It's not exactly breaking news that the artist formerly known as Justin Gabriel has been released by WWE. Apparently frustrated with his lack of direction and the nonchalant way his TV appearances were being handled Gabriel left the January 19 RAW and informed the company he wanted to be released from his contract. His status as a free agent was confirmed on January 25 when WWE announced he'd been released.
|Pointing to the sky shows you mean business.
It's hardly surprising the man born Paul Lloyd Jr wanted out of WWE. He rarely got to appear on the promotion's more important broadcasts. When he did it was usually in a short match which he lost. His appearances on NXT were more promising. He didn't win much but he did get to wrestle lengthier matches in a less restrictive environment. A regular slot on that show would have been a good fit for him, allowing him creative freedom while providing the show with a reliable performer who could guarantee a good outing while putting over the hot prospects. Unfortunately for him Tyson Kidd got the main roster veteran in residence spot. NXT only needs one.
It's hard to imagine many people being happy to work hard to get to WWE's main roster only to be content with an enhancement role. His request was and is understandable. The last time he verged on relevance was when he was a tag team champion with Heath Slater in 2011. That Slater has to be mentioned there should tell you all you need to know about how well Gabriel was truly doing.
I think WWE could have done more with 'The Werewolf of Cape Town'. From what we were shown he could have turned in some belters opposite the likes of Cesaro, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. His on-off team with Tyson Kidd had potential too, but the writers never seemed overly interested in it. An injury to Kidd didn't help matters either, to be fair. Given time to develop, and used as part of a proper, actual tag team division Gabriel and Kidd could have been great. Matches with the Usos, the Wyatt Family, and even The Shield could have been excellent.
Gabriel wasn't necessarily a natural headliner or even an upper mid-carder, but he was capable of more than we saw. Which is what I think we'll see from him in his matches for the WWN over WrestleMania weekend. Gabe Sapolsky was quick to sign him for the group's shows, which speaks of the faith an experienced booker and promoter has in him. As does Black's announced matches against EVOLVE champion Drew Galloway and former Open the Freedom Gate champion Ricochet. They're not just some of the best wrestlers Sapolsky has available to him, they're some of the top names of the WWN. Black wouldn't be wrestling them on such major shows if there was any doubt in his ability.
If only he'd only a better nickname than 'Darewolf' I could get really into his new found freedom.