The new era – as the current standings in WWE are being dubbed – won’t include Damien Sandow or Wade Barrett.
An upheaval of the roster has Sandow and Barrett poised for opportunities elsewhere, looking to experience new eras of their own. The narrative will quickly move from being what could have been to what will be.
WWE trimmed down its roster on Friday 6th May, cutting a total of eight performers including Alex Riley, Cameron and Zeb Colter, continuing the companies tradition of “spring cleaning,” when, like in years past, a number of stars are let go shortly after WrestleMania.
It is Barrett and Sandow, though, who somewhat unsurprisingly have created the most interest now that they are no longer with WWE. Each showed great potential at times; charismatic and with a showcase of decent fanbases respectively.
The two superstars, Sandow and Barrett, were once on the cusp of breaking out as top stars, and a number of great opportunities by WWE to make that happen.
The release of Sandow and Barrett may have primarily been released for two reasons. Firstly, after reporting a revenue increase of 18% in their fourth quarter of 2015, WWE may be looking to shed some expenses to give this financial success ever present in 2016. Or secondly and more likely, with the influx of new talent over the last couple of months, there simply is not much room for veterans on a suddenly crowded roster.
While this brings logical explanation to the cull of Sandow and Barrett, for some, this still doesn’t lessen the sting because arguably both Superstars were two of the most misused characters in recent WWE history.
Barrett, who has shared that his departure from WWE was more a mutual thing between himself and the company, hit the ground running in June 2010 when he led a Raw takeover by a group of NXT rookies that later came to be known as The Nexus. Not long after, Barrett would feud with the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton, going as far as to challenge Orton for the WWE Championship in his first year.
However once Barrett and the Nexus lost to Team WWE (read: Team Cena) at Summerslam 2010, the downhill effect just kept on. Despite brief glimpses of hope in resuming to the main event, Barrett never managed to garner the same status he had upon his debut. Instead he because a staple of the midcard division in spite of being widely regarded as one of the WWE’s biggest men and one of the best overall performers with solid enough mic skills and a foot in the second biggest market for the WWE, in the UK.
On the bright side, Barrett at least received a better opportunity to succeed than Sandow.
Sandow, who has previously been released from WWE in 2007, graced fans presence again in 2012 when he burst on the scene as “The Intellectual Saviour of the Masses” a gimmick that while very enclosing quickly won over the fans and showed great heel potential. Regardless, ultimately Sandow’s career wound up being a classic example of how the misuse of talent can be the biggest demise.
2013 saw Sandow win the coveted Money in the Bank, yet instead of going on to win a World title, he became the first MITB holder to ever lose his cash-in match. No surprise his career didn’t recover.
Despite performing well in any role he was given, including a ridiculous ‘stunt double’ gimmick, Sandow never seemed to have the full creative support. Even when he was red hot – on a gimmick that many couldn’t have pulled off; so far-fetched and the furthest away from his previous role of exuberating intellect – the WWE still had Big Show (with no direction) win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle over a great rivalry storyline seeing stunt double come out from the behind the shadows of the star (in this case, The Miz).
Even up until recently, live shows and social media have shown Sandow still garnered continued support in light of poor booking.
The fans wanted Sandow to succeed. WWE thought… differently.
With the plethora of great young performers being churned out by NXT and the Performance Centre, the likelihood of seeing Sandow and Barrett in the WWE again is slim. Although some of the releases were like water off a ducks back, when you realise two stars who had potential to be a World champion but never got the chance to are probably gone for good it can be pretty difficult to accept.