Backstage Details On Dolph Ziggler And Other Talent Released From WWE

Following WWE's merger with UFC to create TKO last week, the company announced a series of talent releases on Thursday that included Dolph Ziggler, Emma, Elias, and more. Fightful Select confirmed some details regarding a few of these releases. Ziggler was reportedly prepared to leave the company "years ago," but was talked into staying, and his deal was originally set to last through next summer. Ziggler had been with WWE since 2004, and was seen as a workhorse internally. Tributes to Ziggler poured in from throughout the wrestling community following the announcement, including one from former rival John Cena.

Mustafa Ali was also released on Thursday, and had previously requested his own release in 2021, but was denied. Ali, who signed with WWE in 2016, then took a sabbatical. Ali's deal was reportedly up in the spring or summer of 2024. No one in "WWE NXT" was aware of Ali's release beforehand, and he even reportedly worked through an injury to appear on "NXT." Ali was set for an upcoming North American Championship match at No Mercy on September 30. Aaliyah, who signed in 2015, was also released, in a move that many reportedly expected, as she had not wrestled for WWE since losing the women's tag team titles over a year ago. The star still holds the record for the fastest victory in WWE history at just 3.17 seconds. According to Fightful, she had not been factored into creative plans or even brought to television.

Elias had not been featured on TV in recent memory, but had been pitching creative ideas as recently as last month. No further information about his deal was given. As for Riddick Moss, he was a favorite of Paul Heyman when he was running the show, but others did not share that thought, leading to Moss not being featured on TV. As of this writing, more releases in WWE's "NXT" brand were being reported. Layoffs began last week following the merger, and included more than 100 employees being let go, including the Ulitmate Warrior's widow, Dana Warrior, who had been working with the company's community outreach department.