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5 Reasons why WWE granted Luke Harper his release

Luke Harper is now a free agent
Luke Harper is now a free agent
Danny Hart

WWE has announced that Luke Harper has been granted his release from his contract.

“WWE has come to terms on the release of Jonathan Huber (Luke Harper). WWE wishes him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Harper joined WWE in March 2012 and began to establish himself as a prominent Superstar on the NXT brand later in the year when he aligned with Bray Wyatt as part of The Wyatt Family.

In July 2013, The Wyatt Family debuted on WWE’s main roster, where Harper remained for the next six years of his career, winning the Intercontinental Championship and SmackDown Tag Team Championship (x2) along the way.

Despite returning to in-ring action on the weekend of WrestleMania 35, Harper announced on social media one week after the event that he had asked to leave WWE.

He then surprisingly returned to WWE programming in September 2019 at Clash of Champions, where he helped Erick Rowan defeat Roman Reigns, but their alliance lasted less than a month before Harper disappeared from television again.

In this article, let’s take a look at five possible reasons why WWE decided to let the former Intercontinental Champion leave.


#5 He has wanted to leave for several months

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While TJP, Dustin Rhodes (fka Goldust) KENTA (fka Hideo Itami) and Shawn Spears (fka Tye Dillinger) were granted their releases in early 2019, Luke Harper remained a member of the WWE roster despite publicly revealing that he wanted to leave the company.

The former Wyatt Family member made his televised return at the Worlds Collide event at WrestleMania Axxess, where he defeated Dominik Dijakovic, and he also competed in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 35.

He then took part in a dark match against EC3 before an episode of SmackDown, which Vince McMahon reportedly disliked, and he announced on Twitter that he had made the difficult decision to request his departure from WWE.

#4 He had already been written out of storylines

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The biggest storyline on SmackDown during Eric Bischoff’s four-month spell as Executive Director revolved around Roman Reigns and the multiple attacks that he narrowly avoided in the backstage area.

After a lengthy ‘Whodunnit?’ saga, it emerged that Erick Rowan was behind the attacks, leading to a one-on-one match between the two men at Clash of Champions.

Just when it looked as though Reigns would pick up the victory, Luke Harper attacked “The Big Dog” to help his former Bludgeon Brother tag team partner record a statement-making win.

At the time, it seemed that Harper and Rowan were set for a long-term run as a tag team once again, especially after they teamed up to face Reigns and Daniel Bryan in a losing effort at Hell in a Cell in October.

However, the two men were separated in the 2019 draft, with Rowan moving to RAW and Harper being drafted to SmackDown.

While Rowan has featured regularly on the red brand since the draft, Harper has been completely written out of WWE’s storylines, with his last televised match coming in the Battle Royal at Crown Jewel.

#3 He was unlikely to be used before his contract expired

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Given that Luke Harper had made it no secret that he wanted to leave WWE, it seemed highly unlikely that the company would use him on television again before the end of his contract.

According to the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, his deal was originally due to expire in November 2019 but WWE decided to add six months to his contract to cover the time that he has been unable to compete due to injuries.

As we have seen with plenty of Superstars in the past, WWE often removes them from television in advance if they are going to be released or if their contract is due to expire.

This even happened with Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose), who was not included on the WrestleMania 35 card despite being one of WWE's top stars. Instead, he was given a send-off on WWE Network special ‘The Shield’s Final Chapter’.

If someone as respected and successful as Moxley was taken off television before his contract expired, there was next-to-no chance that Harper would have been used on SmackDown before his contract expired in 2020.

#2 WWE has more Superstars than ever right now

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With stacked rosters on RAW, SmackDown, NXT and NXT UK, WWE has more Superstars and competition for television time than any period in the company’s history.

This was highlighted at the recent Survivor Series pay-per-view, which saw RAW, SmackDown and NXT battle it out for brand supremacy for the first time.

Major Superstars including Aleister Black, Alexa Bliss, Andrade and The Miz were not selected to appear at the event, which just goes to show how many people WWE has available to them right now.

Even with companies other than WWE thriving in 2019, Vince McMahon & Co. can afford to lose talented Superstars like Luke Harper and still boast one of the most competitive rosters in the history of pro wrestling/sports entertainment.

Before NXT, WWE often struggled to create new Superstars on RAW and SmackDown. However, with the conveyor belt of talent in the NXT system getting stronger and stronger every year, the company’s decision-makers know that even more stars of the future are just around the corner.

#1 Why keep a Superstar who wants to leave?

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There is an argument to be had that WWE should keep Superstars under contract even if they ask to be released from their deals. After all, especially in the cases of Superstars who have recently renewed, they are the ones who decided to sign a new deal, so why should the company feel the need to let them leave?

On the flip side, Luke Harper signed his most recent WWE contract several years ago, presumably on the assumption that he would be used more favourably than he has been in storylines on television.

Taking the latter perspective into consideration, WWE is never going to get the best out of Superstars who are actively trying to leave the company before their contract is due to expire.

Triple H even said recently that he does not understand why certain people have told fans on Twitter that they want to leave, and he does not think it is good business to air work issues in public.

Needless to say, public disputes between management and Superstars is not, as Triple H would say, “best for business”, so it was inevitable that WWE would eventually allow their wantaway talents to leave.

Edited by Arvind Sriram

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