More on WWE's Roster Release
Credit: By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
Two weeks ago, Vince McMahon announced the WWE would be making roster cuts.
He neglected to mention it would be the largest mass firing in company history.
At press time, 18 wrestlers had been released from their contracts, with several more cuts expected over the next few days, if not by the time you read this.
The biggest surprise was the decision to drop the Dudley Boys, arguably the most popular tag team of the past decade. Bubba Ray and D-Von have been virtually non-existent on WWE TV for almost a year now, after a short vacation last summer turned into a long-term hiatus when Stephanie McMahon's creative team ran out of ideas for the duo. Their contracts won't be renewed when they expire later this year and the pair is expected to take its act to TNA and Japan.
But the Dudleys weren't the only surprise on the cut list.
Mark Jindrak may have been horrible in the ring but he had the size, chiseled body and marketable good looks Vince McMahon seems to lean towards over any hint of athletic ability.
Spike Dudley was Jindrak's polar opposite -- he was small and skinny but a solid worker and a big-time team player. Due to his loyalty and work ethic, many saw him as a WWE lifer but he was added to the cut list Tuesday. Dudley responded by slamming the company in a statement on his website, describing WWE as "a sinking ship."
Maven certainly wasn't in line to be released either, considering he was a home-grown WWE product who climbed up the ranks after winning the first Tough Enough competition on MTV.
Billy Kidman's release was less of a shock as he has been suffering from a string of injuries, most recently problems with his shoulder and quad.
Joy Giovanni, one of last year's Diva Search top 10, was also dropped. The company was high on her initially -- booking her as The Big Show's on-screen valet -- before seemingly losing interest and phasing her out of storylines.
Another unexpected name to be deleted from the payroll was Marty Jannetty, who recently signed on for a Rockers reunion tour with his '80s tag partner, Shawn Michaels.
Also given their marching orders were real-life newlyweds Jackie Gayda and Charlie Haas, along with a pregnant Dawn Marie. Shannon Moore, Akio, Matt Morgan, Kenzo Suzuki, Hiroko, David "Gangrel" Heath and Kevin (Mordecai) Fertig rounded out the list of cuts.
Some insiders claim the releases were in response to poor financial results for WWE's last quarter or a pre-emptive move prior to the ad revenue losses which will occur when WWE moves its flagship show to USA Network in September.
Others say WWE has earmarked the contract cash for Brock Lesnar, who met with Vince McMahon Thursday and is believed to have agreed to a return to the ring.
After a failed attempt at an NFL career and a failed lawsuit to get out of his 10-year non-compete clause with WWE, Lesnar returned with his tail between his legs. He is slated to assume a main-event role on Smackdown.
As Lesnar arrives, several more grapplers are expected to be cut but WWE may delay the firings to avoid further bad press after an angle on this week's episode of Smackdown sparked a backlash. WWE took heat for airing the storyline -- depicting a violent attack on The Undertaker by an Arab character and five men dressed as terrorists -- on the same day as the terrorist bomb massacre in the U.K.