Following Lio Rush’s announcement earlier today (Jan. 22) that his AEW contract is expiring and he’ll soon be a free agent, multiple sites have reported there will be more departures from Tony Khan’s company in the coming weeks & months.
PWInsider and Fightful Select both say Rush’s is one of several deals that will not be renewed when they come up. The company does not plan to make announcements about departures, and may continue to use the performers on a per appearance basis.
Earlier this week, Peter Avalon announced that he is actively taking bookings on the independents again. Avalon was with AEW from its inception, starting with the ill-fated Librarians gimmick with Leva Bates before eventually transitioning to his “Pretty” indie act & aligning with the Wingmen stable. Bates tweeted that her former partner was still with the company, but Insider is saying his contract expired recently — so he may be a case where AEW has moved to booking him for individual dates.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider writes of three other names being mentioned to him by sources when he asks about expiring contracts: Marko Stunt, Joey Janela, and Brian Cage. All three are wrestlers fans have suspected could be leaving AEW. Insider does note it’s possible all three could re-sign before their current deals end.
Stunt hasn’t appeared for the company since last September, and his absence has been particularly noticeable as his old teammates Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus have become Tag champs. Janela himself raised questions about his AEW future when he told Barstool’s Robbie Fox that his contract was up in May and he felt he needed to “step it up” in order to be kept around. Cage hasn’t been used since October when his angle with Team Taz ended, and his wife Melissa Santos has made headlines by questioning Khan’s booking of her husband on social media and in interviews.
Throughout its three year existence, stories about the AEW roster have focused on additions to it. WWE’s releases are usually the only departures fans and media have to discuss. Paying someone throughout the duration of their contract is different from cutting a person in the middle of it, but this will still mark a new phase for Tony Khan’s promotion.