WWE released more than 80 wrestlers in 2021 and let go of an unknown number of employees, often citing budget cuts as the main reason. Unfortunately, the start of the new year did not end the company’s waves of releases, as was evident when a number of Performance Center and NXT employees were let go on Jan. 5. You can see the full list of known releases below, and stay tuned as we’ll be updating this story throughout the year in the event that more names are announced.
While Vince McMahon has refrained from discussing why there have been so many job cuts, WWE president Nick Khan gave his side of things in an interview with Ariel Helwani during SummerSlam weekend last August.
I don’t know that there’s one explanation for it,” Khan said. “I think ultimately what’s looked at is, is this person — for us — going to move the needle now, or in the imminent future. So, by the way, we had a tryout, a two-day tryout in Las Vegas which ended yesterday. Which Triple H, and Johnny Laurinaitis, and Bruce Prichard were all across, as were the rest of us. We’ve signed over a dozen new talent coming out of that tryout. And I’m not suggesting, “Oh that’s why we cut the other talent.” But we’re always looking for what’s next. We live in the present, we live in the future. We don’t live in the past. So when people leave, and they move on with their life and their careers? That’s good by us. For us, it’s what works for us and our product at that moment in time, and again, what’s gonna work down the road. And largely in part the existing roster is based on that.”
After his initial run with WWE ended in 1999, the British star returned from WCW in 2000. From there he became a decorated midcarder with reigns as World Tag Team Champion (four times), Intercontinental Champion (twice), European Champion (four times), Hardcore Champion (five times) and King of the Ring.
In 2014 he took over as the new general manager of NXT, a position he would continue to hold all the way up until his release. He also worked backstage as WWE Director of Talent Development and Head of Global Recruiting.
The WWE Hall of Famer had been consistently working backstage as a producer and writer as well as one of NXT’s trainers. He then transitioned to NXT in May 2019, working as a trainer on in-ring promos and character development. In March 2021 he suffered a heart attack but was back at work the following month.
The former WCW wrestler began working as a referee for WWE in 2006 and eventually transitioned to a producer role. He was initially furloughed by the company in April 2020 but was back with the company that October. The release brings an end to his 15-year run with the promotion.
Backstage Employees (Jan. 5)
Backstage employees that were let go on Jan. 5 included:
Ace Steel (real name Chris Guy) — Performance Center coach
Allison Danger (real name Cathy Cornino) — Performance Center coach
Sarah Cummins — Senior Vice President, Consumer Products
Ranjin Singh (real name Dave Kapoor) — former manager of The Great Khali and former Senior Vice President, Creative
Ryan Katz (fka GQ Money) — Creative Producer, working with NXT since 2015
George Carroll — NXT writer
Thatcher signed with WWE in February 2020 and was brought onto NXT television that April to team with Matt Riddle while Pete Dunne was unable to defend the NXT Tag Team Championships due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He would go on team with Tommaso Ciampa and become one of the rosters most brutal heels, winning the company’s only two Fight Pit matches. He was written off TV in August 2021 with a storyline injury from Ridge Holland.
Hideki Suzuki (Hachiman)
The Japanese wrestler signed with WWE in April 2021 as a Performance Center coach but took on an on-screen role as a coach for the Diamond Mine faction.
Initially working in development from 2011-14, Burch returned to WWE in 2015. He started teaming with Oney Lorcan in 2017 and together the pair eventually won the NXT Tag Team Championships and aligned themselves with Pat McAfee and Pete Dunne as the “Kings of NXT.” Lorcan was released by the company back in November and Burch had not wrestled since August.