WWE employees associated with putting together Aleister Black’s recent WWE SmackDown storyline reportedly did not know he was being released before today’s announcement.

As noted, WWE announced today that 6 Superstars have been released – Black, Braun Strowman, Lana, Ruby Riott, Murphy, and Santana Garrett. You can click here for Black’s post-release statement, where he noted that he was completely surprised by the departure.

Black had just returned to WWE TV in late April with vignettes for a re-package, after being away for 6 months. He then made his SmackDown arrival in late May, and attacked Big E to begin a new feud between the two. There was no follow-up on last Friday’s SmackDown, but we noted before that a creative decision had been made to keep Black and Big E off TV for a week, to allow time for the storyline to breathe.

In an update, Fightful Select reports that many people behind-the-scenes in WWE that were associated with putting the storyline together did not know Black was being cut. Furthermore, WWE creative writers were recently told to stop making pitches for Black, but were not told why.

It was also noted that the Black vs. Big E feud had no long-term endgame.

Black went live on wife Thea Trinidad’s Twitch gaming account this afternoon and said he was told that budget cuts are the reason for his departure (h/t to F4Wonline.com).

Speaking of Zelina Vega (Thea Trinidad), we noted last month how she was at the WWE Performance Center and was said to be on her way back to the company after being released in late 2020 following issues with the company over their third party edict. This new report noted that there has been no talk of any specific plans for Vega, and there’s no confirmation that she has actually signed an official contract to return.

There is no word on what Black has planned for the future, but we will keep you updated.

Stay tuned for more.