The post-WrestleMania WWE roster cull used to be one of the company's darkest annual traditions.
Fans and wrestlers alike would await news of impending releases like frothing flag-wavers outside boutique London hospitals, with some under-threat performers genuinely turning their phones off with the hope that company axe-wielders would move down the list of the damned and forget to go back up.
JTG's continued employment became an annual running gag, John Laurinaitis' name was cursed for bringing the hammer down on at least one reddit thread's favourite wrestler, and a hail-mary repackage on television the following week invariably reflected a private beg between the higher up and hired hand for one last chance.
Indiscriminately brushed off as cost-cutting, WWE's wheels kept turning whilst talent hit the skids, trying desperately to avoid 'damaged goods' tags from independent promoters keen to low-ball them.
Triple H's rise to developmental prominence changed all that. Scorched earth sackings were binned, in part presumably to try and preserve the smiling face of modern-day WWE but also to make the new godfather of NXT not look like the wolf in sheep's clothing he actually was. To their credit, the company will now try and try and try again with the rank-and-file before cutting bait, but the backfill is becoming a bloat.
Look, there's no easy way to say it. Well there is - WWE eventually made it the heel Laurinaitis character's catchphrase - but wishing performers well in their future endeavours still carries the toxicity of a more tumultuous time.
Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.