By Graham "GSM" Matthews
As of today, June 12, 2014, WWE has come to terms on the release of several Superstars. Below is the list of Superstars that have been let go, along with my analysis. This list will be updated as more names are announced.
Yoshi Tatsu: Tatsu first debuted on the WWE main roster a part of the ECW brand almost exactly five years ago on June 30, 2009, defeating Shelton Benjamin. He had a promising career in the Land of Extreme, at one point even contending for the ECW Championship against Christian. However, once the ECW brand was shut down in February 2010 to make room for NXT, Tatsu was mostly neglected on both Raw and SmackDown. He was a regular on WWE Superstars as well as NXT: Redemption, where he feuded with Tyson Kidd over the summer of 2011. Tatsu was a very talented performer over in Japan and even just recently asked WWE if he could relocate, but they denied his request. He had been tweeting about how he had been receiving positive feedback from trainers at the WWE Performance Center regarding his improvement, but unfortunately, he never resurfaced on WWE TV aside from a few appearances on the rebranded NXT. Tatsu was highly underutilized during his time in WWE and it's a shame he was nothing more than an enhancement talent for most of his run.
Evan Bourne: Bourne recently celebrated his six year anniversary with WWE. He was brought in a part of the ECW brand and turned heads with his scintillating Shooting Star Press maneuver. He was pushed at several points in his career, most notable in 2010 when he scored pinfall victories over Sheamus and Chris Jericho, but it wasn't until August 2011 that he won his first and only title in WWE when he captured the WWE Tag Team Championship with Kofi Kingston. Collectively known as Air Boom, the two lit the tag team division on fire, but Bourne's 30-day suspension for violating the WWE Wellness Policy in November halted their momentum. They kept the belts upon Bourne's return in December, but were forced to relinquish them in January 2012 when Bourne was suspended for a second time, this time 60 days. Bourne never resurfaced on WWE TV, as he suffered a severe foot injury in March after being involved in a car accident. He returned to the ring not too long ago, competing in a dark match at NXT, but never made his way back to TV. Bourne may have never had the mic skills, but he was very fun to watch in the ring. He'd be a perfect fit for TNA's X-Division, so here's hoping he heads there.
Brodus Clay: Clay made his WWE debut on the fourth season of WWE NXT. He came in second to Johnny Curtis (now known as Fandango), but continued to appear on TV as Alberto Del Rio's bodyguard. He took time off after Extreme Rules to star in a WWE Studios production, "No One Lives" before returning that summer as a regular on WWE Superstars. He had an impressive showing on the Thursday night show and the decision was made to bring him back to the main roster. Despite being hyped up as an unstoppable monster in the various vignettes, Clay re-debuted on Raw as "The Funkasaurus". He built momentum with the gimmick, but once his undefeated streak was snapped in June by Big Show, Clay's TV time was greatly curtailed. He teamed with Tensai in 2013 before parting ways with him by the end of the year to embark on a much-needed heel run. Despite that, he was hardly seen on TV from that point forward, briefly feuding with Adrian Neville over the NXT Championship before being let go. In my opinion, Clay had potential to be a monster heel based off his work in late 2011, but WWE made the mistake of turning him face. The Funkasaurus was fun while it lasted, but they didn't capitalize on his heel turn last year by booking him accordingly.
Camacho: Camacho debuted in late 2011 as the bodyguard of Hunico. They were regulars in the tag team division for the first half of 2012 before disappearing from WWE TV completely by the end of the year. They returned to TV in late 2013 as a team, but were soon split up when Hunico resumed the role of Sin Cara. Camacho briefly feuded with Adam Rose down in NXT. Personally, I never saw much in Camacho. He was fine in the ring and on the mic, but there didn't seem to be anything special about him. WWE probably would have been better off getting rid of the Sin Cara character all together and reuniting Hunico and Camacho to add to the dwindling tag team division.
Theodore Long: Teddy Long was the longest tenured WWE employee of everyone cut today. He served as a referee and manager before becoming an on-air authority figure in 2004. In the last decade, Long has reigned as SmackDown General Manager on two separate occasions as well as ECW General Manager from 2008 to 2009. Long was removed from his post as SmackDown GM in July 2013 and has hardly appeared on TV since. You'd think WWE would have found some sort of role for him on TV given his longevity. I, for one, will certainly miss him making tag team matches... playa!
Curt Hawkins: Hawkins debuted in WWE in 2007 on ECW alongside Zack Ryder as one-half of The Major Brothers. They jumped ship to SmackDown by the end of the year to become "Edgeheads" for the Rated-R Superstar. They ruled SmackDown for all of 2008 a part of La Familia. He and Ryder captured the WWE Tag Team Championship at The Great American Bash event in July in their hometown of Long Island. The two parted ways in 2009 when Ryder was drafted to ECW, leaving Hawkins to fend for himself. Hawkins spent time in FCW for the remainder of that year before returning to the main roster in May 2010 to form a tag team with Vance Archer. He disappeared from TV once again shortly thereafter before returning in September 2011 in a tag team with Tyler Reks. The two mostly appeared on NXT: Redemption. Following Reks' release in August 2012, Hawkins was rarely seen on WWE TV, so his release comes as no surprise. It's still a shame, though, given that WWE had the chance to reunite him and Ryder in the tag team division. Hawkins was a very talented competitor, but he owns a wrestling school that he can now devote more time to.
Aksana: Aksana was a part of the third season of WWE NXT. Although she did not win the competition, she resurfaced on the main roster in August 2011 as Teddy Long's "admirer." She turned on Teddy in April 2012 before aligning with the debuting Antonio Cesaro. Their time together was short-lived, however, as Cesaro dumped Aksana in September. For the next two years, Aksana was a regular in the Divas division, rarely winning any TV matches until just recently. She was apparently written off TV this past week on Raw when she was attacked by Alicia Fox. I'm sure the Division will be fine without her.
Jinder Mahal: Mahal debuted in May 2011 on the SmackDown brand. He convinced The Great Khali to turn heel and join him a few weeks later, but their partnership came to an end in September when Khali turned on him. They had an on-again, off-again feud for the next few years. Mahal was a regular on WWE Superstars throughout 2012 before joining up with Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre in September to form 3MB. The trio was nothing than a comedy act, but they appeared on TV more than any other enhancement talents. Mahal had potential in the start and he and Khali had a good thing going for a while, but any credibility he had left was lost when he joined 3MB.
Drew McIntyre: Disregarding his brief stint on the main roster in 2007, Drew McIntyre first arrived on the WWE scene in August 2009 on the SmackDown brand. Signed to a contract by Vince McMahon, McIntyre was seen as "The Chosen One." He embarked on an undefeated streak for several months, even winning the Intercontinental Championship from John Morrison that December at TLC. McIntyre was a favorite to win the SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder match in July 2010, but he came up short and was never the same since. He briefly held the WWE Tag Team Championships with Cody Rhodes in September, but was nothing more than an enhancement talent for the next two years before joining forces with Slater and Mahal in 3MB. I longed for the day that McIntyre would turn on 3MB and turn face, but sadly that day never came. His release was the biggest shock of them all and it's sad to see him go. I'd like to see TNA take advantage of his talent and snatch him up, but with his ex-wife Taryn Terell currently there, that seems unlikely.
Marc Harris: Harris was a referee for WWE, known as the "black ref" to some. He's been on the main roster for a few years now refereeing tag team matches. In August 2013, he botched the ending of a tag team match that pitted The Great Khali and Natalya against AJ Lee and Big E. He was the only referee to be let go today.
JTG: JTG and Shad made their WWE debuts in late 2006 as Cryme Tyme. The two were released in 2007 before making a return to the company one night removed from WrestleMania 24. They were mainstays in the tag team division for several years, but never held any tag team gold. They broke up abruptly on the SmackDown after WrestleMania 26, feuding with each other going into the Extreme Rules event. Their Strap match was won by JTG, but this would be JTG's first and last singles win on pay-per-view. Shad was released from his contract in late 2010 while JTG became a regular on WWE Superstars and NXT: Redemption for the next several years before disappearing from TV completely by 2013. His release was a long-time coming, as it became a running gag after a while that he was still employed. He had zero potential as a singles competitor and it's still puzzles me to this day why WWE broke up Cryme Tyme.
Many of these releases don't come as much of a shock given that most of them haven't been on WWE TV in months, but it still sucks to see anyone out of a job. I can't remember the last time that this many talents were released in one day. Spring cleaning, eh? Hopefully some of them can making a living in TNA, ROH, GWF or elsewhere. By the way, the fact JTG wasn't among those released is absolutely mind-boggling. The guy must have an ironclad contract or something. Good God. (UPDATE: JTG has been confirmed to be among the releases. The list above now reflects this. Oh happy day!)