Despite being a steady presence of NXT as part of Andre Chase’s Chase U, Bodhi Hayward was shockingly released from the WWE Universe on Tuesday, November 1st. While this wasn’t part of some grand exodus of talent, as Hayward was the most experienced wrestler released from his contract, the announcement brought back bad memories of the Pandemic era of WWE when dozens of Superstars saw their employment come to an end.
Speaking with PW Mania in an exclusive interview on the matter, Hayward, now going by Brady Booker, detailed the shock of being released in the middle of a run with Chase U.
“My first initial thought was, I was in shock,” Booker said. “It was 100% out of the left field. I was upset too. I felt the relationships I had there that were being built were good. I was shocked, and it was a big blow to my confidence. I was thinking Chase U main roster, but I was shocked and hurt. It showed me that there is a lot more to this business that maybe I do have to learn about. In some way shape or form, you are always in control. I look at this as a great opportunity. I feel that I’m made for this. Physically, and mentally. The one thing I always wanted was to cut an in-ring promo. I love being in front of crowds. I never feel more comfortable than being in front of them. That’s what will make me successful in this business. I love the Brodies and they’re loving me back. I want to love everyone for who they are as well.”
Now free to be who he’s like, Booker assured fans that “Bohdi Hayward” is just part of who he is as a professional wrestler, and he plans to prove his worth outside of the restrictions of his role in NXT.
“Bodhi Hayward was a small extension of Brady Booker. Brady Booker is a complex individual. Like I said before, I am a good guy and I’m going to be the best guy I can be and accept all those coming forward. If the line gets crossed, I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to win. Every person who stepped up to the line next to me in football was going to feel me. If you’re going to roll with me, you’re going to feel me. Just like in Football. You’re going to know who hit you. I’m all about physicality, and I’m all about hitting people, but I will do it with a smile on my face. I’ll do it for the good guys as well. But when you push, you don’t know what will happen. The thing that I thought always kept me safe was I could be almost anything, all I need is a little push. I always felt one of the special natural talents that I have was giving pre-game speeches. If I feel some type of way and I want you to feel it, I can make you feel it.”
Will Booker be able to overcome his release and quickly find a new home a la Cole Karter, aka NXT’s Troy “Two Dimes” Donovan? Or will his path to a full-time payday take a little longer? Only time will tell, but needless to say, he has the correct mindset to find success moving forward.
Andre Chase wishes good luck to his former NXT pupil outside of WWE.
Taking to Twitter shortly after news broke of Booker’s release, the proprietor of Chase U, Andre Chase, gave a fond farewell to his former pupil, who has never really been given a proper chance to prove his stuff in the WWE Universe.
“I just want to publicly thank Bodhi Hayward For his dedication to Chase U,” Chase wrote. “I will always appreciate him being my first scholarship athlete, but more importantly, I will always appreciate his friendship. Keep going.”
Now, for those out of the know, Chase isn’t just the only man with a PhD in Sports Entertainment; before he came to WWE, Chase was a member of The Bravado Brothers as Harlem Bravado alongside his brother Lancelot Bravado. They wrestled in Ring of Honor Chikara, Evolve, and even Pro Wrestling Noah – where Shinsuke Nakamura will wrestle The Great Muta in 2023 – before Lancelot retired from wrestling to pursue a career in politics. Down his partner, Chase signed with WWE and after some time re-establishing his character, emerged as Andre Chace, the proprietor of a wrestling university of sorts that helped folks like Hayward perfect their craft.
Will Hayward/Booker have a similarly impressive glow-up following his release from WWE? Only time will tell but based on his conversation with PW Mania, it sounds like he has the right support system in place to do just that.
“I have a whole new world now,” Booker declared. “I’m connected with a bunch of great people. Matt Riddle, Liv Morgan, Karrion Kross, and Shinsuke Nakamura, those guys are my rolling partners. There are so many more too who are looking out for me. People know I got it and they don’t want to see me fail. I’m looking forward to Japan, and UK opportunities as well. I got to spend 10 days in the UK with Trent Seven. Talking to Parker Boudreaux, see what’s going on in his neck of the woods. MLW too with EJ “The Judge” talking to him as well. I hope to continue evolving as a wrestler and finding my style.”
I just want to publicly thank @bodhihaywardWWE for his dedication to #ChaseU.
I will always appreciate him being my first scholarship athlete, but more importantly I will always appreciate his friendship. Keep going‼️🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/f0buZjZuKB
— Andre Chase (@AndreChaseWWE) November 1, 2022