Wednesday has shaped up to be one of the darkest days in recent memory for professional wrestling.
WWE, in response to growing revenue losses stemming from the coronavirus, announced sweeping budget cuts. Included in those cuts were a number of high-profile talent releases.
WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle was among a growing number of on-air talent released from their contracts. Other well-known, established and long-time employees like Curt Hawkins (Brian Myers), Heath Slater (Heath Miller) and Sarah Logan (Sarah Rowe) were released, too. As were Mike and Maria Kanellis. Veteran referee Mike Chioda also was released.
In addition to on-screen talent, a handful of important backstage contributors were let go. According to Pro Wrestling Sheet, multiple backstage producers were furloughed. That list includes but isn’t limited to former wrestlers like Billy Kidman, Lance Storm, Mike Rotunda and Dave Finlay.
“Due to COVID-19 and current government-mandated impacts on WWE and the media business generally, the Company went through an extensive evaluation of its operations over the past several weeks,” the WWE said in a press release announcing budget cuts Wednesday. “This analysis resulted in the implementation of various short-term cost reductions and cash flow improvement actions.”
The WWE stock looks like it will close Wednesday at its highest number since March 24 — although that doesn’t do those who lost their jobs much good.