WWE superstar The Phenomenal AJ Styles is feeling personally responsible for WWE friends and stablemates, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. WWE released Gallows, Anderson, and at least thirty-eight other wrestlers, producers, and other backstage talent as part of cost-cutting measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Styles, it seems, feels terrible he was unable to save his friends.
AJ Styles Speaks Out
"It freaking sucks," said Styles, as transcribed by 411 Wrestling. "If you didn't know, Gallows and Anderson, guys who were like my brothers, were released yesterday and that one hurt. That one hurt really bad. Really bad. The only way I know how to explain it is these guys are like my family and I couldn't take care of my own brothers, that's the way I feel about it. I'm the oldest, I'm supposed to take care of them and I didn't manage to do that. And I feel responsible, in some weird way, for them being released. It's devastating. I don't know any other way to explain it."
"And there's a lot of other great wrestlers, I'll kind of go down the list for you," Styles continued. "Kurt Angle, a buddy of mine, Rusev, Drake Maverick, great guy, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, Heath Slater, Eric Young, Rowan, like Eric Young man, like…I don't know how he missed the boat. Those guys just…Rowan, like I said another guy who was doing great work. Sarah Logan, she was just on television, she was just on the PPV. Gallows and Anderson were on one of the main events of Wrestlemania. Mike Chioda, this guy's got tenure for sure. It sucks. Mike Kanellis, Maria Kanellis, EC3, Lio Rush, Primo and Epico. And I'm sure there was some in NXT, but I wasn't sure. And it's just weird."
WWE Has Its Priorities in Order and Wrestlers are at the Bottom
The worst part of all of this is that it didn't have to be this way. On the morning of the layoffs, WWE sent out a press release announcing they have $500 million in reserves to weather the crisis, while the combined monthly savings of all the laid-off workers amounts to just $700,000. Just yesterday, WWE announced a dividend for shareholders that will pay out over $9 million in profits, money that could have kept every laid-off worker employed into 2021. Vince McMahon himself was entitled to $3.5 million of that dividend. The McMahon family has donated millions of dollars to the campaign of President Donald Trump, earning Vince a spot on a governmental task force for restarting the economy and Linda McMahon a spot on Trump's cabinet at first. Later, Linda McMahon took over a Trump SuperPac, and that SuperPac pledged to spend $18.5 million in Florida last week on the same day Florida granted WWE a special exemption to broadcast live wrestling events in the state. The hierarchy of who WWE cares about seems to go McMahon family members, stockholders, Republican politicians, and only after that wrestlers. It's something AJ Styles is keenly aware of.
"This stuff is expected with everything that's going on," Styles said. "I'm as shocked as you are with some of the guys that got released. I have my own opinions with things that could have been done differently. That doesn't change… I'm not the CEO of the company, I'm not a billionaire. I'm not up there, I don't make those decisions, I don't know what it takes to make those decisions. I'm not qualified to say what's right or wrong. Who do you blame with all this? Every company is doing this. One thing you have to learn is that when big companies stop making money, it's not the highest up person who owns a company, they don't take a pay cut, everyone else does. That's usually the way it works. And maybe that's where we're at. I don't know who's making what, I don't know what. All I know is I lost a lot of great friends and I'm tore up about it. It's just a terrible time. Who would have thought 2020 was going to suck so bad?"