Less than a week removed from their biggest shows of the year - Wrestlemania - WWE has released a number of big-name talents.
Samoa Joe, Mickie James, Peyton Royce (Cassandra McIntosh) and Billie Kay (Jessica McKay) are just some of the talent cut loose in the sadly annual spring clean.
Joe and Billie Kay had worked last weekend's Wrestlemania cards at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The former was part of the Raw commentary team, with Billie Kay tagging with Carmella in Saturday night's Tag Team Turmoil match.
In a shake-up of the Raw commentary team, ESPN's Adnan Virk joined the booth, with Joe making an exit. Many had presumed he would return to the ring. That return is likely to happen elsewhere.
Multiple reports on Thursday claimed that recently re-installed head of WWE talent relations John Laurenitis had been phoning talent to inform them of their release, explaining that budget cuts were behind the moves.
As the Iiconics, Australian duo Peyton Royce and Billie Kay had worked their way up through the WWE's developmental system, debuting on the SmackDown roster in 2018. What they lacked in in-ring talent, they made up for with charisma. So much so, the company handed them the first reign of the revived WWE Women's tag-team championships.
WWE has come to terms on the release of Samoa Joe, Chelsea Green, Tucker, Kalisto, Bo Dallas and Wesley Blake.
We wish them all the best in all of their future endeavors. https://t.co/657qwu8wGc pic.twitter.com/gSSxc2JHFf
— WWE (@WWE) April 15, 2021
In a typically brief statement, it was announced, "WWE has come to terms on the release of Samoa Joe, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Mickie James, Chelsea Green, Tucker, Kalisto, Bo Dallas and Wesley Blake as of today April 15, 2021.
"We wish them the best in all of their future endeavors (sic)."
Green made her SmackDown debut in November 2020, but broke her wrist and had been recently lined up for an in-ring return.
Bo Dallas (Taylor Rotunda) is a second generation superstar, son of Mike Rotunda (former WWE performer IRS), and brother of Bray Wyatt (Windham Rotunda). He's been with the company since 2008, but had been a marginal figure in recent years.
While Mickie James' in-ring career had also wound down, she was considered a future WWE Hall of Famer.
Tucker (Levi Cooper) had been part of the Heavy Machinery tag-team along with Otis, but had been spinning their wheels after their on-screen split.
Masked luchador Kalisto rose to prominence in Mexican promotion AAA under the name 'Samuray del Sol', before being signed to a WWE contract in 2013. Since then, he's held various titles with the company, including two runs as United States champion.
With upstart promotion AEW making waves, and international promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling, it's unlikely the performers will be on the shelf for long.