By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Well, it's that time of the year again it seems. WWE has come to terms on the releases of several Superstars including King Barrett, Santino Marella, Hornswoggle and other notable names. With so many new NXT stars coming up, you had to figure it was only a matter of time before WWE did some spring cleaning of the talent who haven't been featured on programming in ages.
The last time we had one of these "mass firing" days was in June 2014, so don't be surprised if more names are added to the list as the day progresses. I'll analyze each of the releases and offer my thoughts.
Let's face it: Santino scored far more success than anyone ever expected him to. He debuted in WWE in April 2007 and won the Intercontinental Championship in his first ever match against Umaga. He was an undercard character for the next year before finding his stride as a heel in his relationships with Maria and Beth Phoenix, and in what I thought was the best part of his career, he embarked on a second reign as Intercontinental Champion and innovated the "Honk-a-meter." His natural comedy skills shined through, eventually turning him babyface, and he was the Jar-Jar Binks of WWE until being forced to retire due to a neck injury in the summer of 2014. He's made various appearances on TV in the past two years, but hasn't served any major purpose as an alumni.
This release shouldn't come as a major surprise seeing as how it was reported a few months back that Barrett was on his way out of the company when his contract expired this summer, but it doesn't make it any less disappointing. Needless to say, he had more potential than anyone else on this list combined to be a big star in WWE, especially coming off his success in NXT Season 1 and The Nexus. The Corre was an epic failure, his five runs as Intercontinental Champion were forgettable, and his countless gimmicks forced fans to lose hope he would ever get his just due. He made his final appearance the night after WrestleMania 32 when he was exiled by League of Nations. Such a shame he couldn't have been WWE's first British-born world champion.
I've been a fan of Riley's since his NXT days in 2010 and his pairing with The Miz, but the writing was on the wall for him in WWE. He had a chance to get over as a big star in 2011 when he broke away from The Awesome One, but for whatever reason, his hot momentum came to an abrupt halt later that year. He was mainly utilized as an enhancement talent on WWE Superstars in 2012 and 2013 before becoming an announcer for NXT in 2014. He returned to the ring last year, but suffered an injury before he could build steam. His last match will air on next week's episode of NXT against Shinsuke Nakamura. Don't expect him to win, obviously.
How this didn't happen sooner is absolutely beyond me. Nothing against the guy as I'm sure he's a class act, but the only success he had in WWE was with Finlay and his short-lived reign as Cruiserweight Champion (which many people would rather forget). Once he and Finlay were split up, he did nothing of note and was mostly featured in "comedic" (and I use that term loosely) storylines for the next several years. Once 3MB split up in 2014, he was taken off TV entirely, and has made very few appearances since then. WWE probably forgot he was on the payroll until just today.
It still stuns me to this day that Cameron was the only competitor picked up from the fifth season of Tough Enough. She was the first one eliminated, yet earned a contract over the runner-ups and even the ultimate winner. She was fine as part of the Funkadactlys, but flopped like a fish once she and Naomi parted ways. She showed some improvement in the ring when she returned to NXT, but backstage politics obviously played a part in her release seeing as how she wasn't speaking too fondly of the company, Creative or the fans in the days leading up to her getting canned. Girl, bye!
Yes, El Torio was still under contract until today. He was merely brought in to add to the Los Matadores gimmick in 2013, but once that shtick ran its course, he was taken off TV entirely. I've read he's been doing live events in recent months, but he hasn't appeared on TV since late last year. To his credit, he was an amazing athlete, but he had no future in WWE beyond Los Matadores (which was doomed to fail from the start, anyway).
While Colter hasn't been around since December, I assumed he would be kept around in a backstage role, but apparently not. For those unaware, his legacy in this business dates back far beyond what he's done with Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio in recent years. Uncle Zeb was a prominent manager in the '80s WWF and had a brilliant mind for the business, at one point serving as a Creative Writer for TNA. His days were done as an on-air personality, but he could have been used in another capacity.
This cut breaks my heart the most because we already knew Barrett was leaving. I had a bad feeling Sandow would be among today's releases because he hasn't wrestled on Raw in almost a year. Poor guy. They really dropped the ball on him at the peak of his popularity last year during his feud with The Miz, and even before that when he was Mr. Money in the Bank in 20143. I can't say I'm too shocked by this development, but it's sad to think what could have been with him considering he turned everything given to him into gold.
SEE ALSO: "Several WWE Superstars Released: Details and Analysis"