World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the biggest professional wrestling company in the world, has done everything it can to keep producing shows every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night.
Once COVID-19 was deemed a pandemic, WWE was forced to move all shows to their performance center in Orlando, Florida. This meant stopping all of their live shows, leading to a huge loss of revenue and the firing of hundreds of employees, including performers, faculty and staff.
Ron DeSantis, the current governor of Florida, deemed WWE an essential business back in April, which has allowed the company to continue their live TV schedule three days a week with hundreds of active wrestlers. While things have carried on according to schedule, some of the wrestlers in the company were not comfortable performing during the height of the pandemic. Top stars such as Roman Reigns, Brock Lesner and Sami Zayn took a leave of absence, leaving a major gap in the main event scene.
WWE found themselves with a limited roster and were forced to showcase wrestlers who are more “wrestling–oriented,” as opposed to the people previously on top of the company due to their look and marketability. By “wrestling–oriented,” I mean wrestlers who had the amazing talent, but were not showcased as often as they deserved because they did not have the “TV personality,” which includes characteristics such as having the it-factor look or being a “good talker.”
Before the pandemic took hold of the world, WWE’s roster was filled with their top wrestling stars, all having the desired characteristics of a TV personality star rather than the talent of an actual wrester. The pandemic gave leeway for smaller stars to have their well-deserved and long-overdue moment to shine now that the big fish are temporarily out of the pond.
Since April, fans have been treated to wrestlers such as Apollo Crews, Otis, Braun Strowman, Keith Lee and Big E, who all have received big time opportunities in the last few months, some winning championships and others being showcased in major storylines. These opportunities would have never been presented to this well-deserving bunch with the regular roster in place.
The “hardcore” wrestling fans welcomed these changes and were grateful that people who normally do not get showcased were being given chances. The casual fans, however, tuned out, giving WWE its lowest ratings in the history of their programs. Without the absence of the “Mega Stars,” casual fans find no need to keep up with the storylines and the overall company.
The wrestlers that have stuck around, making up for the large holes left in the roster, giving WWE their time and risking their health, are now being left in the dirt once again, as returning wrestlers are being put right back in the spots they left behind. For example, Roman Reigns, WWE’s most polarizing superstar, has already won the company’s second biggest championship only one week after returning.
This pandemic has shown us that WWE really does not care about putting on a product that is focused on wrestling, but is a company whose sole purpose is to profit off of big names and sell merchandise.