Earlier this evening, Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful reported several releases from WWE, specifically in regard to the NXT brand. The names in question include, but aren’t limited to, Bronson Reed, Mercedes Martinez, and Bobby Fish. This news made waves during tonight’s edition of Friday Night SmackDown. In a tweet prior to the news in question, Sapp stated that there were “loads of shocking NXT releases.” The names that have been reportedly released are the following.
There are loads of shocking NXT releases
— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) August 7, 2021
Bronson Reed – The first name that was confirmed to be released was Bronson Reed. He signed with the company in January of 2019 before making his televised debut later that July. During his time on the black-and-gold brand, he won the NXT North American Championship, becoming the first Australian wrestler to win the title. Bronson Reed also appeared on Main Event earlier this June, defeating Drew Gulak.
Mercedes Martinez – Boasting over 2 decades of professional wrestling experience, Mercedes Martinez was arguably the most seasoned women’s wrestler in NXT. She began wrestling in 2000 but wouldn’t make her WWE debut until 2017, when she competed in the Mae Young Classic. Prior to signing with WWE in January of 2020, Martinez made a one-off appearance for All Elite Wrestling, participating in the Casino Battle Royale at All Out 2019.
Bobby Fish – As a former 2x NXT Tag Team Champion, Bobby Fish was among the more shocking releases announced earlier this evening. He was one of the members of the dominant faction known as The Undisputed Era. Prior to joining WWE in 2017, he worked across the independent scene and competed for larger organizations including Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. He won multiple tag team titles during this time, most of them alongside his longtime partner, Kyle O’Reilly.
“I’ve always been famous. It’s just no one knew it yet.” ✨
— 𝗝𝗔𝗞𝗘 𝗔𝗧𝗟𝗔𝗦 (@JakeAtlas_) August 7, 2021
Jake Atlas – 26-year-old Jake Atlas began his professional wrestling career under the Santino Bros. Wrestling Academy. After wrestling largely for independent promotions in California, Atlas signed with WWE in October of 2019. He competed in the NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament the following year and would compete for the title in question as well. In addition to NXT, Atlas worked multiple matches on 205 Live.
Leon Ruff – The plucky underdog, Leon Ruff, began wrestling in 2017, largely for the Evolve promotion. From there, Ruff made multiple appearances on NXT in 2019, eventually inking a deal with WWE the year after. His greatest achievement in the company took place on the November 11, 2020 episode of NXT, where he shocked the world, as well as then-champion Johnny Gargano, capturing the NXT North American Championship.
Kona Reeves – Proclaiming himself as “The Finest,” Kona Reeves’s time in WWE may very well be a story of “what if?” Originally signing with WWE in 2014, it wasn’t until 2018 when Wild Samoan Pro Wrestling Training Center graduate revealed his new persona as “The Finest.” Despite what appeared to be a promising start for the young WWE Superstar, he would only make sporadic appearances on NXT from there, unable to sustain momentum for long.
Tyler Rust – Beginning his wrestling career in 2004, Tyler Rust is among the most well-traveled names released from WWE. The promotions he worked for include, but aren’t limited to, NJPW, ROH, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Rust reported to the Performance Center this past December. Prior to his release, Rust was one of the members of The Diamond Mine. Along with manager Malcolm Bivens, the group consisted of Hachiman, formerly known as Hideki Suzuki, and Roderick Strong.
Alex Zayne > Ari Sterling
— Alex Zayne (@AriSterlingWWE) August 7, 2021
Ari Sterling – Formerly known as Alex Zayne, Ari Sterling had made a name for himself on the independent scene prior to signing with WWE. Sterling began wrestling during the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t until 2016 when he began to build momentum. From NJPW to Game Changer Wrestling and beyond, he developed a solid reputation for himself. Sterling started appearing for WWE this past May, wrestling primarily on 205 Live, though he did wrestle a single NXT match the following June.
Asher Hale – Better known to independent wrestling fans as Anthony Henry, Asher Hale began appearing on WWE programming this past May. Not unlike other names on this list, he wrestled matches for NXT and 205 Live alike. Prior to signing with WWE, Hale worked for promotions including Premiere Wrestling Xperience, Full Impact Pro, and Evolve. He would also win several tag team titles on the independent scene, most alongside JD Drake.
Giant Zanjeer – Standing at 7’2”, former basketball player Giant Zanjeer lives up to his name. He began wrestling in 2017 in his home country of India, specifically for Continental Wrestling Entertainment under the ring name Giant Wonder. He was also trained under former WWE World Heavyweight Champion The Great Khali. Zanjeer’s lone WWE match took place this past January, at WWE Superstar Spectacle, where he teamed with Shanky, Ricochet, and Rey Mysterio in a winning effort in an 8-man tag team match.
Zechariah Smith – Not unlike Giant Zanjeer, Zechariah Smith is a former basketball player as well. Also, like Zanjeer, Smith has a presence about him, standing at 7′ tall. From Morgan State University, Smith played for the Washington Generals. Smith’s size and athletic background afforded him tremendous legitimacy. He joined WWE in early 2020 alongside fellow recruits Martinez, Atlas, Reginald, and others. He never wrestled a single televised match in WWE.
Stephon Smith – In October of 2019, former wrestler Stephon Smith signed with WWE as a referee for NXT. Though he was brought in as an official, his in-ring past can’t be overlooked. Smith started wrestling in 2007, becoming a graduate of Ohio Valley Wrestling, where he wrestled from 2012 to 2018. In said promotion, he briefly held the OVW Television Championship. Smith also worked for promotions including Combat Zone Wrestling and IWA Mid-South.
Man the love and the well wishes I got from people were heart warming and some unexpected!
Thank you ❤️❤️
— Denzel Dejournette (@DesmondTroyWWE) August 7, 2021
Desmond Troy – Prior to signing with WWE in 2018, Desmond Troy was an amateur wrestler, most prominently within the National Collegiate Athletic Association. During his time in NXT, he wrestled primarily live, untelevised events. He also competed for Evolve, as well as on Main Event and 205 Live. Troy even wrestled a few Monday Night Raw matches, facing Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley in what were essentially enhancement matches.
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