Talent reacts to WWE making first talent cuts under Endeavor

WWE (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
WWE (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Just 10 days after officially merging with Endeavor to form the TKO Group, WWE has started making talent cuts. This is on the heels of 100 staff members being cut last Friday. Employees were instructed to work from home so that HR could make cuts privately.

It also came hours after TKO Group announced that SmackDown would be returning to the USA Network in October 2024.

The first release was Mustafa Ali. Ali took to Twitter to say he was no longer with the WWE and looked forward to the future. It was originally reported by Sean Ross Sapp that it was not related to talent cuts. Shortly thereafter, Sapp clarified that there was some confusion and that talent cuts were coming.

Minutes later, Emma reported that she had been released from WWE again. Her original stint with the company was from 2011 to 2017. In October 2022, she answered an open challenge to face Ronda Rousey for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. She was on WWE programming sporadically after competing in this year’s Royal Rumble.

On Thursday, she tweeted that wrestling in the Elimination Chamber in Australia next year was a dream. She then quoted that to say “Nevermind. I just got released.”

Her real-life fiancé, Riddick Moss, was also released. He tweeted that he “graduated from WWE.” He went on to say “I know a lot of people think my career really took a downturn once Mr. Levesque took over, but, in actuality, my per match fee skyrocketed through the roof. Other promoters, get ready to back the brinks truck up.”

Aliyah, Top Dolla, and  Rick Boogs were also released. Earlier in the week, it had been reported that Elias had not been re-signed. He was officially released on Thursday. In a tweet, he finally admitted that he was, in fact, Ezekiel.

Longtime WWE veterans released

Two longtime veterans of WWE were also cut on Thursday: Shelton Benjamin and Dolph Ziggler.

Benjamin joined WWE’s main roster in 2002. He would be released in 2010 before being re-signed in 2016. An injury kept him off TV until 2017. Last December, WWE celebrated his 20 year anniversary.

Benjamin and Charlie Haas were part of Team Angle/The World’s Greatest Tag Team.

Despite their long-running feud, Mia Yim said something nice about Benjamin.

Ziggler joined the main roster in 2005 under his real name, Nick Nemeth, as Kerwin White’s (Chavo Guerrero with an abhorrent WASP gimmick) “caddy”. After getting sent back to OVW, WWE’s developmental at the time, once Gurrero dropped that character, he resurfaced as part of the Spirit Squad under the name Nicky.

After the group disbanded in 2006, he went back to OVW again. In 2008, he was repackaged with the Dolph Ziggler gimmick, and this time, he stayed on the main roster for good. He did spend some time in NXT earlier this year. When the WWE held their draft a few months ago, he was not drafted.

There was an outpouring of responses after news of Ziggler’s release made the rounds.

“Filthy” Tom Lawlor summed it up the best:

John Cena tweeted an impressive stat about Ziggler. He wrestled 1,554 matches during his WWE career.

NXT talent gets cut

Late on Thursday afternoon, more talent started to be released, including NXT talent:

-Bryson Montana



-Quincy Elliott

-Yuliya Leon

-Daniel McArthur (WWE PC recruit)

Both members of Maximum Male Models, Mace and Mansoor, were also released. Mace tweeted that after almost a decade of “making something out of nothing (sic) I’m excited to spread my wings and be myself for the first time.”

Former 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke was also released. She joined WWE in 2013.

Next. Reports that Sheamus' WWE contract is set to expire in 2024. dark

With two big companies merging, layoffs are sadly part of the norm. It’s a harder pill to swallow when that merger is worth $21.4 billion and executives were making bonuses worth several million dollars. This is also a company that released dozens of wrestlers during a global pandemic.

It also comes just one week after it was announced that Jade Cargill would be jumping ship from AEW to WWE. Of course, it is not her fault that these cuts are happening at the same time. However, when you cut numerous employees only to pay one wrestler a significant amount, the optics are bad.

It’s possible that more cuts are coming. Stay tuned to Daily DDT for the latest.