Coronavirus: WWE fires 30 wrestlers the day after being ruled an ‘essential business’

Hall of Fame star Kurt Angle was among the high-profile names to be sidelined

Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

Hall of Fame star Kurt Angle is among the high-profile names to be let by go by WWE as part of a dramatic series of cuts.

The company confirmed the release and furloughing of more 30 employees on Wednesday night.

Angle, who had been working as a producer with Vince McMahon’s company, joins a huge number of former champions and on-air performers to lose their job as an extension of cuts made due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Sarah Logan and Lio Rush were all also among the wrestlers to be told hey’d be let go.

The news came sharply on the back of a warning from WWE that cuts would be on the way. A statement preceding the releases stated changes would be made after the company had completed “extensive evaluation of its operations.”

Primo, Epico, Rusev, Erick Rowan, No Way Jose, and long-serving referee Mike Chioda were all also released, barely a day after WWE had controversially been given the green light to continuing filming their weekly programming schedule.

As part of a wider restriction on activity in Orange County. Florida, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it had been expected that the sports entertainment company would be among those forced to shut down its activities. Up to that point, they had been filming episodes of RAW and SmackDown at their Performance Center training facility in the are, albeit without a live audience.

Surprisingly, though, Mayor Jerry Demings confirmed that a review had concluded that WWE would be classed as “essential business”, allowing filming to continue, and for talent to travel to work.

Many of those let go in Wednesday’s cuts were among those asked to travel to Orlando to perform over the course of the last week.

Angle’s departure brings to an end his second spell with WWE, with the veteran returning in 2017 ahead of Wrestlemania and his induction into the Hall of Fame. His in-ring appearances were sporadic, with the former Olympian also serving as an on-screen General Manager.

Reacting to the news, 51-year-old former WWE Champion Tweeted: “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.”

Brit Drake Maverick was also released, taking to social media to confirm the news in a tearful address. The 31-year-old from Birmingham said: “...as of today I have been released from my WWE contract... like everybody else where I probably didn’t take this as serious as it is at the beginning, but it’s affecting people’s lives, it’s affecting people’s jobs, and it’s affecting the way people make a living.

“I’m very fortunate that WWE is still allowing me to compete in the NXT Interim Cruiserweight Title tournament, but it’s very likely that those will be the last matches that I ever have. There’s a lot of people that I’m not gonna get a chance to say goodbye to, that I really loved, that I really cared about.”

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