WWE has released more than 50 wrestlers in 2021, most of which were announced in massive waves over the past four months. With the exception of those who requested their releases or had their contracts expire, the reason behind the releases has often been chalked up to budget cuts, and WWE president Nick Khan's name is often brought up as the decision-maker behind who gets put on the chopping block. Khan spoke with BT Sport's Ariel Helwani this past weekend and was asked to address all of those cuts.
"I don't know that there's one explanation for it," Khan said (h/t Cageside Seats). "I think ultimately what's looked at is, is this person — for us — going to move the needle now, or in the imminent future. So, by the way, we had a tryout, a two-day tryout in Las Vegas which ended yesterday. Which Triple H, and Johnny Laurinaitis, and Bruce Prichard were all across, as were the rest of us. We've signed over a dozen new talent coming out of that tryout. And I'm not suggesting, "Oh that's why we cut the other talent." But we're always looking for what's next. We live in the present, we live in the future. We don't live in the past. So when people leave, and they move on with their life and their careers? That's good by us. For us, it's what works for us and our product at that moment in time, and again, what's gonna work down the road. And largely in part the existing roster is based on that."
Khan was also asked about All Elite Wrestling, which has firmly established itself as the No. 2 pro wrestling promotion in the country. Vince McMahon openly shot down the idea of AEW being WWE's competition for talent and audiences during an investors conference call earlier this year, and Khan plainly stated he doesn't pay attention to what the competition is doing.
"It's not what I do. It's not what we do at WWE. What I do and what we do, we look ahead. 'Where are we going?' It's almost like, and this was from Jimmy Iovine, in the Dr. Dre, Iovine HBO doc [The Defiant Ones] a couple of years ago? He said at the end, he's like, 'You got to look at these things like a horse in a race.' They put a blinder, they put blinders on the horse. Why do they do that? So you're not looking back to see what the other horse is doing," Khan said. "The horse does that, they're gonna trip and break their leg. I believe in my career. I've always operated that way. I know WWE has always operated that way. We look ahead. So our decisions are based on what's best for us, and whatever anyone else does with that? Good for them."