WWE Women’s Division Takes More Hits From Releases

Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon NXT tag team champions

Once again, the scythe has fallen over World Wrestling Entertainment’s roster of pro wrestling talent, and once again the cuts come as a shock to fans and industry watchers. The list of released talent reads:

Keith Lee, Mia Yim, Nia Jax, Harry Smith, Karrion Kross, Scarlett, Ember Moon, Eva Marie, Franky Monet, B-Fab, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Katrina Cortez, Trey Baxter, Jeet Rama, Oney Lorcan, Zayda Ramier, and Jessi Kamea.

The list of names is a diverse one. Some on the list are former WWE champions of one sort or another-WWE tag team champion with the Hart Dynasty, Smith, former NXT champions Lee and Kross, who were both recently drafted to Monday Night Raw. However, developmental Superstars housed in WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, who have not had a chance to make much of a mark despite early promise 9n the indies, like Ramier, are also present.

WWE’s releases have once again culled a significant number of female performers, as in past releases in 2021 and 2020. The most surprising among them is Jax, whose tag team championship reign alongside Shayna Baszler was one of the ThunderDome era’s most dominant storylines. Their team split in a recent angle when Baszler turned on Jax and kayfabe broke her arm, but it was expected that Jax would return at some point and continue the angle with her former partner. The release of a prominently featured former champion in the main roster women’s division is a shock.

However, just as shocking are the releases of other female talents Ember Moon and Franky Monet. Moon is a one-time NXT champion, and NXT tag team champion, who was also featured on the Raw and Friday Night SmackDown rosters. She is a stunning, fast, and high-flying in-ring performer. Her partnership with Shotzi Blackheart ended abruptly when Shotzi was called up to SmackDown, and assigned a new tag team partner in Tegan Nox. She now appears to be going solo. In the wake of the brand reassignment and dissolution of her tag team, Ember suffered a string of losses on NXT, and appeared sporadically there and 205 Live. On social media, she repeatedly made posts alluding to the wane of her WWE career indicating that it was time for a change. Although it was unclear for some time if she was setting up a new angle in the works for her from WWE creative, such as a heel turn, it now appears that Moon was in earnest when venting her frustrations and disappointments with WWE. Her response to her release today on Twitter: “All I can do is laugh…”. Her talent will be sorely missed.

Another NXT talent cut is Monet, more widely known in the pro wrestling industry as Taya Valkyrie. Monet entered WWE’s developmental system when NXT was still being promoted as a third brand equal to Raw and smackdown. She was a well known figure with a past behind her in AAA and Impact. Her vampy Taya character was eschewed on WWE’s third brand for the character of vain celebrity influencer Franky, who quickly landed in the Robert Stone Brand, with little meaningful ring time outside of a challenge for Raquel Gonzalez’s NXT women’s championship. Her comedic talents and forceful in-ring style could have been featured more heavily.

B-Fab of the Hit Row stable was not much of an in-ring performer at first, but towards the end of the group’s time on NXT began to be featured in singles matches opposite Legado Del Fantasma’s Electra Lopez. The rivalry between the two was an interesting extension into the women’s division of the feud between the two groups. Hit Row’s drafting to SmackDown came as a surprise twist in the 2021 draft, but B-Fab’s role in the stable came to an abrupt end with her release today.

While top female talent like Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks continue to be huge financial draws for the increasingly content-driven WWE, how much longer can a handful of women who have faced each other in the ring numerous times continue to circle each other? Monet, B-Fab, Moon, and Jax, and performers like them, are needed to fill the division. With no one to interact with or compete against, how compelling is the content created by the few, and most prominent and profitable female performers? With performers cut so frequently, what is the long-term plan for growth for the division that was rebooted only in 2016?

In Moon, Monet, and Jax, WWE has lost experienced performers, in B-Fab they’ve lost potential and the chance to create a compelling performer from the ground up, as they did to great success in 2020 and 2021 with Bianca Belair. This incarnation of WWE’s women’s division is only five years old, and counting but the health of the division is in question if it cannot create and retain talent.