Easter week of 2020 will go down as one of the more newsworthy periods in the history of professional wrestling, and not for good reasons. The death of the legendary Howard Finkel, and the situation regarding WWE magically being deemed “essential” by the Governor of Florida, haven’t met our eyes and ears well. And then there’s the little story of more than a couple dozen WWE wrestlers and staffers either being furloughed, or outright let go.
It’s a little rarer these days to see WWE release talents en masse, especially with a legitimate competitor in the United States that could pose a reasonable threat in the marketplace. But in years past, Vince McMahon’s company was a little more prone to making heavy cuts on some given day.
For a little historic perspective, this list will look back at five instances of WWE’s roster thinning out rather drastically in a short period of time. Though there have certainly been more than five examples of this happening (none with the same circumstances surrounding the 2020 cuts, of course), this list focuses on some truly notable cases.
Whatever hardships WWE may try to claim today, a quarter century ago, things were looking far more bleak. Empty arena shows amid a viral pandemic are bad, but it was much more embarrassing seeing episodes of Raw take place in high school gyms before 1500 fans.
Belt-tightening was in order, and throughout the summer months of 1995, talents started disappearing. The Heavenly Bodies, Irwin R. Schyster, Tekno Team 2000, Mantaur, Adam Bomb, Sionne (The Barbarian), Doink, Dink, King Kong Bundy, Captain Lou Albano, and Afa all exited.
President Jack Tunney was let go, and longtime announcer Lord Alfred Hayes was essentially forced into early retirement. Additionally, more visible stars like Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie walked out after a dispute, while an unsigned Lex Luger infamously (and quietly) left for WCW.