As most wrestling fans know, this past week WWE did some spring cleaning and released seven WWE superstars. Some of the releases were obvious choices, while others came out of left field.
Mickie James supposedly received her walking papers after showing up to a few buses late while on tour in Europe. It's no secret that she has an album coming out soon, and WWE does not like their talent pursuing projects outside the WWE.
I was surprised personally to hear that James had been cut. She is, or was, one of WWE's top Divas. She had a huge fan following and was one of the few divas who didn't need training in the ring.
Jimmy Wang Yang was also released, and this one did not surprise many at all. I don't know when the last time we saw Yang on TV was, but I'm sure he lost whatever match it was. Yang is a good cruiserweight talent and may find a home in TNA's X-Division.
Katie Lea and Paul Burchill were also released. The storyline brother and sister combo had not been used since ECW was taken off the air. I actually kind of like the Burchills but since they had not been given a decent story in a long time I was not surprised to hear this one.
Kung Funaki and Slam Master J were two guys I was surprised were even still employed by the WWE when I had heard they were released. Both of these guys had not been used on TV in quite some time, and neither seemed to contribute much through their characters.
Funaki is the last of the Japanese cruiserweights from the WWE's light heavyweight division from almost a decade ago. Funaki had lasted longer in the WWE than anyone ever thought he would, and for that I give him credit.
Mike Knox was the one release I knew was coming but was unhappy about. Knox had more agility than most 300+ pound guys in the WWE, and his look was different enough to make him stand out. Why he was turned into a jobber is beyond me, but I hope Knox finds something else to do in the wrestling world as he is one of the last of his breed.
The most shocking release was that of ten year veteran Shelton Benjamin. This is a guy who never quite lived up to his potential. He continually churned out five-star matches when they were called for, but on a week to week basis he was not as strong a performer as he could have been.
The fact that Benjamin's biggest supporter has not been around in awhile, Jim Ross, may have had a little to do with Shelton's fall from grace. Shelton is one of the guys who Internet writers always griped about for not getting the right push, but in the end I think Shelton's lack of motivation was what led to his release.
If you compare Shelton to a guy like Chris Jericho, Shelton can put out a match as good as Jericho on a PPV if needed, but on a week to week basis Jericho may dial it back to an 8/10 where as Shelton seemed to operate at about a six on a weekly basis.
So in short, all of the releases have a good explanation, but that does not mean WWE is not to blame for the downfall of some of these superstars. Add these seven to the recent releases of Maria and Hurricane Helms, it looks like TNA has some new recruits coming in soon.
BTW, why do Trent Barretta and Caylen Croft still have jobs, these are the worst two guys to come out of ECW since Colin Delaney.