Following a week straight of PR hit after PR hit, WWE finally reversed their decision to broadcast three weekly shows live. That decision came after WWE was hammered by the media, first for deciding to broadcast live shows in the first place. Then for the revelation that WWE obtained a special exemption from the state of Florida on the same day, a Linda McMahon run Republican SuperPac pledged to spend $18.5 million in Florida. Before that died down, WWE announced layoffs of more than 50 wrestlers and backstage talent on the same morning they revealed they have $500 million in reserves they could have used to pay them. Even more disturbing, the very next day, the company announced its quarterly stock dividend, paying out $9.4 million to investors (and $3.5 million to Vince McMahon himself), money that could have paid all those workers for the next year.
So by walking back the weekly broadcasts, was WWE finally showing they care about their workers? Apparently not. On the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer and Brian Alvarez discussed the situation, with Meltzer explaining that Vince only reversed his decision to broadcast weekly after both NBC Universal and Fox promised not to cut their television contract money.
"What happened there was, Vince did that because he was afraid," said Meltzer. "And I do not know if either Fox or NBC Universal hinted, said anything to Vince about the weekly thing. Although, it is in the contract. But Vince thought, because it's in the contract, that 'If I do any more taped shows, it will screw the contract.'"
A Second Chance for WWE… to Make More Money
"I don't know how many press inquiries they had," Meltzer continued. "I would have think they had many that they did not answer going 'Are you gonna cut these guys' money if they don't produce live programming?' At some point, both companies did tell Vince this week that 'we will not cut your money if you send us first-run programming that's not live.' So Vince changed the schedule. He doesn't have to go live." But as it turns out, the decision to tape mostly every other week wasn't one meant to protect workers, but to further cut costs and increase WWE profits.
"The schedule is still, they're still not taping five shows at a time," said Meltzer. "And I don't know why. Now they can, and they're not. They're taping less. Just like Raw, Raw is gonna be live on this coming Monday and then the next Monday. The Monday after that will be taped. So then Raw will be back on May eleventh. There will be two they're taping. And then they'll be back on the 25th. Essentially, they're gonna be going through May basically every other week if you're Raw, and then in June, they're gonna be back to taping every Monday, but what they're go do to save money, because it's a money saver, instead of going Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, they're gonna go Monday and Tuesday where this is the June schedule. So you go Raw Monday, and then you're gonna tape Smackdown on the same Monday, probably right before Raw. And then you'll tape NXT on a Tuesday. Then you come back Monday, Raw and Smackdown, and then NXT on Tuesday. And then actually that week they're gonna tape a couple more NXTs. Essentially, it's a kind of wacky schedule."
"So basically the whole issue about how you cannot go home and self-quarantine, it's still the exact same thing," Alvarez interjected. "It's still the same thing," Meltzer replied. "You still can't. You still can't go home and get several weeks."
"So, this is not about the talent? "said Alvarez. "This is about them saving money and cutting down the number of days that they're taping shows." "Right, and cutting down the expense of flying three times a week instead of flying maybe once a week. So it's better fo management. And it saves money." It looks like not much has changed at all in WWE.