Earlier this week, rumors had been swirling that WWE was preparing to release a handful of talent from its roster, and on Friday, the ax finally fell.
Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, Zeb Colter, Alex Riley, Santino Marella, Cameron, El Torito and Hornswoggle were all cut loose, according to a statement on WWE.com. Of those names, only Barrett and Sandow had worked on television lately – the former making his final appearance last month, when he was summarily dropped from the League of Nations stable, while the latter (who was part of a wildly popular "stunt double" angle with the Miz last year) participated in a battle royal match on Monday's WWE Raw. Colter took part in the wildly unpopular MexAmerica storyline with Alberto Del Rio that fizzled out in late 2015.
Riley had recently returned to NXT, WWE's developmental promotion, where he had previously feuded with Kevin Owens and worked as a color commentator. Cameron, formerly a cast member on Total Divas and part of WWE's main roster as both a singles competitor and a member of the Funkadactyls, had also worked matches in NXT earlier this year.
Marella, a former U.S. and Intercontinental Champion, retired from in-ring competition in 2014 following a string of neck injuries, and had made only sporadic appearances on WWE programming since. The same can be said for El Torito, formerly a member of the tag team Los Matadores, and Hornswoggle, who worked in WWE for a decade.
Interestingly, within hours of their release, both Hornswoggle and Colter were announced to appear at an indie event in New Jersey next month. And as news of their free agency began making the rounds, several of the (now former) WWE superstars addressed the matter on social media:
Thank you pic.twitter.com/PExgXOMLId— Hornswoggle (@wwehornswoggle) May 6, 2016
Worry not my friends for the next chapter shall be even greater! It was a dream come true, thank you #WWE— Santino Marella (@milanmiracle) May 6, 2016
In the midst of these releases, the status of another WWE superstar, Ryback, remains in limbo. He was sent home from this week's episode of WWE Raw, and he remains at odds with the company over a new contract – a situation he addressed in a lengthy blog post on Wednesday.