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By Mike Johnson on 2020-05-16 20:25:00

Last night on Friday Night Smackdown, Drew Gulak vs. Daniel Bryan was one of the most entertaining in-ring performances in recent memory on WWE Television.  Today, however, has confirmed that Gulak has exited World Wrestling Entertainment.

WWE quietly moved Gulak to the Alumni section of their website this afternoon but has been told that Gulak was not released.  We have confirmed with multiple sources today that Gulak's WWE contract expired after last night's Smackdown was taped. We are told the two sides had been discussing a new deal, but had not yet come to terms on the deal before Gulak's existing deal expired.  This shockingly places Gulak on the open market just hours after one of his best WWE performances to date as he would have no 90-day non-compete as WWE would not be paying him going forward, which means he can appear and wrestle anywhere immediately.

If you think it's a head-scratcher WWE allowed that to happen, you wouldn't be alone, especially since Gulak has evolved into one of WWE's most solid, understated, versatile performers.  Something of a modern day Bobby Heenan, Gulak has been something of a chameleon, morphing into whatever role WWE required of him.   Whether cast as a serious in-ring performer, a comedic character taking great bumps a la Heenan, being the in-ring glue of Cruiserweight and tag team matches, commentating on WWE TV, working as a manager/second to Daniel Bryan or any other role he's been tasked with, Gulak has quietly excelled.

In many ways, Gulak has been a true jack of all trades for the company, the talent who works as connective tissue, morph into whatever is asked of him.  He accentuated everything he was involved in, even when Gulak's role was to get over everyone else instead of himself.  That is a hard job in any environment, but whether he was cast as a serious in-ring wrestler or as someone's comedic foil, Gulak nailed whatever role that he's been asked to portray.  That creates a value that makes the fact WWE allowed his deal to lapse incredibly mind-boggling.

Originally trained by Chris Hero and Mike Quackenbush, Gulak broke into the business in the early 2000s while still a Philadelphia college student, working for CZW, CHIKARA, PWG and host of other independent promotions.  He soon became a cornerstone talent for EVOLVE, including an incredible series of matches with Biff Busick (aka Oney Lorcan).   Gulak found himself on WWE's radar and was one of their first signings after the Cruiserweight Classic to help build the roster for 205 Live, where he held the Cruiserweight Championship. 

While 205 Live never took off for a number of reasons, Gulak excelled and was eventually moved up to the Smackdown brand.  After an excellent match at the 2020 Elimination Chamber in Philadelphia, Gulak and Daniel Bryan were placed together into a bromance built on their mutual respect for each other.  The two began to train (as seen in some truly entertaining videos) and team with each other, while also occasionally facing off in the ring, as they did last night on Smackdown.   

If Gulak's bout with Bryan is indeed his WWE swan song, it was a tremendous showcase for what Gulak can bring to the table, a great pure wrestling match that featured no strikes and neither even climbing the ropes.  It was the 21st century equivalent of a mat classic from years ago. 

Now, it's quite possible Gulak and WWE could come to terms on a new contract to bring him back to the company, but obviously he would also be a great addition to any other pro wrestling roster.  With AEW, New Japan, Ring of Honor, etc. all out there, one would think Gulak will have quite a few options in front of him shortly.

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