TKO Merger came as a big announcement between WWE and UFC. TKO Group Holdings was formed on September 12, 2023. Changes were expected after such a successful and grand merger. The first thing WWE did was release several Superstars from their contracts. The releases came on September 21 and included some of the shocking names. Let’s talk about all the WWE Stars released after this TKO Merger.
Mustafa Ali had a career full of ups and downs in WWE. Ali is not as big a name as some of the upcoming names, but he was the most active wrestler to get the release. He signed with the company back in 2016. He worked decently in 205 Live. His start on the main roster was impressive.
He was pushed to the main title picture. He worked title matches and even faced Randy Orton at a premium live event. An injury got everything wrong for him. Kofi Kingston got that opportunity, which turned out to be Kofi Mania. Ali never got the push after this. In 2022, he openly requested his release from WWE on social media platforms, which Vince McMahon denied.
He went to NXT in recent months, where things seemed right for him. He was scheduled to face Dominik for the NXT North American Title at NXT No Mercy on September 30 but was released on September 21. Removing Ali between a title feud was not a good idea, and fans have clearly shown their disappointment in this decision by WWE. Ali can sign with AEW, NJPW, and Impact because his style will suit all the companies.
Dolph Ziggler’s WWE release came as a shock to not only the fans but his fellow stars, too. Ziggler had a good time in WWE. He is a former 2-time World Champ and has won every title in WWE. Ziggler is a Triple Crown Champion too. He had a 19-year career in WWE, joining the company in 2004.
Ziggler is often considered one of the most underrated WWE Superstars ever. Dolph was turned into a jobber in recent years and was released after the TKO Merger. Ziggler can join any company with his talent and professional experience. His brother works in AEW, so he may go there to make a tag team with his brother.
Matt Riddle announced his release on September 22, the following day of all other releases. He joined WWE in 2018. He is talented and had a decent run during his NXT days. He teamed up with Randy Orton on the main roster, which was impressive. Fans and critics highly praised his feud with Seth Rollins. Riddle has always been a controversial figure. His wellness issues and personal problems were a roadblock for him.
Matt Riddle was a former MMA fighter who has also worked in the UFC. So, UFC was well aware of his struggles with DUI. WWE also warned him for his actions in the past. All these factors led to his release from the WWE Company. Riddle can go to Impact and AEW because they know how to use the stars with drug issues. One recent example is Jeff Hardy.
Elias has been part of WWE since 2014. He has worked in a lot of historic WWE segments. These include a WrestleMania segment with John Cena and a segment with The Undertaker and Trish Stratus. His character work as his younger brother Ezekiel was critically acclaimed. He was off TV for some time and was released on September 21. Elias made his mark in WWE with the guitar gimmick, so he might join Jeff Jarrett in AEW.
Another legendary name released by WWE was Shelton Benjamin. He recently celebrated his 20th anniversary. He is a former multi-time IC Champion and Tag Team Champion. Benjamin recently worked as a jobber and put other talents over. He was also released after this merger. Benjamin can join Japan promotions or Ring or Honor as he already worked for the companies.
Emma first worked with WWE from 2011 to 2017 and was rehired by Triple H in 2022. She had a stale run, and it was hard to find any win. After being off TV for a few weeks, she was released on September 21. It wasn’t all bad though, as she found her future husband Michael Rallis (performing under the ring name Riddick Moss) who was also released September 21. She worked for Impact and AEW before re-signing with WWE. So, she should join one of these companies again. AEW Women’s World Champion Saraya publicly tweeted out to Emma the September 22 almost as if to remind her she could easily come back to AEW.
Rick Boogs joined WWE in 2017. His career never boosted during his time in WWE. His most notable work was when he was paired with Shinsuke Nakamura and used to play guitar during Nakamura’s entrance. He was released on September 21. He had talked about his release and alluded that backstage politics, Vince’s retirement and Triple H controlling things badly affected his career.
Dana Brooke was released on September 21. She worked with WWE for over a decade. Her contract was about to expire in a few months, but she was released from her contract. Her career never reached heights; she only won the 24/7 Title multiple times.
Riddick Moss has been part of the WWE Company since 2014. His brief alliance with Bron Corbin on SmackDown is the highlight of his career. His major win came at WrestleMania 38, where he won Andre the Giant Battle Royal. He was also released on September 21 alongside real life fiancé Tenille Dashwood (Who performed under the ring name Emma).
Aliyah signed with WWE in 2015. She was rarely featured on TV and had no notable storyline on the main roster. She suffered a rib injury last year. She was released on September 21.
Top Dolla has been part of WWE since 2020. He was a part of the Hit Row faction. He was released on September 21. Interestingly, WWE didn’t release the whole Hit Row faction, as B-Fab and Adonis are still with the company.
Mansoor and Mace
Mace started with WWE in 2016, while Mansoor signed in 2018. Mansoor was portrayed powerfully on TV early on in his career. The main reason behind that was WWE’s Saudi deal. Last year, WWE debuted a new faction named Maximum Male Models, led by Maxxine Dupri and Max Dupri. Mansoor and Mace were part of this group. Max Dupri went on to be who he was, i.e., LA Knight. Maxxine was also involved in other programs with The Alpha Academy. After that, Mansoor and Mace hardly appeared on TV, and both were released on September 21.
Some Other Talents
Other released talents include mostly off-TV talents, especially from NXT. These are: –
- Kevin Ventura
- Alexis Grey
- Quincy Elliot
- Daniel McArthur
- Yulisa Leon
- Ikemen Jiro
Budget cuts and talent cuts have been part of WWE for some time, especially since the pandemic. It always proves to be a hard time to be a wrestling fan. WWE fans have questioned the releases, especially Mustafa Ali and Dolph Ziggler. I hope these talent cuts remain on hold for some time.