The release of WWE NXT talent Ezra Judge (Ezekwesiri “EJ” Nduka Jr.) reportedly surprised many people in the company.

It was noted by Wrestling Observer Radio that Judge’s departure was a surprise to everybody due to his potential. There is no word on the actual story behind Judge’s release, but people were said to be “stunned” by the departure.

It was noted that if you could build a pro wrestler from the ground up, it would be Judge. He stood at 6 foot 6.5 inches, but was billed at 6 foot 8 inches. He weighed 285 pounds and had a 42 inch vertical jump in the NFL Combine in 2012.

WWE signed Judge in August 2019 after he worked multiple tryouts. He previously played arena football and was a successful pro bodybuilder for the IFBB (International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness). Judge worked just two matches with the company. He lost his debut match to Dorian Mak on the February 29, 2020 NXT live event in Jacksonville, FL, and then lost his second match to Arturo Ruas on the March 6, 2020 NXT show in Melbourne, FL.

Judge’s Instagram account shows that he just participated in a WWE Performance Center photo shoot this week. He also served as an extra in the recent NXT TV mansion segment with Cameron Grimes and WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase.

Judge gave thanks in a post-release tweet and said he will be back, indicating officials may have told him he’d get another look down the road. He wrote, “I may be down but never OUT… Bent but not DESTROYED… The GRIND continues. #BUILTFORTHIS I didn’t come this far .. JUST TO COME THIS FAR. Until next time. Thank you all. Love you all. I’ll be back.”

Judge noted in another tweet that he’s working on merchandise and added, “You guys have been incredibly awesome and supportive. This isn’t the end… You guys know I never been afraid of hard work.. or anyone for that matter [winking face emoji].. 30.”

As noted last night, the release of referee Jake Clemons came with the most overall shock among people in the company.

Besides Judge and Clemons, WWE also released the following NXT talents yesterday as a part of budget cuts – Jessamyn Duke, Vanessa Borne (Danielle Kamela), Skyler Story (Brandi Lauren Pawalek, Ava Storie), Alexander Wolfe (Axel Tischer), and Kavita Devi (Kavita Dalal), and referee Drake Younger (Drake Wuertz). You can click here for background info on each departure, and click here for backstage notes with comments from some of the wrestlers.

Stay tuned for more. Below are a few recent Instagram photos from Judge: