SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
-No huge surprises on the initial list of WWE cutbacks today. I had heard this morning they were coming. Actually, earlier this week at TV wrestlers were buzzing about it.
-The cutback of Zeb Colter seems a bit harsh if only because he had been a confidant of Vince McMahon on the booking side in recent years, a trusted ear to bounce ideas off of. He also dealt with severe health issues last year which is why he was in a wheelchair although he was private about the details. That said, serving Wall Street is a priority. Dutch, though, seems like someone WWE would benefit from having on staff to critique shows, if nothing else, as he’s a good seasoned respected wrestling mind who is willing to be blunt with his opinions.
-Santino hadn’t been used lately, and with his in-ring career coming to an end, this felt inevitable. I suppose they could have introduced a weekly interview segment for him to host every week on Smackdown that might have been a nice exclusive hook for Smackdown each week. There are fans who love his personality and would make an effort to tune in or at least watch the segment on YouTube.
-Hornswoggle is a surprise if only because it seems he’s been around forever. Mid-card comedy acts in wrestling have a shelf life and they probably felt they had done all they could with him. As is often the case with cutbacks, sometimes politics plays a significant role.
-Alex Riley is no surprise. His character on NXT was just sad over the last year or so. He was basically portraying a quarterback who no longer had it and just couldn’t give it up. He looked frustrated and lost. I did think he took a slight turn for the better as he went from the pretty boy in his 20s look to a rough-around-the-edges look and a new coarser, grittier attitude. Still, no surprise. Not sure if there’s anywhere for him to land given his resume, although I could see him getting a look from TNA.
-Nothing to say about Cameron and El Torito.
-Wade Barrett also just announced on Twitter he agreed to part ways with WWE a few weeks early. He was a vastly underutilized wrestler on the roster. When he first debuted on Raw, he seemed like a sure-fire 10+ year main event heel. Vince McMahon just lost his enthusiasm for him, and I know the criticism I heard of him, including his “size” (muscle-mass) from people in the industry, always felt weak to me.
To learn a LOT about WWE behind-the-scenes happenings from 2011-2014, check out yesterday’s 90+ minute exclusive PWTorch Livecast interview with ex-WWE creative team member Kevin Eck. It’s getting a ton of praise on Twitter since yesterday and is one of those “must-listen podcasts.” LINK.
[Hornswoggle art credit Neal Obermeyer]
(Wade Keller is editor and founder of Pro Wrestling Torch and winner of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame “Jim Melby Award for Excellence in Writing on Professional Wrestling” in the class of 2015. Listen to him Tuesdays and Thursdays on the PWTorch Livecast and every single day as a VIP member with the Daily Wade Keller Hotline breaking news, reacting to news, reviewing Raw, and answering VIP member questions throughout the week.)