Whether it’s either on the road to or after WrestleMania, World Wrestling Entertainment tends to do some spring cleaning when it comes to their roster. Friday was one of those days.
WWE announced via Twitter that the company has released wrestlers Tye Dillinger, Hideo Itami, and TJP. The company also released backstage producer and Hall of Famer Arn Anderson. The news of Anderson’s release was first reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet.
Dillinger has been with WWE in two stints, one from 2006 to 2008 and his latest run from 2013 to Friday. It was during his second stint where he got over with his ‘Perfect 10’ gimmick in the company’s developmental brand NXT.
Unfortunately, since he was called up to the main roster in 2017 he was underutilized with only slight pushes. Dillinger went as far as to state that he attempted to go back to NXT on Twitter and used that same platform to announce he requested his release on Tuesday.
Itami was a marquee signing for WWE in 2014 after making a name for himself in his native Japan under the name KENTA and he was focal point in the company’s push into the Japanese market. Unfortunately his time at NXT was marred by a left shoulder injury that sidelined him for a year.
He was called up to the main roster in 2017 under the 205 Live brand but found it hard to overcome the artificial ceiling the brand places on their roster. Itami requested his release from WWE in late January and was granted it. It would seem that WWE may have had big plans for Itami prior to his request.
On January 21, fellow 205 Live wrestler Ariya Daivari posted a video via Twitter of current WWE champion Daniel Bryan talking about a 2006 Ring of Honor match between him and Itami seeming to indicate that he might have moved to SmackDown Live.
TJP, then going by TJ Perkins, won WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic tournament in 2016 and in doing so became the company’s inaugural cruiserweight champion. Since dropping the title in that year’s Hell in A Cell Pay-Per-View he has not done much on the 205 Live roster.
In the cases of Dillinger and Itami the parting with WWE seems to be on good terms. Both will likely still have a connection to the company. For Dillinger it’s his relationship with SmackDown Live female wrestler Peyton Royce and for Itami it’s the fellow Japanese wrestlers still working in WWE like Asuka, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Akira Tozawa.
In the case of TJP the release was sudden.
No release however was as surprising as the one of Anderson. He has worked backstage in WWE since the company bought World Championship Wrestling in 2001 where he was a part of the Four Horsemen stable.
He is respected backstage in his role as producer with decades of experience. It would seem thought that the company is deciding to go in a different direction on match production with the recent hires of Chris ‘Abyss’ Parks, Sonjay Dutt, and Shane ‘Hurricane’ Helms among others in producer roles.
The timing of Anderson’s release is also perplexing given WWE is planning a 70th birthday celebration segment of fellow Horseman Ric Flair on the upcoming episode of Monday Night Raw.
All the releases are coming at a time where WWE is being reluctant in granting them with the arrival of upstart promotion All Elite Wrestling providing both in-ring and backstage talent a viable alternative.