World Wrestling Entertainment has parted ways with performer Cain Velasquez amid budget cuts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sports entertainment organization began a series of layoffs on April 15, which included several prominent performers. Velasquez is now the latest to be released by WWE, per pro wrestling reporter Dave Meltzer.
Velasquez, 37, originally signed a "massive" multi-year deal with WWE in October 2019 following his retirement from the UFC. He made his debut for the company during Friday Night SmackDown. Velasquez took out WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, which set up a match in Saudi Arabia. Velazquez and Lensar have a history with each other due to facing off for the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 2010. Velasquez secured a technical knockout victory during the first round.
The grudge match in Saudi Arabia played out in a different manner. The two former UFC stars faced off, but Lesnar was the one that secured the victory at WWE's Crown Jewel Event. Velasquez has not been heavily involved in WWE since this defeat.
With this release, there are questions about where Velasquez will go next. He exited the USADA testing pool when he retired from the UFC in 2019. A return to MMA is possible, but he also dealt with several injuries during his final years in the octagon. One other option is All Elite Wrestling, which had attempted to sign Velasquez prior to his WWE deal.
Velaquez previously spoke with Pop Culture during an exclusive interview. He was coming off an event organized by the Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide organization and had not yet signed with WWE. The former UFC champ revealed that he had been initially scared about entering the ring, but he had a lot of fun. Velasquez also teased some more potential matches down the road.
"I’m not sure which organization, but I do plan on wrestling more," he said. "I want to build myself into the best wrestler that I can be when I do it. I’m going to keep doing it." Although Velasquez also said in September 2019 that he does plan on making a return to fighting. He didn't know when it would happen due to focusing on wrestling.
"Whatever fight makes sense the most and whichever fighter I believe poses a good threat is always good," Velasquez said. "To challenge myself and push myself to be better, it all starts with a great opponent. I think when that time comes, I going to go out there and beat."