Although it’s been almost a month and a half since WWE released or furloughed dozens of wrestlers, backstage producers, and other staff members, reports are still revealing names of employees who were included in that massive wave of job cuts but weren’t mentioned in early news releases on the matter. According to a new report, the latest such example is NXT and NXT UK commentator Nigel McGuinness.
Citing this week’s edition of the subscriber-only Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Cultaholic wrote that McGuinness was among those who were furloughed — but not released — by WWE in mid-April. The outlet explained that the retired British wrestler-turned-commentator had been away from NXT programming since mid-March, which was when the coronavirus pandemic forced WWE to hold shows without fans at the Performance Center in Orlando.
However, it was also noted that other members of the black-and-gold brand’s announce team, including Beth Phoenix and Mauro Ranallo, have been allowed to record their commentary from home, thus making McGuinness the only NXT announcer of note who was placed on furlough.
Discussing the reason why the move was only revealed more than a month after the fact, WhatCulture noted that when the job cuts were first announced, there were “several” people from NXT whose release or furlough wasn’t supposed to be immediately made public by WWE. One such example was Rachael Ellering (formerly Rachel Evers), whose departure from the company was only confirmed in mid-May.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 29, 2017
A former Ring of Honor World Champion who retired from in-ring action at a young age due to injuries, McGuinness joined WWE in 2017 on the recommendation of veteran announcer Michael Cole, as recalled by WhatCulture. After initially joining the announce team for the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, the 44-year-old went on to do commentary on both NXT brands, as well as 205 Live and WWE Main Event.
In McGuinness’ absence, Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton had filled his vacancy on recent episodes of NXT’s eponymous weekly show. As for NXT UK, Figure Four Weekly wrote that tapings for the show have been temporarily put on hold due to pandemic-related travel issues, with McGuinness’s usual commentary partner, Andy Shepherd, hosting a series of “best of” compilations of previous matches in lieu of all-new episodes.
As the backstage workers who were furloughed on April 15 were placed on leave until at least July, it’s possible that McGuinness might be back on NXT television in the summer, or whenever WWE is able to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.