Prior to 2022, AEW releases were few and far between. But rumors and reports of wrestlers wanting out of their contracts, an allegedly chaotic backstage environment and WWE reaching out to former stars about their AEW deals have been spreading like wildfire over the past few months. However, it now appears that people should pump the breaks on the idea that the young promotion is suddenly going to start letting many of its stars go. Buddy Matthews took to Twitter this past weekend and promptly denied the recent reports he had been granted his release and Malakai Black did the same late Monday night on Instagram Live.
Many of the previous reports claimed AEW's front office was sticking to a policy that if a wrestler doesn't want to be in the company then they should be allowed to leave. But according to Dave Meltzer via the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, that's not actually the case.
"Nobody's getting released. That's the doctrine. Tony Khan made that very clear I guess in the last couple of days. So now it's just, (Malakai Black's) not being released, Buddy Matthews isn't being released. Now they may be back sooner than before," Meltzer said. "It's not to say it's hard and fast, and there'd be no way they'd ever give anybody a release. But I think it's pretty much the deal that if this happened in the other company, would those people get releases, and the answer is no. They signed the contract, so basically now, their option is to sit at home -- and (Khan) can extend the contract if they sit at home — or wrestle. So now they're gonna wrestle."
The biggest departure from AEW remains Cody Rhodes, who left the promotion alongside his wife Brandi back in February. While it's still unclear what the disagreement between Rhodes and Khan was that led to "The American Nightmare's" departure, Khan said at the time that he chose to not exercise the addition year option on Rhodes' contract.
"I don't want to get too deep into it because a lot it's personal between me and (Cody) but I tried to reach a longer agreement with him beyond what we had for the option years," Khan said during a media conference call leading up to Revolution. "And it sounded like at one point I think that we were going to, honestly, and when we couldn't settle on it, the last thing I want to do is keep somebody here who isn't gonna want to be here so it didn't look like we were gonna get a longer deal done. I would've loved to have done it and I have a lot of respect for him but when we didn't come to terms on that it made it pretty clear where we were gonna end up on things. That being said, I said nothing but respectful stuff about Cody and I'll continue to."