WWE: Looking back at the standouts of COVID-19 era WWE

Sasha Banks, Bayley, WWE SmackDown (photo courtesy of WWE)
Sasha Banks, Bayley, WWE SmackDown (photo courtesy of WWE) /

WrestleMania is a few days away and for the first time in a year, fans will be in attendance to watch WWE action. COVID-19 forced the professional wrestling world to stop. The industry was greatly impacted, but the WWE found a way to continue, producing content on a weekly basis. One reason they were able to do so were due to the extremely talented and committed men and women on their roster. Still, some individuals were leveraged heavier than others during the pandemic and looking back throughout the last year, these performers deserve praise for delivering when called upon.

Zelina Vega, Andrade and Angel Garza

The first group that comes to mind when thinking about pandemic-era wrestling in the WWE is Zelina Vega, Andrade, and Angel Garza. Look back at those shows in late March and early April 2020, these three individuals were all over the show, often featured in multiple segments. Austin Theory was added at the last minute, but Vega, Garza, and Andrade were the focal points in both the mid-card and main event pictures. This is even more telling when watching WWE content today and none of them are on television. Zelina Vega and Andrade were both released, while Garza struggles to get on television in any form.

When Paul Heyman oversaw Monday Night Raw, he used his position to elevate these three names because of the talent they have. Unfortunately, the power structure changed, and even though they were counted on during the pandemic, and delivered in those positions, Zelina Vega, Andrade, and Angel Garza are not anywhere near those positions today.


Asuka’s run during the global pandemic has been frustrating, but equally important because she is someone who can be counted on when the WWE needs a top performer. The moment Becky Lynch departed due to her pregnancy, the shift over to Asuka as champion kicked off. Unfortunately, the momentum was frequently cut out from under her for unexplained reasons.

Still, that did not stop Asuka from delivering in every moment she was given. Whether it was in the commentary booth, the limited number of matches she was offered, or even her tag team run with Kairi Sane – Asuka was a lynchpin to not only the women’s division, but providing entertaining content when WWE needed some of their top stars on television as frequently as possible.

Drew McIntyre

For Drew McIntyre, he found himself in an unfortunate position as his push to the top of the WWE came at a time when fans were kept away from the show. All his WWE title run was built and ended during the pandemic era. Now he is heading into WrestleMania without the title and facing an individual that fans want to see as a champion for longer than a short stint.

McIntyre was the top name in all of WWE, until Roman Reigns’ return later in 2020. He experienced some strong moments and booking, but there were also many qualms to be made about his title run (see the multiple matches with Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton as an example). When he contracted COVID-19, he became one of the first WWE Superstars to speak about the pandemic on camera, during an episode of Raw which shows how important he was to the programming, while also raising more eyebrows about how the WWE dealt with the continued outbreaks. Regardless, McIntyre remained prominently placed on the card throughout the global pandemic when the WWE needed all the names it could muster.

Sasha Banks and Bayley

Sasha Banks and Bayley were the two biggest stars that the WWE had to offer viewers at any point during the pandemic. While All Elite Wrestling was growing in buzz on a weekly basis, fans continued to find issues with what the WWE was putting out every week. Except for Banks and Bayley. While everyone knew this was the lead-up to their eventual split, that did not stop fans from showing interest in everything they did along the way. Moving Banks and Bayley over to NXT also helped that brand break up the trend of AEW winning each Wednesday. Plus, when they did split, Banks and Bayley’s segments were some of the highest drawing television segments in the industry.

Now, Banks is heading toward a historic WrestleMania match with Bianca Belair, while Bayley is currently nowhere to be found on the card. WWE did not quite deliver on the full angle that fans wanted between the two ladies, but Sasha Banks and Bayley continued to deliver every time they were on television during the pandemic.

The Hurt Business

The Hurt Business has remained one of the best parts of WWE television for the last year. Originally built around Bobby Lashley and MVP, then the addition of Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander to round out the group. From the start, these four men should have been elevated to the main event picture. Unfortunately, soon after Lashley’s title victory, WWE Creative made the decision to split the group up – much to the chagrin of wrestling fans.

With MVP at the helm, this has been one of the better groups WWE has put together in a very long time. They were booked like a dominating group, a combination of the APA, the Horsemen, and Evolution. All the facets of a great stable were there, but they were ended almost immediately upon hitting main event status.

As the United States prepares to open back up, welcoming fans to sporting events and other forms of entertainment, it is important to look back at some of the individuals within the WWE that delivered some of their best performances during these trying times. The men and women listed above stood out as the WWE leveraged whoever they could to get through the COVID-19 era, even if they may not be on television in the same fashion once the pandemic is over.