After the surprising news yesterday (Feb. 4) that WWE had released NXT & SmackDown wrestler Steve Cutler, a report from Fightful indicated Cutler was let go because he’d contacted COVID-19 in January.
In this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer has more of that story.
While Meltzer does write that Cutler “is believed to be the first pro wrestler fired for getting COVID,” Vince McMahon’s issue seems to stem from how the former Forgotten Son contracted the coronavirus.
The WWE CEO was “livid” for a “disciplinary reason” related to a New Year’s Eve party. Cutler (real name Steve Kupryk) and his girlfriend, former NXT talent and current Impact Knockouts champion Deonna Purrazzo, tested positive early last month. Purrazzo confirmed, adding “we had no symptoms but took all precautions necessary.”
McMahon “promised a few wrestlers like [Roman] Reigns a safe environment when he returned and Cutler was around all the talent,” according to Meltzer. The reportedly well liked 33 year old seems to have been a regular at the Performance Center; Fightful’s report indicated Cutler was training in the Vince-ordered “big man class” when he learned of his release.
The Observer’s report also says Cutler & long-time tag partner Wesley Blake were dropped from serving as King Corbin’s “Knights of the Lone Wolf” on SmackDown after Cutler’s positive test and subsequent missed time. It’s not clear if WWE was also upset about that change in plans, or just the breach of protocol which apparently had to do with the New Year’s Eve party.
Social media tells us Cutler & Purrazzo were not the only WWE or inter-company couple who rang in the New Year at parties. We don’t know if there was something which made his situation more egregious, or if the seven year veteran of the company was deemed expendable and could therefore be used to send a message to others.