It's rare WWE releases Superstars on Sunday, but here we are. It has been reported for weeks that WWE could soon be granting releases for those they don't see as being too valuable (such as Shawn Spears/Tye Dillinger and KENTA/Hideo Itami earlier this year), and that was exactly what happened over the weekend. In the span of one hour, WWE announced that Luke Harper, Sin Cara and The Ascension had been released from the promotion.
Harper and Cara publicly requested their releases on their Twitter pages, whereas it was pretty obvious that The Ascension wanted out as well considering they haven't been on WWE TV since April. Either way, it was nice to see them all get what they wanted, especially in time for the holiday season.
There's no word on whether they will have a 90-day no-compete clause to adhere to, unless their contracts just so happened to expire simultaneously. I assume none of them are able to sign anywhere until at least March 2020, but nonetheless, here is my instant reaction to and analysis of each departure.
Luke Harper was the first Superstar of this bunch to take to Twitter and announce his intentions to quit WWE. By doing so, he was following in the footsteps of Tye Dillinger from a few months earlier, and considering Dillinger received his release soon after, there was no reason to think Harper would be any different. After all, it was rumored around this time that Vince McMahon wasn't high on Harper in the slightest and soured on his return over WrestleMania weekend. Surely the former Wyatt Family member couldn't be blamed for wanting to leave.
However, WWE didn't honor his request and forced him to sit on the sidelines for many months. Perhaps that meant they saw him as being valuable if he were to sign with AEW, but not valuable enough to do anything of note with him. It wasn't until September's Clash of Champions pay-per-view that he randomly returned to aid Erick Rowan in his feud with Roman Reigns. The only two matches he wrestled during this latest run were against Reigns and Daniel Bryan at Hell in a Cell (which he lost) and in the pre-show Battle Royal at Crown Jewel (where he lasted until the end but also lost).
Many figured WWE would wait until his contract expired around WrestleMania season next year to let him go since it was extended due to the time he missed with an injury in 2018, but they went ahead and released him this past weekend. Needless of say, he has the brightest future of this round of releases and there are a number of different places fans would love to see him.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling would be a fine landing spot for him given his physical in-ring style, and a return to the independent scene would be exciting as well. Ultimately, he must wind up in AEW. They don't have a ton of big men on their roster at the moment and thus he would do very well for himself there. Imagine if he were brought in alongside Marty Scurll as the new Villain Enterprises. Amazing!
Prepare to be blown away by Brodie Lee.
Sin Cara was with WWE for over eight years before he was released this past weekend. Eight years! Well, at least the character was on WWE TV for over eight years. Of course, lucha libre legend Mistico originally portrayed Sin Cara, but when he left the company in 2014, the former Hunico resumed the role from there. Aside from his time spent with Kalisto in the tag team division, he never reached the heights WWE hoped he would.
The former NXT Tag Team Champion has made a minimal amount of appearances on NXT TV over the past two years, so I figured it was more a matter of when and not if he'd request his release from the promotion. It's worth noting that he came back from a year-long hiatus in October and competed in a handful of matches against Andrade and Drew McIntyre but lost every time. Wins over Sin Cara haven't meant anything in ages, so there was no point in WWE keeping him around.
As a wrestler, Sin Cara/Hunico is still pretty good, but he'll need a major character overhaul if he intends to generate buzz on the independent scene. He'd be a quality addition to the AAA roster if he's open to it, but if he plans to continue competing in the United States, Ring of Honor would be a nice fit for him as well.
I've said before how it's almost unbelievable that The Ascension were on WWE's main roster for five years and never had a lick of success. It's a shame because they had a solid stint in NXT where they reigned as NXT Tag Team Champions for nearly a year. Granted, it could be argued they were big fishes in a small pond at that point, but their gimmick grew old fast and they became boring to watch.
They were brought up to the main stage simply because there was nothing left for them in NXT and flopped immediately. In their defense, Konnor and Viktor had a chance of getting over when they originally arrived, but thanks to the commentators never buying into them as threats and their burial at the hands of The New Age Outlaws and the APA on that Raw Reunion show in January 2015, they were officially labeled as losers and went nowhere after that.
What followed was multiple meaningless show switches and countless losses to almost every team in the company. I don't think a return to NXT would have been enough to save them, either. They were damaged goods and had to leave in order to start anew. The Ascension hadn't been seen on WWE TV since April, and although they've largely stayed silent on social media until recently, you had to know they already had one foot out the door (not to mention they weren't included in the WWE 2K20 video game).
As far as where they go next, I have no desire to see them in AEW. I realize they have history with Cody Rhodes who enjoyed working with them, but they're not needed at all and would stick out like a sore thumb among The Lucha Brothers, The Young Bucks and others. IMPACT, on the other hand, wouldn't be a terrible idea, or NWA Powerrr. Again, The Ascension aren't exciting enough to be true top talents anywhere in my opinion, but at least they're not wasting a roster spot anymore.
Mike Kanellis: Truth be told, I'm somewhat surprised Kanellis wasn't among those released over the weekend. He too has made it quite clear that he wants to wrestle elsewhere, even though he has since said in various interviews that his decision has little to do with how he's been booked in WWE over the past two and a half years. I highly doubt that, as he came in with some fanfare and was quickly relegated to jobber status on SmackDown. He's had various runs on Raw and 205 Live, but he was never going to get beyond a certain level. Personally, I have no sympathy for him after he and his wife Maria signed a five-year deal with WWE back in June. He knew what he was getting into at that point. That said, if WWE has no plans to use him, they might as well let him leave soon.
Oney Lorcan: PWInsider reported in November that Lorcan requested his release from WWE in late October, which would explain why he hasn't been seen on either NXT or 205 Live since then. However, Lorcan revealed on Twitter last Friday that he has since re-signed with WWE for multiple years. I have yet to see a credible website confirm or deny his claims, but I guess we'll go with it for now. If he's telling the truth and not messing with fans, more power to him.
The Colons: Where have these guys been lately? The funny thing is that they've been gone from WWE TV for almost three years at this point. Unless you pay close attention to the wrestling news websites, you probably forgot they were still employed. As far as I know, they've primarily been wrestling for the Wrestling World Council (owned by their dad) in Puerto Rico for a while now. They have zero worth to WWE, and like The Ascension, I assume they're waiting until their contracts expire (whenever that may be) to make their official exit.
The Revival: Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are the only Superstars in this section that would legitimately make headlines if they left WWE tomorrow. It's been apparent since the start of the year that they'd like to leave, and despite WWE giving them three tag team title reigns, they appear to be adamant about their decision to depart once they're contractually able to. Granted, they'll be facing The New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at TLC, so I doubt it will be any time soon, but I'm fairly positive they'll be AEW bound before long.
EC3: The Top One Percenter has given zero indication that he is on his way out of WWE, outside of obvious speculation that he isn't happy with his current position in the company. He recently posted a cyrptic video to Twitter, which was designed to troll fans, but that's about it. He's been out injured for months, but if Creative still has nothing for him upon his return to the ring, I could certainly see him wanting to explore his options elsewhere if WWE was willing to let him out of his contract.
Kalisto, Gran Metalik: Although these two members of The Lucha House Party didn't outright say they wanted to leave WWE, they implied it in a series of tweets a few months back where they were basically counting down the days until they were free agents. They had a decent run on 205 Live, but Lucha House Party has been a bust on the main roster and there is virtually no chance they'll ever be a focal point in SmackDown's tag team division. WWE may want to keep Kalisto and Gran Metalik around for the foreseeable future, but expect them to bounce as soon as their contracts expire in 2020.