WWE's budget cuts found a new victim, this time ending Josh Mathews' run with the company.
The former Tough Enough competitor has spent the last 12 years announcing, interviewing and hosting panels for WWE. His tenure, though, has reportedly came to a close.
According to PWInsider (h/t Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc), "Josh Mathews has been released from WWE within the past 24 hours." As of this writing, WWE hasn't made an official announcement, but his profile is listed under the "WWE alumni" section of its website.
Fans won't be surprised to hear of the most recent case of roster trimming, even if they didn't see this one coming.
Josh Mathews released?!?! That guy has been there forever!! 13 years since he first appeared on Tough Enough and later an announcer...— Cesar (@theredstandard) June 25, 2014
It was just on June 12 that WWE parted ways with 11 performers, including Drew McIntyre, Evan Bourne and Brodus Clay. The majority of those wrestlers were rarely used, appearing infrequently on TV. Mathews, though, had become a fixture on WWE programming.
The go-to angle of a heel beating on a non-wrestler centered around Mathews on many occasions, including when Alberto Del Rio attacked him in 2013 and Brock Lesnar did so the year before.
More recently, other personalities slowly took Mathews' place. The pace of the takeover was so slow, though, that it was easy not to notice.
Tom Phillips began to take on more backstage interviews. He and Byron Saxton took over commentary duties on Main Event. The addition of Renee Young gave WWE a fresh face to place in the interviewer role.
The pre-show panels before Raw and pay-per-views remained his territory, though. The personalities around him shifted, but it was always Mathews at the helm, giving the product a more realistic, sports-like feel.
Even so, at one point, WWE clearly decided that it wasn't worth it to keep him on the roster.
PWInsider (h/t Middleton) recently reported "that there will be more staff and developmental cuts between now and the next investors call this fall." That tide of cutbacks took Mathews out of the picture.
The move is not likely to be the last. In-ring performers who rarely enter the ring (like Zack Ryder) and other employees that most fans take for granted may be next to get the dreaded "we don't need you anymore" call from officials.
Until the WWE Network begins to pull in more subscribers and make up for the costly transition from the pay-per-view system to the streaming service, expect the company to fling more jetsam from the ship to avoid sinking.
Mathews' exit leaves more room on stage for Young, Saxton and Phillips, who would surely be glad to stretch their careers out over a decade as Mathews did.
There's no guarantee that WWE won't release at least one of them as well, though.