The winds of transition have swept through the WWE roster, and Shelton Benjamin has become one of its most prominent casualties. The news broke today on X, the platform once known as Twitter, with Benjamin personally confirming his departure from WWE. Gratitude flowed from him as he extended his thanks to WWE staff, his fellow wrestlers, and of course, the global legion of fans. With anticipation in his eyes, Benjamin hinted at the next exciting phase of his wrestling journey.
This marks the curtain fall on Benjamin’s second act with WWE. His initial foray began in 2000 under a developmental contract, and for a decade, he showcased his mettle, garnering admiration and titles. Post his 2010 release, the wrestling world saw him leapfrog across platforms like the independent circuit, Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling NOAH. Destiny had other plans, and in August 2017, Benjamin made his grand re-entry into the WWE, partnering with Chad Gable to deliver riveting performances.
Benjamin’s tenure with WWE glittered with accolades. He wore the United States Championship belt once, clinched the Intercontinental Championship thrice, and the “Raw” Tag Team Championships crowned him on three separate occasions. Among these, two victories came with his trusted ally, Charlie Haas, forming the formidable World’s Greatest Tag Team, while another was with Cedric Alexander. In recent times, fans fondly remember Benjamin for his dynamic association with The Hurt Business, teaming up with stalwarts like Alexander, Bobby Lashley, and MVP. Alas, his WWE screen presence dimmed after his last appearance on the June 19 episode of “Raw.”
However, Benjamin’s departure doesn’t stand alone. The WWE universe is abuzz with roster reconfigurations, a consequence of the significant television rights reshuffle after a high-profile corporate merger. Notable names like Dolph Ziggler, a veteran nearing two decades with WWE and former world heavyweight champion, have reportedly been released. Following this upheaval, several superstars, including Mustafa Ali, Emma, Madcap Moss, and Aliyah, took to social media to confirm their release. Ali’s exit comes as a shock, especially given his scheduled bout against Dominik Mysterio at the No Mercy event on Sept. 30. The industry is rife with rumors of more departures in the offing.
Thursday’s WWE Release Roster:
– Dolph Ziggler (reported)
– Shelton Benjamin (confirmed)
– Elias (reported)
– Mustafa Ali (confirmed)
– Emma (confirmed)
– Madcap Moss (confirmed)
– Aliyah (confirmed)
– And several others, including Top Dolla, Rick Boogs, and Dana Brooke, among others.
WWE’s seismic changes are set against the backdrop of a colossal deal that sees SmackDown relocating from Fox to the USA Network starting October 2024. This five-year arrangement also brings forth the promise of four NBC primetime network specials. Adding to the intrigue, sources like The Hollywood Reporter suggest that both Monday Night Raw and NXT may be on the move.
One cannot discuss these changes without addressing the behemoth in the room – the launch of TKO. This media giant was birthed from the union of Endeavor, merging powerhouses WWE and UFC parent company Zuffa. Both WWE and UFC, while retaining their individual identities, now unfurl their flags under TKO’s vast canopy. With its official inauguration on Sept. 12 and a staggering valuation of $21.4 billion, TKO sees Endeavor holding a 51% share, leaving WWE shareholders with 49%.
This transition has not been without its share of turmoil. Earlier this month, budget constraints saw the unfortunate layoff of over 100 employees, most of whom were pivotal off-camera WWE personnel, as reported by PW Insider.
As WWE superstars find new horizons, the global fanbase waits to see how these shifts will reshape the future of wrestling entertainment.