Yesterday, breaking news rocked the wrestling world as a significant number of WWE stars, including seasoned veterans like Dolph Ziggler and Shelton Benjamin, were released from both the primary WWE roster and the developmental “WWE NXT” roster. These roster cuts follow a series of staff layoffs that followed WWE’s merger with UFC.
Renowned wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, writing in the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter,” shed light on the situation, noting that the expectation of substantial cuts was well-known within the industry. The goal was to trim expenses by a substantial $50-100 million on the WWE’s side of TKO Group Holdings. Meltzer also highlighted that a major driver behind these cuts was the need to eliminate redundancy or, as it’s often termed, “duplication of work” within the Endeavor organization. Employees were reportedly informed that these significant cuts were directly tied to the merger.
Drawing a comparison with UFC’s acquisition by Endeavor in 2016, WWE employees appeared to feel a sense of bitterness. Initial assurances that there would be no further cuts after the initial wave were contradicted when subsequent releases occurred, leaving many employees disillusioned.
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Furthermore, despite previous indications that there would be no substantial cuts affecting areas like talent, creative, production, or the “NXT” division, Meltzer noted that the situation changed within a mere six days, mirroring past events. Notably, while UFC did not make cuts to talent following their acquisition, WWE released talent that had not been actively utilized. Meltzer reported that the key factor behind these talent releases was that they were earning main roster-level salaries without corresponding main roster opportunities, leading to a belief that they were unlikely to be utilized in the future. A WWE official was quoted as saying, “It’s a matter of weighing time spent vs. the amount paid vs. the return on investment.”
WWE has declined to comment on Meltzer’s reporting.
Photo Credit: WWE