Reasons Behind Several WWE Releases Revealed

More context on some of Thursday's brutal WWE wrestler releases.

Elias WWE 2021

WWE released a total of 20 wrestlers on Thursday, including such notable names as Shelton Benjamin, Elias, Dolph Ziggler, and Mustafa Ali, doing so on the day its parent company, Endeavour, announced a new $1.4 billion television deal.

Fightful Select's reporting provides additional context on a handful of these roster cuts. The first release to be announced, Mustafa Ali, was reportedly bound to a contract expiring sometime in the spring or summer of 2024. NXT sources had no knowledge of Ali's impending release, with the former RETRIBUTION leader active on the developmental brand at the time of his cut.

It was noted, too, that Mustafa had worked through an injury to make his NXT run happen.


Elias, who hadn't wrestled on television since May, had been pitching WWE ideas up until a month ago. Riddick Moss, meanwhile, was described as a Paul Heyman favourite when the former ECW chief was running SmackDown. Heyman believed he could get Moss to a main event level, though this confidence wasn't shared by others in WWE, hence Moss struggling to get booked by the end.

In a separate report, Fightful stated that Dolph Ziggler's WWE contract was "set to extend into next summer." The former World Champion had wanted to leave the company a few years ago but was talked into staying.


Aliyah didn't come as a surprise, unfortunately. People within WWE expected her name to be on the list. WWE hadn't used her on television or off at the time of her departure, with the promotion rarely (if ever) bringing her to television during this period.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.