WWE’s coronavirus chaos now includes wrestler releases, furloughs

First WWE moved all of its programming to its training center in Orlando without fans, determined to continue producing television amid the coronavirus outbreak. They even held WrestleMania, it’s annual signature event usually held in a football stadium, instead of postponing it. Then it got a reprieve as Florida, for some reason, deemed professional wrestling …

First WWE moved all of its programming to its training center in Orlando without fans, determined to continue producing television amid the coronavirus outbreak. They even held WrestleMania, it’s annual signature event usually held in a football stadium, instead of postponing it. Then it got a reprieve as Florida, for some reason, deemed professional wrestling an “essential business”, which prompted Vince McMahon to return to live shows every week — starting this past Monday — as opposed to pre-taping.

Now, wrestlers are being released as WWE deals with the economic impact of COVID-19. The company announced Wednesday it cut legend Kurt Angle along with nine wrestlers: tag-team partners Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Drake Maverick, Curt Hawkins, EC3, Lio Rush, Heath Slater, Aiden English and Eric Young.

“I wanted 2 say thank you to the WWE for the time I spent there,” Angle wrote on Twitter. “I made many new friends and had the opportunity to work with so many talented people. To the Superstars, continue to entertain the WWE Universe as well as you possibly can. They’re the best fans in the world. #itstrue.”

Angle, 51, won an Olympic gold medal as a wrestler in 1996. He became a WWE star in the late ’90s and 2000s. He returned to WWE in 2017 for the first time in 11 years, being inducted into its Hall of Fame and wrestling some matches. His last match was against Baron Corbin at last year’s WrestleMania.

WWE said it is “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 company, which has not run house shows in over a month, says it will save $4 million a month with the measures “along with cash flow improvement of $140 million primarily from the deferral in spending on the Company’s new headquarters.”

In a sign that the company is scrambling, WWE revealed earlier this week a tournament to determine a new cruiserweight champion for its NXT brand, and Maverick was one of the eight announced competitors. Gallows and Anderson were just involved in one of the WrestleMania main events, the boneyard match featuring AJ Styles vs. the Undertaker. The two were part of “The OC” stable with Styles.

Before the cuts were announced, Rush tweeted, “To all of my fellow co workers, whatever happens today or the remainder of this week….just know, we’re all going to be good. 🙏🏽 Once a family, forever a family. #Wrestling.”

This comes on the heels of the XFL shuttering last week, the second failed attempt for McMahon running the football league.

WWE recently confirmed an employee tested positive for coronavirus.

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