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Well, it was only a matter of time. 2019 looks to be an explosive year for wrestling with the world outside of WWE set for a revival of sorts. It’s a very exciting time, but it’s also a very uncertain one.
WWE is notorious for stockpiling talent and, with so many shows and the risk of injuries, you can kind of see why – but this does come with its pitfalls. When you have so much talent in one place, it’s only logical that not everyone can hit the top and achieve their full potential – and of course, that leaves others unhappy.
With the success of ALL IN being followed by the formation of All Elite Wrestling, some of WWE’s underutilised stars may very well see the grass as being slightly greener on the other side and want to venture away from WWE to see if there is something better for them out there – and it looks like some may just be prepared to test the theory out.
Chris Jericho laid down a hefty precedent when he shocked the world by signing with AEW despite allegedly being offered a WWE deal. Likewise PAC walked away from his Neville persona in WWE, seeing out his contract and has ended up in the same place – so it begs the question, will anyone actually leave WWE for AEW directly?
The answer is most likely a resounding yes – if WWE will let them go. Sure, WWE is the dream for a lot of wrestlers, if not all of them, and it’s undoubtedly the place to go if you want your name in lights – but if those lights are dimmer then you expected, maybe a compromise to be in a more fulfilling position elsewhere may be considered, and that’s just what some WWE stars have allegedly done.
Will WWE release them and essentially gift them to the competition? That’s another story, but here are eight names who have asked for their release from WWE recently, if reports are to be believed.
The most recent release, and one that’s been granted by WWE, apparently. Hideo Itami arrived in WWE in June 2014 with a huge reputation, but some big injuries at big moments hindered the Japanese star and killed his momentum at key points – particularly when he was allegedly slated to win the NXT Championship at the Beast in the East special.
Itami is said to be done with WWE immediately, having completed this week’s 205 Live taping. He tweeted this out earlier, hinting that his release is official.
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This one may be obvious or very surprising, depending on how you look at it. If you know the man behind the paint, though, it may make a little bit more sense.
It had been rumoured that Goldust had requested his release from WWE and would be heading to AEW to work alongside his brother, Cody, but reports on this have been scarce.
PWInsider.com stated last week that they have not been able to substantiate the rumour that Dustin Runnels has asked for a WWE release.
Joe Peisich of Barnburner’s No Holds Barred podcast had previously said Goldust may be heading to AEW after the WWE veteran had spoken of his pride at what Cody Rhodes had done outside of WWE.
Goldust is still recovering from knee surgery that he received in July, and there’s no date scheduled for his return as yet. Only time will tell if we see him in a WWE ring again or elsewhere.
PWInsider also reported last week that they’d heard from several sources that Mike Kanellis requested his release from WWE three weeks ago, but was denied. There had been rumblings that Maria Kanellis had also asked for her release, but that they could not substantiate that to be any more than speculation – much like with Goldust.
Mike Kanellis was last seen on 205 Live programming on January 9th during a backstage vignette with Drake Maverick. It was a rare appearance, though, and Kanellis has been used sparingly for various reasons ever since he debuted at Money In The Bank alongside wife Maria. He was at the Royal Rumble but didn’t appear on screen.
Maria Kanellis made her in-ring return to WWE at Evolution and then entered the Royal Rumble, having been off television due to pregnancy. She has also been used sparingly, and if rumours are to be believed, the pair is said to have asked for their release with a view to returning to ROH.
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The Revival was one of the top teams in NXT, having won the Tag Team Championships twice but, until recently, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson had found that form hard to replicate since making the move to the main roster, with the team being seen rarely and underutilised when they have grabbed some TV time on RAW.
The “top guys” have made no secret of their desire to face off against The Young Bucks, after being referenced in Being the Elite in a move that saw wrestling fans across the globe lobby for a match between the teams. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, The Revival has indeed asked for their release, but that it was not granted.
The Revival, after their win over Kalisto & Metalik on the 1/13 Raw, while still in their gear, asked for their release. As of press time, they haven’t been given their release.
AEW has since gone on to tease the signing of the pair while WWE has given them a mini-push with more focus on the tag team division.
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Now, here’s a story that’s been rolling on for years – the complex relationship between WWE and Dolph Ziggler. Many may remember the Miz rivalry that almost saw Ziggler leave WWE, which then resulted in Ziggler reportedly being given a $1.5 million dollar deal – something Ziggler stringently denied.
Ever since January, there’s been speculation on Ziggler’s future with the consensus appearing to be that he didn’t sign a new contract, but did agree to a one-year extension.
Sportskeeda’s own Daniel Wood reported two weeks ago that Ziggler may be on his way out of WWE and it has emerged that Ziggler had turned down the role of backstage producer for WWE.
Ziggler had a pretty big run in the latter part of 2018, but then seemingly disappeared altogether. He was used in the Royal Rumble match, then not even backstage at RAW the following night.
Dolph Ziggler has also released merchandise on Pro Wrestling Tees and is embarking on a comedy tour – suggesting he may be on his way out, whether via release or running down his contract.
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It has been reported that Dean Ambrose had informed WWE that he will be leaving when his contract expires in April after allegedly deciding against signing a five-year deal over Royal Rumble weekend.
WWE then went on to confirm the news, releasing the following statement regarding Ambrose’s decision to leave the company:
“Dean Ambrose (Jonathan Good) will not be renewing his contract with WWE when it expires in April. We are grateful and appreciative of all that Dean has given to WWE and our fans. We wish him well and hope that one day Dean will return to WWE.”
At the Royal Rumble, Ambrose spent a surprisingly short time on our screens when he was eliminated quickly from the Royal Rumble Match – a match won by the man he’s recently been feuding with and the man he interrupted on RAW, former SHIELD brother Seth Rollins.
Last night’s RAW opened with Rollins cutting a promo about his win, before Triple H made his way to the ring to congratulate him – but they were followed by a disgruntled Dean Ambrose. A match was then made where Rollins bested his former best friend, before Dean grabbed a chair – only to be confronted by the woman whose time he was eating up.