It’s never easy when the WWE “future endeavors” cuts come. These are folks who we may jeer as wrestling fans, but ultimately, are sports entertainers who did their best to entertain a fan base that is far from easily satisfied.
On Sunday, Emma, Summer Rae, and Darren Young, all saw their tenures with the promotion come to an end. So as a way to bid adieu, today’s column will be dedicated to their tenure with the WWE.
Ah, Emma. Emmalina. It’s. All. About. You. You didn’t actually start the women’s revolution but you’ll be damned if you didn’t give it your best shot to convince us otherwise.
Her firing may be the most shocking if for no other reason than the fact that she had earned the “honor” of losing to Asuka in her main roster debut match at TLC last Sunday, just to fall again a week ago on Monday night. She didn’t seem directly involved in the Raw Women’s Title plans anytime soon, but she also didn’t seem to be sitting on the fringes.
She was everything from the lovable underdog with a quirky techno entrance theme and bizarre dancing techniques to the uber-heel flaunting her Australian accent and wearing sunglasses to the ring. There was also Emmalina, the Attitude Era-blending period when she was filmed in multiple vignettes on a beach, promising her rebirth. None of that ever came to fruition, with a bizarre appearance that disappeared within seconds.
Speaking of bizarre appearances and disappearances, this brings us to Summer Rae. She tried, she really did.
Her initial niche was as the dancing sidekick to Fandango, and there was a span there where the pair were legitimately over. Things got muddled along the way with turning on her former ballet partner and whatnot, but that remains her greatest contribution while on television.
But that wasn’t her only on time spent on-screen. She also starred on Total Divas and attempted to parlay that into her own in-ring career, not serving merely as a valet. After Fandango, she would get involved in a feud that featured Rusev and Dolph Ziggler, along with moonlighting as Tyler Breeze’s manager. Despite the increased attention paid to women’s wrestling that the WWE has attempted to help spearhead, Summer never got off the ground to the point that the company felt consistently comfortable with her.
The only member of the trio that was let go that was a former champion in the company is Darren Young. Once the WWE Tag Team Champion alongside Titus O’Neil when the two formed the Prime Time Players, Young had a long run with the promotion.
He began getting his name noticed as a member of Nexus, a group that may have seemed at the time like it was ready to feature the future of professional wrestling, but has since gone on to become a rather head-scratching collection of talent.
There’s no way around the fact that his career was intertwined with that of O’Neil’s: it seems that when they weren’t teaming together, they were fighting one another. It may have been worth the shot to give Young one final run as a member of Titus Worldwide, but the WWE chose to go in a different direction.
The two men captured the Tag Team Titles together for the first time at Money in the Bank 2015, defeating The New Day, which is a feat not many tag teams can claim. They lost the titles at SummerSlam of that year, ending their only title reign, while also insinuating the disbanding of the team moving forward.
Young’s last-ditch effort to be pushed came in the form of Bob Backlund yelling, “Make Darren Young Great Again!” It seemed that Young could be in line for some legitimate work in the mid-card as a singles wrestlers, earning an Intercontinental Title shot against The Miz at Battleground 2016. Whether or not uniting him with Backlund was the right strategy, Young’s singles push didn’t last much longer.
His career in the WWE was hardly a failure. We’ll always have the “millions of dollars, millions of dollars” dance alongside Titus, Backlund yelling at him about discipline, and maybe most importantly, the fact that he will remain the first professional wrestler to come out as gay during his in-ring career.
All three superstars are no longer going to grace WWE programming, and if the rumors are to be believed, there could be more coming. But that hardly means their careers are over. There are numerous independent outlets scouring for talent, specifically ex-WWE talent. For now, their tenure with the WWE is done, but they managed to leave us with memories.