WWE has released Australian superstar Emma from her contract, as well as former tag team champion Darren Young, and the often injured Summer Rae. Emma had been receiving a renewed focus on Raw recently, making the announcement of her release seem quite out of left field. Emma also recently received new theme music – and a slight character makeover into a social media obsessed narcissist – and one assumes that WWE wouldn’t have wasted time doing those things if releasing her had been in their short-term plans.
The other two release announcements are less surprising, as neither Young or Rae ever seemed to gain much traction within the company. Young was briefly a member of the insurgent group The Nexus in 2010, and saw his highest profile run occur as part of the tag team The Prime Time Players, with partner Titus O’Neil. The PTP won the Tag Team Championships one time, and were actually the team that The New Day beat to begin their record-setting reign as champions. Every attempt to push Young as a singles star quickly fizzled out, and he’s been on the injured list since January.
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Like Young, Rae also proved injury prone, and hasn’t wrestled for WWE since August 2016. She was technically drafted to Raw in last summer’s brand extension, but has never actually appeared on the show since the split. Rae came up in NXT alongside future stars Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Paige, but failed to excel in the ring the way they did. She spent most of her time on the main roster as a valet or manager, dancing alongside Fandango for awhile, and also seconding Rusev until the “Bulgarian Brute’s” real-life engagement to former manager Lana led WWE to end that storyline.
Emma is clearly the biggest loss here in terms of star potential, and it seems like the WWE is aware of that, considering how many times they’ve tried to push her to the top level of the women’s division. Emma’s original WWE character was a smiling, dancing, fan favorite. This character did well on NXT, but failed when they tried to bring her up to the main roster. Emma was then sent back to NXT, where she cultivated a cool heel character that fans affectionately dubbed Evil Emma. Armed with a new persona, Emma went back up to Raw and SmackDown, only to go out for awhile with a back injury.
Instead of bringing a healed Emma back as her most recent villainous character, WWE decided to turn her into Emmalina, a character obsessed with her looks and whose arrival was promoted via vignettes consisting of nothing but sexy social media photos. These teases continued for a ridiculous number of weeks, only for Emmalina to debut, and immediately drop the character. This brought Evil Emma back a few weeks later, and WWE finally seemed to be trying to reestablish her as a force in the division, having her go move for move against the undefeated Asuka at last Sunday’s TLC event. Unfortunately, the Emma-lution will no longer be televised.