The WWE made four moves heading into the weekend, cutting three of their stars from the roster and also letting go of a long-time producer and WWE Hall of Fame legend. One of the names was expected, one asked for his release last week, the third came as a complete surprise, and the producer was a huge shock.
WWE releases Hideo Itami
The WWE announced the release of Hideo Itami, real name Kenta Kobayashi.
Itami asked for his release last month and actually went around and said goodbye to numerous wrestlers at the WWE SmackDown Live TV tapings that same night.
— KENTA (@KENTAG2S) February 6, 2019
When the WWE signed KENTA, it was a huge deal. He was one of the biggest stars in Japan and had turned in five-star matches in the United States when he battled Daniel Bryan in Ring of Honor.
However, injuries derailed his WWE career and he was never able to get back on track once he returned to action.
Most recently, Itami wrestled on 205 Live.
WWE releases Tye Dillinger
Dillinger had been in developmental for years and finally started to come into his own as the Perfect 10 in NXT. However, after making his main roster debut at the 2017 Royal Rumble, he languished and often went weeks or months without making it to TV.
Dillinger even told fans on Twitter that he asked to return to NXT but was denied.
Cody Rhodes of AEW responded to the request by calling Dillinger “fearless” and saying he can’t wait to see what is next.
Based on the timing of the release, all the wrestlers will be free of their 90-day no-compete clause before AEW Double or Nothing takes place.
Fearless. I can’t wait to see what you do next. I wish you all the happiness in the world old friend.
Don’t settle. https://t.co/ZTcZtDiycf
— Cody (@CodyRhodes) February 20, 2019
WWE releases T.J. Perkins
In a huge surprise, and with little warning, the WWE also agreed to release T.J. Perkins from his contract.
Perkins was originally a feel-good story in the WWE, a guy who used to live out of his car as homeless while trying to make it in professional wrestling.
He broke out at the Cruiserweight Classic and was the first-ever WWE Cruiserweight Champion when the company brought back the title. After losing the belt, he remained a solid star on 205 Live, transitioning into a heel, shortening his name to TJP.
TJP actually competed on 205 Live this week, losing to Humberto Carrillo. It was a new look for TJP, who was covered with tattoos that were all new.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) February 20, 2019
WWE releases Arn Anderson
The biggest shock of them all came when the WWE released Arn Anderson.
Anderson is a WWE Hall of Famer, a former member of The Four Horsemen with Nature Boy Ric Flair. There was no reason given on his release, but it is strange since his best friend Flair will celebrate his 70th birthday on Monday Night Raw next week.
The release came on Thursday, according to Pro Wrestling Sheet. He worked as a producer, but WWE just hired a slew of new producers, including Shane Helms, Shawn Daivari, Jeff Jarrett, Sonjay Dutt and Abyss.
Thank you AA for teaching me and letting me sit under the learning tree. #ArnAnderson
— Miro (@RusevBUL) February 22, 2019
Love AA. I stole all of his catchphrases & use them on a daily basis. He went to bat for young talent & at the same time is essentially responsible for all of the current top guys & “golden circle”. He’s not corporate, but that’s a compliment. Can’t take wrestlers outta wrestling
— Cody (@CodyRhodes) February 22, 2019
Arn Anderson was the only release that WWE did not post on their site.