2021 was not a good year for a lot of people. A lot of us were just trying to recover from the crapfest that was 2020 and last year certainly didn’t help matters. It was also a terrible time to be a WWE Superstar in terms of job security. Despite the WWE reportedly making tons of money throughout the year, they decided to trim their roster significantly the previous year and wish them the best in their future endeavors.
What makes these releases so unfathomably unreal is how the WWE decided to get rid of some bonifide great in-ring performers. While I can’t really talk about the backstage politics or what’s discussed in the corporate boardroom of the WWE offices, what I can talk about is how dumb some of these releases are, in my humble opinion.
So, with all of that being said, here are just five of the dumbest releases the WWE made in 2021.
#1 Braun Strowman
Well, this one was a definite shocker. Braun Strowman was a former WWE Universal Champion and the primary headliner of RAW. He was the one of the biggest reasons to watch WWE programming. That didn’t stop them for wishing The Monster Among Men the best with his future endeavors, though.
Like most of the firings done in 2021, Braun Strowman’s release has been attributed to the company doing budgets cuts, which does come off as a lie since the WWE has been making money even during 2021. I mostly suspect Braun Strowman’s contract, ever since becoming a big star, ballooned to a size the WWE wasn’t willing to pay anymore. They weren’t pushing him to be a top guy anymore anyway, so why continue paying him the big bucks?
Braun has bounced back a bit since his release, thankfully. He’s appeared on a couple of independent wrestling shows since then. Even so, it’s just a dumb decision to get rid of one of your biggest in-ring talent, both figuratively and literally.
#2 The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay)
The comedic duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, collectively known as the IIconics, were decidedly put in the midcard. While I never expected either of the IIconics to grab the brass ring and make it all the way to the top of the WWE’s Women’s Division by getting a singles championship, they did do well for themselves as they did win the Women’s Tag Team Championships at Wrestlemania 35. I mean, winning a match, much less a championship, at Wrestlemania is always going to be a big thing, right?
The WWE squandered The IIconics and their talent, sadly. After the lost the titles in a Fatal Four Way, The IIconics floundered for a bit but they were still super entertaining thanks to their entire shtick of being stuck up women who would berate other women wrestlers. Eventually, they were split up in one of the dumbest moves in wrestling history. Billie Kay was still allowed to flex her comedic muscle but Peyton Royce was relegated to generic woman’s wrestler. Neither got a push until their eventual release in the middle of 2021.
Thankfully, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce moved on and reformed the team in Impact using their real names. Now called the IInspiration (they kept the two II’s!), they won the Impact Knockouts Tag Team Championships, making them the only women to have won the women’s tag team belts in two different wrestling promotions.
#3 Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze)
Yep, another comedy duo bit the dust in 2021. Fandango and Tyler Breeze, collectively known as Breezango, is kind of a sad but familiar story in the WWE. Both Fandango and Tyler Breeze were incredibly popular when they debuted. Fandango, thanks to his catchy entrance music and dancer gimmick, became somewhat of an Internet meme. Tyler Breeze never became meme-worthy but was a hot commodity, especially in NXT.
Unfortunately, their star power started to fizzle out and the WWE paired the two together to form Breezango. Somehow, the pairing worked and Breezango, while never winning any Tag Team Championships in either RAW or Smackdown, did well for themselves thanks to their comedy skits like the Fashion Files, a pastiche on the X-Files and Law and Order. Sadly, being entertaining in the WWE is never enough and, since they weren’t main draws, the two were let go in 2021.
Unlike the IIconics/IInspiration, Breezango didn’t reform in another wrestling territory. From what I’ve researched, Fandango is working the independent circuit but now calls himself Dirty Dango. Tyler Breeze now operates a wrestling school with AEW star Shawn Spears, WWE’s former Tye Dillinger.
#4 Bray Wyatt
Out of all the former WWE Superstars on this list, Bray Wyatt is the one the WWE messed up the most. I can see why they weren’t so enthused with Husky Harris. He was athletically gifted but not at all interesting. So this guy reinvents himself to be this enigmatic, smooth talking cult-like leader named Bray Wyatt. The rebranding worked and Bray Wyatt and his Wyatt Family rose to the top of the WWE. The WWE then proceeded to ruin it by overbooking the group and handing them loss after loss, making this once fearsome team seem more bark than bite.
This didn’t deter the man behind the character as he proceeded to once again reinvent himself. This new Bray Wyatt became the host of a kid’s show with dark undertones. That wasn’t enough as this supposedly child-friendly jolly man had control of something like a split personality in a character known as The Fiend. Once again, it worked thanks to pure creativity and, once again, the WWE bungled it all up because they had no idea what to do with the character. Through some weird set of cosmic events, Alexa Bliss inherited The Fiend’s abilities and, after his loss in Wrestlemania thanks to Alexa Bliss’ interference, both Bray Wyatt and The Fiend were no more.
Bray Wyatt seems to be moving from the world of professional wrestling and is currently trying his hand in acting. In a weird way, it seems like an appropriate direction for him but not because so many wrestlers, like The Rock, John Cena and Batista, have garnered great success in Hollywood. Rather, I believe his creativity and his ability to put his own spin on characters will help Bray Wyatt stand out just a little more than his contemporaries.
#5 Keith Lee
Keith Lee is, in my opinion, is the biggest and dumbest release the WWE made in 2021. This is a man that has all the qualities a wrestling fan wants to see in a performer. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s surprisingly agile for a man his size. Most of all, he has charisma and knows how to work a crowd. Instead of promoting the heck out of him, the WWE cut Keith Lee from the roster. What the heck?
I guess the WWE has no idea when they’re handed a golden ticket because they did nothing with Keith Lee when he moved from NXT to the main roster. Instead of letting Keith Lee, I dunno, be Keith Lee, they had to repackage him into the “Bearcat” and force him to wear a singlet because they thought it made him look slimmer when they didn’t need to make him look slimmer.
I sadly don’t have any real news about what’s next for Keith Lee as he himself has been quiet about it. He’s in his late 30’s now, as far as I know, so he still can put out a good career for himself in the wrestling world in a different promotion.
BONUS: Ember Moon
I may not have liked Ember Moon but I recognize she is talented. However, I did think the writing was on the wall with her as the WWE simply lost faith in her and, in my opinion, replaced her with Bianca Belair as their new hot female talent.
So, once they did get Bianca Belair and establish her, the WWE had no reason to keep Ember Moon on the roster. Then again, I’m not going to miss her much because she just wasn’t booked well enough for me to care.
Who else do you think the WWE made a mistake in cutting in 2021? Let me know in the comments section below!