Following a December arrest for domestic violence, WWE has decided to release former cruiserweight champion Rich Swann from his contract. It's a disappointing end to the WWE career - at least for now - of a performer who at one point was easily the most popular member of the 205 Live roster. Known for his flashy clothing, eye-catching dance moves, and athletic high-flying in the ring, Swann was only the third wrestler to hold the WWE cruiserweight title after its resurrection as part of 2016's well-received Cruiserweight Classic tournament.
Unfortunately, Swann's WWE trajectory went sideways late last year, when he was arrested in Gainesville, FL on charges of battery and kidnapping. These charges were the result of an alleged domestic violence incident with his wife - and fellow wrestler - Vannarah Riggs, a.k.a. Su Yung. The incident took place as the couple was driving home from a show that Riggs had wrestled on. Swann proclaimed his innocence, but WWE understandably opted to suspend Swann indefinitely until the case was resolved.
When asked about Swann's arrest in January, WWE executives Triple H and Stephanie McMahon told The Wrap that they were still waiting on a result to the case, but stressed that if convicted, Swann would be immediately released by the company. Not too long after that statement was made, the charges against Swann were dropped due to "insufficient evidence." This led some fans to wonder if Swann would be allowed to return to WWE now that his legal troubles were over. Clearly, that has ended up not being the case.
In their official statement released today, WWE says that they and Swann came to a "mutual" agreement to end their business relationship. On the surface though, it seems quite odd that WWE ended up releasing Swann following the charges against him being dropped. As mentioned above, WWE's prior public statements indicated that Swann's future with the company would depend on the result of his case. Yet, Swann wasn't convicted of anything, and has still been effectively fired, regardless of the softened language used by WWE in its statement.
On the other hand, it's not hard to understand why WWE released Swann. In today's social climate, employing an accused domestic abuser is definitely not a good PR move, whether or not said person was actually convicted of a crime. Whether that's fair or not is all but irrelevant in this particular instance, as WWE isn't a court of law, and has a responsibility to its stock holders to try and separate the company from any potential points of public scorn as quickly as possible. Swann will likely now return to the indie scene, and is young enough that it's not impossible to imagine him coming back to WWE down the road, provided no further arrests occur.