Ezra Judge: The Unlikely Hero In A Day of NXT Releases

Ezra Judge Becomes Buzz After Release

On Wednesday, May 19, WWE revealed a slew of new releases, this time a round of cuts from the NXT brand. WWE released NXT Superstars Alexander Wolfe, Jessamyn Duke, Vanessa Borne, Kavita Devi, Skyler Storey (Brandi Lauren), and referee Jake Clemons. The biggest release was arguably the long-anticipated separation of the WWE from controversial NXT referee Drake Wuertz (formerly deathmatch legend Drake Younger). In the past few years, Weurtz’ outlandish claims as he fell deeper and deeper into a QAnon spiral of conspiracy theories wrapped in Christian extremist ideologies had caused much concern and heat behind the scenes. But it was another report that included news of perhaps the least known of the NXT releases – former pro football player E.J. Nduka, who was known in NXT by the name Ezra Judge. When his name was initially included in the release list, outside of some WWE Performance Center attendees who lauded his passion and drive, he was a virtual unknown. But following a report from Fightful Select, suddenly Ezra Judge became the talk of the town and an urban folk hero in pro wrestling.

Born in Dallas, Texas to two Nigerian immigrants, E. J. Nduka was raised in Jackson, New Jersey. He began his collegiate football career as a defensive end with Jacksonville University in Florida, before transferring to Sam Houston State University in Texas. While he went undrafted, he had several NFL tryouts post-college, but ended up playing arena football in the U.S. and then signing with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. After his football career stalled, he entered the world of pro bodybuilding, before signing with the WWE in August of 2019. With his athletic background as a gridiron warrior, plus his bodybuilding routine, by all accounts, Nduka took to pro wrestling like a duck to water. Assigned to NXT, he became NXT Superstar Ezra Judge.

According to the report from Fightful Select, Wuertz’s behavior became increasingly intolerant over the past few years, particularly with religion and people of color. During a staff meeting led by Triple H on inclusion in the NXT locker room during the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, Wuertz “aggressively gathered his belongings and left” when Triple H mentioned all religions were welcome. The report also mentions increasing unease from wrestlers of color, who found that Wuertz’s choice of language suspect and “took exception to the way things were worded”. It went on to mention that he had an encounter with Ezra Judge that almost came to blows. As soon as news of that tidbit found its way online, Ezra Judge went from being the least known name on the list to one of its most talked about. Of all the talents NXT has in the locker room, it was Ezra Judge who seemingly ” almost feeling the need to get physical with Drake”.

From the way other NXT and WWE Performance Center recruits reacted to Ezra Judge’s release earlier on Wednesday, it’s clear he’s found a passion in pro wrestling. And being the man to stand up to Drake Wuertz’s nonsense has now made him a folk hero for those who have been appalled at his overstay in pro wrestling’s biggest company. One would wager that it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a name to watch on the U.S. independents – if someone else doesn’t sign him up first.

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