Newsweek recently spoke with former WWE NXT Superstar Deonna Purrazzo, indie wrestler David Starr, and AAW owner Danny Daniels about pro wrestling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Purrazzo, who was released from her WWE deal back on April 15 as a part of the COVID-19 cuts, confirmed that she was released with 30-day severance pay. She commented on being unemployed during a pandemic.
“The scariest part is that we’re in this worldwide pandemic and I can’t go and get a job tomorrow,” Purrazzo said.
Purrazzo added that she hopes selling merchandise online will keep her afloat, but if needed she would love to go back to teaching.
“It’s scary when I stop to think about it,” Purrazzo said. “But since I got that phone call, I’ve tried to get T-shirts out and get my merch back up and just find that hustle that I had to have to be a successful independent wrestler. If need be, I’d love to go back to teaching.”
Purrazzo also talked about working WWE TV tapings during the pandemic at the closed-set WWE Performance Center. She confirmed that talent were given the option to risk competing or not, but said she feels like the company should not have put performers in that position because of the severity of the coronavirus, and what is required of them. A WWE spokesperson confirmed that competing amid the pandemic is “voluntary and WWE has made accommodations for individuals upon request.”
“We were given the option and were told had we said no, it wouldn’t be held against us. I don’t believe that,” Purrazzo said. “I feel like a lot of people do feel pressured. It’s a very presumptuous thing to ask people to do right now—to choose to work or not. Especially in the political company that we work in, people don’t believe they’re not going to lose their job or their spot [on the show] if they say no. It’s a really hard choice to ask people to make.”
Purrazzo said WWE did take precautions to limit the number of people in the building for tapings. She also confirmed that her temperature was taken when she arrived each day, but still she is conflicted
“I do feel a bit of a hypocrite because I did go and I did work,” she said. “But when you leave [work] and reflect back on the rooms you were in, and the situations you were put in, it’s kind of like, oh, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing. It’s just a scary thought because you don’t know who’s been exposed to what. And then we’re touching each other, we’re sweating on each other. I don’t think, no matter what precautions can be taken, that it’s necessarily the safest option.”