Back in early December WWE made the surprising decision to release Luke Harper, Sin Cara and The Ascension from their contracts. This was a complete 180 to the promotion's behavior throughout most of 2019, where they locked up a big chunk of its stars to lucrative, multi-year contracts while also outright ignoring release requests. The reason? So their wrestlers couldn't jump to other companies, namely the young promotion All Elite Wrestling. Of the four, the 6-foot-5 Harper (Brodie Lee on the independent scene) was circled by many as the obvious choice to make the jump to AEW at some point. In a new interview with TalkSport's Alex McCarthy this week, AEW executive vice president Cody Rhodes fanned the flames of that speculation.
"He would be great as part of AEW," Rhodes said. "He's a name that when you hear they've asked for their release, you definitely think about that and the next steps, for sure. I think he's going to flourish with what he does next, he's very special."
Interesting from Cody on @LukeHarperWWE...
"He would be great as part of AEW. He's a name that when you hear they've asked for their release, you definitely think about that and the next steps, for sure. I think he's going to flourish with what he does next, he's very special."— Alex McCarthy (@AlexM_talkSPORT) December 17, 2019
Harper would be far from the first WWE talent to join AEW. Other former Superstars include Rhodes, AEW World Champion Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose), Shawn Spears (Tye Dillinger), Dustin Rhodes (Goldust), PAC (Neville), Awesome Kong (Kharma) and Leva Bates (Blue Pants).
It's also no secret that wrestlers have used the mere existence of AEW as leverage to get better contracts. Randy Orton jokingly did so on Instagram earlier this year before signing his new deal, but Cody and Brandi Rhodes said they didn't mind.
"I encourage it honestly, because if they're feeling any way where they're starting to tip, people who do this they are all very talented people and they have big followings and stuff like that," Brandi said. "Why not do something? Don't do nothing. Do something to showcase, 'Hey, this is how I'm feeling. There are these other options.' I don't mind that. Sometimes I know what they're doing when they do that and I'll give them that little bit back because it's okay."
"We're brothers and sisters as wrestlers," Cody said. "We really are. It doesn't matter what roof we're under. And the the wrestling industry is, if you compare to other entertainment of comparable influence like popular tv, where they're paid so much and they're unionized and they have so much to protect them and safeguards. One of the most exciting things about AEW is we've been able to raise the entire pay floor for the entire industry. So if Randy wants to take a dumb photo on an elevator and tag people he doesn't even know in it and they're dumb enough to buy it and they pay him a certain amount, good for Randy Orton."