Back in April I posted a few predictions concerning WWE roster cuts. The reasoning behind doing it then was that WWE had established an annual routine of releasing talent it has no use for days after their post-WrestleMania European tour. That didn’t happen this year. For the post part the company was release free in 2011 with most of those released being FCW trainees or main roster stars who wanted to leave.
That changed on Friday when it was announced that Melina, Vladimir Kozlov, DH Smith, Chris Masters and Gail Kim had been released from their contracts. With the exception of Gail Kim, who requested her release, it was WWE’s decision to future endeavour them. Those five have now joined Chavo Guerrero and Michael Tarver, who had been released on June 25th and June 13th respectively, in the 2011 Future Endeavours Club.
Let’s see what the future could hold for the recently released:
He’s done nothing of note for years and strikes me as someone well suited to working as an agent, so I wasn’t surprised when it was announced Chavo had requested and received his release from the company. What did surprise me was the large number of people that stated they’d love to see Chavo in TNA or Ring of Honor. I’ve always considered him an average performer, so to see so many people wanting him to remain a presence in mainstream televised wrestling was disconcerting: a 41-year-old, average-at-best performer should not be getting work over younger, more talented men who haven’t ever had a chance to make an impact.
What’s harder to accept is Chavo’s opinion of himself. In interviews given since he left the promotion (which you can find here, here, and here) Chavo reveals his utterly deluded view of himself. The highlight is his belief that WWE could have pushed him and not Rey Mysterio to the main event of WrestleMania 22, an opinion he holds based on the reception he received when wrestling Triple H on an episode of RAW dedicated to his late uncle Eddie. What Chavo doesn’t seem to understand is that Eddie and Rey are far more talented, charismatic and marketable than him. I’m not sure which is more laughable: the idea of Chavo Guerrero winning a world title at WrestleMania or the idea of him pitching the match to Vince.
Is he good enough to make it to Ring of Honor? Personally I don’t think so, and I think his age would be a large factor in ROH not using him. His status as a failed WWE mid-carder makes a TNA run a far likelier prospect. Longer term I expect we’ll see him back with WWE at some point to work as an agent. I suspect his days of competing there are over.
Gail Kim says she’s not leaving the wrestling business, but she’s getting married to a celebrity chef so I can’t see her wanting to be on the road full time any more. Returning to TNA would be good for both her and the Knockouts division: she’d make an ideal addition to the current Traci Brooks and Velvet Sky v Jacqui and ODB feud.
The alternatives are etching out indie dates in companies such as SHIMMER or simply retiring from the sport. Neither seems likely. I think it’s a TNA return or a reluctant retirement for Gail Kim.
Kozlov got signed to WWE because of his physique. That same physique could very well help him get him work in Japan. I can easily picture New Japan or All Japan sticking him in a tag team and making something of him.
WWE threw away a lot of potential when they prematurely split DH Smith from Tyson Kidd. The two of them could’ve played a big part in a rejuvenated tag team division. Sadly it looks as though the company still isn’t ready to commit to such a scheme (I think they will be in time) and saw Smith as a limited singles worker. I don’t know if that’s fair but I can say I never saw him in any memorable singles bouts (though it should be pointed out that WWE hasn’t given him a chance to show what he can do outside of his brief tag team run).
Smith has expressed an interest in getting into MMA and wrestling in Japan. Japanese wrestlers regularly cross over into mixed martial arts so a move to Japan looks pretty certain for the son of the ‘Bulldog’.
Melina was easily one of WWE’s most talented female workers and the Divas division will be even less watchable without her involvement. Her firing is especially annoying as the renewed pushes of Beth Phoenix and Natalya, along with the call-ups of Aksana, AJ and Kaitlyn, make it look as though the women of the company are going to be getting more screen time in the coming months.
It’s no secret that Melina was fired for her attitude: she has been trouble backstage for years now and I imagine her attitude at WrestleMania (saying she and not Trish Stratus should have had a spot in the six person tag match) was what prompted management’s decision to release her. Her goal will almost certainly be to rejoin WWE and to do that she’ll need to keep working and show that she’s dropped her attitude (which, ironically, is quite diva-ish). A job in TNA isn’t impossible, but it would prohibit her from returning to WWE for the next two or three years, so it’s not a certainty.
But... if I had to put money on what she’d do next I’d say TNA, her intention being to work there to stay in the public eye and then return to the side of John Morrison at the earliest opportunity.
Since his release Tarver has claimed John Cena had it in for him and wanted to see him fired. I suspect the decision had more to do with his basic ring work and lack of promo ability. Beyond working for small independent promotions I can’t see much in the man’s immediate future (unless its decided that Nexus deserves another shot).
A limited, uncharismatic worker whose WWE’s career peaked in 2006, Masters is lucky he survived as long as he did. He’s been released from WWE before (in November 2007) and got himself work in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and various US companies. He may try to take that route again, but I think he’s more likely to seek work in TNA. He avoided that move last time in order to leave himself available for a WWE return, but after two failed attempts at becoming a big star on RAW or SmackDown ‘The Masterpiece’ should be coming to the conclusion that a new approach is needed. The land of Dixie Carter could be just that.
TNA would be glad to have him! He’s achieved mild success in WWE’s mid-card: that’s the only qualification he needs to earn himself a top spot in Florida. I find it all too easy to imagine him as the TNA world champion.
Was WWE right to future endeavour these people? In most cases I think they were. None of the men were ever going to rise above the mid-card and Melina was too problematic to keep around. Gail Kim is the only one I think could have been used in a worthwhile fashion with a minimum of backstage fuss, and she didn’t want to be there. For now it appears the releases have stopped but I wouldn’t be surprised if they resumed in a few weeks time. JTG is still under contract after all, and his luck can’t last forever.
While they may well return to WWE in one form or another in the future all that’s left to do at the moment is to wish Gail Kim, DH Smith, Vladimir Kozlov, Melina and Chris Masters all the best in their future endeavours.