On April 15, WWE released many in-ring performers, backstage producers, referees and office staff as a response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
In the fallout, it was reported that current WWE Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles was "furious" with then-Raw Head Writer Paul Heyman because of his perceived role in the releases of his friends and fellow O.C. members Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
Though he realised the decision was, ultimately, a Vince McMahon one, The Phenomenal One beleived that Heyman should have done more to protect them.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer has elaborated on the situation in a post on his website's forum, suggesting that Heyman may have been powerless to help:
These cuts were all Vince. In the end, all cuts are, but these were not cuts asked for and rubber stamped by Vince, these were Vince cuts who then came to others after and told them. Nobody even got names until after Vince made the decisions. Perhaps Paul & Bruce could have argued, and perhaps they did and perhaps they didn’t because you have to be very careful picking your spots. But when it comes to guys Vince had buyers remorse on the size of the deal, they weren’t changing his mind.
The 'buyers remorse' remark is in relation to the substantial deals offered to WWE talent last year. This includes Gallows and Anderson, who were rumoured to have each signed contracts worth around $750,000 per year.
Heyman was demoted from his Executive Director position on June 12, with the Raw and Smackdown writing teams merging.
Bruce Prichard is currently serving as the lead.
Styles has continued to discuss his time working with Heyman and made headlines recently by calling him a "bald-faced liar".