NEWS: WWE Announces Major Releases Including Rusev, Kurt Angle and Zack Ryder During Coronavirus Outbreak 2020

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WWE have officially announced the releases of a number of wrestlers and staff today on the 15th of April 2020. This comes a day after WWE was considered an “essential service” in Florida and it marks a dark couple of days for the company, with many families of the wrestliers also suffering during a time where almost every business has been affected in the world in some way by the current coronavirus outbreak.

The names as of 10pm in UK time are as followed:

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

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Producers Lance Storm, Billy Kidman, Mike Rotunda, Dave “Fit” Finlay, Pat Buck, Shawn Daivari, Scott Armstrong, Sarah Stock, and Shane Helms were all also furloughed without pay for the period of time but could also be brought back to the company once the fortunes for WWE change following the Coronavirus outbreak.

This also comes after the releases of Luke Harper, Sin Cara and the Ascension from a few months ago and The Revival being granted their releases from the company less than a week ago.

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I would be very stunned if this was the first time you’d be finding out about this if you are reading this post right now, which I very much appreciate by the way!. I’ve been reviewing WCW Nitro episodes ironically on the WWE Network for this blog and I’ve not really been looking for views actively but if you are here because of what is going on, thank you and I hope you read on as I have a lot to say about this. This news all comes the day after WWE was deemed an essential service to Florida and as considered a “key worker” myself in the United Kingdom, this whole scenario rubs me the wrong way.

I work in the UK’S Civil Service and I have dealt in a service involving people being laid off from work, becoming unemployed and seeking financial assistance from the UK Welfare system. I won’t mention more than that but that is a brief summary of what I do for a living. This Coronavirus has affected billions of people in the world, let alone millions of people in the UK who have been furloughed, seen their self-employment or been let go all together because of the current situation. As a key worker, I help these people with managing their lives during this crisis of situation for themselves and the rest of the country. People have been heart-broken by this…

I learn yesterday that WWE has been officially considered an “essential service” for the state of Florida where they can continue to operate in that state and do live shows. I don’t care to discuss the political aspect of that because I am a Civil Servant, but this move has been subjected to massive criticism questioning the necessities of WWE to continue doing shows during this time.

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So the day afterwards, I come in from work where I am considered a key worker as part of an essential service like WWE is apparently considered an essential service in Florida. While I catch-up on watching AEW Dynamite ironically, I get alert after alert on Facebook. A few wrestlers’ releases are announced by WWE like The Club, EC3, Curt Hawkins, Lio Rush and Drake Maverick… oh we’ll get to Drake Maverick.

Almost like a horror movie or the scene from Avengers: Infinity War where Thanos snapped characters out of existence, more names appear on WWE’s statement for these major releases and cuts. They keep going and going with these cuts. Maria Kanellis, who has recently given birth, was released along with her husband. Long time WWE employers like Mike Chioda, Zack Ryder and Primo Colon are also cut from WWE. Kurt Angle is released from his legend’s contract. Rusev is released.

All I can think when this was all going down is that where I work, because I am part of an essential service, it is all hands on deck. They are looking for bodies to do work when they can, whether it be at work, and they are taking all the precautions necessary to make sure we are safe while providing a service to the public who depend on us during this time.

With WWE we have a business that has made a minimal attempt to actually adhere to social distancing and safe-guard their wrestlers as they are having to WRESTLE EACH OTHER in the ring each week. Not only that but as they are considered an essential service to provide, they then release and cut staff left and right during a time where you’d think an essential service would need all hands on deck.

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This company is essentially telling their employees that they the business are needed at this time but they don’t need their employees despite them giving years of their lives to work for WWE and do their best to entertain the fans. Drake Maverick weed himself on pay-per-view just to make the boss happy, Maria, Mike Kanellis and Rusev were all involved in angles where they were in unhealthy relationships and being emasculated on live television especially for Rusev and Mike Kanellis. Aiden English cried on television for god’s sake.

They do all of these sacrifices for the company, under the motivation that the owner wouldn’t ask them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. Their reward for embarrassing themselves to make their boss happy (probably solely for that reason) and to try to entertain the fans in some way is that they are told to hit the bricks and we’ve got nothing for you, during this time where the coronavirus has hurt their talent pool. Roman Reigns, The Miz. Rey Mysterio and Dana Brooke were all cut from WrestleMania because of their health conditions but WWE had the audacity to fire these guys right after they were deemed an essential service.

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I’ve seen the WWE do a lot of tacky things, including releasing a DVD for profit on Owen Hart who died in their ring. I’ve seen WWE turn real-life deaths into storylines and I’ve seen them use the Gulf War in an angle. When it comes to taking care of the talent who have stayed loyal to them for so many years, they’ve dropped the ball here.

During a time where people’s livelihoods have been hugely affected and families have been affected by this, they do stuff like this where these wrestlers who had financial security have all been cast aside for the sake of the business. Yes, I understand it is a business. However, that’s all they treat themselves as. If they treated themselves as a true wrestling promotion, given all the money they make and the profits they’ll still make even with what’s going on, they could have found some way to at least do something for these people aside from just cutting them.

However, they don’t do that. It’s not like the WWE does anything to help wrestlers with life after wrestling and for some of these veterans, this could be the last bit of wrestling they ever do. Rockstar Spud/Drake Maverick alluded to that on his Twitter account after getting the phone call today. Now they are being thrown into the wilderness possibly with nowhere to go if companies like AEW, Impact Wrestling or NJPW don’t pick them up. The Renegade was released from WCW in 1998 I believe and after becoming severely depressed because he wasn’t able to find work, he took his own life.

To release these talented wrestlers in this manner after everything they’ve done for this company I think is disgraceful. To do it the day after being considered an “essential service” I think is pretty tacky and audacious from this company. My thoughts are with the families of the wrestlers that no longer have a job in wrestling from today as well as the wrestlers themselves. It is a terrible situation for everyone involved.

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Drake Maverick posted a video on Twitter with his thoughts about the whole thing where he is in tears about this whole ordeal and shaken by it. To him, he’s not even sure if he’ll wrestle again after he wrestles in the NXT Interim Cruiserweight Tournament as part of his final commitments. I welled up watching it and it’s a hard video to sit through but you should all watch it to understand just how hard this is hitting these wrestlers.

I went on a massive tirade years ago about Lio Rush who mocked Emma/Tenille Dashwood on Twitter for getting released. Years later, he is the one released as part of major cuts from WWE and I’d like to think that this will finally show him exactly what Tenille was going through this time three years ago. I’m obviously trying to say that it was right for him to be released and I wish him the best along with everybody else who got released, but I think this was a wake-up call for a lot of people.

I will echo the words from Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter on Twitter as this was a bad day on so many levels. I have not heard of anyone else getting cut since that list was posted. Supposedly Deonna Purrazzo from NXT was also released or asked for her release but I haven’t see that one yet but those people listed above are the releases we know of at the moment.

Let me know in the comments what you think about these developments for the WWE. If you’re new to the Armbar Express, I’m currently doing a WCW Nitro review series on this blog. If you follow the blog you will be kept up-to-date with every review or any other posts the Armbar Express does. I hope you’ve enjoyed the post you’ve just read.

It’s weird plugging the WCW Nitro series which I currently watch through the WWE Network! I’m plugging this during a blog post where I talk about WWE’s management of these releases! However, I don’t plan to stop those reviews so stay tuned! If you’d like to read any of the reviews I’ve done for that series so far, please click on the links below for all the reviews I’ve done so far!

Be sure to safe everybody doing whatever you may be doing during this time!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

Emma, Darren Young and Summer Rae RELEASED from WWE – Thoughts and Reactions

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Breaking news from today as three long-time main roster superstars have been released from WWE as Emma, Darren Young and Emma have departed from the company.

All three of these talents have been members of the RAW roster ever since the 2016 draft with very limited success for all three of them and long periods of absence in the last few years.

Emma was the first announced by WWE via their social media accounts and website. Emma has recently been a regular feature in WWE programming after several periods away from television for reasons such as injuries and even writing reasons. Emma had rose to fame initially from NXT before being promoted to the main roster to feud with, ironically, Summer Rae. After a few months of not really clicking on a main-roster level, Emma turned heel upon her return to NXT and saw her character develop dramatically. She returned to the main roster but her momentum was cut shot by an injury, leading to the bright idea of her to re-emerge as Emmalina. Due to her being in creative limbo and writers not really figuring out what to do with her, Emma went roughly 17 weeks before Emmalina debuted and literally just led to her being repackaged back to Emma. Emma had recently appearing at the TLC pay-per-view as Asuka’s first main roster opponent before her release.

Darren Young debuted in the first season of NXT before debuting on the main roster as part of the Nexus angle. Darren was exiled from the group after SummerSlam and after months of limited notoriety, partnered up with Titus O’Neil as part of the Prime Time Players. Darren and Titus teamed for a number of years and Darren actually won the tag team titles with Titus at Money In The Bank 2015. Darren’s singles career saw him aligned with Bob Backlund in the hopes of “making Darren Young great again.” Darren’s new repackaging eventually led to him receiving an Intercontinental Championship match at Battleground 2016. Darren was injured shortly after a feud with his old partner Titus, which has now led to his release.

Summer Rae debuted as the ring announcer in the newly rebooted NXT before eventually becoming a single competitor in the competitive women’s division featuring the likes of Emma and Paige. She eventually debuted on the main roster as Fandango’s dance partner, elevated as much as Fandango when his theme song became an international hit. Alongside this, Summer was pretty competitive in NXT and was aligned as a BFF of one Sasha Banks. Summer and Fandango eventually split and after a short stint aligned with Layla, Summer was eventually inserted into the infamous Dolph Ziggler/Lana storyline. Summer sided with Rusev but eventually broke up with him, leading to her siding with the debuting Tyler Breeze. Shortly after, Summer became injured and had yet to even appear on RAW since she was drafted in 2016 prior to her release.

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On the surface, these wrestlers weren’t exactly major players on the main roster in WWE. However, it is rather sad to see people lose jobs especially in a line of work as limited as wrestling is. For Summer and Emma, they both have opportunities outside of wrestling available to them like modelling and acting. I think there’s probably a chance for them to get their foot in the door. For Darren, very difficult to see where he may go from here. I don’t see him as a major player in the independent scene but as a WWE star, there’s probably a lot of decent money for him to make.

For Emma and Summer, I do see two cases of untapped potential with both of these girls. If you’ve ever watched Emma (and Summer to a degree), you can see that this girl was a hugely talented wrestler. She’s had great matches with Paige and Asuka in NXT. She’s probably better than at least 75% of the main roster which may be kind of pushing it. Regardless, she still had a lot of value and it was annoying as a fan of her to not see her at least take part in a major women’s title program. She could have been a great mentor to have for these new up-and-coming women, especially some of the ones from the Mae Young Classic.

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Summer was also a great talent too. I don’t really rate her highly as a worker but again, you don’t need to be the world’s greatest worker to be effective. Just look at Alexa for example. Summer was a great talker and really fit into the roles that she was given and her delivery was pretty good. I always rated Summer and it’s a shame she didn’t get one last run before her release.

I also have to give a lot of credit to Darren Young too, someone who has opened the doors for a lot of sports figures in terms of the LGBT community. Him publicly coming out as gay in 2013 did take a lot of courage and was widely commended among the wrestling community. In that aspect, I must give him a lot of credit.

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I do actually have a bone to pick before I sign off here because I want to address one of the more pathetic responses to the releases of Emma in particular, ironically from someone signed with WWE. The newly signed Lio Rush tweeted this out shortly after the news:

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Obviously, this is a reference to Emma’s match at TLC when she lost to Asuka. However, this guy making this comment only JUST after signing with WWE about these tough circumstances for a long-time WWE employee seemed so audacious to me. Someone that has “paid her dues” like Emma that’s just been told that she’s been cut and Lio, who has only been here for a short time, has the nerve to make light of this bad deal for Emma?

This tweet was actually quickly deleted by Lio, following a number of wrestlers like Bray Wyatt, Peyton Royce, Rosa Mendes and Jack Gallagher burying Lio for these comments. Lio did also apologise for this tweet but he did it in such a way that he apologised that the fans got upset about his comment which doesn’t strike me as a genuine apology or Lio taken responsibility for his comments.

I except Lio to get heat from this because, as the likes of Baron Corbin can vouch for, troublesome tweets can be hurtful for your career. I don’t think he’ll be fired for saying this but I can’t say that this will not make him many friends in developmental and on the main roster. This is trouble when you make light of the situation of the likes of Emma. Emma seems to be well liked within WWE so Lio may have just made things hard for him in the first stages of his WWE career.

Anyway, best of luck to Emma, Summer and Darren in whatever they do next. I wish them all the very best.