Performers being released is a sad but also necessary part of the wrestling business. Particularly in the aftermath of WrestleMania, most seasoned fans are prepared to see some roster shake-ups. It’s the best way to keep things fresh and also prevent talented people from wasting away on the undercard, but I don’t know a single person who follows wrestling that wasn’t shocked by Braun Strowman’s release yesterday. The Monster Among Men was a former champion and Royal Rumble winner who just wrestled for the WWE Championship on pay per view. Now he’s gone and everyone is wondering what the hell happened including Hall of Famer Booker T.
The legendary wrestler reacted to this week’s unexpected WWE releases, which also included Aleister Black, Lana, Murphy, Ruby Riott and Santana Garrett, on the Hall Of Fame Podcast with Brad Gilmore, and he had some interesting thoughts. He was very clear he doesn’t have any inside information but he speculated the release was likely due to Braun Strowman having a huge contract and also being particularly difficult to book since he’s a throwback wrestler with massive size that doesn’t necessarily gel with the rest of the roster. Here’s a portion of his quote...
It definitely made me go, ‘Wow Braun Strowman?’ Then I started looking at it from a business perspective, if it’s true the rumors out there saying that Braun Strowman had a huge contract and was making a lot of money. If you’re doing budget cuts, that’s the one thing you’re gonna be thinking about. Who do we really need? Who are the guys we really need here to keep this thing running? Take nothing away from Braun Strowman. He was an enigma. He was a guy that was somewhat of a throwback to the guys who did it before him… It was kind of hard to match Braun Strowman up with more than two or three guys on the roster… I could be wrong, but he was like a throwback to the way the wrestler was back in the day. Nothing against him as a wrestler or anything, but just think about it.
I can’t speak to the money situation. If he had a huge contract, I’m sure that was a part of the decision. It always is with budget cuts, but I can definitely see where he’s coming from with the difficulty to book Braun Strowman angle. He is maybe the most physically imposing wrestler on the entire roster. That works when he’s fighting Bobby Lashley or Drew McIntyre, who he has been recently paired with, but it can be a bit of an odd look with others who are a more normal size.
If the WWE creative team made the decision behind the scenes that they no longer wanted Strowman in the title picture for the WWE Championship and weren’t interested in moving him to Smackdown, then I think that probably brought up a lot of questions about what to do with him. I personally didn’t think the feud with Shane McMahon worked super well (although the WrestleMania match was fine enough), and it’s easy to imagine more feuds in the future in which he would seem overqualified. Personally, I’d rather see Strowman go somewhere else than open up the door to him losing matches to mid-carders.
The response among many wrestling fans to this week’s releases has been to criticize WWE for not handling some of these people correctly and maybe wasting their talents. Some of that is definitely fair, but I also don’t think it’s reasonable to have this conversation without looking at Covid and the larger situation. Thanks to the pandemic, WWE has gone from a business that put on live shows hundreds of days a year to one that’s almost exclusively worked out of empty arenas. That is an incredible amount of change, and there’s no way that hasn’t had a significant impact on revenue streams. That has likely contributed to the significant turnover of the roster, and it probably played at least some role in the decision to roll WWE Network into Peacock.
Without Braun Strowman and Daniel Bryan’s future still uncertain, there is suddenly room for WWE to push some new names to the top of the card. Cesaro is clearly over in a big way and has been getting some of the biggest moments in his career lately, but it’ll be interesting to see who else the powers that be push forward. There is certainly not a lack of talent or options (Shinsuke!), even with the company saying goodbye to so many names post-WrestleMania.