World Wrestling Entertainment announced Wednesday it is releasing several performers among a series of financial cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Included in the releases are wrestlers Rusev, Drake Maverick, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Heath Slater, Eric Young, Rowan, Sarah Logan, No Way Jose, Mike Kanellis, Maria Kanellis, EC3, Lio Rush, Primo and Epico. WWE also announced it is letting go Kurt Angle, a retired wrestler and backstage producer, Aiden English, who has not wrestled since 2019 but has recently done commentary, and referee Mike Chioda.
Prior to the releases, WWE announced it was furloughing "a portion of its workforce effective immediately." The company added it believes the headcount reductions will be "temporary in nature."
In addition to the furloughs, WWE said it is reducing executive and board member pay, decreasing operating expenses and cutting talent expenses, third party staffing and consulting.
Also impacted by the company's cost reductions is a deferral on spending for the company’s new headquarters for at least six months. WWE believes the cuts will save roughly $4 million monthly and improve cash flow by $140 million, primarily due to the paused construction funding.
"Management continues to believe the fundamentals of the Company’s business remain strong and that WWE is well positioned to take full advantage of the changing media landscape and increasing value of live sports rights over the longer term," the company's statement read.
A WWE employee was recently announced to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but has fully recovered. The individual was in attendance at the taping of Wrestlemania 36 but was not exposed to the virus until after the conclusion of the production, according to the statement.
WWE went forward with Wrestlemania 36 without an audience, recording the event at its training center and broadcasting it on April 5-6.