WWE released nine wrestlers from their contracts, the company announced Thursday.
Samoa Joe, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Mickie James, Chelsea Green, Tucker, Kalisto, Bo Dallas and Wesley Blake were all let go.
WWE head of talent relations Joe Laurainitis informed those who were let go that budget cuts were responsible for their releases, Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp reports. The move comes one year to the day after WWE released more than 20 wrestlers, citing financial hardships resulting from the pandemic.
Joe, a former NXT champion, is the biggest name on this year’s list. He has not wrestled since sustaining a concussion while filming a commercial in February 2020. He had been a member of the Raw broadcast team until this week, when WWE brought in former ESPN anchor Adnan Virk to replace play-by-play man Tom Phillips and moved Corey Graves into an analyst role beside Byron Saxton. Joe told SI.com’s Justin Barrasso last month that he was hopeful he would be able to return to the ring soon.
Kay and Royce formerly teamed up as The IIconics, and struggled to find success after the team was broken up in October’s WWE draft. Kay was part of the 10-woman Tag Team Turmoil match, with partner Carmella, on the first night of WrestleMania last weekend.
James, a six-time champion, returned to the ring last summer after missing 14 months with a torn ACL but only wrestled six matches, most recently in January’s Royal Rumble.
Green only wrestled a single match as part of the WWE main roster. Following a call-up from NXT, she broke her wrist in her debut match on SmackDown on Nov. 11. She is engaged to fellow wrestler Matthew Cardona (known in WWE as Zack Ryder), who was part of a large group of performers released by WWE last April.
Tucker (formerly Tucker Knight) was part of the tag team Heavy Machinery with Otis. WWE split the duo up in the build to Otis’s Money in the Bank win. He only wrestled one match since November: as part of the 22-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal last week on SmackDown.
Kalisto, a masked luchador, was part of the trio known as Lucha House Party, which was broken up during the October draft.
Dallas is the younger brother of Bray Wyatt. He has not wrestled a match since November 2019.
Blake, along with Steve Cutler and Jaxson Ryker, was part of a tag team called The Forgotten Sons. Cutler was released by WWE in February, reportedly after he and his girlfriend, current Impact and former WWE wrestler Deonna Purrazzo, tested positive for COVID-19 following a New Year’s Eve party. Ryker is now teaming with Elias. Blake has not wrestled since May.