WWE talent cuts: Kurt Angle, Lio Rush among those released in response to coronavirus impact

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt global business, few companies have managed to avoid taking a severe financial hit. WWE, however, has continued with its weekly television events — including a pre-taped, two-night airing of WrestleMania 36 — but the lack of live-event revenue has obviously damaged the promotion’s bottom line. The company has now been forced to take measures in response. 

Vince McMahon held a call on Wednesday with WWE employees in which he revealed a series of cost-cutting measures the company will undertake in response to the ongoing fallout from the pandemic. A corporate press release followed, focusing on four actions as “short-term cost reductions and cash flow improvement.”

Those actions included:

  • Reducing executive and board member compensation
  • Decreasing operating expenses
  • Cutting talent expenses, third party staffing and consulting
  • Deferring spend on the build out of the company’s new headquarters for at least six months

The press release stated WWE “also identified headcount reductions and made the decision to furlough a portion of its workforce effective immediately. The decision to furlough versus permanently reduce headcount reflects the fact that the Company currently believes the furlough will be temporary in nature.”

That headcount reduction, per the statement, will save the company an estimated $4 million per month during the pandemic.

Shortly after the release of this information, WWE tweeted that they had come to terms to release WWE multiple superstars, followed by reports from multiple media outlets with news of production staff and additional on-screen talent who had been released.

Among those released were:

  • Karl Anderson
  • Luke Gallows
  • Drake Maverick
  • Eric Young
  • EC3
  • Lio Rush
  • Curt Hawkins
  • Sarah Logan
  • Erick Rowan
  • Primo & Epico Colon
  • Mike Kanellis
  • Maria Kanellis
  • Aiden English (announcer)
  • Mike Chioda (referee)
  • Kurt Angle (producer)
  • Billy Kidman (producer)
  • Mike Rotunda (producer)
  • Dave “Fit” Finlay (producer)
  • Pat Buck (producer)
  • Shawn Daivari (producer)
  • Scott Armstrong (producer)
  • Sarah Stock (producer)
  • Shane Helms (producer)
  • Lance Storm (producer)

Of the in-ring talent, Gallows and Anderson are the two men most frequently featured on recent WWE television, operating as part of The O.C. along with group leader AJ Styles. Sarah Logan has also featured prominently in storylines and matches recently.

According to a PWInsider report, some of the producers may have been furloughed rather than outright released.

McMahon is also dealing with the recent suspending of operations and declaration of bankruptcy for the XFL, his second attempt to launch the professional football league. The league did not complete its season as sporting events began shutting down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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