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By Mike Johnson on 2021-06-04 10:00:00


In Q&A you mentioned the WWE non-competes would end around 9/6 but 90 days from the announcement would be 8/31, so which is it?

Well, your math is correct and mine was not.  I corrected yesterday's Q&A after I posted.  However, the 90 days would begin when WWE triggers them, so it could be different days for different talents.  So, I apologize for being off a few days and now you know why I don't make my living teaching calculus!

Out of all the releases you wrote about yesterday, you disrespected Lana by not singling her out.    She has obviously worked super hard to improve and was an incredible heel dating back to the Ravishing Russian days and was my favorite female to watch in the ring during a time period where we were force fed Sasha and Bayley over and over.  I really feel like she was fired because Rusev cut that promo knocking WWE when he debuted in AEW.  In my mind, that was the beginning of the end and since Tony Khan allowed that to happen, I think he owes Lana a job.  What do you think was the end for her and what is her legacy in WWE since her career came at a time all these other women were shoved at the fans over Lana?

First of all, I meant no disrespect to anyone who wasn’t mentioned in yesterday’s Q&A.  I simply gave my opinions regarding the questions posed to me.  I get it, you are obviously a big Lana fan and you have every right to how you feel about her.

Now, that said, no one owes Lana or anyone else a job in professional wrestling.  I don’t believe that Miro’s promo was the beginning of the end for her but if it was, no one is ever going to admit it within WWE.  I am certain there were people in WWE who didn’t like it, but let’s look at what happened coming out of that - Lana got a push!  They did the Tables deal with Nia Jax, which led to her team with Naomi and a few moments where Lana got some nice reactions and pops for her storyline moments.  

As far as her legacy, I would categorize her as someone who came in with a great initial character and then tried her best to improve at other aspects of performing.  Was she Lou Thesz?  Of course not, but I believe she certainly tried within the confines of her athletic ability and worked hard.  She was also a valuable asset for them on the reality front.  I think the beginning of the end for her was that she had been with the company for some time and they decided to cut bait and eliminate that money from the budget.  There’s been no scuttlebutt she had heat for something she did that I am aware of.  There were dozens of people let go from WWE over the last few months.  She unfortunately was one of them.

If/when a talent is released, do they get to go back to the Performance Center to pick up their things and if not, do you think they'll still receive them in a garbage bag?

To the best of my knowledge, they do not and I don't expect we will hear about a garbage bag again.  My guess is everything will be cleaned, pressed, folded and shipped back in a box!

Has there been any sign of Mark Carrano at all?

I would assume where he lives he's been seen, but in terms of the pro wrestling world, not that I have heard of him popping up.

I remain shocked that Aleister Black was released as they seemed to be onto something with him with the Dark Father stuff.  You mentioned he was going to face off with Big E this week, so why didn't they just have them wrestle and move on? Was that what was going to happen anyway?  I don't understand why this guy was let go - he's the only Norse/black metal character in the history of WWE, was massive and could move and I have been waiting for him to actually DO SOMETHING since he left NXT.  I feel like if anyone's going to have his release rescinded like Matt Hardy a million years ago, it's Black.  What do you think?  Maybe move him back to NXT?  If not, wouldn’t you argue WWE failed him?

There is a lot to unpack here.

First, you are not alone in being shocked by his release.  We heard from numerous people in the company noting there was merchandise set and planned, that they had invested in his vignettes, that he had just started the story with Big E, etc. who could not believe Black was cut.   I think the timing of when it happened was as shocking for everyone as much as the fact that it DID happen.

That said, I am sorry, but I don't think anyone is getting their WWE release rescinded.  That Matt Hardy situation years ago was one where the release and Matt's online exploits at the time surrounding the Edge-Lita stuff made him a more buzzworthy performer and WWE didn't want him to walk into TNA at the time.  Now, there’s an AEW and they are obviously NOT worried about letting talents walk over there.  With all due respect to everyone who was released, this is a completely different situation.  If Vince McMahon wanted the talent there, he’d have kept them and released someone else in their place.  It’s that simple.  These were movements on a mathematical ledger, not someone screwed up and was released for it.

As far as what was planned for Smackdown, we are told they were not slated to wrestle.  At one point, there was a planned Big E promo that we are told Black would have responded to on the video screen, with one pitch being Black replaced all the fans in the Thunderdome and appeared on every screen at once.  Then, Black would explain himself (I am guessing here) and reveal he was actually in the ring behind Big E and they’d have some sort of physical interaction.  My guess is (and again, my guess as I am sure this would have changed 100 times before they locked it down) is that Black would have laid out Big E to keep it going.  As far as why they didn’t just have him come back to be defeated, I got nothing.  It could be they are going to write the character off on Smackdown by having Big E say he laid out Black and ran him off.  It wouldn’t be the first time a promotion has ended a story “off camera” so to speak.

As far as a return to NXT, honestly, what would be the point?  The point of NXT is to get talents ready for the main roster.  He, like others, went through that route and got to the main roster and they would try something and cut bait and try again and cut bait, diluting what made him special in NXT over the course of the process.  I know this is a completely different situation, but to me, it’s like Adam Rose.  That guy had an incredibly likable, unique, fun character with a great entrance but it was never presented the same way once he was brought up and from there it was the law of diminishing returns.  Whatever plans and ideas they conjured up for Aleister Black, it became the law of diminishing returns as they never tapped into whatever mystique WWE NXT seemed to “get” with him.  I have no idea if he would have been a Wrestlemania main eventer, but he sure seemed like there was more of a potential when he was in NXT.  

So, if there was even a possibility of going back there (which, given they released him, obviously was NOT the case), would he want to reboot the cycle from the start, hoping to resurrect whatever worked in NXT and then take the chance of watching the promise of what he could potentially be fade away if he returned to the main roster?   I think a far better path would be doing what Drew McIntyre did and trying to prove everyone wrong on the independents and (if the world is lucky) the international scene as the world opens up.  Then, he could try and punch his ticket anywhere having shown everyone what Tommy End looks like post-WWE, tapping into the black metal stuff or some of the more spooky/supernatural elements that gave him an aura in NXT.

 As far as whether WWE failed him, if you are a fan of Aleister Black (or someone else who was released), I can see why you feel that way and you can make a big argument for the fact that whatever was planned conceptually for Black never really worked out on Raw or Smackdown and they seemed to constantly cut bait and reboot.  Whatever the team in NXT “got” about him, no one ever consistently did on the main roster, so in that regard, you can either blame the talent for not getting over or the company for not maximizing him.  It’s hard in this case to blame the talent when the main roster never consistently gave him anything to work with storyline-wise.  To me, that’s no different than the type of frustrations Steve Austin voiced about his WCW run.  Now, it’s on Black/End to go prove to the world that he’s better than he was portrayed to be, because now, he has every chance to make them regret releasing him.  Watching that journey for him and others should be intriguing, the same way it was watching Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre and others.  We’ll see how it goes.

Do you think Santana Garrett goes back to WOW?  You mentioned she and others were scheduled to go to Smackdown and then it didn't happen.  Why does that happen????

If they are taping in 90+ days' time, there's certainly a possibility!  As far as she she and Vanessa Bourne never actually debuting, I think it has to do with creative changing plans and getting swept up in that vortex.  Then, my guess is that if anyone was pitching ideas for them, they didn't get approved and over time, the momentum was lost and the talent were told to be patient and then time ran out before their patience did.

So, WWE has time for Zombies but not the talents they let go?  Seriously, WTF!  This is why I like AEW more now.  They have no time for such stupidity.

The zombies were a promotional stunt the company got paid well into seven figures for.  If AEW had been offered that same pay day, they would have tried to come up with a way to incorporate it, as well.  I am not knocking this as I love my kaiju, but AEW did just have a Godzilla vs. Kong match, so I don't think AEW would refuse to get a big payday for one segment if it helps a promotional partner!   That's exactly why Robocop showed in WCW many many moons ago.  So, from a business standpoint, I don't blame WWE for doing it, whether the zombie segment was good or bad.  Let's face it, did anyone expect a zombie segment to be good?  It was never going to be Terry Funk vs. Ric Flair.  It was just a smart way to plug Dave Bautista's movie on a promotional level and show Netflix they can be a good business partner.  In that regard, the benefits greatly outweighed the negatives when it came to making money for a relatively small scale idea.  The creative was a loss leader for money that was made from the segment - one a show that was very good from an in-ring standpoint beyond that segment.

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