With the CO-VID 19 pandemic still impacting the world and the global economy World Wrestling Entertainment began the process of drastic cutbacks.
Following a short call to company staff that did not last more than five minutes according to PWInsider WWE began letting both talent and backstage staff know of their release individually via phone. The following talent have been released as of 6:45 PM EST:
No Way Jose
The following backstage producers/staff have been furloughed as of 6:45 PM EST:
Shane (Hurricane) Helms
Maverick, real name James Curtin, put out an emotional video message on Twitter minutes after receiving the call from WWE letting him know of his release.
This comes at a very chaotic time for WWE and its patriarch Vince McMahon.
The CO-VID 19 pandemic has forced McMahon to effectively shut down the second iteration of his XFL football league first by laying off almost the entire payroll on April 10 and on April 13 declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy along with putting the league for sale. A potential point of contention could arise as the bankruptcy filing has revealed that WWE owned 23.5% of XFL Class B stocks. McMahon had repeatedly claimed that the two companies were not linked.
Then after seemingly planning to do advance prerecorded sessions of their Raw, SmackDown, and NXT shows McMahon decided last minute on April 9 to instead to move forward with live broadcasts. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer the decision was made out of fear that the TV networks that air these shows (NBC/Universal and Fox) would be able to legally find either a way to renegotiate or get out their contracts with WWE should the company not be able to provide live shows.
This was interestingly followed by Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida declaring that WWE and other sports be listed as ‘essential businesses’ last weekend exempting them from state’s stay-at-home order to combat CO-VID 19. Soon after reports have come out that McMahon’s wife Linda, through her conservative super PAC, spent $18.5 million in the state to help elect Republicans in the upcoming November general election in the same time period as DeSantis’s declaration of WWE’s exemption. This was followed by reports that Orange County, FL sheriffs have previously gone to WWE’s Performance Center facility in Orlando on multiple occasions in attempts to force the company to shut down show tapings for not adhering to social distancing guidelines and the stay-at-home order.
Under normal circumstances the released talent would have plenty of opportunities to join other promotions like All Elite Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and Impact Wrestling. Unfortunately with almost the entire wrestling industry being frozen by the CO-VID 19 pandemic they are looking at a bleak job market.