STAMFORD, Conn. (Heartland Newsfeed) — Unforeseen economic struggles as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic has forced WWE to make some drastic changes Wednesday.
WWE announced changes to staffing and compensation packages for executives among other measures, according to a report from Wrestling Observer’s Josh Nason. A press release reveals these actions, which include decreasing operational expenses, cutting talent, staffing and consulting costs and delaying the headquarters move from Titan Towers by six months. WWE was identifying headcount reductions, making a decision to furlough a portion of its workforce as a result.
Employee compensation and staffing cost reductions resulted in an estimated monthly savings of $4 million. Additionally, cash flow is improving by $140 million, a result of spending deferrals toward the company’s new headquarters.
Nine WWE production team members under furlough
Nason later reveals that nine members of the production team were furloughed. Lance Storm, Billy Kidman, Mike Rotunda, Dave “Fit” Finlay, and Pat Buck were the first to enter furlough leave. Additionally, Shawn Daivari, Scott Armstrong, Sarah Stock, and “Hurricane” Shane Helms are on furlough. It was first reported by PWInsider and confirmed by Dave Meltzer.
WWE releases 20 members of the roster
19 wrestlers and one referee were released from their WWE contracts Wednesday amidst the aftermath that took place Wednesday.
The only referee given a release was 20-year veteran Mike Chioda.
Four talent releases are resulting in the dissolution of tag teams or factions within WWE. With Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows released, The OC (Original Club), no longer exists as a result. The release of Primo and Epico Colon results in The Colons no longer being an active tag team in WWE.
Additional talents released from their contracts include Drake Maverick, Curt Hawkins, Ethan Carter III/EC3, Lio Rush and Eric Young. Others include Heath Slater, Sarah Logan, Erick Rowan, Mike and Maria Kanellis, Zack Ryder, Rusev and No Way Jose.
Maverick stated in an emotional Twitter video that he will still compete in the interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament.
Moreover, Kurt Angle had been working in a behind-the-scenes role, while Aiden English was working as a 205 Live commentator. Both were released from their contracts.
Additional furloughs and layoffs
A report from Cageside Seats’ Sean Reuter reveals additional furloughs and layoffs.
Ace Steel, Serena Deeb, Kendo Kashin, Smackdown writer Andrea Listenberger and Spanish announcer Jerry Soto are also on furlough.
In NXT, the termination of five NXT contracted wrestlers took place as a result. They include Dorian Mak, Deonna Purrazzo, MJ Jenkins, Josiah Williams, and Aleksandar Jaksic.
How will this affect the upcoming earnings call?
This could be too difficult to determine immediately. More answers will likely come forth, as the presentation of further details takes place on April 23 following market closure. The earnings call reveals their financial results for the first quarter of 2020.
We will continue to follow this story as more developments are available.
Ben “Moose” Gibson is a contributor to this report. Gibson is a contributing writer for Ambush Sports and Heartland Newsfeed. You can follow him on Twitter @midnightxmoose.
For more sports, news, and entertainment, follow Jake Leonard @JakeLeonardWPMD and Heartland Newsfeed @HLNF_Bulletin on Twitter. Additionally, you can follow Heartland Newsfeed on Facebook and Reddit among other platforms.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.