When Sofia Cortez (Ivelisse Velez) informed the world yesterday that she had been released from her WWE developmental contract, we decided to pause for a moment before making any sort of comment. We wanted to know if there was any specific reason, be it down to budget, creative ideas or whatever. About 24 hours on, we have some sort of explanation.
The word is that while she was solid in the ring and getting good reviews, Ivelisse had an “attitude problem”. F4W Online reports that sources say she thought she was better than what the trainers thought of her and had apparently made noise about how she should be working on WWE’s main roster.
This is the first we had heard of any sort of supposed arrogance from the 24-year old Puerto Rican. Fair enough, we’re not on the inside, but given her progression from Florida Championship Wrestling to the rebooted NXT, winning the first Divas match of the new season isn’t something you do to a wrestler who you are unhappy with.
Velez had made her first WWE impression on Tough Enough last year, and was clearly the best female competitor on the show, but was eliminated after a knee injury hampered her progression. She had to sit by while less skilled contestants on the show like Ariane Andrew (now Cameron Lynn, one of Brodus Clay‘s dancers) and Christina Crawford (now Caylee Turner) got to put pen to paper for WWE before she did. However, last November she got her shot, rebranding herself as Sofia Cortez, debuting on the 11th and making it to TV on Christmas Day, really hitting her stride when she formed an alliance with Paige after her arrival in January.
As the Anti Diva Army, the pair were rolling in FCW before being split ahead of NXT moving to Winter City, FL, with them facing off against each other on the third episode of the new season – with Cortez getting the win, as mentioned earlier. Her most recent match on the show was a count-out win over Natalya, with the third generation Diva refusing to get back into the win, but then attacking after the bell. It appeared to be the start of a storyline for her, but something changed, and the aforementioned “attitude problem” is what is being cited.
The thing is, there is a fine line between being confident and cocky. One person’s attitude problem is another person’s self-assuredness. What is so wrong with having big ambitions of being promoted to the main roster? Is that not everyone’s ambition who is in Florida looking for a shot? Of course, WWE doesn’t like people appearing to be too big for their boots, but then it also encourages wrestlers to shoot for the stars and show how much you want it.
Also, if someone has “attitude problems”, why not offer advice and guidance instead of tossing them out on their ear, especially if it is someone who the company is reportedly impressed with when it comes to their wrestling? It all seems a little harsh. Even Velez’s Tough Enough head trainer Stone Cold Steve Austin was caught off guard by the news, tweeting, “I was very surprised to hear that.”
Obviously, all of this stems from an unsubstantiated source, so it could be something else – or nothing at all, as WWE doesn’t always need a reason to release a wrestler from their contract. Hopefully Ivelisse knows the real reason and doesn’t get disheartened by the situation. It doesn’t seem to have deterred her, as she is not wallowing or spitting her dummy out like other recently-released talents have. She has changed her Twitter account in light of her release, and is seemingly looking forward to the next step of her career. After all, she has enjoyed intense training with some of the best trainers and will likely be in demand as a former WWE employee – and it’s not like there aren’t many promotions to receive bookings from.
If Velez wants it to be, this is a pothole in the road, and not a dead end. Many wrestlers have been given extra chances if they work on what WWE wants them to work on, and she could easily be back in the mix, especially since the company seems to have a focus on spawning a new generation of interesting Divas, so nothing is impossible. We hope we get to see Ivelisse in a WWE again soon.
- Lee Burton