According to a new report in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE is keeping Luke Harper under contract despite the fact that the veteran requested his release from the company. Harper would make his intentions known when he posted about his request on April 16 but WWE appears to be holding him to his contract rather letting him go early.
Dave Meltzer mentioned that Harper’s contract was set to expire in November but his wrist surgery and subsequent time off led to a roll-over as his contract was essentially frozen throughout the process. It would now appear that Harper’s contract will run until about this time next year which obviously wouldn’t be ideal for anybody involved.
For Harper, this takes another significant portion of time away from his career. He won’t be able to explore options on the independents, specifically AEW, assuming there was mutual interest. For WWE, keeping Harper under contract doesn’t make much sense either as he isn’t being used on television. With Rowan linked to Daniel Bryan’s new character right now, the Bludgeon Brothers appear to be dead for good and there’s only so many angles surrounding Rowan, Harper and Bray Wyatt that WWE can churn out over the years before fans just stop caring altogether.
WWE has played hardball before with certain performers, namely Pac (also known as Neville during his time in WWE). The high-flying veteran would sit out the remainder of his WWE contract due to creative differences before returning to the independent circuit and becoming one of the top players in AEW.
It’s unclear why WWE is keeping Harper around but should this report prove to be true, it feels like this is a lose-lose for all parties involved. Harper built a name on the independents in the past and he could do well for himself outside of WWE if given the opportunity.