WWE has released Billie Kay and Mickie James as the promotion continues to enact cost-cutting measures despite record-setting profits. On the one-year anniversary of Black Friday, Former Raw announcer Samoa Joe, Bo Dallas, Chelsea Green, Tucker, Kalisto and Wesley Blake have reportedly been released as well.
This could be the first of many releases as WWE insider Twitter account @WrestleVotes sent a grim tweet that “spring cleaning” season was underway. WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis was reportedly making the calls and citing “budget cuts” as the reason for the releases.
WWE has historically made cuts following WrestleMania weekend as the promotion begins its new season, there are certainly noteworthy names on this unenviable list. Samoa Joe is a particular surprise as a release since he had been a fixture on Monday nights as an announcer, and was a featured broadcaster as recently as WrestleMania 37.
Kay was sent to SmackDown after the unceremonious split of The IIconics alongside her real-life best friend Peyton Royce. Though plans reportedly called for Royce to become a breakout singles star, it was Kay who found a niche as a midcard comedy character peddling around her resume. Royce, who cut a spirited promo on Raw Talk before losing to Asuka in a March 22 match on Raw, has since floundered on her own.
The resume gimmick makes her real-life firing something of a cruel irony that is rife for snarky Twitter humor.
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Mickie James seemed to be forced into retirement after an awkward Raw Women’s Championship match against Asuka where the referee prematurely called for the bell, much to James’ chagrin. James was subsequently slotted in a “legends” role for the most recent Raw Legend’s Night.
James and newcomer Chelsea Green had been doing a social media storyline inspired by James’ crazed fan gimmick opposite Trish Stratus that launched her into super stardom. James has been vocal about the double standard of women retiring in WWE.
“In this industry once you hit 35 it’s perceived you should start wrapping it up and retire as a women,” said James in a March 14 tweet in response to Taya Valkyrie. Valkyrie, 37, debuted as Franky Monet on WWE NXT this past Tuesday.
WWE reported a record Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization in its 2020 earnings report, with $286.2 million. Unfortunately, part of WWE’s record-setting formula has been cutting costs to maximize profits, and for WWE, “spring cleaning” is a necessary evil.
Update—WWE Releases More Superstars
Spring cleaning continues as WWE has come to terms with Peyton Royce.