In a day of housecleaning not seen in years, there are a few more WWE departures to report after the three that were made public earlier this morning. The most notable would be Stu Bennett (Wade Barrett), who posted this on Twitter at 12:40 pm eastern:
After almost 9 years, today was my final day with WWE. I made a decision back in August last year not to re-sign once my current contract expired in June 2016, and I’ve now reached an agreement with management to dissolve the contract a few weeks early. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years, especially the guys I’ve shared a ring & locker room with. I will miss them tremendously.
As planned, I am now taking a well-earned break from the wrestling industry in order to expand my horizons, but I’ll be back in the ring when the time is right.
Thanks for the support everyone, I’l see you all down the road.
Barrett was the first-ever winner of the NXT reality to earn a main roster spot. He and the other cast members of that show debuted in a memorable angle in a 2010 edition of Monday Night RAW where they laid out John Cena and destroyed the ring. Barrett had several stop and start pushes over the year and injuries derailed him on several occasions when it appeared he was ready to break through. He had expressed interest in the past in an acting career and had a role in the 2013 film “Dead Man Down”
El Torito (aka Mascarita Dorada) has been with WWE since 2013, debuting as the costumed bull mascot of Los Matadores, after a long career in Mexico with CMLL and AAA. After feuding with Hornswoggle (who was also released today) for a couple of years, he broke off with Los Matadores in September of last year after being put through a table by the Dudleyz. Aside from a few comedy backstage segments he had not been seen on TV since then.
Arianne Andrew (Cameron) was a cast member in the 2011 version of Tough Enough, hosted by Steve Austin. She was the first elimination on the show but was the only cast member to make it to the main roster. She started as a “Funkadactyl” with partner Naomi as they accomponied Brodus Clay and later Tensai (Matt Bloom) to the ring. She was also an original cast member of E’s “Total Divas“. She and Naomi competed as a tag team off and on after Clay was released and Tensai transitioned into a commentary roll on NXT. She did a mini-feud with then champion Paige, losing three consecutive title matches in early 2015. Later that year she surfaced on NXT, facing Asuka in one of the current NXT women’s champion’s first bouts with the company. She has made a couple of appearances since then but was not featured prominently and her release was announced today. It was figured she was on the chopping block after Ryback posted a message on Tumblr essentially demanding equal pay for everyone on the roster and Cameron tweeted out that she was in support of Ryback before quickly pulling it. She later posted a long tirade about cyberbullying.
Also just announced was the release of Aaron Haddad (Damien Sandow). Sandow was a popular undercard wrestler who always got bigger crowd reactions than his push. He competed on RAW just this past Monday and his elimination was one of the louder reactions in the match. He is a former Money in the Bank winner with the distinction of being one of only two wrestlers to not cash in his briefcace successfully (the other being, of all people, John Cena). He’d started with the company in 2002, starting as Aaron “The Idol” Stevens in OVW and was later called up to Smackdown as Idol Stevens, teaming with KC James as Michelle McCool’s “Teacher’s Pets”. That run was short-lived and he was released in 2007 after a return to OVW. He was re-signed in 2010 and assigned to FCW, the WWE’s developmental territory at the time, and made his return to the main roster in 2012 as Sandow. He teamed with Cody Rhodes as the “Rhodes Scholars” as they feuded with Team Hell No over the WWE Tag Team titles. He later did a gimmick where he impersonated characters from both inside and outside wrestling, such as Bruce Springsteen, Abraham Lincoln, Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon. That morphed into a memorable sting where he played Macho Sandow, along with Curtis Axel’s character of “Axel Mania”, a Hulk Hogan parody. The two feuded and then teams for several months before Hulk Hogan’s falling out with the company led to the dissolution of the team. Sandow had been used sparingly since then, usually in an enhancement role or in battle royals.
WWE just announced the release of Santino. He had underwent neck surgery and the belief was he probably wasn’t ever wrestling again. He had made occasional appearances here and there on WWE TV. Of late, he has been running his own mixed martial arts school, the BattleArts Academy, in Ontario. He started out in Ohio Valley Wrestling in the mid-2000s as Johnny Geo Basco and Boris Alexiev, basically your standard Rusev foreign heel character. An incident occured at a TV taping where the Boogeyman came down to the ring and the idea what that he was supposed to be a terrifying character, but Santino (real name Anthony Carelli) was sitting in the crowd and started laughing. Jim Cornette was furious and slapped him around, which snowballed into the deparature of Cornette from WWE developmental. He debuted on the main roster in April of 2007 on a show in Milan, Italy. His new gimmick was that he was an Italian babyface, so he was signed to face Umaga for the Intercontinental Title and he won it his first night in. He lost the belt back to Umaga a few months later and soon began to morph into a full-fledged comedy figure. The irony is that he was so great at the character that they ran with it full-bore, probably to the detriment of his career since they never really pushed him as a serious character afterwards.