WWE’s merger with UFC’s parent company was going to change its business, and the effects were felt among the talent Thursday.

WWE and Endeavor merged last Tuesday to create TKO Group Holdings, which is a publicly traded company. Vince McMahon is the executive chairman of WWE and the new company.

The aftereffects of the merger reportedly led to talent cuts. As of noon ET on Thursday, WWE released Dolph Ziggler, Shelton Benjamin, Elias, Emma, Mustafa Ali, Rick Boogs, Aliyah and Top Dolla, according to Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp. Wrestlers like Ali confirmed their release on the X platform, as well as Steph De Lander, who went by Persia Pirotta in NXT.

Ziggler was the longest-tenured wrestler among the initial cuts — this was Benjamin’s second release from the company after he was cut in 2010 after he began in the company’s developmental system in 2000. Ziggler started his career as part of The Spirit Squad and eventually grew into a singles wrestler, where he most notably won Money in the Bank and cashed in the briefcase in 2013 to become world heavyweight champion. The moment remains one of the greatest cash-ins in WWE history.

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Veterans like Ziggler and Benjamin would be valuable to any company looking to add experience to their locker room. Ali arguably has the most star potential.

The 37-year-old was a standout in WWE’s then cruiserweight division, but his size likely hindered his progress and ability to break out given McMahon’s reputation for favoring larger and taller wrestlers. He could have had a big moment in 2019, but he was injured leading up to Elimination Chamber. Kofi Kingston took his spot, and his performance there led to “KofiMania,” where he won the world title at that year’s WrestleMania for the first time in his career. It remains a huge “what-if” in Ali’s career if he had not gotten injured and plans continued as they were supposed to.

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It would not be a surprise if AEW were to sign one of the reportedly released talents, especially as the company tries to shed the negativity brought by CM Punk’s release.

The releases came not only on the back of a merger but also a new media rights deal where “SmackDown” will move from FOX to USA Network.

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Featured image via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images