WWE’s True Colors: Profit Margins Over People

WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)
WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage) /

On Wednesday April 15 2020, less than two weeks after WrestleMania 36 aired across two nights, WWE ruthlessly and callously fired over 30 employees, including ‘Superstars’, referees, backstage agents and writers.

At time of writing, the confirmed list of releases and furloughs by WWE reads as follows:

In-Ring Talent:

  • Rusev
  • Kurt Angle
  • Erick Rowan
  • Luke Gallows
  • Karl Anderson
  • EC3
  • Lio Rush
  • Heath Slater
  • Sarah Logan
  • No Way Jose
  • Drake Maverick
  • Aiden English
  • Eric Young
  • Zack Ryder
  • Curt Hawkins
  • Primo Colon
  • Epico Colon
  • Mike Kanellis
  • Maria Kanellis
  • Deonna Purrazzo


  • Mike Chioda

Backstage and Creative:

  • Scott Armstrong
  • Pat Buck
  • Shawn Daivari
  • David ‘Fit’ Finlay
  • Shane Helms
  • Billy Kidman
  • Mike Rotunda
  • Lance Storm
  • Sarah Stock
  • Andrea Listenberger

This is merely the confirmed list so far, with more widely expected as NXT is still to air later tonight, at the time of writing. The conspicuous lack of SmackDown superstars also seems to imply that a fresh list of names will be cut at the end of the week.

These firings come hot off the heels of a big week for WWE owner Vince McMahon and his wife Linda McMahon. Linda, currently chair of a Political Action Committee dedicated to supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, announced that said committee will be spending $18.5m in Florida, which, entirely coincidentally, fell on the same day that Florida government officials deemed WWE as “essential media”, allowing the company to keep filming new television.

Vince, meanwhile, has filed for bankruptcy with his football league the XFL, which is precisely the same thing that happened last time he tried to start up the XFL in 2001. He’s been rewarded for this evident display of fiscal aptitude by being added to the President’s personal list of people whose input will be valued with regard to kickstarting the U.S. economy after the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic (hopefully) passes.

The COVID-19 pandemic is, rightfully, pretty much all anyone can think about right now. WWE’s determination to be classified as “essential media” has seen them force talent to risk the safety of themselves and their families by travelling across the country to the Performance Center to film the TV they’re deeming as so essential to public life it cannot possibly be stopped during a global crisis. And the reward that many of these people have been given for their dedication and loyalty to the WWE? Being laid off without so much as an in-person meeting; talent have been informed of their releases via phonecall, or via text message.

WWE are, despite the unprecedented and uncertain times we live in, still a wildly successful and obscenely rich company. Vince McMahon alone is worth over $1billion. The company has multiple multi-hundred-million dollar TV deals with the USA and Fox networks. Hell, the company has a rainy day fund of half a billion dollars, just sitting around doing nothing. For context, the total sum of the company’s savings so far, from cutting the 30 people now confirmed as without a job, stands at $4million. Or, roughly, what the company paid Bill Goldberg for two nights and under six minutes’ work.

WWE wrestlers are not full-time employees, but independent contractors. This means that the severance pay they receive is zero. WWE are firing people, in the middle of a global pandemic, with no severance pay, and leaving them with no immediate income. They are doing this whilst having multiple guaranteed hundred-million-dollar TV deals, and a $0.5billion reserve fund.

If before this pandemic, wrestling fans refused to acknowledge that WWE, and specifically it’s owners, are truly evil people… These actions must surely change that. There can be no rational line of defending a company making people jobless during a worldwide emergency when the only reason behind it is seemingly to not keep the company profitable at all, but simply to maintain pre-COVID19 profit projections.

WWE are, right in front of the eyes of the entire world, blatantly admitting that profit projections that were made before the world turned upside down, are more important than the lives of the performers, agents and writers who are the one and only reason the company are able to make these profits at all. This isn’t just a case of “that’s capitalism for you!”; for WWE to be this brazen and callous about the safety and security of people who earlier this week they were forcing to travel across states, can be nothing short of a watershed moment for the wrestling industry, and the global wrestling community.

Independent wrestling phenomenon and hated-by-WWE David Starr has, once again, called for wrestling talent across the globe to unionize. This is more essential now than at any point in the company’s history. WWE talent from the main event to what’s left of the undercard are seeing precisely how little Vince McMahon values their loyalty and their very lives; they desperately need unions to support them and ensure this kind of atrocious, despicable treatment cannot happen again.

With regard to the fans, I cannot be blunt enough; WWE do not deserve your money. They do not deserve your Network subscription, they do not deserve your merch sales, they do not deserve your ticket money for live shows when they eventually start running them again. This behavior is despicable on a level that the wrestling world at large needs to take direct action over. It’s all well and good saying that wrestlers need to unionize and that Vince McMahon needs to treat his talent better, but as long as we continue to pay money to the WWE and show the McMahons that we’ll be good obedient consumers regardless, we have no right to be outraged when WWE continue treating their employees like this.

Next. A response to WWE releasing talent. dark

By cruelly and outright evilly making scores of people unemployed in a time of global crisis, purely to ensure profit margins stay as predicted and to avoid dipping into a nine-figure reserve of cash, WWE have shown their true colors to the world on a scale that, even for Vince McMahon’s long and storied history of callous behavior, must now be seen as too far.