WWE: Post-Merger WWE Staff Layoffs to Start on Friday, FOX’s TV Deal for SmackDown Update, More News

Post-Merger WWE Staff Layoffs Expected to Start Today

WWE reportedly is currently expected to start a new wave of layoffs for their staff starting today, according to PWInsider.

Mike Johnson reported that WWE CEO Nick Khan recently issued an internal email to all of WWE’s employees informing them of planned layoffs as part of the post-sale to Endeavor and merger with UFC process. Khan reportedly also informed all WWE employees to work remotely on Friday in order to allow the company’s Human Resources department the ability to process the upcoming layoffs in a private manner.

This email stated:

Hi All,

As part of WWE’s transition into the newly formed TKO Group Holdings, we are evaluating our existing operations and systems to identify potential synergies across the business.  This effort includes work force reductions, which will take place tomorrow.

Those whose roles have been impacted will be notified by our Human Resources team, who will share the details of their severance package.  We are asking that everyone work remotely, Friday September 15, so we can ensure all conversations are handled privately and respectfully.  We’ll send out a companywide email once all of tomorrow’s conversations have happened.

Our company is home to the most talented, creative, and hard-working employees in the world.  WWE is a special place, which makes moments like this difficult.  Just know that we have nothing but gratitude and admiration for everyone we have had the privilege to work alongside.

Thank you for all your contributions and dedication.

Nick Khan

FOX CFO Steve Tomsic Comments on FOX Being More “Clinical” in How They Look at Renewing TV Deals

During this year’s BofA Securities Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference on Thursday, FOX CEO Steve Tomsic declined to comment about a potential renewal of FOX’s media rights deal with WWE for SmackDown. Tomsic did give his thoughts about FOX’s current mentality when it comes to renewing their existing media rights deals for their sports properties.

“So I won’t comment specifically on WWE but, let me give you some color on sports. So, for us, we think we’re well spent in terms of overall portfolio spend on sports rights. We have, over the course of the last four years — a touch longer actually — we’ve been really, really focused on getting long-term extensions on what we call foundational rights, and none of them more emblematic than the long-term extension we’ve got for the NFL but if you look at NFL, MLB, college, we have a bedrock of rights that take us to the latter part of this decade and into the next decade that we feel really good about, and that is a really, really significant platform that affords us what I would say — we’re always disciplined about all of our rights and all of our rights have to pay their own way, but it allows us to be sort of, I guess much more clinical in the way we look at renewing existing rights or looking at new rights that we want to sort of acquire for the portfolio and so we’ll take a really, really… as I said, clinical look at the renewal of rights that we have on the slate at the moment and determine the value that they deliver to us both from an advertising perspective and the impact that they have in terms of incremental affiliate revenue versus what the rights owner expects to receive in terms of rights costs and we’ll make that mathematical equation and be super disciplined about it.”

Transcript h/t: PostWrestling.com

WWE News & Notes

WWE recently announced that they will be holding a new Campus Rush collegiate athlete recruitment tour for their WWE NIL program this Fall. It was announced that this upcoming tour will be taking place from September 14th to December 6th and will be held at six universities and colleges across the United States.

Bayley is currently auctioning off several of her ring worn gear on eBay with all proceeds going to the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation to help support animals affected by the recent devastating wildfires in Maui.

PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that his sources stated that WWE had a rough plane flight trip to and from India for their Superstar Spectacle 2023 event this past Friday in the country. Johnson reported that WWE crew and talent dealt with around a 19 hour flights each way. Johnson also reported that talent did not have a real chance to rest after landing since they went right into media interviews then performed lived at the event and then headed right back to the airport for another lengthy trip back home.

As noted before, TKO Group officially opened at a stock price of $102 per share this past Tuesday. TKO Group had closed at $103.05 per share at the end of its first official day of trading. TKO’s stock price closed at $100.76 per share at the end of after hour trading on Thursday.

Fightful’s Jeremy Lambert reported that WWE CEO Nick Khan received $15 million, WWE Executive Producer & Head of Global Television Distribution Kevin Dunn received $7 million, WWE CCO Paul “Triple H” Levesque received $5 million, and WWE CFO Frank Riddick received $5 million in bonuses for the closure of WWE’s sale to Endeavor.

In a recent interview with ESPN, UFC Senior Vice President Lawrence Epstein gave his thoughts about the idea of WWE and UFC potentially holding events on the same weekend in the same city. Epstein stated “Where we want to get is where every UFC fan is a WWE fan and every WWE fan is a UFC fan.

Following UFC SVP Lawrence Epstein’s interview with ESPN, UFC President Dana White gave his thoughts in a recent Dana White Contender Series press conference about Epstein’s goal for every UFC fan to become a WWE fan and vice versa. White stated “Lawrence, I love you, one of the dumbest statements of all time. I don’t know why he said that. I don’t even know what to say to that. No. There is no…there is some crossover. Some people like WWE, some people like UFC, some people like both. I don’t think there is ever going to be a day where we turn every UFC fan to a WWE fan or every WWE…what’s beautiful about the synergy between these two fanbases is they are very completely opposite. There is very little crossover. Maybe he was misquoted, I hope that was the case because I could not disagree with him more.” (Transcript h/t: Fightful.com)

In a recent interview with The Bill Simmons Podcast, WWE CEO Nick Khan gave his thoughts about Vince McMahon staying on board in WWE not being a deciding factor for Endeavor’s purchase of the company. Khan stated “I don’t think that was a deciding factor in this. I think Vince approached it as, ‘I want to make sure every shareholder is treated the same way I’m treated.’ It was the Endeavor folks who asked him to stay in once the process was well underway and bids were in and all of those things, so it already felt it was going this way once multiple bids were in. They made the gracious offer and he accepted that position as executive chairman of the new company.” (Transcript h/t: Fightful.com)

In a separate recent interview with ESPN, WWE CEO Nick Khan also gave his thoughts about the idea of UFC fighters having “extended careers” in TKO Group involving them having a wrestling career in WWE after their MMA careers end. Khan stated “UFC fighters are gonna stay focused on the UFC and WWE superstars obviously do something different in our ring … but you also see in the UFC people with big personalities who, once their UFC run is done, once the UFC and the fighter says, ‘Hey, maybe now’s the time to call it a day,’ could those people have a longer life at WWE, an extended life with TKO? We think so.