WWE set for mass layoffs after TKO merger with UFC - including a number of talent at risk in the process
Dirtsheets are reporting that the mass layoff of WWE staff since the TKO merger may also include a number of wrestlers
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With the merger of UFC and WWE having been completed earlier this week, with both entities now underneath the umbrella of the publicly traded company TKO, news has started to spread across the internet wrestler community that, after a very long time since it last happened, the WWE might be undertaking a number of ‘major cuts - including talent.
Nick Hausman reported that “while inquiring about whether there would also be talent releases as well (alongside the staff redundancies since the merger), a WWE source says that major cuts are expected to the WWE main roster and NXT brand. Whilst not explicitly told it’d be tomorrow (Friday BST), they have been planned for some time.”
That report was also confirmed by PWInsider, who also noted that WWE President Nick Khan issued an email to all employees to work remotely today as the company will begin its post-Endevour acquisition layoffs. However, Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp noted that he hadn’t heard anything about talent release as of yet, but even if there were to be some talent being ‘future endeavoured’ (no longer under contract), the “WWE has had a different method regarding departures and hasn’t been disclosing them publicly.”
Originally, the WWE would announce if a sports entertainer was no longer with the company by posting on their website or social media, followed by the announcement “We wish them well in their future endeavours.” The phrase “future endeavours” then became synonymous with the WWE releasing talent from their contract.
The WWE went through a period of signing a large number of wrestlers during a time when AEW was starting to generate a lot of interest and they too were in the business of acquiring talent. In the years since, there has not been quite an active approach to signing talent as fervent as before, and the over-swollen WWE roster has sadly been due for a trim in the last 12 months.
When was the last time the WWE underwent a number of talent cuts?
Sadly, for wrestling fans, we’ve become all too accustomed to mass ‘future endeavours in the company. The last such cull took place in 2021, which drew the ire of many people, fans and casual fans included, that such an event took place during the Covid-19 pandemic and it was viewed as incredibly insensitive to those who would lose their jobs. Before then, there was another mass culling of talent in 2000.
What is TKO?
TKO Group Holdings, Inc. is a media conglomerate that was created through a merger organized by Endeavor Group Holdings. The merger brought together two significant entities - World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) and Zuffa, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Since the merger was finalized on September 12, 2023, both WWE and UFC operate as separate divisions under the TKO umbrella.
This merger is a historic shift as it marks the first time that WWE is no longer primarily controlled by the McMahon family, who had been the company's founders and majority owners for over 70 years. For the UFC, this is the third transition in ownership, tracing back to Zuffa's initial sale to Endeavor in 2016. Zuffa's purchase of the UFC from the Semaphore Entertainment Group in 2001 was the precursor to these subsequent changes.
Under the newly formed entity, Vince McMahon from WWE takes on the role of executive chairman, while Endeavor's CEO, Ari Emanuel, becomes CEO of the combined company. Mark Shapiro serves as the president and chief operating officer. It is worth noting that Emanuel does not participate in the creative aspects of WWE or UFC. Post-merger, Nick Khan steps into the role of WWE president, and Dana White assumes the position of Chief Executive Officer for the UFC.