wrestling / Columns

What Are the Best Landing Spots For Samoa Joe, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, & Other WWE Releases?

May 19, 2021 | Posted by Blake Lovell
Samoa Joe Raw 4918

WWE released a host of talent a month ago, but with many of them reportedly having 90-day non-compete clauses, it could still be a few months before they’re working for another company.

The question is, what are the best potential landing spots for Samoa Joe, Chelsea Green, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and others?

That’s the question we try to answer roundtable-style, with several members of the 411 staff – Jeremy Thomas, Jeffrey Harris, Dino Zee, and myself – sharing their thoughts on the next move for each of the released talents. Of course, we’d also love to hear your opinions on where all these wrestlers could wind up.

Let’s jump in.

Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe SummerSlam

Jeremy Thomas: There’s a lot of assumptions that most of the released talent would go to AEW. But not only do I doubt that assumption, I don’t think it would serve the talent best in most cases. Joe is one of the only exceptions to the rule. Joe doesn’t really have anything left to accomplish in Impact, MLW or ROH. The NWA probably can’t afford him to be frank, and that just leaves Japan or AEW. Sure, seeing Joe go toe-to-toe with NJPW stars would be huge but AEW really seems to be the place for him. With the Forbidden Door open he could possibly do some Japan work anyway, and there are too many matches that fans are clamoring for with him against AEW talent. This seems like the safe bet for me.

Jeffrey Harris: I think no matter where Samoa Joe goes next, it’s going to make an Impact. However, I think the best place for him will be AEW. Joe will not have to be inserted into main event feuds right away or anything, but he will have the best roster of opponents. NJPW has a solid roster, but Joe should probably not be working that NJPW strong style at the moment. Plus, when live fans are able to fully return to wrestling, AEW will be drawing the biggest crowds and putting on weekly events. That will be the best way for Joe to make money and continue getting his face out there.

Dino Zee: This has caused much spirited debate in my personal group of wrestling dorks. Some want to see him return to Impact, others would like the same idea for Ring of Honor, and some are calling for an AEW appearance. I know Joe has said that he still intends on continuing with the in-ring portion of his career, but I also assumed he enjoyed commentary and might not actually want to get back to it. All that said, I think I’d like to see Joe go back to Impact, too. A pitstop at Ring of Honor could be fun, but Joe showing up to lead Impact back to respectability in this war with AEW could be really fun. Obviously if he were to sign with AEW he has plenty of options there, but yeah, storywise, Joe coming back one more time to stand up for Impact and all its hard working competitors would be aces (no eights).

Blake Lovell: The thing with Samoa Joe is that should his top three options be AEW, Impact, and NJPW, he could theoretically still do matches for the other two promotions given the working relationship between them. AEW figures to be in the best position to offer Joe the best contract, though that could depend on what type of schedule Joe is looking for from an in-ring standpoint. For my money, the most intriguing storyline would be Joe returning to Impact and squaring off with Kenny Omega at Slammiversary. However, given the growth of AEW and all the potential ways they could use Joe, I’d say that’s the most logical landing spot as the biggest star in this group of WWE releases.

Chelsea Green

chelsea green

Jeremy Thomas: Along with Peyton Royce/Cassie Lee, I think Chelsea Green would be a great fit in Impact. Obviously she already has quite the history there as Laurel Van Ness and she would add to that division quite well. Honestly, I think she could slot into just about any promotion but she has an audience waiting for her at Impact and plenty of ready-made feuds, so this makes the most sense to me.

Dino Zee: I’m really pulling for her to bring Laurel Van Ness back to Impact Wrestling in all of her glory. The Knockouts are rolling lately, and a return of a former Knockouts Champion can only make things better. And yes, yes, for the fans of wrestlers’ real life relationships, Cardona’s around, too!

Blake Lovell: It’s hard to disagree with the other points on Chelsea Green returning to Impact. With her history with the promotion and Matt Cardona also there, it’s simply the most logical choice for her. It would only add to an already versatile Knockouts division, and she could potentially work matches in AEW as well if that working relationship continues between the two.

Mickie James

Mickie James

Jeremy Thomas: While we’d all love to see Mickie James in Impact or even AEW, she seems like the clearest target for NWA among the releases. And Nick Aldis isn’t the main reason for that (although it does factor in). Sure, there are a lot of great feuds for her in Impact, and she could help the AEW women’s division, but she could do a lot more with the NWA women’s division. James is at the point in her career where she can still be a vital part of a division but can also help boost talent, and the best chance for that is in the NWA.

Dino Zee: Well, the last time she was in Impact, James Storm killed her. Maybe going to AEW and aligning with fellow “died in Impact” personality Allie? Nah, too self-serving. Honestly, Mickie can go wherever she wants and it’ll be great. She can make bank on the indies, go back to Impact, check out AEW, or even head to Mexico or Japan, and I don’t think she’ll have made a bad choice. She definitely sounds like she has plenty of matches left in her, and I think selfishly, I’d like to see her join AEW and help out with some of their younger talent.

Blake Lovell: Mickie James is going to add value no matter where she lands. She brings the combination of still being able to work matches while also serving as a tremendous resource for helping the younger generation of talent. In my opinion, the NWA connection with Nick Aldis seems to be the most likely option, but she could equally provide a boost – both in and out of the ring – to the AEW women’s division.

Billie Kay & Peyton Royce

IIconics Raw 6-10-19

Jeremy Thomas: My most potentially divisive prediction in these picks is splitting up the IIconics. I would love to see them work together as a team outside WWE, but I also think they do have every chance to stand on their own. And between Royce and Kay, I think Kay is the better fit for AEW. She can let her personality shine and match up well as Jessie McKay with a lot of the talent there. Wherever she ends up, I am excited to see her be able to show more than she was given to do in WWE. While I think Kay is a great choice for AEW, I think Royce would fit very well in Impact. There are so many opportunities for her in Impact’s Knockouts division depending on where she ends up. A Peyton Royce (or Cassie Lee, rather)/Tenille Dashwood tag team would be a lot of fun, or she could be in the mix for the Knockouts Title with good matches against Purrazzo, Wilde, Dashwood, Grace, Su, Rosemary, and the rest. Either way, I think she’d be primed for success here.

Dino Zee: As for Billie Kay, wherever Peyton Royce goes, which is hopefully Impact Wrestling, but more likely to be AEW. As for Peyton Royce, probably AEW, but could see her signing somewhere else to swerve all the fans who thought she might want to work with her husband or something. I just hope that wherever she lands, Billie Kay follows. Honestly, they could be fun for Impact’s Knockout Tag Division, too. I’ll be happy for them wherever they land, though.

Blake Lovell: I’d love to see both land with the same company, and as mentioned by Jeremy and Dino, both AEW and Impact are logical options. AEW loves its factions and tag teams, so Billie Kay and Peyton Royce could give the company an established team to grow its women’s tag team division. They would also add to the depth of the Knockouts tag team division, with one or both eventually showcasing their potential as a singles star. Once again, the relationship between the two companies allows for lots of possibilities, but my guess is AEW may be the choice for both.

Kalisto

Kalisto WWE Raw 100217 WWE 205 Live, Lucha House Party

Jeremy Thomas: Kalisto could easily end up in Mexico, and had a run there in AAA in the early ‘10s. But he can also very much do so without limiting his options in America if he wishes. In the US, ROH definitely seems to be a place he’d fit in well. He’s a hell of a worker and could do plenty in the company’s mid to upper card. He’s probably the person I’m least sure about in all of these, but ROH just seems like the right choice for him in terms of America.

Dino Zee: I think a return to the indies for a bit, and maybe a tour of Mexico, could be good for Kalisto/Samuray del Sol. I think he’d get lost immediately in the AEW shuffle, and am not sure how well he’d fit in with Impact, thought it might be fun. Perhaps a shot with Ring of Honor could provide for some fun matchmaking, but overall, I think he’s best served setting his own schedule and wrestling everywhere against everyone.

Blake Lovell: WWE’s booking of certain talents can make you forget how talented they are, and Kalisto fits into that category. He’s very skilled in the ring and works an entertaining style, so he’ll likely have no shortage of options both in the US and Mexico. He may be one that tries out several different options such as ROH, MLW, or AAA to see which is the best long-term fit for him.

Tucker

Tucker Hell in a Cell

Jeremy Thomas: Tucker is the classic “good hand” who never got a chance to show much in WWE, and I don’t think that he’s perfectly fit for any particular company. I suppose I could see him in the NWA but really, I think his best move is heading to the indies to work a variety of shows and build himself back up. Once he does, he would have more options but for now I think he’s just unfortunate in that the market got flooded with more in-demand talent right now.

Dino Zee: Most likely the indies for a while. Tucker’s solid but never really found a big connection with the fans, so I’m not sure the bigger promotions are going to call with buckets of money. But if he can put together a decent run on the indies, I can definitely see Ring of Honor or Impact taking a look at him. Hell, he might even want to consider going to Japan and getting the big Gaijin Hoss treatment. I might have just talked myself into that being the best option, actually.

Blake Lovell: It’s hard to know what to expect from Tucker moving forward considering that most only saw him as a tag team wrestler in WWE. Without the pairing with Otis, the biggest thing for Tucker will be crafting an intriguing character that fans can connect with, and that will likely come with experimenting with different ideas on the indies.

Wesley Blake

Jeremy Thomas: Wesley Blake is a lot like Tucker in that he’s going to get lost in the crowd here. People know Andrade, Samoa Joe, Kalisto, and even Bo Dallas and Mojo Rawley by name. This isn’t anything against Blake but I cover pro wrestling on a daily basis, and I have to think about it to put a face to his name. His best move is, like Tucker, to go to the independents and build himself up some more before taking a permanent next step.

Dino Zee: A similar situation as that of Tucker, I think the indies are his likeliest choice. I’ve always been a bit of a Wesley Blake fan, so I was a little bummed that they let him go (REUNITE HIM WITH MURPHY YOU COWARDS), but I understand the move. Refreshing his character on the indies will allow him to sign with a bigger promotion if/when he has a ready-to-go character. Otherwise, there’s worse things than getting to put “Former NXT Tag Champion” on your billing sheet.

Blake Lovell: Pretty much echoing what Jeremy and Dino said. It’s a similar situation to Tucker in that Blake’s most likely option is going to be hitting the indies to garner more experience and work on an identifiable character before landing with one of the top companies.

Bo Dallas

Bo Dallas

Jeremy Thomas: Bo Dallas is one of many big examples of NXT stars who was failed by the booking when he moved to the main roster. It’s hard to remember that he was one of the first NXT Champions and held the title for almost a year until he got called up to do almost nothing. Dallas has a character he can play to a T, and he can work decently well. I think that he’d be served well to go to MLW, where he can very quickly get inserted into the mix and have some interesting matches. It’ll help him get out of the shadow of WWE non-run and he could have a lot of success there.

Dino Zee: I’d love to see him in Impact Wrestling. I’d love to see Impact go full on with him, treat him like a big star, give him this big push. At only 30 years old, he has so much left to give, and I think Impact trying with him could be awesome. Sure, ROH or AEW could try the same thing, but I think it’d be most effective in Impact. He can come in, cut the “I can do so much that you haven’t seen yet” promo, and then run with it to championship glory. You just gotta believe.

Blake Lovell: Bo Dallas was reportedly considering options outside of wrestling at one point, so perhaps he doesn’t jump back into the wrestling mix right away. However, he’s still young, and given his family’s background, it seems he’ll find his way back into the ring at some point. If he does, I like the idea of him joining a company like Impact or MLW where his personality could allow him to shine as a valuable member of the roster.

Mojo Rawley

Mojo Rawley WWE

Jeremy Thomas: Rawley is a guy I didn’t mind in WWE, but I didn’t ever get excited for. I am very interested to see what he can do outside of the WWE system, though. He’s got the look, he has a presence, and he’s a solid worker. He can make a bit of a splash in a company like MLW and would fit into their storylines pretty well, while adding some name value to benefit the company. It’s a win-win to me.

Dino Zee: Another guy I’d like to see try Japan out, but I have a feeling he dabbles in indies, and then signs with either Impact or AEW as they look to sign another athletic big man. Rawley really got some weird treatment in WWE with a few sorta-pushes that never really led to anything, and I’d like to see if he’s capable of finding that spark with a little more commitment from the company. Plus, he’s got NFL friends that any company would love to get on their screen, so I think he’ll be pursued.

Blake Lovell: Mojo Rawley seems to be another candidate for starting on the indies and working his way into a contract with one of the biggest companies. Although, he does have some name recognition that could be useful for a company like Impact in the right scenario. But considering he didn’t have many featured singles matches in WWE, doing as many matches as he can on the indies could be the best option to hone his skills.

What are the best landing spots for Samoa Joe and other WWE releases? Share your thoughts in the comments section!