WWE Commences Post-Merger Talent Releases
The aftermath of WWE’s merger has brought forth a series of talent cuts, with several notable departures from the company.
Mustafa Ali was among the first to share the news of his departure, taking to social media on September 21 to announce that he is no longer affiliated with WWE. Ali’s journey with WWE commenced in 2016, marked by his debut in the Cruiserweight Classic tournament. Over the years, he showcased his skills on Raw, SmackDown, 205 Live, and most recently, NXT.
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Emma, too, revealed her release via social media on September 21. After making her return to WWE in the fall of 2022, Emma engaged in several singles matches on SmackDown, Main Event, and Raw. Her final appearance for the company occurred on the July 10 episode of Raw, where she faced Shayna Baszler in a losing effort.
Another departure is Rick Boogs, known as Eric Bugenhagen. He made his WWE debut in 2017 on the NXT brand and transitioned to SmackDown in 2021, where he formed an alliance with Shinsuke Nakamura. Boogs’ last WWE match took place at the SummerSlam pay-per-view in the Slim Jim Battle Royale.
Aliyah, who signed with WWE in 2015, confirmed her release on social media as well. Spending nearly six years in NXT, she was drafted to SmackDown in 2021. Her final WWE bout was on the September 12, 2022 episode of Raw, where she and Raquel Rodriguez lost the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships to Damage CTRL (IYO SKY & Dakota Kai).
Elias, a familiar name to WWE fans, was also among those released. He initially joined the NXT roster in 2014 before transitioning to the Monday Night Raw brand in 2017. Throughout his time on the main roster, he engaged in feuds with notable names like Seth Rollins, Shane McMahon, Roman Reigns, and John Cena. In 2022, Elias portrayed the character “Ezekiel” in a rivalry with Kevin Owens before returning to his traditional persona. His last WWE appearance was in a Battle Royal on May 15, 2023, during Monday Night Raw.
AJ “Top Dolla” Francis, who made his return to WWE in 2022 after a prior release in late 2021, was also released. On the SmackDown roster, he formed a trio with Ashante “Thee” Adonis and B-Fab, turning heel during their run. His last televised match saw him face LA Knight on the August 11 episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown.
Riddick Moss, who had been with WWE since 2014 and had exclusively worked for the company, was released as well. He was called up to the main roster in 2019, winning the WWE 24/7 Title shortly thereafter. Moss later formed an alliance with Baron Corbin as Madcap Moss and was last seen in WWE on the September 11 episode of WWE Main Event, where he faced Bronson Reed.
Shelton Benjamin, known for his various runs in WWE, was another name on the list of releases. During his most recent stint, he held the tag team championship alongside Cedric Alexander as part of The Hurt Business. Over the years, Benjamin also achieved success as a former WWE Intercontinental Champion and United States Champion.
The departure of Dolph Ziggler, marked another significant release. Throughout his illustrious career, Ziggler attained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and held multiple Intercontinental and United States Championship titles. He had portrayed the Dolph Ziggler character since 2008 and was part of the Spirit Squad before adopting his current persona.
Photo Credit: WWE