Whenever a financial quarter for the WWE closes, there’s apprehension that “budget cuts” will soon follow. Those cuts come in the form of releasing performers and backstage staff. The end of the third quarter was no different, as several names were released at the end of last week. Looking at the list, recent booking, and other decisions – WWE will need to make some meaningful changes before they lose an entire demographic of professional wrestling fans and then some.
Of the eighteen people released at the end of Friday evening, ten of that group were women. Fans and performers alike were heartbroken to hear about the releases of individuals like Mia Yim, Ember Moon, and others. It’s even more puzzling when looking at how the company treated “newer” names like Scarlett Bordeaux, B-Fab, Jessi Kamea, and Zayda Ramier. Even beyond just this series of cuts, it’s a disturbing trend that is pushing the promotion further in the wrong direction.
First, there’s the issue with the lack of building new women in the division. This year’s Survivor Series match is set to feature Charlotte Flair versus Becky Lynch once again, as they are the current Raw and SmackDown women’s champions, respectively. This is another retread of a matchup that has been seen time and time again. Fans continue to call for fresh faces to excel at the top, like Liv Morgan or Toni Storm, but creative continues to go with the same long-established names.
Yes, there is a benefit in leveraging the talented performers that fans prove they want to see. But those coffers will eventually run dry without anyone to help step in when the time is needed. Bianca Belair was headed in that direction, but even her momentum has been slowed. The Four Horsewomen are an exceptional foundation to any wrestling promotion, but it’s time for the WWE to begin to add to this list rather than detract from it.
Then there is the disturbing response that Franky Monet received online when expressing her pain of being cut. Toxic wrestling fans attacked her for her age, at 38 years old, harkening back to the discriminatory issue that Mickie James brought up when she was released earlier this year.
This is coupled with the news from Dave Meltzer that a new directive is to only hire women that are twenty-five or younger. There are so many different issues with that statement that all point directly toward misogyny. WWE’s title picture rarely features any men that are less than 35 years of age, imagine thinking that a woman must be ten years younger than that in order to cater to WWE’s “target demographic.” It’s disgusting that in the year 2021, these are the types of conversations that entertainment organizations are still having.
The tone-deaf nature of these decisions becomes more apparent when looking at the business done by women throughout wrestling. It was Sasha Banks and Bayley that helped kick off a brief run of WWE NXT beating AEW in the “Wednesday Night Wars.” Some of AEW’s highest-rated segments have involved women, such as the Lights-out match between Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker. When properly promoted and marketed, women’s sports draw just as many viewers, if not more than men’s – look at data around the Women’s National Soccer Team, Olympic Gymnastics, and some portions of Women’s MMA. The interest is clearly there and the ladies in wrestling have interest from all demographics of fans.
Trying to decipher decision-making in the WWE is a constant head-scratcher. It’s clear that the cuts WWE continues to make is to boost its financial standing. But the continued gutting and mismanagement of the women’s division is going to be one of the many factors that have a negative impact at some point, if not already.