In retrospect, it was never quite clear where the “Cain Velasquez in WWE” thing was going. After an impressive MMA career and a couple of appearances in AAA, he made a surprise debut on the first episode of Friday Night Smackdown on Fox, striking fear into the heart of Brock Lesnar immediately after the latter had squashed Kofi Kingston to take the WWE Championship. They announced a match for Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, and then news broke that Velasquez had been signed to a lucrative multi-year deal with WWE. He lost to Lesnar at Crown Jewel, worked a few house shows… and that was it. He wasn’t in the Royal Rumble, despite saying he would be, and he wasn’t at WrestleMania 36. And now, it seems his time in WWE is already over.
According to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, Cain Velasquez was released from WWE as part of their recent budget cuts. Meltzer notes that his deal was for a lot of money, so now that they’re cutting back on spending, and considering how little he’s done in the company so far, it was probably an easy choice. There are rumors that it’s been issues with his lingering knee injury that have kept him from working, and if that’s true he’ll now have plenty of time to focus on rehab before moving on to whatever the next stage of his career turns out to be.