Buck, Shawn Daivari, Scott Armstrong, Sarah Stock, and Shane Helms were all also furloughed without pay for the period of time but could also be brought back to the company once the fortunes for WWE change following the Coronavirus outbreak.

This also comes after the releases of Luke Harper, Sin Cara and the Ascension from a few months ago and The Revival being granted their releases from the company less than a week ago.

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I would be very stunned if this was the first time you’d be finding out about this if you are reading this post right now, which I very much appreciate by the way!. I’ve been reviewing WCW Nitro episodes ironically on the WWE Network for this blog and I’ve not really been looking for views actively but if you are here because of what is going on, thank you and I hope you read on as I have a lot to say about this. This news all comes the day after WWE was deemed an essential service to Florida and as considered a “key worker” myself in the United Kingdom, this whole scenario rubs me the wrong way.

I work in the UK’S Civil Service and I have dealt in a service involving people being laid off from work, becoming unemployed and seeking financial assistance from the UK Welfare system. I won’t mention more than that but that is a brief summary of what I do for a living. This Coronavirus has affected billions of people in the world, let alone millions of people in the UK who have been furloughed, seen their self-employment or been let go all together because of the current situation. As a key worker, I help these people with managing their lives during this crisis of situation for themselves and the rest of the country. People have been heart-broken by this…

I learn yesterday that WWE has been officially considered an “essential service” for the state of Florida where they can continue to operate in that state and do live shows. I don’t care to discuss the political aspect of that because I am a Civil Servant, but this move has been subjected to massive criticism questioning the necessities of WWE to continue doing shows during this time.

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So the day afterwards, I come in from work where I am considered a key worker as part of an essential service like WWE is apparently considered an essential service in Florida. While I catch-up on watching AEW Dynamite ironically, I get alert after alert on Facebook. A few wrestlers’ releases are announced by WWE like The Club, EC3, Curt Hawkins, Lio Rush and Drake Maverick… oh we’ll get to Drake Maverick.

Almost like a horror movie or the scene from Avengers: Infinity War where Thanos snapped characters out of existence, more names appear on WWE’s statement for these major releases and cuts. They keep going and going with these cuts. Maria Kanellis, who has recently given birth, was released along with her husband. Long time WWE employers like Mike Chioda, Zack Ryder and Primo Colon are also cut from WWE. Kurt Angle is released from his legend’s contract. Rusev is released.

All I can think when this was all going down is that where I work, because I am part of an essential service, it is all hands on deck. They are looking for bodies to do work when they can, whether it be at work, and they are taking all the precautions necessary to make sure we are safe while providing a service to the public who depend on us during this time.

With WWE we have a business that has made a minimal attempt to actually adhere to social distancing and safe-guard their wrestlers as they are having to WRESTLE EACH OTHER in the ring each week. Not only that but as they are considered an essential service to provide, they then release and cut staff left and right during a time where you’d think an essential service would need all hands on deck.

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This company is essentially telling their employees that they the business are needed at this time but they don’t need their employees despite them giving years of their lives to work for WWE and do their best to entertain the fans. Drake Maverick weed himself on pay-per-view just to make the boss happy, Maria, Mike Kanellis and Rusev were all involved in angles where they were in unhealthy relationships and being emasculated on live television especially for Rusev and Mike Kanellis. Aiden English cried on television for god’s sake.

They do all of these sacrifices for the company, under the motivation that the owner wouldn’t ask them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. Their reward for embarrassing themselves to make their boss happy (probably solely for that reason) and to try to entertain the fans in some way is that they are told to hit the bricks and we’ve got nothing for you, during this time where the coronavirus has hurt their talent pool. Roman Reigns, The Miz. Rey Mysterio and Dana Brooke were all cut from WrestleMania because of their health conditions but WWE had the audacity to fire these guys right after they were deemed an essential service.

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I’ve seen the WWE do a lot of tacky things, including releasing a DVD for profit on Owen Hart who died in their ring. I’ve seen WWE turn real-life deaths into storylines and I’ve seen them use the Gulf War in an angle. When it comes to taking care of the talent who have stayed loyal to them for so many years, they’ve dropped the ball here.

During a time where people’s livelihoods have been hugely affected and families have been affected by this, they do stuff like this where these wrestlers who had financial security have all been cast aside for the sake of the business. Yes, I understand it is a business. However, that’s all they treat themselves as. If they treated themselves as a true wrestling promotion, given all the money they make and the profits they’ll still make even with what’s going on, they could have found some way to at least do something for these people aside from just cutting them.

However, they don’t do that. It’s not like the WWE does anything to help wrestlers with life after wrestling and for some of these veterans, this could be the last bit of wrestling they ever do. Rockstar Spud/Drake Maverick alluded to that on his Twitter account after getting the phone call today. Now they are being thrown into the wilderness possibly with nowhere to go if companies like AEW, Impact Wrestling or NJPW don’t pick them up. The Renegade was released from WCW in 1998 I believe and after becoming severely depressed because he wasn’t able to find work, he took his own life.

To release these talented wrestlers in this manner after everything they’ve done for this company I think is disgraceful. To do it the day after being considered an “essential service” I think is pretty tacky and audacious from this company. My thoughts are with the families of the wrestlers that no longer have a job in wrestling from today as well as the wrestlers themselves. It is a terrible situation for everyone involved.

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Drake Maverick posted a video on Twitter with his thoughts about the whole thing where he is in tears about this whole ordeal and shaken by it. To him, he’s not even sure if he’ll wrestle again after he wrestles in the NXT Interim Cruiserweight Tournament as part of his final commitments. I welled up watching it and it’s a hard video to sit through but you should all watch it to understand just how hard this is hitting these wrestlers.

I went on a massive tirade years ago about Lio Rush who mocked Emma/Tenille Dashwood on Twitter for getting released. Years later, he is the one released as part of major cuts from WWE and I’d like to think that this will finally show him exactly what Tenille was going through this time three years ago. I’m obviously trying to say that it was right for him to be released and I wish him the best along with everybody else who got released, but I think this was a wake-up call for a lot of people.

I will echo the words from Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter on Twitter as this was a bad day on so many levels. I have not heard of anyone else getting cut since that list was posted. Supposedly Deonna Purrazzo from NXT was also released or asked for her release but I haven’t see that one yet but those people listed above are the releases we know of at the moment.

Let me know in the comments what you think about these developments for the WWE. If you’re new to the Armbar Express, I’m currently doing a WCW Nitro review series on this blog. If you follow the blog you will be kept up-to-date with every review or any other posts the Armbar Express does. I hope you’ve enjoyed the post you’ve just read.

It’s weird plugging the WCW Nitro series which I currently watch through the WWE Network! I’m plugging this during a blog post where I talk about WWE’s management of these releases! However, I don’t plan to stop those reviews so stay tuned! If you’d like to read any of the reviews I’ve done for that series so far, please click on the links below for all the reviews I’ve done so far!

Be sure to safe everybody doing whatever you may be doing during this time!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

Emma, Darren Young and Summer Rae RELEASED from WWE – Thoughts and Reactions

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Breaking news from today as three long-time main roster superstars have been released from WWE as Emma, Darren Young and Emma have departed from the company.

All three of these talents have been members of the RAW roster ever since the 2016 draft with very limited success for all three of them and long periods of absence in the last few years.

Emma was the first announced by WWE via their social media accounts and website. Emma has recently been a regular feature in WWE programming after several periods away from television for reasons such as injuries and even writing reasons. Emma had rose to fame initially from NXT before being promoted to the main roster to feud with, ironically, Summer Rae. After a few months of not really clicking on a main-roster level, Emma turned heel upon her return to NXT and saw her character develop dramatically. She returned to the main roster but her momentum was cut shot by an injury, leading to the bright idea of her to re-emerge as Emmalina. Due to her being in creative limbo and writers not really figuring out what to do with her, Emma went roughly 17 weeks before Emmalina debuted and literally just led to her being repackaged back to Emma. Emma had recently appearing at the TLC pay-per-view as Asuka’s first main roster opponent before her release.

Darren Young debuted in the first season of NXT before debuting on the main roster as part of the Nexus angle. Darren was exiled from the group after SummerSlam and after months of limited notoriety, partnered up with Titus O’Neil as part of the Prime Time Players. Darren and Titus teamed for a number of years and Darren actually won the tag team titles with Titus at Money In The Bank 2015. Darren’s singles career saw him aligned with Bob Backlund in the hopes of “making Darren Young great again.” Darren’s new repackaging eventually led to him receiving an Intercontinental Championship match at Battleground 2016. Darren was injured shortly after a feud with his old partner Titus, which has now led to his release.

Summer Rae debuted as the ring announcer in the newly rebooted NXT before eventually becoming a single competitor in the competitive women’s division featuring the likes of Emma and Paige. She eventually debuted on the main roster as Fandango’s dance partner, elevated as much as Fandango when his theme song became an international hit. Alongside this, Summer was pretty competitive in NXT and was aligned as a BFF of one Sasha Banks. Summer and Fandango eventually split and after a short stint aligned with Layla, Summer was eventually inserted into the infamous Dolph Ziggler/Lana storyline. Summer sided with Rusev but eventually broke up with him, leading to her siding with the debuting Tyler Breeze. Shortly after, Summer became injured and had yet to even appear on RAW since she was drafted in 2016 prior to her release.

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On the surface, these wrestlers weren’t exactly major players on the main roster in WWE. However, it is rather sad to see people lose jobs especially in a line of work as limited as wrestling is. For Summer and Emma, they both have opportunities outside of wrestling available to them like modelling and acting. I think there’s probably a chance for them to get their foot in the door. For Darren, very difficult to see where he may go from here. I don’t see him as a major player in the independent scene but as a WWE star, there’s probably a lot of decent money for him to make.

For Emma and Summer, I do see two cases of untapped potential with both of these girls. If you’ve ever watched Emma (and Summer to a degree), you can see that this girl was a hugely talented wrestler. She’s had great matches with Paige and Asuka in NXT. She’s probably better than at least 75% of the main roster which may be kind of pushing it. Regardless, she still had a lot of value and it was annoying as a fan of her to not see her at least take part in a major women’s title program. She could have been a great mentor to have for these new up-and-coming women, especially some of the ones from the Mae Young Classic.

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Summer was also a great talent too. I don’t really rate her highly as a worker but again, you don’t need to be the world’s greatest worker to be effective. Just look at Alexa for example. Summer was a great talker and really fit into the roles that she was given and her delivery was pretty good. I always rated Summer and it’s a shame she didn’t get one last run before her release.

I also have to give a lot of credit to Darren Young too, someone who has opened the doors for a lot of sports figures in terms of the LGBT community. Him publicly coming out as gay in 2013 did take a lot of courage and was widely commended among the wrestling community. In that aspect, I must give him a lot of credit.

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I do actually have a bone to pick before I sign off here because I want to address one of the more pathetic responses to the releases of Emma in particular, ironically from someone signed with WWE. The newly signed Lio Rush tweeted this out shortly after the news:

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Obviously, this is a reference to Emma’s match at TLC when she lost to Asuka. However, this guy making this comment only JUST after signing with WWE about these tough circumstances for a long-time WWE employee seemed so audacious to me. Someone that has “paid her dues” like Emma that’s just been told that she’s been cut and Lio, who has only been here for a short time, has the nerve to make light of this bad deal for Emma?

This tweet was actually quickly deleted by Lio, following a number of wrestlers like Bray Wyatt, Peyton Royce, Rosa Mendes and Jack Gallagher burying Lio for these comments. Lio did also apologise for this tweet but he did it in such a way that he apologised that the fans got upset about his comment which doesn’t strike me as a genuine apology or Lio taken responsibility for his comments.

I except Lio to get heat from this because, as the likes of Baron Corbin can vouch for, troublesome tweets can be hurtful for your career. I don’t think he’ll be fired for saying this but I can’t say that this will not make him many friends in developmental and on the main roster. This is trouble when you make light of the situation of the likes of Emma. Emma seems to be well liked within WWE so Lio may have just made things hard for him in the first stages of his WWE career.

Anyway, best of luck to Emma, Summer and Darren in whatever they do next. I wish them all the very best.

NEWS: The Status Of Neville And Nia Jax In WWE

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. We’ve got a bit of news surrounding two top RAW superstars. It had been previously reported that Neville had actually asked for his release from WWE, following not appearing in last week’s Monday Night RAW event. It appears that Neville is not the only one linked with a move out of the door….

Nia Jax, who debuted on Monday Night RAW following the WWE Draft in July 2016, has been reported as having been upset backstage following not appearing on RAW herself in this week’s edition of the show. Nia had been part of an angle between Sasha Banks and Bayley, feuding with the two girls ever since No Mercy. This week, Sasha Banks fought Alicia Fox while Bayley was in a tag team match.

Nia not being there did raise a few questions, with Pro Wrestling Votes (the same guys who had initially spread word on Neville’s situation) tweeting about possibly hearing of Nia’s absence.

Pro Wrestling Sheet released an update to the initial rumours, stating that their sources suggest that Nia has been granted a “leave of absence” although nothing has been confirmed yet about whether Nia was upset backstage at RAW last night. The update is available at this link.

I do want to stress to everyone reading that we’re merely at the rumour stages of the story, and no statement has been released yet from WWE’s side of things or from Nia herself or any members of Nia’s family. If you recall, when the story broke about Neville asking for his release, WWE quickly denied any truth to it. Again, early doors on this story so WWE may not have had the time to respond just yet.

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The internet wrestling community has become extremely quick at jumping to the conclusion that Nia had been frustrated with creative similar to Neville. I find it rather difficult to believe as Nia has been one of the more protected women across RAW, SmackDown! and NXT. Only girls like Alexa Bliss and Charlotte are booked better than her in my eyes and Nia Jax is the biggest female monster that’s been pushed since she was promoted last year.

Neville’s frustrations are understandable knowing how badly 205 Live has been going as well as his inability to advance further in his WWE career. Nia… she’s got plenty of time to get ready enough to become a strong women’s champion. I don’t see how she’s got a case in being frustrated there and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Nia’s leave of absence could mean many things so it’s difficult for us to guess. I do wish Nia the best with whatever the situation is with her, if this turns out to be true. Again, a lot of potential in Nia as a top monster… given time to develop as a worker. I would not want to miss out on a Nia Jax monster title reign.

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As for Neville, his story has been kind of kept under wraps at the moment. As it stands right now, he’s still employed at WWE. For those of you that are unaware, Neville was not on RAW last week for a show where he was supposedly set to challenge Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight title in the main-event. The initial reports that he “walked out” was debunked as Neville wasn’t even there in the first place.

The rumours have been running rampant for him. There’s talk of frustrations with the royalties for being on the pre-show for WrestleMania 33, similar to the reasons why Austin Aries left WWE earlier this year as well. Not to add fuel to the fire in this sense but there were rumours that Enzo was supposed to beat Neville again in that main-event so he may have possibly not wanted to do the job. There’s a lot frustrations supposedly on Neville’s end.

The belief right now is that Neville is currently negotiating the terms of his release. When Ryback asked for his release last year, he was initially at home during the negotiations as well, if I remember correctly. I don’t see Neville on television any time soon although WWE is supposedly hopefully that they can convince him to stay on board. If you’re WWE, you can’t afford to lose Neville right now I’d imagine.

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Their priority is getting that 205 Live show over and doing good numbers, which was the whole reason why Enzo Amore was brought in to bring in interest. Neville was an established WWE star before 205 Live and the longest reigning cruiserweight champion since the title came back in September.

They really don’t have many top cruiserweight babyfaces at the moment which was, again, the whole reason why Kalisto was brought in to feud with Enzo. They don’t have the confidence in those guys getting over enough. They have confidence in Neville so it’s in their best interests to try and keep him on.

We will see what happens in the development of both these stories. I personally hope both individuals make the right choices that benefits them. If Nia feels that a leave of absence is necessary, it’s understandable. If Neville feels that he needs to part ways with WWE, that’s his decision. I personally would love to see them both stay in WWE. Nia does have potential down the road and Neville should be going to SmackDown! Live as a top heel as they’re lacking in that department. Do I feel they’ll do that? No. I think if Neville’s coming back at all, he’ll be in 205 Live.

 

WWE 2K17 – John Cena, Sasha Banks and Ultimate Warrior Confirmed For 2K17 Roster

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with WWE 2K17 news. As we’re in the middle of E3 right now, featuring the top names in gaming, it’s only fitting that we talk about some new developments for the WWE 2K17 game. We’ve finally got some news on wrestlers confirmed for the game. Goldberg was announced as the WWE 2K17 pre-order bonus and Bray Wyatt was one of a few wrestlers shown getting scanned for the game. However, we got some announcements by 2K for a few more characters that will be playable in the game.

The three characters that have been confirmed are….

These three wrestlers were confirmed by the painter Rob Schamberger, who was specifically tasked with creating paintings of these three stars for the reveal. Down below is a gallery of the paintings that he produced. If you want to see more of his work, you should follow him on Twitter @robschamberger as he does have paintings on many more superstars that you can snap up on WWE’s auction website.

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These first few reveals are interesting. With the exception of the pre-order character reveals, these first batch of announced wrestlers usually give you an indicator of the theme and the direction of the game itself. For WWE 2K14, they first announced wrestlers like Andre The Giant and Hollywood Hogan for their 30 Years Of WrestleMania mode. For WWE 2K15, they announced Cena, CM Punk, Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the showcase mode featuring their rivalries. I think Steve Austin was announced early too, ahead of his Austin 3:16 showcase mode for WWE 2K16.

It’s very difficult, judging from these three superstars, to predict just what the showcase modes of the game will be revolved around. It’s possible that they could do another character-centred showcase mode, similar to Austin’s deal last year. They could easily do a John Cena showcase mode, which could be fairly simple to do. His feud with CM Punk would almost certainly not make the cut, with Punk’s strained relationship with WWE and 2K as well as Cena and Punk’s previous showcase mode. A lot of Cena’s big feuds have been with wrestlers that WWE still continue to have good relations with, which could make it simple. I even think that his first match with Kurt Angle could be covered and we could even get Kurt Angle in the game, provided that Kurt could strike a deal with 2K. It would have to be approved by Vince McMahon, similar to Goldberg’s inclusion, but they could do it.

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The Ultimate Warrior has already had a showcase mode before, having the “Path of the Warrior” DLC showcase mode in WWE 2K15. That appearing again would be highly unlikely. Having thought about the possibility of a showcase mode involving Cena, it could be possible that Warrior is part of somebody else’s showcase. You could do showcases for wrestlers like Undertaker and Randy Savage, who both probably could be well known enough to carry the main showcase for the game. Another one that popped into my head was Triple H. Starting from his WrestleMania 12 match with the Warrior, it could go on from there.

I personally would not want a showcase mode that is based on the experiences of one wrestler. Steve Austin was fun and very in-depth but I’d much prefer a showcase mode where I could play as many wrestlers as possible. I don’t want to be limited to Steve Austin and a few others.

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John Cena was a guarantee to be included in the game and the Ultimate Warrior has been in a number of games ever since WWE 2K14. The most interesting name announced was Sasha Banks. I know a lot of people were upset with the four horsewomen of NXT not getting in the game last year. With the Divas Revolution being heavily promoted by the time that the game was released, for the likes of Sasha and Charlotte to not get in seemed preposterous. Now though, Sasha’s inclusion will probably mean that the rest of these women will be in too.

I think Sasha will be a very fun character to play as on this game, and it’ll boost up the quality of women’s wrestling on this particular game. What I mean is that now you’ve got the women that actually have unique and innovative movesets that will be fun to play with. There was only ever a few wrestlers like Paige and Natalya that had previously stood out in the past. If Asuka and Nia Jax are able to get into the mix as well, you could be having a lot of fun.

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There are my initial thoughts. What do you all think of these announcements? Hopefully we’ll get more information real soon. Who knows? There may be more wrestlers announced for the game before E3 comes to an end…

Update On Cody Rhodes’ Independent Endeavours

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Out of the wrestlers that have recently left or have been released from WWE, Cody Rhodes’ time on the independent scene will look to be the most interesting of all. For you see, Cody Rhodes has a plan of what to do. Not that everyone else that was released hasn’t got projects in the pipeline already but Cody has a recently compiled a list, that he tweeted  out at the end of May. The list consists of specific wrestlers, events and other wrestling goals that he hoped to achieve now that he’s in the independent circuit.

The list is very thought-provoking and I have embedded it below in case anyone hasn’t seen it or has seen it and just needs a quick reminder…

Cody had an ambitious list but the son of the “American Dream” has suddenly become a hot commodity, with his summer schedule already starting to be booked up. How well is he doing in terms of his list? Well, let’s run down the matches and projects that has already been announced by Cody or by those he’s doing business with.

 

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An early announcement  was Cody’s involvement with the wrestling promotion EVOLVE, a company which does have a partnership going with WWE. I think in terms of keeping the door open for himself to return in the future, it does benefit him to work with a company that’s at least on good terms with WWE. EVOLVE’s actually been able to open the doors to everybody. TNA’s Ethan Carter III and Drew Galloway both showed up there recently and cut shoot promos on WWE. I’m not sure whether Cody will actually “shoot” on WWE, but Cody might be working more than his originally advertised appearance at EVOLVE 66 on August 19th.

This match is rumoured to be involving Rhodes wrestling Chris Hero, which does tick a wrestler of his “hit-list” of matches.

 

 

Cody Rhodes vs Mike Bennett

Scheduled for August 26th is an interesting one, as Cody will be accompanied by his wife Eden (who also left WWE recently) when he takes on TNA star Michael Bennett. Michael will also be accompanied to the ring, with Michael’s wife Maria also being at the show.

Michael’s being groomed for big things in TNA, so it’s interesting for Cody to do business with a TNA star right off the bat. I know that TNA’s contracts aren’t as secure as WWE’s contracts, allowing anyone to take independent dates, but it’s still an intriguing endevour. Also, Eden could easily be playing the role of “personal ring announcer” as listed on Cody’s list!

 

Cody Rhodes vs Kurt Angle

One of the earliest matches announced for Rhodes was a mouth-watering one to say the least. With “Angle” on Cody’s list, it has been announced that he will be taking on the Olympic gold medalist at an event in New York on August 27th.

This will be the first time that these two will ever face off and it’s quite a slobberknocker of a match. These two are perfect for each other in terms of the pacing of each other’s work. Angle can work quick and slow matches, as can Cody. With Kurt currently not signed by TNA or any other major promotion, probably the biggest name on Cody’s list is already in the bag.

 

Cody Rhodes vs Pat Buck

A lot of independent fans will know a lot more about Pat Buck than me but this match was actually of the more recent announcements regarding Rhodes. Cody mentioned on Twitter after this was announced that he lost to Buck in his first ever professional wrestling match at Corydon, Indiana. I guess it’s time for him to get his revenge ten years later!

He’ll be wrestling there on September 10th and interestingly enough, Buck is not the only Buck on Cody’s list….

 

PWG Battle Of Los Angeles

PWG fans will be a huge fan of this announcement. Cody is confirmed to be taking part in a major indie event in Los Angeles called Battle Of Los Angeles, and it’s very safe to assume that he’ll be able to tick off a number of wrestlers on that list. I know a lot of PWG fans that are going crazy over the news. I’m a fan of PWG myself, even though I don’t check them out NEARLY as much as I should. It’s a major coup for the company and his participation will really raise the prestige of this tournament.

 

And that about covers everything for Cody’s announced matches in the near future. If I’ve missed anything, please notify me with a comment or on Twitter by tweeting @ArmbarExpress. However, these are the only ones that have been retweeted or confirmed by Rhodes on his personal Twitter as of June 7th 2016 so I’ll stop right here. I’m sure a lot of these other names will be ticked off real soon.

It’s interesting that ROH’s Moose and Roderick Strong are on the list, as those two names have been linked with a move to WWE. If Cody wants these two, he’s got to act fast. There’s no guarantee that those two will budge, so it could just be the case of Rhodes just biding his time anyway. A lot of the names on that list currently wrestle for ROH, so that could very well be a permanent new home for Rhodes. I personally thought that Cody might be tempted to do some dates in Japan, with NJPW really rising in popularity.

Any other independent wrestlers that you want Cody Rhodes to face? Should he go to NJPW? Should he got to TNA? Should he got to ROH? Should he go to Lucha Underground? Give us your thoughts and be sure to follow @CodyRhodes on Twitter, as he’ll be sure to shed some light on future projects.

WWE’s Brock Lesnar To Fight Mark Hunt At UFC 200

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express with some big news coming from the world of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. It was confirmed at UFC 199 that Brock Lesnar would be competing at UFC 200, as part of an historic event including three world title fights. It was confirmed on Monday that Brock’s opponent in this heavyweight bout would be accomplished fighter Mark Hunt. To say this is ground-breaking news would be an understatement.

A collaboration by WWE and UFC in this capacity is certainly unheard of. The nearest to this was probably Ronda Rousey being allowed to do her angle with The Rock, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H at WrestleMania 31. Even proposed plans for a Rousey vs Stephanie match fell through, due to the UFC not allowing Rousey to do more than the original one-off deal. Rousey showing up in a non-wrestling role is one thing. Brock Lesnar actually fighting in the UFC is on a completely different level.

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The WWE, for years, had been against the idea of collaborations with outside wrestling companies. With recent projects involving EVOLVE and other independent companies as part of their Cruiserweight Tournament, they are certainly turning a corner in that regard. This deal with their supposed rivals UFC is pretty big. The story is supposedly that Brock Lesnar was able to secure an agreement when negotiating his WWE contract in early 2015, with the option of one UFC fight being open to him. Chael Sonnen explained to Jonathan Coachman on ESPN that the door was always open for Brock to come to UFC, with Dana White not even having to call Vince McMahon in order to secure this fight with Brock.

With those details, it may not seem as much of a collabaration anymore. However, WWE is still promoting this news heavily on theory social media accounts. WWE released a press release about the news, as well as the news of Brock’s opponent being Mark Hunt. According to Wrestling Observer, it is also likely that Brock will be promoting this fight on WWE broadcasts as well. It’s almost as if WWE are still trying to turn this into more of a WWE deal than a UFC deal, by having Brock with Paul Heyman on RAW to hype up  the fight.

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I personally believe that there’s probably a lot more to the story and that WWE is probably getting something in return. Whether that’s the big Ronda Rousey fight at WrestleMania or not is left open for debate. However, I’d be very surprised if WWE aren’t getting anything out of letting Brock fight. The reason I say this is because I believe, from a business perspective, that WWE have a lot more to lose from this than UFC.

However, UFC have hardly any trouble at all in building up stars as opposed to WWE. If Brock beats Mark Hunt and leaves, it’s not that much of a business tragedy. On the other hand, WWE have not generated a legitimate wrestling superstar in nearly ten years. They’ve never been able to develop a hugely socially-relevant larger-than-life WWE superstar since John Cena a decade ago. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, it’s going to be very difficult for WWE to promote Brock for future programs. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, Paul Heyman has to sell on the microphone that Brock is still an unbeatable badass when he just lost a legitimate fight. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, the WWE are going to look so inferior in comparison to UFC.

Even though he officially called it a day on his UFC career in March 2015, Brock still thought that the issues with his health really did prevent Brock from achieving his full potential in the octagon. Brock said: “I felt robbed by diverticulitis. I felt robbed by being sick. I was feeling good and it took me a couple years to start feeling good. I’m at home, I’m working out, my life is great, everything’s in tune, my contract’s coming to an end with WWE, hey it’s been a great time but something’s missing.”

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For UFC, you get another big fight as part of the UFC 200 event that they’ve been building towards in the last few years. They tried to get every big fighter they could for this huge event, similarly to their UFC 100 event which, ironically, featured Brock Lesnar in the main event. Whether Brock Lesnar wins or loses, UFC get the box-office draw of Brock Lesnar. He was the biggest MMA draw when he was last with the UFC. Even in WWE, he has been the biggest draw on the WWE Network with his Network-Exclusive events gaining a lot of interest. Not only are UFC getting this dude, but the ball’s in their court whether Brock wins the fight or not. In their mind, it doesn’t matter if Brock wins the fight or not. Unless UFC have it in the back of their mind to do another fight with Brock down the road, they’ve got nothing to lose with this situation.

Now if Brock beats a top UFC star like Mark Hunt, maybe it’s detrimental in the sense that you’ve just fed a star or maybe the next big thing against… the next big thing. If Brock wins and leaves, there’s no way for that fighter to get his win back and a lot of work would need to be done in order to re-build his reputation.

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The news was actually broken by MMA reporter Ariel Helwani, who was quickly banned for life from attending future UFC events as a certified media member for leaking the news about Brock. UFC lifted the ban on Monday, by releasing this statement.

“Following a conversation with the editorial team at SB Nation, UFC will not prevent MMAFighting.com from receiving media credentials to cover live UFC events. We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting’s ability to report news. However, in our opinion, we believe the recurring tactics used by its lead reporter extended beyond the purpose of journalism. We feel confident our position has now been adequately communicated to the SB Nation editorial team.

“UFC’s goal as the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion is to cultivate interest in its world-class athletes and events, and deliver for the fans. We will continue to introduce this sport and its athletes to new fans across the world, and we will do so by working alongside media across all platforms.”

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That about covers everything that we know at the moment about Brock. I’m sure in the next month that a lot more will come out of this. What do you guys think? Do you think Brock will win? Do you think this will be the first of many fights from Brock? Tweet the @ArmbarExpress Twitter account or leave a comment to share your thoughts.

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

 

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“We want Sasha.”

How many times have we heard that chant in WWE since July 2015? Almost every segment  involving a woman. When Charlotte comes out? We want Sasha. When Becky Lynch wrestles? We want Sasha. When there’s a segment involving the Total Divas? We want Sasha. It’s the same process for almost every women’s segment not involving Sasha. What does that tell you? What’s the secret behind this chant? Why are the WWE fans chanting this and not chanting for Charlotte? The answer is quite simple… THEY WANT SASHA!

The WWE is a very weird company in the sense they expect you to get over, only if you have a specific look or a specific set of skills that others lack. Zack Ryder was never meant to get as over as he did, which forced WWE’s hand. After having him win the United States Championship in 2011, they did everything in their power to send his career in a huge downward spiral and they succeeded. With the exception of his big WrestleMania 32 victory, Zack’s never been in the same realm of popularity that he was in 2011. And funnily enough, there was a “we want Ryder” chant which was prominent throughout the shows in the same way that “we want Sasha” is prominent in 2016.

Sasha’s chants are not like the whole Daniel Bryan deal, which completely hijacked shows. However, these chants have been hijacking nearly every segment on RAW involving women. They’ve been pretty powerful chants and even after WrestleMania 32, where they got Sasha Banks in the Women’s Championship match, Sasha is still the woman the fans want to see. I’m pretty sure that if any one of the women are huge draws in terms of merchandise, it’s Sasha. She is a marketing company’s fantasy. She’s got the look, the fashion sense and the personality of an entertainment superstar. In fact, she’s actually related to an entertainment superstar in Snoop Dogg!

Despite all of this, the WWE are still banking on Charlotte to be their top woman in the women’s roster and the big guy calling the shots is now reportedly putting Sasha on the back-burner. According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Sasha is getting a reputation from WWE management for being injury-prone. Vince McMahon has reportedly told officials that Sasha only knows one speed in the ring and that is to go all out.

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Now there were reports in the past of Vince comparing Sasha to Daniel Bryan in the injury-prone and work-rate categories, which are actually pretty absurd comparisons to make. Long before his run in WWE, Daniel Bryan tore his body apart while wrestling around the world. Daniel’s even admitted that he and several independent guys like CM Punk had that old-school mentality of leaving it all in the ring no matter what. Whether Sasha has that much of a similar mentality of Bryan and Punk is up for debate, but I don’t see Sasha going all out THAT much. She does perform well but it’s really the big matches were she actually goes all out there. I don’t remember seeing a lot of RAW matches where Sasha went all out. Maybe it’s a different story on the house shows.

Not to mention that her most recent injury was actually just a legitimate freak accident involving a referee at a house show, who accidentally kneed her in the face and gave her a concussion.  It’s not like it’s a recurring injury for Sasha and this is the first time which I’ve seen Sasha out of action with injuries this often. I don’t think that makes her injury-prone. I would hardly call any of the WWE superstars injury-prone, with the exception of a small few. For those that are deemed “injury-prone,” I feel that it’s mostly due to the intense WWE schedule that sees the talent on the road for 300 days a year. Not to mention that outside projects with the WWE Network as well as other endevours will also not doubt be taking their toll. The wear and tear they get from the ring as well as other things will all build up, leading to them striking out eventually.

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Let’s take Nikki Bella for example. I know there’s not a great sense of respect for Nikki from a lot of fans, but I do respect a lot of aspects about her record-breaking Divas title reign. Think about it. She was working for months with an injury, which all lead up to neck surgery once she dropped the belt. During those months, she’d been working out like crazy (as her Instagram will prove) and taking bumps for nearly a year as the heel champion. Imagine how much strain every one of the Rack Attacks that Nikki did as she hoisted woman after woman onto her shoulders, only to drop them down. Not all of these women are easy to move either. Think about tall women like Charlotte or muscular women like Natalya. All of those strains eventually built and built to the point where Nikki’s career is looking in serious doubt.

It’s an essential part of professional wrestling for injuries to occur. After all, you’re putting on shows where the aim of the competitors is to hurt each other as much as they can. That’s the kayfabe goal of these workers and that involves people taking hits and taking punishment. It’s all part of the gig.

I kind of understand WWE’s mentality for not pushing the wrestlers that they think are “injury prone” as guys like Wade Barrett were hardly pushed again when they kept picking up injury after injury. However, this is Sasha Banks. She is still a brand new face in the company, particular as the top female on the roster. Guys like Wade Barrett, Rey Mysterio and Mark Henry have had opportunities in the past, making these decisions make a lot of sense. For Sasha though, it is upsetting to see her black-balled like this.

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Despite this, I believe that there is a lot more to this story than “injury-prone” concerns. I actually think RAW this week actually confirmed my suspicions. Remember on RAW two weeks ago, when they had the segment with Stephanie McMahon slapping Ric Flair? If you don’t, then no worries as I did write a review of the entire episode (that you can see at this link). There was a shot of Charlotte getting angry at Stephanie as she was supposedly about to charge her until Natalya cut her off. This was a tease of a confrontation between Stephanie and Charlotte.

Following this RAW, I mentioned that I believed that we are more likely to get Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam than Charlotte vs Sasha (which was the reported plan for Summerslam for weeks). Then they did a segment on this week’s edition of RAW. In a backstage segment, Stephanie berated Charlotte in a babyface manner in order to add fuel to the fire. If this segment didn’t show that they are looking at other options, think again.

I don’t think that Charlotte vs Stephanie is the right move for Summerslam, but I’m still convinced that WWE would put more effort in promoting  that match as opposed to a potential Charlotte/Sasha match. Stephanie is doing her memoirs and her public perception is a big factor. Stephanie wrestling for the women’s championship one more time is a more appealing option to WWE than for Sasha to get her big title victory. Unfortunately for fans of The Boss, I don’t see a title reign for her in the near future.

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It’s a shame because Charlotte is not the woman that the WWE Universe want to see as the champion right now. The months and months of chants have given the WWE a fresh insight into the mindset of the fans. Sadly, it’s not strong enough to convince Vince to change his mind. My advice for wrestling fans that are hoping for a Sasha title reign to just keep up the “we want Sasha” chants. Just keep it up. At the end of the day, they’ll EVENTUALLY listen if things get crazy. If they did another main event women’s segment and these fans are chanting for Sasha, maybe that could be the deciding factor. The WWE will eventually listen… and you can take that to the bank.

WWE Announces 2016 Brand Split And SmackDown! Goes Live

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. BIG NEWS coming from the WWE, with the official announcement that the WWE brand split is coming back. RAW and SmackDown! will once again receive different and unique rosters, with SmackDown! also additionally becoming a permanent live show on Tuesday nights. This may be obvious, but there’s a lot to talk about with regards to this news and we’ll delve right into all of the speculation regarding how many titles we’ll have, who’s going where and the reasons for the brand split in the first place.

Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer, addressed this on the Wrestling Observer Live radio show I believe. He explained that one of the main reasons for WWE bringing back the brand split is to help generally increase television ratings, particularly on SmackDown! With SmackDown! previously being taped, the incentive to watch it dropped as wrestling fans could simply read what happened online and lose interest to actually see the show as it airs. This was obviously a big reason for why the decision was made to make it a live show. Jerry Lawler hinted at SmackDown! going live earlier on in the year and now, it’s actually happening.

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This picture was already clearly painted with the announcement made by Stephanie and Shane McMahon, but it is expected that Stephanie and Shane will run each show separately. The interesting thing is that both of them are reportedly expected to be babyface authority figures at first, which is a very unique direction for this brand split. Past brand splits usually saw one brand with the babyface authority figure and one with the heel authority figure. When the first brand split started, Ric Flair (the babyface) controlled RAW while Vince McMahon (the heel) controlled SmackDown! When the general managers were introduced, Stephanie ran SmackDown! as a babyface and Eric Bischoff ran RAW as a heel. Having two babyfaces controlling the show is different and it is a fresh change from the dictatorship we’ve seen since August 2013. I’m not sure whether it is wise to have BOTH brands being run by babyfaces. The purpose of having two different shows and a brand split is to make the audience seem like both shows are unique, in talent and in storylines. I could see why at this stage, they wouldn’t want Stephanie to be a heel going forward. With her upcoming memoirs, it is understandable why the WWE want Stephanie to be perceived better by the public. Turning Shane is possible, but Shane is still a popular babyface authority figure. That would be a hugely risky endevour. I would suspect that if there’s going to be any heel authority figure around, it will be Triple H.

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There are two big names earmarked for being the top guys on both shows, with John Cena and Roman Reigns ruling the roosts. No surprises here. Which superstar will go where is a big question. If the WWE are still banking on Roman Reigns, they may want to keep him on RAW and portray him as the top guy on the main show. However, it is possible that WWE would want John on RAW to get the RAW ratings right back up. John’s got a better ratings track record than Roman, so it would make sense. If Roman is also on SmackDown!, then there’s a lot less pressure on him to succeed on the “B show.”

An interesting note which came out is that it’s not a sure thing that Brock Lesnar will end up on RAW. I wouldn’t have assumed that Brock would be on RAW either as he appeared on SmackDown! a few times in the build up to WrestleMania. I think it is better for Brock to be on RAW than SmackDown! as he does do wonders to the ratings on that show. It’ll be interesting to see where all the part-timers go.

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There is reportedly a plan in place for two world championship in the WWE, one for each show. A lot of people will argue that there should be one main belt but I personally think that you’ve got enough diversity for their to be one for each brand. I argued way back before the titles were re-unified that the roster had become too integrated in order for two world titles to be around. Now though, you have enough talent to be able to keep these two shows separated. Now everyone can have their chance at each of the titles.

The one thing which will initially drive me nuts I think is the proposed idea that the Women’s Champion would be on both shows. I kind of agree with this as there’s not enough depth on the women’s side of things to be able to do two titles. However, I am very much against the idea of seeing Charlotte on both shows. To see her this much would really drive people away, knowing that all you’ll get in women’s angles from now on is just her. I don’t think she’s talented enough to able to undertake that kind of responsibility and pull it off. If Sasha Banks wins the title shortly afterwards, it’d be much more tolerable I think.

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So another big question is when the date of the draft will be? It’s highly expected at the moment that the draft lottery/selection will take place on the July 11th edition of RAW, which will be taking place in Detroit. Funnily enough, it’s a show that’s currently scheduled to feature Brock Lesnar.

I actually think that this makes a lot of sense, considering that this will follow the July 4th edition of RAW, with reportedly a lot of belief within the company that the July 4th edition will see a serious decline in viewers in a similar fashion to a lot of the past Christmas episodes. It’ll be good for them to want to show off a huge increase in the ratings for this big draft, and I think the ratings will be quite huge for this one.

It’s actually interesting, as it’s been reported that a lot of the talent were taken back by this. According to sources, they have no idea what’s going on or where they’ll even end up in the draft. This wouldn’t be the first time, as a lot of the wrestlers had no idea about the draft selections in the past. I remember the 2008 draft, when Jim Ross was drafted to SmackDown! He blogged about it the next day, saying that he had no idea beforehand. This draft may end up causing a lot of morale issues backstage, especially if certain acts are split up. I don’t think acts like the New Day will be broken up, but maybe some of the smaller teams could be done. I can even see a team like Enzo Amore and Big Cass being broken up. They’ve surprised us in the past.

Lastly, Vince McMahon is said to be “really pumped” about the brand split and I’m pretty much pumped up too. I remember blogging about bringing back the brand split last year and how much good it’ll do. Do go back and check it out at this link as there’s a lot of advantages to this.

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Overall, great news for the future of WWE in my opinion. Short term hard work for a long term gain, as Jim Ross once said. What do you think of the news? Tweet at me @TomRobinson5199 or the @ArmbarExpress, or leave a comment below.

 

Cody Rhodes/Stardust Asks For His WWE Release

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. I’m here to discuss the Twitter announcement from Cody Rhodes a.k.a. Stardust, who revealed that he has asked for his release from WWE. Coming off the recent releases and MANY rumours of futures departures from the company, this one is quite a big one.

Cody tweeted the news yesterday on his personal account.

Just like Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes had the potential to become a true main-event star. He’s got the blood of a wrestling legend in Dusty Rhodes. He was one of the best workers in the roster, being able to use an old-school in-ring style and adapt it to a vastly different and high-paced style. He has charisma and was dedicated to getting the most out of himself and his character, no matter how badly he had it. He’s got the look of a marketable pretty boy and to my knowledge, had been anything but a pain backstage. I’ve rarely seen stories about backstage heat on Cody Rhodes or any issues he’s had with fellow wrestlers. He’s the ultimate workhorse, even with the last name of Rhodes.

You know, it’s very easy to look at a guy and say: “he deserved to be champion.” We’ve said that about Mr Perfect. We’ve said that about William Regal. We’ve said that about a lot of people. I Googled the term deserve and the definition I got was: “do something or have or show qualities worthy of (a reaction which rewards or punishes as appropriate).” Every one of the qualities I mentioned above describes Cody Rhodes and his actions certainly were more deserving of rewards rather than punishment. Even so, I don’t even think Cody Rhodes has even been given a single world championship program in his entire WWE career.

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Now he’s been in pretty big storylines while with WWE. He was a member of Legacy, with Legacy’s leader Randy Orton being the biggest part of WWE storylines in 2009. He was the one that re-introduced the classic Intercontinental Championship as part of a great run as Intercontinental Champion from August 2011 until WrestleMania 28. He was a key part in a tremendous program with the Rhodes Family taking on the Shield, leading to a classic tag team match at Battlerground 2013. He had the “Stardust” gimmick and still did his very best to make the most out of his character. Even so, he was never considered for a big main event push. After nearly a decade of blood, sweat and tears, Cody Rhodes was never given the main event opportunity.

Being deserving of something and being entitled to something are two completely different things. I may go on Twitter or write something, suggesting that “this guy deserves a push.” There are so many guys that have been lost in the shuffle for many years now, which is detrimental to the product. I don’t want those guys to be wasted, as those guys have qualities that is worthy of a reward. That’s being deserving. I will, however, never say that someone is entitled to anything. Nobody has the right to have x amount of title runs. Nobody has the right to be in x amount of WrestleMania main events. Despite that, Cody Rhodes was as close as a wrestler can be to being entitled to much more than he was getting. What more could Cody do to be “given the ball?”

Cody has the genetics of a champion. Cody has the charisma of the champion. Cody has the wrestling ability of a champion. What more was there for Cody to have in order for WWE to give him a championship run or even a title shot? I don’t understand.

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I’m sure there’s a lot of people already speculating that this is a grand work but I highly doubt that. I know there’s been examples of wrestlers that have tweeted their departure on Facebook or Twitter, only for it to have been a big swerve. A memorable example to me was when Devon tweeted that he was quitting TNA but was back for the 2012 Bound For Glory pay-per-view. However, I don’t think so. I mentioned this during my post about the initial WWE releases. There was just more to come from this and unfortunately, this is it. Brooklyn Brawler’s release was announced shortly after this, with a few more being speculated as well. Cody’s deal is just one of them and he chose to tweet it first himself.

There have been several more tweets of support for Cody. There’s been tweets from Arrow star Stephen Amell and Cody’s wife Brandi Rhodes a.k.a. Eden both tweeted.

It’s a shame because of what I mentioned before. Of course, Cody could easily come back some time down the road. I don’t think that relations between WWE and Cody are terrible or anything, so of course the possibility is there for a return.

Have any favourite memories or thoughts about the release of Cody Rhodes/Stardust? Tweet me @TomRobinson5199 and @ArmbarExpress and give us your thoughts, or leave a comment.

Wade Barrett And Damien Sandow Among Several WWE Releases

How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Big news coming from the WWE on Friday as eight releases were announced with the departures of Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow being the biggest ones of the lot.

With that said, there were a number of surprise releases among the group of superstars. The full list of wrestlers released were….

  • Wade Barrett
  • Damien Sandow
  • El Torito
  • Hornswoggle
  • Alex Riley
  • Cameron
  • Santino Marrella
  • Zeb Colter

What we’ll do with this post is run down everyone that was released and I will give my thoughts in the latest mass exodus of WWE talent.

 

Wade Barrett

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Barrett’s departure has been well-known for a while. He’s discussed it in the past and it appeared that he was done following his excommunication from the League of Nations. Throughout the years, for the Armbar Express, NoDQ.com, SLTD Wrestling and even WhatCulture, I’ve talked about Wade Barrett passionately. This man had everything that the WWE could want in a top heel and they really dropped the ball on him. Now granted, there were a number of times where Barrett was picking up momentum but unfortunately picked up injuries that stopped him. However, there’s also been a fair share of disregard for Barrett by the WWE writers in the past few years.

He’s been a King of the Ring winner and a multi-time Intercontinental Champion, but it still feels like Barrett was never able to accomplish any of significant value since he debuted on RAW as a part of Nexus. That angle could have made Barrett a star but whether it was down to “backstage politicking” or lack of confidence in the Nexus as a whole, Barrett was never really given a great main-event run. Despite this, Barrett’s had some great periods of getting over to a high level. As Bad News Barrett in 2014, Barrett was one of the most over acts in the entire company. It’s sad to see him go but the pressure is now on for Neville to waive the flag for England in the WWE.

 

Damien Sandow

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The fact that WWE had nothing creatively for Damien Sandow to do in the last 12 months just goes to show how badly WWE screwed up the booking of this man. The fact that Damien Sandow has now been released after holding the Money In The Bank contract and being one of the most over acts of 2014 and 2015 is just an unfortunate fall from grace for the man that has received endorsements from legends such as Mick Foley.

For a company that claims to embody “sports entertainment,” it’s astonishing that they wouldn’t push Damien Sandow to the level that he could get to. After all, Damien Sandow has been entertaining with every gimmick he’s been given. Whether it’s just being the intellectual saviour of the masses or just parodying other superstars, Damien took the ball and ran as hard as he could with it. He’s like Eric Young in the sense that he could make any gimmick work. It boggles my mind how WWE never gave him a legitimate run as a main-eventer considering how over Damien got.

 

El Torito

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El Torito was a surprise release. I actually liked El Torito and he actually had a lot of value as a little fella that children could get invested in. Not only that but he could actually work in the ring as a luchador. As a suitable replacement for Hornswoggle as the top… little man in the company, El Torito was the right man. I know that his character didn’t get over to a tremendous degree but he was good enough to be a great little lower mid-card character that could keep the crowds happy. I guess the WWE didn’t really have a lot of future plans for him but you could tell that anyway as soon as he broke up with Los Matadores in an angle which went… nowhere.

Torito, much like a lot of these guys, just didn’t seem to have a place in the company anymore. Especially with Los Matadores being repackaged back to Primo and Epico, there was not much else for Torito to do.

 

Hornswoggle

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Hornswoggle had already been on the company’s bad books ever since his suspension last year. Taking his inactivity afterwards into account, this was the least surprising release for me. After ten years of goofy angles, which include being Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son and being the anonymous general manager of RAW, what else could Hornswoggle offer in terms of storylines? He did pretty much all he could with WWE and now’s the time for him to move on. You gave us some of the most unique and bizarre wrestling angles of all time and even reigned as the final Cruiserweight champion but this is the end of the road unfortunately.

NOTE: It’s actually already been confirmed that Hornswoggle is starting up with Global Force Wrestling as… Swoggle.

 

Alex Riley

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Again, this was an inevitability. Alex Riley had been in NXT for years in hopes of revitalising his wrestling career. He feuded with Kevin Owens and then really just floated around in the NXT roster after that. Riley had also been very outspoken on Twitter about how WWE was using him on the main roster and on NXT.  Really, there was little chance of anything major happening for Riley in the near future.

There was a time where it really felt that WWE were going to get behind him after he broke up with The Miz in 2011. He got some big pops as he feuded with him and even BEAT him at Capitol Punishment 2011. Considering that he beat Miz, right after he dropped the WWE title to John Cena, that shows you just how much stock they had in him. He had segments with Cena and Steve Austin and it looked for all the world like they were really going to push him to be the next top babyface. He had the charisma for it anyway.

However, for whatever reason, Riley’s push was dropped and he was really never able to recover again. The big reason about why Riley’s push was ended was reportedly due to a confrontation he had with John Cena backstage. It was probably in Riley’s best interests to not get on the bad side of these top guys in the company, but it was a shame that his full potential was never realised before he parted ways with WWE.

 

Santino Marella

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Santino had been retired as an in-ring competitor for a number of years. Santino’s gave us many years of laughs and entertainment but it was very difficult for Santino to make a significant contribution to the company strictly as an ambassador and in a non-wrestling position. With several big legends on the pay-roll in the same role as Santino, there was little need for him anymore.

You’ll be missed Santino!

 

Cameron

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As strange as this may sound, Cameron was the most shocking release of all. The reason I say this is because I truly believed that Cameron was making a serious effort to contribute more to the company. Whether it was going back to NXT to develop her wrestling skills or taking part in outside projects, I think Cameron was trying really hard to make the WWE realise that she wanted a place in her company and that she could deliver. Despite all of this, with the sudden increased demand of women’s wrestling, Cameron was going to have a difficult time attempting to live up to that standard set by the likes of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Paige and Bayley.

Cameron did have a number of off-screen incidents while in WWE, including her infamous DUI where she reportedly tried to bribe a policeman and didn’t tell WWE about it. She also had the incident on RAW where she tried to pin Naomi on her stomach. Despite her recent efforts, I guess it’s time for Cameron to say girl bye.

 

Zeb Colter

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Colter was sailing in the same boat as nearly everyone else that was released, in the sense that there was not a lot for him to do within the company anymore. He came in as the effective manager for Jack Swagger and delivered tremendously on the mic. The issue with Zeb was that he was one gimmick hit. He was really only able to deliver well with the Real American gimmick and whenever he was with Jack Swagger. When they tried to put him with Alberto Del Rio, it was a momentous disaster to the point where Del Rio has never really been able to recover.

 

What do you think of these releases? Who are you going to miss the most? Is there anyway that you’re glad to see leave? Tweet us your response @ArmbarExpress or leave a comment below.