The rapid spread of Corona Virus or COVID-19 has brought the entire sports world to a sudden halt with all action ceasing for the moment. Even the biggest sporting extravaganza – Olympics – has been postponed. The only trickling stream of action for fans has been the continuing WWE programming.
But all is not well in that organisation either and this fact burst into public view in the most spectacular manner with the Vince McMahon-owned company taking a huge decision of firing more than a dozen wrestlers from its roster. This includes the legendary WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle as well as the highly-popular current star Rusev.
Reports in the media suggest that some of these wrestlers haven't been fully let go and have been merely furloughed by the company. Still, a great number of releases show that the company is going through a tough time. Even though, unlike other major leagues and events, it is continuing with its content production, the organisation has suffered losses.
They managed to hold WrestleMania despite the Corona Virus situation but made a big loss due to a change of plans. The ratings for their weekly shows – Raw and SmackDown – have also tanked. All these circumstances may have played a leading part in instigating McMahon and Co to drop the axe on so many stars.
The released performers also include the pair of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson – the henchmen of AJ Styles – who played a leading part in the now-famous 'Boneyard Match' between The Undertaker and Styles that was the main event on the first night of WrestleMania couple of weeks ago.
Referee Mike Chioda, who has been with the company for nearly three decades, has also been let go, as have been several members of the production staff. The other wrestlers fired or furloughed include:
Heath Slater, Erick Rowan, Aiden English, Drake Maverick, Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder, Lio Rush, EC3, Epico Colon, Mike and Maria Kanellis, Primo, Eric Young, No Way Jose, Sarah Logan
Future of released wrestlers
Some of these wrestlers may end up joining the rising new promotion AEW which has already brought over some of WWE's most prominent stars and has made rapid strides in its popularity. But many are going to struggle to find employment with there being few other pastures for them to graze upon.
WWE's financial status
Many fans and wrestling observers have disapproved of the decision. Dave Meltzer, an expert on the industry, revealed that WWE still possesses reserves of $500 Million and is on course to make a profit this year also. This makes the drastic cuts by the company seem all the more heartless.
Not surprisingly, many of the released stars have taken to social media to express their disappointment. Angle, one of the biggest-ever superstars of the company, who retired from wrestling after last year's WrestleMania, put out a Twitter message saying: "I wanted 2 say thank you to the WWE for the time I spent there.
"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."
WWE is continuing to produce its weekly shows Raw and SmackDown, and are now even telecasting it live, as before, from its performance center in Florida, albeit without a crowd. The WrestleMania this year proved to be more successful than expected with the company experimenting with new concepts and formats. However, the future, at the moment, looks grim.