After just two matches with the company, WWE's Cain Velasquez experiment is over. On the latest edition of "Wrestling Observer Radio [subscription required]," Dave Meltzer reports the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion was released as part of WWE's staffing cuts last week. The cuts were one part of the promotion's plan to deal with the financial effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Velasquez first dealt with WWE in July 2018, training briefly at the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. He would return to the UFC in February 2019, losing a fight to Francis Ngannou before making his professional wrestling debut for Mexico-based promotion AAA in August. After two impressive performances in six-man tag matches for AAA, rumors began to swirl that both WWE and AEW were interested in signing the former MMA star. The Ngannou fight was the first of a new four-fight deal signed by Velasquez. He pulled out of the UFC's USADA drug testing program with his move to WWE, so should he decide to return to the UFC, he will have to re-enter the testing pool.
On WWE's debut edition of SmackDown on Fox in October 2019, Velasquez debuted as backup for Rey Mysterio, who was feuding with Brock Lesnar at the time. Velasquez had dominated Lesnar in the UFC Octagon in 2010 to win his first UFC title. After beating up Lesnar in his shock debut, the two were paired up for Velasquez's first WWE match, with the two men meeting at the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia later that month. Lesnar would pick up the submission win in a match that lasted just over two minutes.
Velasquez would only wrestle one more time in WWE, teaming with Humberto Carrillo to defeat The O.C. at a house show in Mexico City, Mexico, in November 2019.
Aside from a potential return to MMA, another option would be to explore his chances with AEW. Cody Rhodes, one of AEW's executive vice presidents, teamed with Velasquez in his debut match in AAA. Ahead of AEW's debut show on TNT in October, Rhodes discussedand spoke glowingly about the former MMA star.
"He's definitely somebody I am keeping an eye on," Rhodes said. "Cain was one of those athletes ... not even an athlete thing, it's almost a strange natural ability to pick up our industry. Man, he picked it up so, so quick and he wasn't doing mixed martial arts Cain Velasquez. He was trying to do true lucha, and he had worked with Psycho Clown ... I was blown away by Cain Velasquez.
"I would love to bring that tandem and that tag back to All Elite Wrestling. I'm glad to hear he likes what we're doing, I like what he's done with AAA. I continue to monitor it. That might be something you see of a personal project for me if and when Cain would like to come play ball with us. I'd be down. There's something very special. The man was a former UFC heavyweight champ. He's a nice guy, represents a whole part of the world. Just a special, special human being. I think he'd be a great fit to our family."