Right so before you say anything, let me address that not everything that happened in 2020 was WWE’s fault, and that it has been a very unpredictable year.
That being said, there are plenty of things that WWE is definitely responsible for, and I will be exploring these issues, as well as the issues out of Vince McMahon’s control.
Of course, some of you may disagree with the things that I think went wrong, and that’s absolutely fine. You are entitled to your opinion, but do still feel free to rip mine to pieces in the comments. It helps with the Twitter algorithm.
So, in a change to the usual format, here are the 5 (main) things that went wrong for WWE in 2020.
1. The Pandemic (And WWE’s handling of it)
Well it had to be, didn’t it?
The Covid-19 Pandemic has effected the lives of every single person on this planet. Whether you have lost friends or family, or whether you’ve simply been unable to go to work, we have all felt the effect of that.
In terms of WWE, the main issue was that the risk of spreading the virus meant that fans were banned from attending shows, with all TV being filmed from the Performance Center, Full Sail University, or more recently, the Amway Center.
While I personally think the health and safety of your “independent contractors” should be seen as more important than making money, I am not Vince McMahon, who stopped at nothing to make sure wrestling was declared an essential business in the state of Florida. Without making an accusations, Linda McMahon did make a very large donation to the state of Florida, and on that same day, wrestling was declared an essential business. Crazy coincidence.
Despite (eventually) testing its wrestlers before each show, there have been a number of outbreaks of the virus within the walls of WWE, and while we don’t know the names of everyone who caught the virus, some did come forward, such as former interviewer and commentator Renee Young.
I think it is personal opinion as to whether you think WWE dealt with the virus properly, but the fact remains that almost every other sport in the world stopped, but pro-wrestling did not. AEW isn’t innocent either, by the way, as they continued to air live shows as well, but just speaking personally, I cannot understand putting money over human safety, especially in a year when you’re set to make record profits.
And speaking of which…
2. Mass Releases
I won’t go on about this one for too long, but the mass releases on April 15 were utterly unforgiveable. I understand the idea of releasing unused talent, but they had been unused for a long time, so why choose the start of a global pandemic to release a reported 25% of your workforce?
The excuse at the time was that it was to cut spending, but just a few months later the company recorded record profits, which made the excuse even more deplorable.
You may well have found yourself with a job this year as a result of the pandemic, and you will likely have noticed how difficult it is to get a new one. Well, these wrestlers, unless they were picked up by Impact or AEW, were also jobless, because all the smaller promotions were not able to run shows.
It significantly damaged the company in the eyes of the wider wrestling community, which these days is far more aware of finances than in previous years. We know how much money the company is making, and yet they feel they can make people jobless, and then come out and say it was essential as they needed to save money.
3. The Third Party Edict
This is one of the most recent terrible things WWE has decided to do, and with last week’s release of Zelina Vega, it has been in the news a lot.
For some reason, WWE decided it needed even more money, and that its own staff (the wrestlers) should get less, because that’s how you earn respect and loyalty, apparently.
Vince McMahon informed his wrestlers that any third party accounts they ran, which included Twitch, Cameo, OnlyFans etc. would now be seized by WWE, and any money made would go straight to the company instead of to the wrestler.
This forced a number of people to close accounts, and to lose out on a lot of money. There have been reports that some wrestlers, especially female stars, were making more money from third party platforms than from their annual WWE salaries, so this was a huge hit to their income.
It just makes WWE look incredibly unpleasant. Once again, they really do not need the money. Vince McMahon is worth almost $2 billion, and WWE very nearly made another billion in the last 12 months.
These third party accounts are a way of your stars to connect with fans and to have some fun away from the ring. All this edict did was make everyone think that WWE is a heartless, money-grabbing organisation, with no awareness of how to keep wrestlers happy. Is it any wonder so many people have requested their releases in the last 12 months?
4. Endless burials and tag team break-ups
It’s getting a bit boring reporting on the latest star that Vince and others are high on backstage, only to see them buried within a few weeks on TV.
Just to name a few, we’ve seen the burials of Ricochet, Cedric Alexander, Ali, Chad Gable, Andrade, and pretty much the entire women’s main roster apart from Bayley and Sasha. Even the Fiend was buried by Goldberg, for literally no reason.
Oh, and did I mention Retribution? All I really have to say on this one is “Slapjack”, but I guess I can expand by saying having a chaotic faction debut, then having them do almost nothing for several weeks, revealing they have terrible names, and then having them lose several weeks in a row on TV is not the best way of debuting, well, anything.
I know that not everyone can be pushed all the time, because that would be bad, but you don’t have to actively bury people. Have them lose a competitive match, and then take a month off. Don’t beat them into the ground so that when they return, they’re seen as a joke.
Speaking of bad jokes, the way the tag team divisions in WWE have been treated this year is nothing short of criminal. The IIconics, Mandy & Sonya, Heavy Machinery and the New Day have all been split up for no reason.
Peyton Royce was split from Billie Kay, only to be put with Lacey Evans, and now Billie Kay is doing nothing on SmackDown. Nice one, WWE.
Mandy and Sonya had a great feud, but now they’re on different brands, and Mandy is teaming with Dana Brooke for some reason. Nice one, WWE.
Heavy Machinery, one of the only over babyface teams in WWE was split up, Otis lost the MITB briefcase, and Tucker is now a jobber on Raw. Nice one, WWE.
The New Day were split up in the WWE Draft. Big E is now on his own on SmackDown, and while that isn’t a bad thing, they did not have to split the team up, because Kofi had a pretty successful singles run while still a part of the New Day, you may remember. Nice one, WWE.
Remember when WWE said they listened to fans? Yeah, they weren’t telling the truth.
5. The Unnecessary war with AEW
Yeah, AEW is again partly to blame, but the original issue starts with WWE, even if it was technically last year.
AEW announced their weekly TV show would be on Wednesday nights at 8pm. WWE then immediately changed NXT to a live show at 8pm on Wednesday nights, and had it debut two weeks before AEW Dynamite.
Throughout AEW Dynamite’s first year of existence, NXT had consistently tried to counter-programme any of AEW’s special episodes of Dynamite, and while AEW has sometimes done the same, it is definitely more something WWE is doing.
Again, this just makes WWE look like the bad guy, and while we’ve known that for a long time, they don’t have to rub our faces in their evil schemes.
Maybe, for once, do what’s best for wrestling fans, and run NXT on another night. This means there doesn’t have to be a war, and fans can watch both shows each week, without having to decide which card looks better.
Ratings wars have been a huge part of pro-wrestling history, but it actually isn’t necessary to be this petty. All it does is make WWE look like a spoiled child who doesn’t want the other kids to have any fun.
Well that was longer than I had planned. Let me know in the comments what you thought about the above, and try not to be too mean.