WWE Makes Roster Cuts, Furloughs a Portion of Employees Amid Coronavirus Restructuring

The WWE will be looking to save money amid the coronavirus pandemic and has outlined how the wrestling promotion plans to do it, including cutting members of the roster and furloughing a portion of its employees.

A call with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon this morning confirmed that the company will be cutting talent and the "headcount" of total employees. Some employees will also be furloughed for the foreseeable future.

WWE would later announce the release of the following talent: Drake Maverick, Lio Rush, EC3, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Eric Young, Aiden English, Kurt Angle, Heath Slater, Sarah Logan, Curt Hawkins, No Way Jose, Epico, Primo, Zack Ryder, Mike and Maria Kanellis, Deonna Purrazzo, and Rusev.

Backstage producers Shane "Hurricane" Helms, Billy Kidman, Lance Storm, Mike Rotunda, Dave "Fit" Finlay, Sarah Stock, Shawn Daivari, Scott Armstrong and Pat Buck, and referee Mike Chioda were also let go. However, it's being reported that producers are simply furloughed.

ec3 wwe monday night raw
EC3 on an episode of WWE's 'Monday Night RAW.' WWE

Following the call, WWE released a press release going into more detail on what the company plans to do including reducing executive and board member compensation and decreasing operating expenses.

You can read the full press release below:

WWE (NYSE: WWE) today provided an update on measures taken by the Company in response to the current impact of COVID-19 on the organization.

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. This analysis resulted in the implementation of various short-term cost reductions and cash flow improvement actions including:

  • Reducing executive and board member compensation;
  • Decreasing operating expenses;
  • Cutting talent expenses, third party staffing and consulting;
  • Deferring spend on the build out of the Company's new headquarters for at least six months.

Given the uncertainty of the situation, the Company also identified headcount reductions and made the decision to furlough a portion of its workforce effective immediately. The decision to furlough versus permanently reduce headcount reflects the fact that the Company currently believes the furlough will be temporary in nature.

The Company's reductions of employee compensation and headcount result in an estimated monthly savings of $4 million along with cash flow improvement of $140 million 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 $0.5 billion, 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.

The Company will provide further details when it reports its first quarter 2020 results next Thursday, April 23 after the close of the market.

The news of WWE furloughs comes off the heels of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' decision to make all sporting events—including the WWE—"essential" to the state's economy as long as it was done on a closed set, and thus exempt from the shelter-at-home order.

WWE would reportedly change its game plan to hold live episodes of Monday Night RAW, Friday Night SmackDown and NXT each week as opposed to taping them in bulk as they did for weeks in March and April prior to WrestleMania. This also included WrestleMania being pre-taped.

This story will be updated with more information as it's released.