WWE legend Kurt Angle has been RELEASED by the company because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Olympic champion and four-time WWE champion Angle, 51, is one of a number of superstars to have been let go with Vince McMahon cutting costs.
WWE chief McMahon announced plans to furlough staff members and wrestlers during the crisis but insisted his firm is “well positioned” to deal with financial losses.
Hall of Famer Angle was the biggest name to lose his job, with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows also among those to be released.
A WWE statement read: “WWE has come to terms on the release of Kurt Angle, Drake Maverick (James Curtin), Curt Hawkins (Brian Myers), Karl Anderson (Chad Allegra), Luke Gallows (Drew Hankinson), Heath Slater (Heath Miller), Eric Young (Jeremy Fritz), EC3 (Michael Hutter), Aiden English (Matthew Rehwoldt) and Lio Rush (Lionel Green).
“We wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”
Angle later wrote on social media: “I wanted to 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.”
A number of current and former wrestlers shared their thoughts on the firings, with Paige writing her “heart is breaking” and Bray Wyatt simply adding “yuck.”
Drake Maverick, one of those released, also shared a video of him choked up tears after learning his fate.
Fighting back tears, he said: “There’s a lot of people that I’m not going to gave a chance to say goodbye to, that I really love, that I really care about.”
An earlier statement released on Wednesday confirmed cuts of over £3million per month are to be made along with a temporary £110m saving from delaying the construction of WWE’s new headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.
According to PWInsider, chairman and CEO Vince McMahon has admitted that some wrestlers will be furloughed and others will lose their jobs due to the pandemic.
WWE nevertheless has moved to ensure stockholders that a rainy day fund of £400m will see them through the crisis.
In fact, the show is one of few sporting events to have carried on while others shut down.
The company has substantial financial resources which total approximately £400m.”
Wednesday’s statement read: “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 Company’s reductions of employee compensation and headcount result in an estimated monthly savings of £3.2m along with cash flow improvement of £110m primarily from the deferral in spending on the Company’s new headquarters.
“Additionally, the Company has substantial financial resources, both available cash and debt capacity, which currently total approximately £400m, to manage the challenges ahead.
“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.”
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As in the UK, United States employers have the right to furlough staff during the pandemic but no government support to cover their salaries has been announced.
McMahon has been brought into US president Donald Trump’s circle of advisors to help re-open the country’s economy once its lockdown measures are eased.
The XFL, an American football league that was the brainchild of the WWE chief, was also forced to file for bankruptcy earlier this week after just half a season of play.
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