Ringside Roundup: Bray Wyatt, Adam Page, Ronda Rousey, Adam Cole’s Contract, More

– Bray Wyatt Released by WWE

WWE releasing Bray Wyatt was the big news of this past weekend. Wyatt, whos been out since WrestleMania in a losing effort to Randy Orton, was expected to return at any moment. At the end of the match, Alexa Bliss turned on Wyatt while simultaneously taking over “The Fiend” character.

WWE has released over 33 wrestlers in 2021, with Wyatt as the latest casualty with “budget cuts” cited as the official reason. The company is reportedly trying to get the payroll down, and with such an initiative, a wrestler’s on-screen range as a performer means more than ever. What do I mean?

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Wrestling’s “Pizza Cutter Gate” is a Howl

Yesterday morning, I told my wife, who doesn’t follow wrestling, about “Pizza Cutter Gate.” As I finished telling the story, her dog barking text notification went off. It was a message from Dominos about a new pizza deal. At that point, I knew I had to write about this.

Dominos issued a statement regarding a commercial that aired Wednesday night on AEW Dynamite playing juxtaposed to Nick Gage using a pizza cutter on Chris Jericho’s forehead. This bloody and hilarious coincidence has everyone but AEW laughing.

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Will CM Punk’s Arrival in AEW Cancel Out Adam Page?

All Elite Wrestling is on the precipice of its first game-changing moment in its short but noteworthy history. In a similar vein to when WCW signed Hulk Hogan in 1994, AEW has presumably signed CM Punk.

Capitalizing on the fervent speculation, Tony Schiavone announced Rampage on August 20 will emanate from Punk’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, at the United Center. The sophomore episode is auspiciously dubbed “The First Dance.”

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Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker Deliver A Bloody Classic

Thunder Rosa defeated Britt Baker in an unsanctioned Light’s Out Match on Wednesday. It was the first women’s match to headline AEW Dynamite. It was brutal, bloody, and bold. Chairs, tables, ladders, and lots of thumbtacks were used throughout this crescendo of violence to settle the score of a bitter feud.

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Christian is All Elite, But Not A Game Changer

The hype going into Revolution on Sunday was that a hall of fame-worthy, game-changing wrestler was signing with AEW. Christian ended up being the mystery signee and will use the name Christian Cage going forward. The 47-year-old star signed with the promotion one month after a well-received surprise appearance in the Royal Rumble. Reportedly, Christian was either close to or already signed a contract with WWE.

While many feel Christian is a hall of fame-worthy talent, being a game-changer, on the other hand, doesn’t track.

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Revolution Ends With A Dud

All Elite Wrestling’s first pay-per-view of the year, Revolution, started strong, then fizzled for a bit and picked back up with a fantastic main event. Kenny Omega defended the AEW World Championship against former champion Jon Moxley in an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match. Both wrestlers worked extremely hard and told an edge of your seat story, making great use of the environment. Sadly, like a great movie with a bad ending, the only thing people will remember about the match is the dud of a finish.

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Shaq Delivers Big On Dynamite

Shaq was in full effect last night on AEW Dynamite as the Hall of Fame center teamed with newcomer Jade Cargill and defeated Red Velvet and Cody Rhodes in a mixed tag team match. It was wild. It was crazy. It was much better than expected.

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Shaq is Wrestling Tonight on TNT

Did you know that Shaq is wrestling tonight? Yes, that’s right. NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is wrestling in a mixed tag team match on AEW Dynamite. Shaq will team with former college basketball standout Jade Cargill, making her in-ring debut against Cody Rhodes and the relatively unknown Red Velvet.

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Luke Harper, Sin Cara, and The Ascension Released from WWE

On Sunday, WWE announced the release of The Ascension (Viktor & Konnor), Luke Harper, and Sin Cara from the roster in a move that was somewhat surprising considering the current landscape of the industry. WWE has been scooping up any wrestler with name value, re-signing wrestlers to lucrative five-year extensions, and not granting releases to avoid supplying talent to the competition, All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

So, what changed? Is WWE merely cutting costs, or is there more than meets the eye?

Luke Harper publically asked for his release from WWE in April while Sin Cara expressed his desire to leave a few weeks ago. The Ascension was out of sight, out of mind on television. Unfortunately, they never showed the promise of their NXT run on the main roster due to the way they were booked from the jump.

Sin Cara is a character that never got over whether it was Lucha libre superstar Mistico, who the role was designed for or Jorge Arias, who took over the part when Mistico left the company in 2014. Luke Harper is the big missed opportunity of the four wrestlers that were released. Reportedly, Vince McMahon was never high on him, despite his talent. All four will be looking for work, however, where will they land?

When it comes to The Ascension, the word on the street is that Viktor is a tremendous worker but never got the chance to show it. Konnor is a big guy that is serviceable in the ring. Do they stay together as a team, or do they go their separate ways? While their tag-team act is their most viable commodity, NXT was a long time ago. Perhaps, Viktor decides to bet on himself and work the independent scene to build his name back up.

Jorge Arias will have to reinvent himself fundamentally. He’ll probably find work in Mexico; however, being able to charge a high price for his services in the states will be a challenging venture. Arias never had a viable name beforehand, and WWE owns the Sin Cara character.

Even if Arias comes up with a new gimmick, promoters will feel the need to market him as “formerly Sin Cara.” Honestly, fans might not even care for a wrestler who was so low on the totem pole. If Arias starts churning out five-star classics and becomes the belle of the indy ball, then he won’t need “Former WWE Superstar” etched under his name on an event poster.

Presumably, Luke Harper has the most to gain from his release. The soon to be rechristened Brodie Lee had an excellent reputation for putting on awesome matches before he signed with WWE and continued to do so as a member of the Wyatt Family.

AEW is his most anticipated landing spot because he’s a talented big man, and AEW could use more physical stature on their roster. New Japan Pro Wrestling wouldn’t surprise me either as Harper/Lee has a Bruiser Body look to him that could pay dividends.

The question remains, though, why did WWE cut these wrestlers after having a firm no release policy? This is pure speculation, however, maybe Vince McMahon no longer sees AEW as a threat. Of the ten weeks AEW Dynamite and NXT have gone head to head on Wednesdays, the ratings show AEW won eight of those meetings.

However, NXT won two of the last three weeks with only losing the previous week’s rating by only 1,400 viewers. While specific demographics have recently come into play when comparing ratings, NXT’s hold on people over 50 years old is strong while they are almost neck and neck with the more coveted demos that AEW previously dominated.

It is feasible that Vince McMahon believes he’s either winning the war against AEW, or he’ll win soon enough. If that’s the case, it’s easy to see why WWE has changed its release policy. Several wrestlers are still publically campaigning for their release, and with more cuts rumored to occur, those public requests could be granted.

It stinks getting fired at any time of the year, especially around the holidays. Even though two of the four wanted out, high paying indy gigs are not guaranteed. Besides, those only last so long before the wrestler is no longer a novelty and promoters begin to pay less. Best of luck to the four gentlemen as this new era of wrestling continues to be full of surprises.

Leave Marko Stunt Alone

This past Wednesday on AEW Dynamite, Pentagon and Fenix defeated Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy in a match that has become as divisive as The Last Jedi. Some fans loved the match, and others hate it with a burning passion. However, those who dislike it are not upset because it was a bad match. Their anger stems from the participation of a 98-pound wrestler who stands at 5 foot 2 inches named Marko Stunt.

Marko Stunt didn’t do anything wrong or say anything offensive. His diminutive stature was such a turn off that many couldn’t suspend any modicum of disbelief in a professional wrestling match. Famed manager Jim Cornette echoed the sentiments of disapproval when he tweeted the following.

“The most embarrassingly rotten stinky tag match in history of wrestling just took place on #AEWDynamite & the Ding Dongs are now in 2nd place for worst alltime tag team”

In tag team wrestling, there are two wrestlers to a team and four wrestlers in total. Cornette has called foul on an entire team and match due to the presence of one fun-sized participant. The gist of the vitriol surrounds the notion that it was embarrassing to watch grown men act as if Marko could hurt them or kick out of their big moves.

Marko has been wrestling for four years. However, Wednesday night’s match on TNT was by far the most massive audience he’s performed in front of. 1,014,000 million people witnessed the pint-size grappler perform, and many deemed him too unbelievable for an unbelievable sport.

If you watch the match and look at it from solely a performance perspective, it was a great match, and Marko did his job well. Especially considering he was booked in the match on two hours’ notice as an injury replacement for Luchasaurus. However, when I watched the match with the narrative stakes involved, I was nervous because there were a few big moves where I wasn’t sure if Marko should have kicked out.

Marko worked the match as a hit and run underdog, who was pinned by Pentagon, which is how he should have been booked. Unfortunately, Marko’s stature will make it extremely difficult to overcome any carefully crafted booking. However, it’s not impossible.

Wrestling has always had smaller people inside the ropes. Some felt Bret Hart and Shawn Micheals were too small to be credible world champions when they first won their respective titles. People said Sean Waltman was too small to be taken seriously when he made his WWE debut in 1993 as the 1-2-3 Kid.

“How the hell is this guy gonna beat up anybody,” was my reaction when I saw Rey Mysterio walk down the aisle for the very first time. I ate my words once the bell rang as this amazing athlete proved that his talent was undeniable.

If you don’t like Marko Stunt as a performer, then you don’t like Marko Stunt as a performer. However, while not every super small person who is a wrestler can convey the intangibles to produce the ultimate underdog character that people love to cheer. Marko Stunt does that for those who like him.

In some ways, Marko being the anthesis of what a wrestler is supposed to look like is the evolution of professional wrestling. The industry is in the maiden voyage of a new era. New and up-and-coming talent is being featured. We’ve already seen the biggest of the big get starring roles right out of the gate simply because of their monstrous size, only to fail spectacularly.

Why not see what the smallest of the small has to offer?