Report: Two Former WWE Champions May Have Retired

WWE released former Raw and NXT Tag Team Champions The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) back on Sept. 4, 2020. Since then there's been no sign of either man competing in another company, despite the fact that both are still in their 20s. According to Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp, an independent promoter who recently reached out in an attempt to book them was told that they had both "retired" from the business. Sapp's report on Fightful Select added the two inquired about working for other companies including All Elite Wrestling, but management wasn't sure if they'd be the right fit and simply left the door open for future consideration. The pair also took a look at New Japan Pro-Wrestling but the promotion wasn't signing new talent at the time.

Update: Hours after Sapp's initial report broke, Akam responded with an old photo of himself, Rezar and Paul Ellering with the caption "Aint Done Yet Bitches...." This does not necessarily discredit the promoter's claim, but it does give hope that AOP will be back in a major promotion down the road.

Akam (Sunny Dhinsa) and Rezar (Gzim Selmani) signed with WWE in 2014 and 2015 respectively and arrived in 2016 as a dominant tag team with Ellering as their manager. The pair won the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, then beat Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT tag titles at NXT TakeOver: San Antonio in January 2017. A year later they made the jump to the Raw roster and promptly cut ties with Ellering. They'd go on to hold the Raw tag titles, have Drake Maverick as their manager and work as followers of Seth Rollins in the years that followed.

The two saw their run on the main roster repeatedly hampered by injuries. Akam needed knee surgery in January 2019 that kept both men off television for months, and Rezar suffered a bicep injury in March 2020 that kept the team on the shelf until their releases.

Ellering confirmed last August during an appearance on the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast that WWE planned on reuniting him with AOP, only for those plans to be scrapped due to the pandemic.

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"The idea was to bring me back in, but then this Corona stuff came up," Ellering said "Then the guys got hurt and they were out a while, so everything got put on the back shelf and I don't know where it sits now."

He also spoke incredibly highly of Akam and Rezar, saying, "After I met Rezar and Akam, the Authors of Pain, then I knew I wanted to do it because they are two terrific young men. The best of the best. I wanted to do it to help them. We had a good run for 2 years. It was fun. I really enjoyed being around all the young people there. I would fly down for TV and maybe an extra date to do interviews so I never had to be on the road.