WWE announced the release of several performers Friday, terminating the contracts of King Barrett, Hornswoggle, Alex Riley, Damien Sandow, Zeb Colter, El Torito, Cameron and Santino Marella.
Many of the eight talents had been absent from WWE’s main roster programming for a significant period of time, and they will now have an opportunity to explore other options within the realm of professional wrestling.
Barrett released a statement regarding his release on Twitter, revealing that his contract was set to expire in June:
After signing a developmental deal with WWE in 2006, the 35-year-old Englishman made an instant impact on the main roster in 2010. He won the first season of NXT and became the leader of the Nexus stable comprised entirely of WWE rookies.
Barrett seemed like a surefire future world champion, but bad luck in the form of multiple injuries derailed his momentum.
He was last seen on Raw the night after WrestleMania 32 as part of an angle that featured Sheamus, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio kicking him out of the League of Nations.
The 29-year-old Hornswoggle was the longest-tenured main roster Superstar of the group, having been part of WWE since 2006.
Standing at just 4’5″, Hornswoggle was often used as an attraction and comedy act during his time with the company, although he did win the Cruiserweight Championship in 2007.
Riley signed a developmental deal with WWE in 2007. After competing on the second season of NXT, he became The Miz’s associate in 2010 and earned a spot on the main roster.
Following a stint as an announcer for WWE pre-shows and NXT, the 35-year-old A-Ry returned to in-ring action as part of NXT in 2015. He returned from injury earlier this year but failed to gain much traction before getting released.
The 66-year-old Colter was brought back to WWE in 2013 as the manager of Jack Swagger. He was off television for nearly a year before resurfacing as Alberto Del Rio’s manager at Hell in a Cell 2015.
That alliance was short-lived, as ADR dropped him in December, which marked the former Dutch Mantel’s final on-screen appearance with WWE.
El Torito joined WWE in 2013 as the sidekick for Los Matadores. He and Hornswoggle competed in the highly acclaimed WeeLC match at Extreme Rules 2014, but with Los Matadores recently getting repackaged as Primo and Epico, the 34-year-old’s role in the company was uncertain prior to his release.
Cameron has been with WWE since 2011 after competing on the fifth season of Tough Enough. Although she was the first person eliminated from the show, she was the only one to make it to WWE’s main roster.
The 28-year-old broke in as a Funkadactyl along with Naomi as part of Brodus Clay’s act, but she saw little success after the team broke up in 2014.
Santino Marella signed a developmental deal with WWE in 2005 and became Intercontinental champion on his first day on the main roster in 2007.
He was a go-to comedy act for WWE until 2014, when a neck injury forced him into retirement. He continued to make sporadic appearances for the company in subsequent months, but the 42-year-old Canadian seemed unlikely to ever compete in another match.
With big-name acquisitions such as AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson joining WWE in recent months, the performers released Friday were pushed even farther away from prominence.
WWE’s main roster and NXT talent pool are constantly expanding and improving, which often leads to the unfortunate reality of others getting pushed out.
While WWE remains the unquestioned top brand in sports entertainment, the fact that NJPW, ROH, TNA, Lucha Underground and many other companies are experiencing varying degrees of success means that those who lost their spots Friday may still have a chance to continue their careers elsewhere.