When I read that Paul London had been released from his WWE contract last Wednesday, my first reaction was not of sympathy for the man himself, but of anger towards the company for letting another talented performer slip through their fingers. Under normal circumstances, my sympathy would be with the redundant performer, but I can’t imagine that London’s career could be worse off outside of the WWE, than it was within it.

Paul London during his run with Brian Kendrick. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea.

Based on his lack of exposure, it is fair to say that the Texan had been treading water for almost 18 months, ever since his tag team with Brian Kendrick was transferred from Smackdown to the Raw roster, as part of the supplemental draft on June 17, 2007. To be fair, the team got off to a reasonable start — even quietly winning the tag team titles from Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch in South Africa, before losing them to the same opponents three days later — but their credibility was killed on the September 17 edition of Raw, when they came to the aid of Triple H, only to have him demolish them in enhancement-talent fashion. It was the beginning of the end for a team who had been the highlight of Smackdown for the entire previous year.

In my Raw report of November 10, I lamented the fact that I couldn’t remember the last time that I was as excited about a wrestling match, as I currently am for the UFC’s Brock Lesnar versus Randy Couture showdown. While it was not at the same level, either, one of the last WWE matches I can recall being eager to see was, remarkably, London and Kendrick versus William Regal and Dave Taylor.

Under the pencil of Michael Hayes, the feud had been built expertly; London and Kendrick were the young high-flyers, while Regal and Taylor were the tough, seasoned shooters. It was a match-up of opposites — a rarity in an organization which seeks a breakout star, yet encourages performers to fit into their mold — and was enthusiastically portrayed by JBL on commentary.

To say that I was frustrated when WWE cancelled their proposed match at Armageddon in favour of a four-team ladder match (which infamously saw Joey Mercury receive a devastating facial wound due to a mishap with a ladder) would be an understatement. Not only had the match been put off, but much of its intrigue had also been negated by the fact that, during the Armageddon match, Regal and Taylor were set up as comedy figures, by being afraid to claim the ladder.

The feud with the British veterans was really the last great use of London’s talents. His recent history had been littered with dark matches, and those taped for the internet-only Heat program — hardly the best use of a performer who had not only been involved in some excellent matches down the years, but had also struck a chord with the fans he performed for on Smackdown.

It is believed that London was disliked within the company for not seeing eye-to-eye with the creative team, and was the brunt of aggressive jealousy because of his relationship with Ashley Massaro. Clearly, it’s child-like behaviour to fault him for the latter, and the next time you see Dolph Ziggler on your television set, try telling me that you wouldn’t be skeptical of WWE creative, either.

When it boils down to it, the fact is that WWE have lost another talented wrestler, who could at the very least have been an excellent opening match attraction, especially considering that he speaks Spanish at a time when Mexico is on the WWE hit-list.

Sometimes — perhaps, you might say, most of the time — the WWE seems to do anything but put its best foot forward. Let’s hope another organization can make the best of London’s undoubted abilities.

Which recently-released WWE performer will you miss the most?
Paul London – 37%
Elijah Burke – 23%
Super Crazy – 19%
Chuck Palumbo 8%
Kenny Dykstra – 8%
Lena Yada – 5%