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By Mike Johnson on 2019-01-17 08:28:00

Over the last several weeks, there have been a number of stories and rumors about WWE talents asking for releases and/or departing in the wake of the announcement of All Elite Wrestling.  While we normally shy away from rumors, we've received so many emails and questions about this, I figured it was best to address what we know in one place.  So, in no particular order:

*Dolph Ziggler - There has been a lot of talk in the last week that Ziggler is done with WWE after turning down an offer to become a producer.  His last TV appearance was the beat-down he took in a steel cage on Raw against Drew McIntyre last month.  He has removed the Dolph Ziggler name from his social media and is embarking on a comedy tour soon.  He has not been on the road for WWE in recent weeks after the completion of the Holiday house show tour.  As of today, sources claim he remains under a WWE deal (and some there have denied he is exiting at all) but others have been pointing to 1/31 as an exit date.  Whether that turns out to be the case, we will see.  Ziggler was coy with last August when asked about whether he had signed a new WWE deal, commenting, "I guess you’ll have to see Sunday or Monday, but I’ve also heard that [his deal was coming up.]  I’ve also heard about several different contracts that I signed but I didn’t sign.  So…I’m giving you a comment.  I’ve been doing some great work and looking forward to doing what I do and Sunday or Monday, we’ll see what direction we’re heading in afterwards.”  So, time will tell, but there are some who believe he is done.

*Goldust - While his name obviously would be attached to his brother Cody's due to their relationship, has not been able to substantiate any rumors that Dustin Runnells has asked for a WWE release.

*Mike Kanellis - We have heard from several sources that Mike Kanellis requested a release from WWE but was denied three weeks ago.  Kanellis was last seen on 205 Live programming on 1/9 during a backstage vignette with Drake Maverick and before that, had not been on TV in a number of weeks.  The belief among some WWE wrestlers is that Kanellis was hoping to return to Ring of Honor, but as of today, he has not been released from the company.

*Maria Kanellis - Her name has floated around in the last few days as also having asked for a WWE release, but has not been able to substantiate that story.

*The Revival - Yesterday, Sean Ross Sapp of reported that there was "fear" within WWE that The Revival, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, were trying to get out of their deals with the company.  While we cannot confirm there was any "fear", the talk among wrestlers on the Raw side after this week's TV taping was that The Revival had spoken with WWE management about their unhappiness in the company and indeed asked for a release.  As of this morning, they are still slated for this weekend's Raw live events.  Obviously, if they were able to get out of their deals, in a perfect world, they would be the perfect foil All Elite Wrestling could use against The Young Bucks, which is exactly why WWE wouldn't release them.

WWE, as you would expect they would, did not return a request for comment yesterday.   After giving them time to respond, I opted to publish.  If WWE should comment, we will update.

Here is the reality of the situation: There is no way WWE is going to release anyone they see of value in the current environment as the last thing they want is to hand talent over to any potential competitors, especially one with the type of financial backing that AEW has.  That doesn't mean that a talent who wants out couldn't conceivably go home and sit out their contract, as Neville did when he decided he wanted out last year.  Thus far, no one has done that and there's no indication yet anyone is going to do that.  It's quite possible some will try to opt out and complain about their position or pay, believing the grass is greener elsewhere (and they may be right on that), and in the process, getting a better WWE deal to stay in the same position but making more money in the process. can confirm, however, that WWE officials have started approaching talents whose deals are coming up in the next year, seeking to lock them up to longer form deals now.  Whether there is a cause and effect there is debatable, since WWE has been locking talents (including Kevin Owens and The Miz) to new five-year deals for some time, but the timing is interesting, to say the least.

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