One Year Later: The Settled Dust from WWE’s Black Wednesday

Deonna Purrazzo in IMPACT

One year ago, on April 15, 2020, WWE released an extensive list of pro wrestlers in a move that was dubbed Black Wednesday. A year later to the date, WWE has now launched the sequel, Black Thursday, with another handful of releases, this time including WWE Superstars such as Samoa Joe, Mickie James, The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce), Chelsea Green, and Bo Dallas. Most of the names are sure to attract a lot of attention – either with major companies like AEW, IMPACT Wrestling, NJPW, or Ring of Honor, or in the vibrant indie scene that has emerged over the past years. But it’s still too early to postulate where these freshly released talents will eventually end up. But a year removed from the first Black Wednesday on April 15, 2020, here’s a look back at how each of last year’s releases has landed on their feet (or haven’t) since that fateful day.

Kurt Angle, Currently Inactive

Kurt Angle had been working as a backstage producer/agent when he was released by WWE. He had retired from in-ring competition a year prior at WrestleMania 35 in 2019 against Baron Corbin. While he would ultimately return in a few on-screen segments as a WWE Legend, Kurt Angle never returned to pro wrestling, turning down a new WWE deal to return as Matt Riddle‘s manager, choosing to focus on his nutrition company. Angle did, however, recently tease a return to the ring on his Twitter, but to date, has yet to appear in a wrestling promotion.

Drake Maverick, Re-signed with WWE

Drake Maverick still competed in NXT for a few weeks after his WWE release (due to being active in the NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament at the time), and during that time, he “earned” himself a new WWE contract, re-signing with the company a month after he was initially released. He remains in NXT, where he’s in a tag team with Killian Dain.

Zack Ryder, Matt Cardona in IMPACT Wrestling

Zack Ryder returned to his real name, Matt Cardona, and in the summer following his 90-day non-compete clause, initially showed up in AEW to work with his real-life close friend Cody Rhodes. But his time in AEW was brief, more of a one-off for a few matches before he was gone again. In January of this year, he debuted with IMPACT Wrestling, where he currently still competes, and where he’s locked in a feud with his former long-time tag partner and podcast co-host Brian Myers.

Curt Hawkins, Brian Myers in IMPACT Wrestling

Curt Hawkins returned to his real name of Brian Myers upon his release, and following the end of his 90-day non-compete made his debut in IMPACT Wrestling that July. He’s remained a part of IMPACT Wrestling programming since, challenging Eddie Edwards for the IMPACT world title in his IMPACT in-ring return, as well as feuds with Willie Mack, Tommy Dreamer, and former tag partner Matt Cardona. Myers has also competed regularly in the U.S. indies with the likes of WrestlePro, Black Label Pro, and others.

Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, The Good Brothers in IMPACT Wrestling

The former Bullet Club tag team, who had been associated with former Bullet Club leaders Finn Balor and AJ Styles during their time in WWE, also made the jump to IMPACT Wrestling following their 90-day non-compete deals, where they debuted as The Good Brothers. In November, they defeated The North to capture the IMPACT world tag team titles, which they held for 119-days. In December, they reunited with another former Bullet Club leader in Kenny Omega, who had come to IMPACT at the behest of IMPACT executive Don Callis (who is now managing Omega). The alliance of Omega and the Good Brothers officially kicked open what has now been referred to as “The Forbidden Door”, and the Good Brothers routinely work both IMPACT and AEW.

Heath Slater, Heath in IMPACT Wrestling

Heath Slater was yet another casualty of Black Wednesday who made the jump to IMPACT Wrestling when his window opened up, where he was reunited with former WWE tag team partner Rhino. Known simply as Heath, he would spend weeks trying to earn an IMPACT contract (similar to his WWE angle of not being drafted). Sadly, at IMPACT Bound for Glory in November, Heath was injured during the Call Your Shot Gauntlet match and hasn’t returned to the ring since.

Eric Young, Returned to IMPACT Wrestling

It was no surprise that Eric Young would also return to IMPACT Wrestling, the company that had been his home for decades prior. His return was explosive, where he won his second IMPACT World Championship, and he’s since gone on to form a new faction, Violent By Design, that features Joe Doering, Cody Deaner, and Rhino. Unfortunately, Young was injured at the last set of tapings and will seemingly miss most of 2021 due to the severity.

Rowan, Erick Redbeard in U.S. Indies

Rowan made his return to the U.S. indies as Erick Redbeard, initially competing in the UWN World Title Tournament for United Wrestling Network (UWN) on their weekly show UWN Primetime. He briefly surfaced in AEW as part of the Brodie Lee tribute show, before returning to the U.S. indies once again. He recently competed in two matches during Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) events, first at GCW Fight Forever in January (where he defeated Homicide during Violence x Suffering‘s block) and then at The Collective set of events over this past WrestleMania Week, where he defeated Matthew Justice at No Peace Underground‘s NPU Shallow Graves.

Sarah Logan, Currently Inactive

Sarah Logan returned to her family farm, where she soon announced she was pregnant with the first child of her and her husband, WWE superstar Erik of Viking Raiders. She recently gave birth and continues to post video blogs of her life on the family farm as a new mother.

No Way Jose, Levy Valenz in U.S. Indies

No Way Jose hasn’t done much since his WWE release, although he did appear for Luke Gallows’ Lariato Pro promotion for a match in late August, now using the ring name Levy Valenz. He hasn’t appeared since.

Mike & Maria Kanellis, Returned to Ring of Honor

Mike Kanellis reclaimed his previous moniker of Mike Bennett, and has been very active on the U.S. indies since his release, appearing for Black Label Pro, Warrior Wrestling, and others. In December of 2020, he returned to Ring of Honor and soon reformed an alliance with Matt Taven, his former partner in The Kingdom years ago. He recently signed a new contract with ROH. Maria Kanellis also returned to ROH in December, where she helped reboot The Experience, a fan interaction service with the company.

EC3, Signed with Ring of Honor

EC3 initially returned to IMPACT Wrestling in the summer of 2020, but after a short feud with Moose, the former 2x IMPACT World Champion headed to Ring of Honor for a series of matches, while also competing on the U.S. indies. In February of 2021, ROH announced that EC3 had officially signed a contract with Ring of Honor.

Aiden English, Matt Rehwoldt on U.S. Indies

The former associate of Rusev during the ‘Rusev Day’ phenomenon, Aiden English made his return in the fall of 2020 with Zelo Pro Wrestling under his real name. He’s only had a couple of matches since his release, but he’s been an active broadcaster on multiple platforms, such as Twitch, YouTube, and Discord.

Curtis AxelCurrently Inactive

While his social media has returned to his real name, Joe Hennig, so far the third-generation grappler has yet to make his return to the world of pro wrestling.

Lio Rush, Pretty Much Everywhere

Lio Rush has definitely had the most diverse amount of opportunities since his WWE departure last April. In July of 2020, he made his return with GCW, where he became a regular with the company throughout 2020, competing against the likes of Joey Janela and ACH, plus younger stars like Blake Christian. In November, he began appearing for UWN, and by December, was being regularly featured with NJPW as part of the U.S. program, NJPW STRONG. He also appeared for AAA, competing at AAA TripleMania XXVIII, and in January joined Major League Wrestling (MLW), where he captured the MLW Middleweight Championship. Lio Rush continues to be a main event star on the U.S. indies, while also splitting time with NJPW and MLW.

The Colons (Epico & Primo), The Colon Dynasty (Eddie & Orlando Colon) on U.S. Indies

With Puerto Rico unable to produce shows during the pandemic, the Colon cousins have remained active working various Florida indie promotions since their release, including Coastal Championship Wrestling (CCW), where they held the CCW tag team titles for 211-days. They are now known as The Colon Dynasty, going by their real names, Eddie and Orlando Colon.

Chris Hero, Currently Inactive

Chris Hero has popped up on social media quite often since his release and recently launched a new podcast, but so far, Chris Hero has yet to make his in-ring return since he was quietly released during the Black Wednesday fallout. He plans to return when the time is right, but until then, longtime fans continue to fantasy book the indie legend in dream matches daily.

Deonna Purrazzo, Signed with IMPACT Wrestling

Deonna Purrazzo has had one of the most successful runs since her WWE departure, as “The Virtuosa” also showed up in IMPACT Wrestling and immediately made her presence known. She’s currently in the midst of her second reign as IMPACT Knockouts champion, which just passed the 150-day mark (her first run last summer lasted 98-days). She’s also slowly made her return to the U.S. indies as well, although sporadically during the pandemic.

Rachael Evers, Rachael Ellering on U.S. Indies

Rachael Ellering quickly returned to her real name following her WWE release and made her AEW debut as part of the Women’s Tag Team Tournament last July. She only worked one set of tapings and has yet to appear in-ring again, although recent reports indicate that she worked the past set of tapings for IMPACT Wrestling. Whether it was another one-off set of tapings or something more long-term has yet to be determined.

Rusev, Miro in AEW

For a while after his release, it nearly seemed like Rusev was done with pro wrestling, as he seemed content being a YouTube and Twitch gamer. But in September of 2020, he made his debut with AEW. Now called simply Miro (a condensation of his real first name, Miroslav), he had a lengthy feud alongside Kip Sabian against Best Friends & Orange Cassidy, but the latest episode of AEW Dynamite seems to indicate that the dominant angry Rusev that many felt should have been a main event player in WWE for years is finally ready to emerge in AEW.

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