It’s easy to skim through the list of all the WWE wrestlers who were released yesterday (Apr. 15) and acknowledge that WWE wasn’t doing much with them.
Some of these wrestlers have been presented as jobbers (No Way Jose, Sarah Logan, Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder), others rarely got television time (Eric Young, EC3, Primo, Epico), and Aiden English was even moved away from a wrestling role.
Names like Rusev, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson stand out from that crowd, but it’s not too surprising to see them go. Gallows and Anderson were probably making a boatload of money while being completely irrelevant independent of AJ Styles, and Rusev’s had a tense relationship with WWE for a long time.
Rowan is the one wrestler on the list who doesn’t fall into any of these categories. He wasn’t a jobber, he received plenty of television time, and there were no rumors of conflict with WWE.
He actually received a substantial push for much of the past year. He spent last spring and summer as Daniel Bryan’s tag team partner, including a championship reign. Rowan was then revealed as the man who tried to murder Roman Reigns circa SummerSlam 2019, and this even included a win over Reigns on pay-per-view in September. From November through January, Rowan consistently squashed local talent on Raw while being overly protective of a hidden creature in a cage.
Things quickly fell off a cliff from February 2020 on, including the underwhelming reveal that he was carrying a giant fake spider in his cage, with that fake spider then being murdered by top babyface Drew McIntyre. But still, the point remains that Rowan received a significant push compared to many wrestlers on the roster, especially those superstars who were released yesterday.
Unlike the others, his release really leaves me scratching my head. Why did WWE invest so much television time in Rowan if they didn’t think he had much value? Why did they give him so many squash victories if they saw him as this expendable? Why did they have him pin Roman Reigns on pay-per-view without having a long-term plan in mind?
When fans talk about WWE struggling to create stars, it’s because of how they push wrestlers like Rowan. WWE just does things with no rhyme or reason. They do things for right now. They have very little planning for anything beyond right now, and then they just quickly move on to the next shiny thing that catches their eye, rendering so much of their previous time and effort wasted. This past year that WWE spent pushing Rowan is now worthless and adds almost zero value to the product going forward.
Maybe it was always going to be this way, because Rowan didn’t stand out as a special talent on this roster. Maybe this was WWE finally acknowledging that they pushed the wrong guy this entire time. And it’s good for pro wrestling companies to make an adjustment when booking decisions are not working. But even in that case, I would have expected a gradual move down the card for Rowan, not an immediate release.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Would anyone like to take their best guess to explain what happened here?