Two WWE Stars Are Gone Months After Requesting Their Releases

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The Grizzled Young Veterans’ James Drake and Zack Gibson, also known as The Dyad’s Jagger Reid and Rip Fowler in NXT, are gone from WWE according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer. News broke back in April that the former NXT UK Tag Team Champions had requested their releases, only to be told no by the company. The pair then spent the summer feuding with The Creed Brothers, going so far as to force Julius and Brutus to “quit” the company in a loser leaves town match at one point (they’d come back). The two first joined forces as a tag team in Progress Wrestling in 2017 and would sign with WWE’s NXT UK brand the following year.

Gibson and Drake then made the jump to NXT proper in 2020 and would spend the next two years repeatedly coming up short in winning the NXT Tag Team Championships. They’d then get repackaged as members of Joe Gacy’s Schism faction in July 2022.

“The other two…Rip Fowler and Jagger Reid are gone. Their contract is up, and I thought there was going to be some kind of angle or something, but it’s just, they’re gone,” Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio.

Shawn Michaels on The Dyad Staying With NXT After Requesting Their Releases

“Yeah, obviously I do. And look, they were guys that clearly I wanted to come over and bring over from the UK. I think they’re very talented, but again, I absolutely understand,” Shawn Michaels said in a media conference call in May after The Dyad’s release request was rejected. “It’s one of the things that I tell everybody here. Do I want it to be here in the WWE for you to have your success? Absolutely. I can’t lie about that, but really this is about wanting to help all, no matter who comes through these doors, help them to have success in this business as a whole.”

“I always tell everybody I feel so fortunate for the life that I have and my family that I have, and it’s because of this job. And now, there’s a real opportunity for everyone that is in this line of work to have that,” Michaels said. “I want that for them, so I understand absolutely the way that they feel, but as I mentioned to them, ‘While you’re here, man, I still want to put you in a prominent role.’ Again, there are no hard feelings in that respect. There’s too much talent there to waste or to leave on the table, and so, certainly, if they don’t mind working, I sure as heck don’t mind using them.”

NXT No Mercy 2023 Card

  • NXT Championship: Carmelo Hayes vs. Ilja Dragunov
  • NXT North American Championship: Dominik Mysterio vs. Mustafa Ali
  • NXT Heritage Cup: Noam Dar vs. Global Heritage Invitational Winner
  • Bron Breakker vs. Baron Corbin

Every AEW Star That Jumped Ship to WWE

Jade Cargill’s AEW days are in the rear view. Hours after her AEW Rampage match against AEW TBS Champion Kris Statlander was taped, reports circulated that Cargill had finished up in the company and was expected to be WWE bound. This development came just days after Cargill made her return to AEW on the September 9th edition of AEW Collision, as she had been absent from programming since AEW Double or Nothing in May. Before that, Cargill was a weekly competitor, defending the AEW TBS Championship for well over one year during her record-shattering 508-day run, the longest title reign in AEW history.

If internal beliefs come to fruition and Cargill does jump ship to WWE, she joins a select few that have made a similar transition.

Cody Rhodes spent just over three years in AEW before he returned to WWE. Largely recognized as a co-founder of All Elite Wrestling, Rhodes served as one of the company’s four Executive Vice Presidents alongside his tenure as an in-ring competitor. Inside the squared circle, Rhodes was a three-time AEW TNT Champion, including being that belt’s inaugural titleholder.

Rhodes left AEW in early 2022 before making his re-debut for WWE at WWE WrestleMania 38. Since then, he has gone on to win the Men’s Royal Rumble Match and headline WWE WrestleMania 39.

Brian Pillman Jr. competed at AEW’s first event, AEW Double or Nothing 2019, before becoming a recurring competitor the following year. He is most known for his time tagging with Griff Garrison in the unit known as The Varsity Blonds. Pillman Jr. officially signed with AEW in Summer 2021. In singles competition, Pillman Jr.’s most famous one-on-one contest came against MJF at AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam in 2021, that match taking place in front of AEW’s largest crowd up to that point.

Pillman Jr. quietly left AEW earlier this year and signed with WWE. He has yet to make a televised appearance but is reportedly set to work with NXT.

William Regal made his shocking AEW debut at AEW Revolution 2022, separating a brawl between two of his former mentees, Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson. He forced the two men to shake hands, thus forming Blackpool Combat Club. Regal went on to manage Blackpool Combat Club for the rest of the year, adding the likes of Wheeler Yuta and Claudio Castagnoli into the mix. In November 2022 at AEW Full Gear, Regal turned on Moxley by helping MJF win the AEW World Title. Weeks after aligning with him, MJF turned on Regal, writing him off of AEW TV permanently.

From there, Regal was granted his release from AEW so that he could return to WWE in a backstage capacity and work alongside his son, NXT’s Charlie Dempsey. He currently serves as Vice President of Global Talent Development.

Before she adopted the name Blair Davenport, Bea Priestley was one of the top prospects across the independent wrestling world. She got on the radar of AEW upon the company’s inception in January 2019 and went on to sign with the young promotion later that year. Priestley was involved in a singles feud against Dr. Britt Baker DMD which culminated in a match between the two at AEW Full Gear 2019. While Priestley began to wind up momentum the following spring, the global pandemic derailed her progress as she was unable to travel from her home in the United Kingdom to AEW TV tapings in the United States. She would exit AEW in August 2020.

Just under one year later, Priestley signed with WWE and started competing for NXT UK as Blair Davenport. Today, she competes on the US-based NXT and is regularly featured in and around the NXT Women’s Title picture.

Mercedes Martinez first wrestled for AEW at AEW All Out 2019. She went on to compete in an AEW Dark match later that fall.

Months later, Martinez signed with WWE and appeared in the Women’s Royal Rumble Match in January 2020. This began her second stint with WWE as she previously wrestled for the land of sports-entertainment from 2017 until 2018. Martinez’s most notable work during this run came in infamy as she was a member of the critically-panned RETRIBUTION faction. She quietly returned to NXT before that faction fizzled out.

Today, Martinez is back with AEW. She returned on a December 2021 edition of AEW Dynamite and has gone on to compete most regularly for Ring of Honor, where she is a former ROH Women’s Champion.

Wrestling as Ben Carter, Nathan Frazer made a big impression on the wrestling world when he competed in a couple of AEW Dark matches. This led to a small bidding war for his talents, which was ultimately won by WWE.

Frazer signed with WWE in December 2020. He spent most of his time in NXT UK before heading over to NXT, where he is a former holder of the NXT Heritage Cup.

Dragon Lee wrestled for AEW on the August 17th, 2022 edition of AEW Dynamite, teaming with brother Rush and Andrade El Idolo to represent La Facción Ingobernable in the AEW World Trios Championship Tournament. Following their defeat at the hands of Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks, Rush and Andrade attacked Lee, removing his mask and seemingly setting up an LFI in-fighting angle.

That storyline never materialized as Lee would return to Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide before ultimately signing with WWE. Now a regular member of the NXT roster, Lee has competed at numerous NXT premium live events and has worked alongside Rey Mysterio.


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