WWE Releases Austin Aries: Is Cruiserweight Division In Trouble?

Austin Aries, a.k.a. A Double, was released by the WWE on Friday.
Austin Aries, a.k.a. A Double, was released by the WWE on Friday. WWE

On Friday, the WWE announced it had released Austin Aries unexpectedly.

The release was a surprise to many as Aries has challenged for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship on three separate occasions since the beginning of 2017. The 39-year old Aries signed with the WWE in January 2016 and started his WWE career in NXT. After beginning his stint in the promotion, he was a viable contender for the NXT Championship until orbital socket injury forced him to miss almost six months.

Upon his return, Aries challenged for the Cruiserweight Title but was unsuccessful in three matches against the champion Neville (two losses and a win by DQ, but the title didn't change hands). After his last title match at Extreme Rules in early June, Aries almost disappeared from WWE TV, which had many people talking. During an interview with the Busted Open radio show, Aries revealed he was taking some time off.

"I've got some stuff going on, but just to be fair you could probably say that for a lot of the locker room. It's kind of part of what we do, I don't think anyone is ever 100%," Aries said. "So I got a couple things going on and obviously at this point it might be a good time to take a little break, which really could consist of two days to just adjust some of those things, try and get my mind and my body right and then come back and figure out what's gonna be next and what the direction's gonna be."

Reports have said Aries has been unhappy with his role in the company and on the lowly rated 205 Live program on the WWE Network. Aries reportedly asked for his release from the company, and while the WWE is never quick to agree to grant releases, Aries’ unhappiness began to reflect backstage, according to PWTorch.

“According to one trusted PWTorch source, Aries had a reputation backstage for having a bad attitude, which could have made it an easier decision to grant him his release.”

Aries tweeted just minutes after his release was made public. Needless to say, he was not sad about it.

The problem with the release of Aries is that while the cruiserweight division is struggling to gain traction, it’s a writing issue and not a talent issue. Aries' release could be construed as Aries no longer having any worth to the division, which is untrue. When you have a performer lose to the same guy twice and win one via DQ, then the fans stop caring about them.

Aries is now only allowed to participate in WWE-approved independent promotions for the next 90 days, which means his contract won’t end until October. He will most likely appear on the indies full-time at that time when the 90 days are up. It is yet to be seen whether TNA/Impact Wrestling/GFW would have any interest in the former TNA Triple Crown Winner (TNA Heavyweight, Tag Team, and X- Division Champion). Ring of Honor is a possibility as well, although he would need to mend some fences after his rocky departure from the company.

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