Morale within WWE seems to have gone through peaks and troughs in recent times. Occasionally people backstage will reportedly be excited about the Royal Rumble, seeing it as the light at the end of the tunnel. Other times they will be furious about the company’s stranglehold over social media accounts. The latest news to break is one for the furious column.
Despite WWE recording record profits in 2020, and recently securing a deal with Peacock to broadcast WWE Network content worth a reported $1 billion, according to Fightful Select, there was a company-wide series of meetings that took place yesterday to inform WWE employees that they would not be provided promotions, raises or bonuses.
It’s worth noting that these meetings did not include on-air talent or wrestlers, but did include WWE employees.
Likely following on from this news, WrestleVotes tweeted to say that backstage anger is at an all time high.
Just got a text from a source in St. Pete… the unhappiness and straight up anger backstage is at an all time high level. Everyone from the boys to the road crew are pissed off. Not a good look.
— WrestleVotes (@WrestleVotes) February 13, 2021
This is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that WWE manages to infuriate its employees by cutting financial benefits despite record profits. Hey remember last April when they fired or furloughed 40% of its workforce during a pandemic in order to maintain a profit margin? I for one, am shocked.
Big Royal Rumble Botch
If you watched the Royal Rumble, which you should have by now, it was a bloody great show, you’ll have seen Bianca Belair win the Women’s Royal Rumble match by outlasting 29 other women, and some 24/7 Championship dorks.
The match was great, but there was one elimination that we now know was a mistake.
Bayley managed to get herself eliminated off camera, which given her place on the roster, was pretty confusing. According to PWInsider, the reason it was off camera is that the cameras weren’t prepared for it, because it wasn’t supposed to happen yet.
All we saw at home was Bayley outside the ring looking angry, and not her actual elimination which was supposed to happen later on. It isn’t clear how the botch occurred, mainly because we didn’t see it. Whoopsie.
Former WWE star Returning?
Despite backstage morale being very low, it seems that isn’t stopping people from wanting to sign for WWE, and it appears former star Davey Boy Smith Jr. could be close to doing exactly that.
Smith last wrestled for WWE in 2011, and since then has wrestled all over the world, including a long run in NJPW.
Speaking to the Metro, Smith revealed there has been “interest” in him returning to WWE, and he believes he would either return to NXT, or to SmackDown to join forces with his real life cousin, Natalya.
WWE sign top Indie star
And finally, Fightful Select is reporting that WWE has signed top independent star Christian Casanova, who has wrestled for promotions including the WWE owned EVOLVE, and is the current Limitless Wrestling Champion.
Fightful notes that WWE has resumed signing new stars after months of not doing so.
And now it’s time for a review of last night’s episode of SmackDown in about 5 minutes!
It’s Friday, so it’s time for the show to start with Roman Reigns! He and his posse come out to the ring where Adam Pearce is waiting, contract in hand. Reigns cut a quick promo against Edge, before Pearce informed him that the contract states that Reigns will be defending the championship inside the Chamber, just like Drew McIntyre on Raw.
But Reigns being Reigns said lol no, and handed it off to Paul Heyman who simply informed Pearce that whoever wins the Chamber will instead get a Universal Championship match against Reigns immediately afterwards. This was followed up by some lovely character work, with Heyman telling Pearce, what are you going to do, fire Roman Reigns this close to WrestleMania?
Pearce accepts the new terms, but says there are two people he can think of that deserve to get into the Chamber without qualifying – Jey Uso and Kevin Owens. I really like both of these additions, with the potential tension between Jey and Roman flaring up again, and Owens makes a lot of story sense even if it’s not the person I’m most excited about.
We got the same video package about Seth Rollins returning tonight as we got last week, boy they must really want him to come back, before Sonya Deville backstage makes the next matchup of Dominik & Rey Mysterio vs King Corbin & Sami Zayn, with the winners qualifying for the Chamber match.
This ended up being a fun little match, with Sami Zayn actually winning clean by hitting a corner Exploder and Helluva Kick to Dominik for the pinfall. Yet again, Dominik Mysterio loses, which is furthering some sort of story I’m sure.
Once again Sonya Deville backstage proves she’s just better at the job than Adam Pearce by making a match between Ziggler & Roode and the team of Daniel Bryan & Cesaro. I like that team. Do more of that. It’s good. Good job.
Carmella’s sommelier Reginald is backstage next with some champagne and he gives it to Sasha Banks who was having a chat with Kalisto, of all people, he apologises for what he said last week, even though what he said last week was that Sasha would beat Bianca, Sasha accepts the drink, and then Reginald smiles all evil-like in the background afterwards. Why is Reginald getting more screentime than Carmella? Why is Sasha seemingly infatuated with Reginald? What did he put in that drink? So many questions, so few answers.
Big E comes out to the ring next and cuts a promo saying the chapter of Sami Zayn and Apollo Crews is behind him, before Apollo Crews comes out to try to fight again. The pair got into each others’ faces and spoke off mic to each other, with Big E telling Apollo to head back to catering, which was a lovely little touch and really sold the intensity of their feud, with Apollo stopping at nothing for another opportunity at the belt and Big E refusing.
Big E then called into the mic for his opponent to come out, which turned out to be Shinsuke Nakamura. Alright cool – but before the match could properly get going, Apollo dropkicked Big E in the face causing a DQ. I really like this feud in all honesty. They’re selling me on the heat between them and I’m buying it, I think the two performed really well here.
We get the same video package for Seth Rollins returning next, which if you’re keeping count is four times in two weeks. Jesus. The entire locker room comes out and surrounds the ring in anticipation of Rollins’ return, which is super weird, why would they do that? No one likes him, remember?
But return he does, and with his old music! Burn it down and all that. He cuts a pretty solid promo, and in combination with his old music coming back, I thought they might have brought him back as a face. He cuts a promo saying he missed being in the ThunderDome, he’s become a father now and that’s changed his perspective on things. And then he went right back to his heel schtick as always, saying he can be a father to the locker room, and can lead SmackDown to greatness. The locker room that came out for his return all then returned to the back right away, all apart from Cesaro, who then walked to the back, but slower.
This ticked off Rollins, who then attacked Cesaro from behind, which seemingly is going to set up a Cesaro vs Rollins feud. Yeah I’m all for that, that’s great. My only issue is that Rollins is almost certainly going to win that feud, and I hope it doesn’t damage Cesaro too much.
We got Bayley vs Liv Morgan, and wow, Liv Morgan’s actually really improved in the ring. This was a pretty good match, with Natalya and Tamina watching on from backstage, who Michael Cole called “best friends”. Best friends. Natalya and Tamina.
Billie Kay cost the Riott Squad again here, coming out to apologise to Ruby Riott at ringside with all of the resumes, Riott took them and in her anger and threw some into the ring. The referee went to clean them up and get them out of the ring, which allowed Bayley to jab Morgan in the eyes and win with the facebuster. I thought this was all pretty good and well done. Nice.
Then the Street Profits came out for a match against Chad Gable and Otis, which had a really fun start between Dawkins and Gable with all sorts of mat wrestling.
This was just a good, solid, fun match between two fun teams, with the Profits getting the win. But interestingly in this match, Gable got loads of time to wrestle and to shine, and hey if you needed a reminder, Gable’s really f*****g good at wrestling. Please let him do that more.
Sasha Banks came out and said that Bianca Belair is like a little sister to her, which brought out Bianca to say that Sasha isn’t the boss of her. This, for some reason, brought out Women’s Tag Champs Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, who said people should be talking about them instead.
Then, *sigh*, Sasha Banks played some footage from Raw, which was Baszler getting pinned by Naomi, before saying oh no, it wasn’t that footage I wanted to show, it was this other one, which was Nia Jax saying ‘my hole’ on Raw.
Nia lost her temper, but she and Baszler got beaten up, and they repeated the same f*****g spot, with Nia sitting down on the apron and then clutching her ass and trying not to say ‘my hole’. Way to go WWE, kill the joke dead. You censored it from Raw, but then you realised that people really enjoyed it and it was giving you publicity, so in classic WWE fashion, you’ve just gotta keep doing it. That’s what makes it good, just doing it repeatedly until it isn’t funny anymore.
But it’s all ok because we got the main event of Roode & Ziggler vs Bryan & Cesaro. They’re all very good at wrestling, and this was a very good match. I don’t know what it is about Cesaro, something just clicks with me, so when he gets up Ziggler in the torture rack, into a backbreaker, into the swing, into a sharpshooter, I was popping for him. Ziggler tapped and Cesaro and Bryan qualify for the Chamber. Love that.
Jey Uso comes out with a chair though and clonks Cesaro over the back, and everyone else involved in the match comes down for a big ol’ brawl, ending with Kevin Owens having a touch of the Steve Austins, coming down with his entrance music after everyone else is already there, and hitting a Stunner on everyone to stand tall to end the show.
So that was the show, let me know what you thought in the comments and make sure to follow us on Twitter to vote in our poll on a pole match, where 54% of you thought it was Good – and I agree. I liked this episode, there were logical stories, fun in-ring action and matches with stakes. We also got hints of a Cesaro/Rollins feud which I’m all for, and the more I think about the Roman Reigns stipulation with the winner of the Chamber facing Reigns afterwards, the more I like it.
Sure, it’s probably going to be Kevin Owens that faces him, but there’s every chance WWE could swerve it and have someone random win, who could then face Reigns and have the out of already having fought in the Chamber to protect them in defeat. I like the people who qualified, it makes sense to me, this was a good show. 3/4.