Two days ago, WWE released a handful of contracted talents in one fell swoop in what would be dubbed the 2016 edition of Black Friday. Fan favorite Damien Sandow was released alongside El Torito, Alex Riley, Hornswoggle, Zeb Colter, Santino Marella, & Cameron. Wade Barrett negotiated his early release as well.
This was not the first time that WWE released a handful of talents. On Thursday, April 24, 2014, WWE released 10 wrestlers and one referee in what fans called Black Thursday. Much is always talked about regarding life after WWE when such a mass firing occurs. Given the most recent releases, this is a good time to look back at the prior batch of cuts to see how they fared for themselves outside of WWE.
For the more obscure ones that aren't obviously wrestling where we can all see them, I used their wikipedia page, Twitter page if they had an active one, and any podcasts that featured them I could find.
Drew McIntyre's (now wrestling over the world as Drew Galloway) run in WWE seemed like a downward slope. He started as Vince McMahon's Chosen One and ended in the enhancement stable of 3MB alongside Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. Still, with his pure talent, he was one of the more surprising releases in 2014. It was also the one that disappointment most people like the Damien Sandow release did this year.
Soon after his release, Galloway lit the indie world on fire. He's been Evolve champion, Dragon Gate Champion, & ICW champion. He also debuted on TNA in early 2015 and became a staple of the promotion. Earlier this year, he made it to the top of that promotion as well when he won the TNA championship. He can be seen on TV on TNA and also be easily viewed on the Evolve shows, of which he still participates.
Soon after his release from WWE, he said in an interview it's not if but when he'll back to WWE. However, after he's torn it up on all over outside the E, we can wonder if that's something he's even interested in at this point.
Jinder was released alongside his 3MB brother Drew Galloway on Black Thursday. While he hasn't been on any consistent televised programs, he has kept busy on the independent circuit, where he is still active. Last year, he spoke to Colt Cabana discussing some of what he's doing. In 2016, for the first time he got to wrestle in India for Great Khali's wrestling promotion, which is something he hadn't had the chance to do prior.
JTG was in WWE for about 8 years. His most well known times were alongside his partner Shad Gaspard in Cryme Tyme, but he spent a couple years solo doing little on the WWE roster. His long employment with no television time caught the eyes of fans, who even made a website counting how long he has been employed by WWE. When the Black Thursday cuts hit, he was not in the first round of talents announced, leading fans to believe he had actually survived another round of cuts. However, his name was announced later in the day.
While JTG (real name Jayson Paul) still wrestles a couple independent gigs alongside his old tag team partner here and there, he's not very active in the wrestling world. He wrote an e-book last year called "Damn! Why did I write this book?" which is all about how wrestlers get heat in WWE and features some of his stories. (Most of his heat came secondary to being tag partners with Shad Gaspard.) He recently wrote a second book as well.
Paul has also done some acting and was part of the cast of the movie Bad Night. He also told Chris Jericho on Y2J's podcast late last year that he's involved in the app Ear-Say. So while JTG isn't extremely active in wrestling, he has sure found a life for himself outside of WWE.
Curt Hawkins was not doing much in WWE when he was released. In fact, he was spending time in NXT (and only sparingly being used) at the time he was released. Unfortunately, his most notable stuff in WWE was earlier in his career there when he was part of the Major Brothers with Zack Ryder and then they became the Edge Heads as Edge's lackeys. As this team, they won the tag team championships.
Currently, Hawkins, who now goes by Brian Myers, is working for Jeff Jarett's Global Force Wrestling. And while GFW still does not have a TV deal for fans to watch Myers on, he was on television in the middle of 2015. GFW ran a program with TNA where Jarrett brought his own talent in as part of a hostile take over that culminated in a lethal lockdown match. Myers was featured as part of this storyline and he and Trevor Lee actually won the TNA tag team championships from the Wolves briefly.
He also is part owner of a wrestling school in New York where he is a trainer.
Evan Bourne was not active when he was released. The former tag team champion was involved in an automobile accident that resulted in a gnarly foot injury. This was coming at the tail end of a 60-day wellness suspension. While Bourne eventually healed up from his injury, they never really used him again.
He is now wrestling as Matt Sydal and fans of his did not need to worry about not being able to watch him again. He soon signed with Ring of Honor where he can be frequently seen. He is also is a current two-time IWGP juniors tag team champion alongside RIchochet in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Aksana does not have much of an internet footprint that could be followed to find out where her life has taken her after WWE. She has a twitter that isn't active (asides from one support tweet that drew two tweets calling her "QUEEN" of course). I stumbled upon her LinkedIn by googling her real name and that hinted at working in the fitness industry, but there's nothing concrete I could find.
Referee Marc Harris
Marc Harris was not a release that got any buzz. His time in WWE may be best remembered for not calling the end of a match during an obvious submission tap out.
His twitter is active and it looks like he's referees in Global Force Wrestling (though referees aren't listed on the GFW site's roster). Also, looking at his Twitter he's really into his daily horoscope.
Another wrestler who was rather inactive in WWE when he was released, Yoshi Tatsu returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he worked prior to his time in WWE. Now with the new name, Yoshitatsu (creative stuff right there) he because the Bullet Club Hunter, aligned against the well known faction.
Unfortunately, in 2014, he broke his neck taking the Styles Clash and was out for over a year. He has since returned, still against the Bullet Club. He has held the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships (that's a mouthful meaning trios title) alongside Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi as part of his feud with the Bullet Club and the Elite.
The video below is in Japanese, but it's a look at his 2014 feud with Styles in NJPW.
If you don't remember Camacho in WWE, that's understandable. He was never featured in a meaningful way on the main roster and spent the majority of his time in NXT alongside Hunico (the current Sin Cara.)
For a relatively unknown WWE talent, he's done rather well for himself. He spent some time on TV in TNA as Micah last year as part of Drew Galloway's "The Rising" stable. Unfortunately, he was the wrestler in the Rising who had the least focus. He then made his way to NJPW under the name Tanga Roa. He is current tag team champion alongside his brother in the Guerillas of Destiny tag team and is also a member of the Bullet Club.
I wanted to include a video of his work in NJPW, but I couldn't find one via the NJPW YouTube so I went with this clip of his debut in TNA.
Brodus Clay, best known for his Funkasaurus gimmick in WWE before turning heel, made his way to TNA with the name Tyrus. He first acted as the heavy to then villain Ethan Carter III and then eventually Matt Hardy. He is an often used talent and even had a title match against Drew Galloway recently.
He can also be seen on TV on the Fox News program the Greg Gutfeld Show which he will occasionally be a guest on.
Like Zeb Colter this year, Teddy Long was the long term part time veteran who was released. According to his website TeddyLong.com, he is available for occasional bookings, signings, and conventions. He's also written a book about his time post WWE. And more importantly, he's started something called the "Playa's Club" which he's vague on but can only be awesome.
Looking back at these people who were all released one Thursday in 2014, most have found at least some success outside WWE. Seeing how these performers did can give us hope for those that were released Friday. There is absolutely the chance to find something outside the world of the E, whether it be tearing it up across the globe like Drew Galloway, finding life in Japan like Sydal and Camacho, or finding other projects like JTG has. Hopefully those that were released last Friday will find success somewhere out there, whether it be in wrestling or in other facets of life.