WWE’s COVID-19 response lacked while others answered the call

WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)
WWE, Vince McMahon (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage) /

The WWE failed to earn any praise for its response to COVID-19 while other promotions took positive steps in light of the global pandemic.

The WWE has gone through a tough week in which the self-inflicted public relations hits continued to pile up. In the last few days the sports entertainment giant has been deemed “essential business” in a political move to continue taping live shows in Florida; a decision that was clearly backtracked as the company announced a new schedule with plans to tape more content.

Then the layoffs of last week hit, leaving many with a sour taste in their mouths toward the WWE. When looking around the professional wrestling industry that has been halted due to coronavirus, the WWE’s response has left much to be asked, especially when compared to other major organizations around the world.

On Wednesday, the promotion announced a series of cutbacks and furloughs that impacted both on screen talent and those behind the scenes. Drake Maverick, Kurt Angle, Rusev, Deonna Purrazzo, Taynara Conti and others were let go from the company.

This WWE statement pointed toward the moves would create “an estimated monthly savings of $4 million.” This came at a time in which WWE has “approximately $0.5 billion, to manage the challenges ahead.”

The people laid off were already in a challenging situation as they lived in a world struggling to deal with coronavirus. Sadly, this move by the WWE placed them in a more precarious position as they attempt to manage those same challenges ahead.

Now, many on the internet will have you believe that wrestling media members enjoy piling on the WWE, complaining about every move they make. These last few weeks of missteps and bad decisions are far worse than the booking directions they make week after week.

There are implications that can impact everyone up and down their roster. It is especially more damning when looking at how the rest of the industry has faced the challenge of COVID-19.

Let us start within the United States, where All Elite Wrestling announced in the first few days of April that it will tape large amount of content in order to hold off on doing live tapings. According to PWInsider, Ring of Honor has paid talent for cancelled dates along with paying staff of the promotion.

To go along with that, the promotion made it a point to get any international talent booked on their shows back home as quickly as possible to make sure they would not end up stuck in the United States as travel restrictions tightened.

Last year, Ring of Honor was hit with some serious issues with how they were treating their talent, especially the women on the roster, but it took the COVID-19 crisis seriously and made steps to make sure its roster and staff were taken care of.

New Japan Pro Wrestling also took steps to pay contracted talent for all cancelled dates. Japanese pro wrestling outlets also worked closely with the Japanese government to review the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and plan for next steps.

While recent developments with the WWE hinting toward political influences, it is a positive step to see a major influencer on Japanese culture like NJPW making the strides to present the best stance to the public.

Coronavirus has brought the world to a screeching halt. The professional wrestling industry is but one space that has been hampered by the global pandemic. Throughout the industry there are a variety of examples of people coming together to help those around them.

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The WWE had an opportunity to lead in such charges, but the recent mistakes by the industry giant shines a light on those that have responded correctly.