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Spring Cleaning: Looking at the latest WWE Releases

April 25, 2010   ·   0 Comments

As the WWE head into their routine of clearing out their closets, as they do every year come draft time, I thought Id cast an observational eye over proceedings. Im sure there will be more to come, so heres a cursory look across those names given the pink one, thus far

Mickie James

As far as Im concerned, this is the biggest waste amongst the cluster of releases thus far. On her day, given a capable opponent, Mickie is as talented a female performer as anyone on the WWE roster. She also was one of the few that remained fairly over with the fans, regardless of her lack of a push. When she debuted in 2005, she was immediately involved in a stalker/obsessive fan storyline with the era-defining Trish Stratus. Their encounter at Wrestlemania 22 was one of the promotions most memorable and heated ladies bouts of all time.

With all that said however, its understandable from the WWEs point of view. They perceive the womens division differently from those of us who consider it a shambles, and would wish to see a solid, wrestling-based foundation. They look at it as a short-term commodity, where each women has a shorter shelf live than the men. Mickie already enjoyed a run on top, and since that (outstanding) gimmick ran its course, following a superb run with Trish Stratus and then a heel Lita, they simply moved the focus onto others. In McMahon land, they dont exhibit the patience of commitment to back several female characters at once, and provide them with the platform from which to have a serious, competitive bout. Thus, James had been adrift for much of her tenure, aside from the brief Piggy James story of late. But aside from the Babyface getting her revenge at the Rumble, it never went anywhere, largely thanks to Mickie having expressed her desire to pursue projects outside of wrestling. Combine that with the fact that she is not a traditionally skinny diva, and her recent sloppiness on tour, and well, the writing was on the wall.

Shelton Benjamin

This past Wrestlemania was the first time where Shelton Benjamin was not the highlight in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. In fact, he was a completely peripheral figure in the bout, and may as well have been at home (aside from the pay-check obviously). It made a stark contrast from past events, that saw Benjamin unleash numerous dazzling spots, that offered him some momentum and appreciation amongst fans who either forgot about, or never saw the mini-push that saw him cleanly go over Triple H, on Raw. Given how quiet he was in the ladder scenario, and the unfortunate consensus that his WWE employment exists only to participate in hat bout, Im no entirely surprised to see him released.

Although many will disagree, being released is the best thing for this guy if he has the desire to increase his standing in the landscape of Pro-Wrestling. An outstanding athlete and genuinely talented Pro Wrestler, Benjamin will never make it into a headline position in the WWE. And nor should he- his character is non-existent, his mic-skills entirely lacking, and his charisma, transparent. Sheltons tools are entirely based on his physical attributes, and for that reason, hes best suited to a tag team. In McMahons head, tag wrestling is mid-card filler at best, and the talented workers in said division, should only be using it as basis from which to propel their singles career. So by his logic, Sheltons career has been a flop.

TNA may have the opportunity then, to do with Charlie Haas, and Shelton Benjamin, what the WWE didnt have the sense to.

Mike Knox

Knox is actually more talented than the majority of observers give him credit for, but falls into the same category as many guys his size. He was brought in to play a specific role, and once that fizzled out they had nothing for him. Its happened to countless guys before, and will again. Despite sporting the finest beard in Sports Entertainment, he was rarely used over the past year, (perhaps partly due to Steroid related controversy) and this release was inevitable at some point. Hell probably be given a shot in the future, but I imagine hell find his feet in Japan.

Jimmy Wang Yang

Yangs release marks the end of his second term within the WWE, and one that lasted four years. Although hes been featured very little throughout the latter half of this run, its still a disappointment. Be it as part of the Jung Dragons in WCW, battling Billy Kidman as Akio, or as Jimmy Yang in ROH, James Yun has proven to be enormously versatile. His comedy gimmick as cowboy/redneck Jimmy Wang Yang was certainly a bigger hit than expected, thanks to his likeable nature, and ability to earn sympathy even as an enhancement talent. But, he has been collecting dust for some time now, so on the bright side, we may actually be able to see Yang competitively wrestle now.

Right now, things may be rather crowded for this guy if he were to go to TNA, so personally, Id rather see him make a return to Ring of Honor, where under his old Jimmy Yang persona, there would be a definite possibility of upward mobility for the 28 year old.

?

Slam Master J

The possessor of one of the WWEs worst gimmicks in recent months, it was inevitable that the former Jesse would receive his marching orders at some point. While not awful ,theres nothing about this guy that stands out. With this limitation, it didnt help that he bounced around a couple of gimmicks, and was given a complete overhaul. Thats usually a direction that steers one towards dismissal, unless they find the right one (see Kane).

Kung Fu Naki

Sad to see this, as Funaki has been with the WWE for twelve years, and while never amounting to more than a curtain jerker, he provided us with numerous enjoyable moments, and had much to offer. The highlight of his WWE tenure remains for most, his Kaientai combination with Taka Michinoku. Perhaps in a backstage role with the cruiserweights, or in FCW, he could have been a contributor, but if his intention is to continue wrestling, then having him around was a waste of time, given how infrequently the talented junior was used.

Katie Lea Burchill

Unfortunately, this is no surprise at all. The former Nikita has done nothing of note since she signed with the WWE, through no fault of her own. Contesting the odd average bout with half the crowd unaware of who she is, or merely accompanying the equally under-appreciated Paul Burchill, are hardly eye-opening roles.

With the name of Matt Hardy being uttered repeatedly within the rumour mill, Im sure there will be much more to follow on the release front. This current list is not especially shocking or surprising- and usually there are one or two names that raise eyebrows. With the NXT rookies coming through, theres certainly a need for space on the main brands, and the dead-weight has to go somewhere. It may be too late for perennial whingers such as Matt Hardy, and the frankly, baffling Gail Kim.

Michael Campbell

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If youve any feedback or thoughts, give me a holler at

bazilalfonso@hotmail.com

or by adding me on Facebook.

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