– April 1st, 2020: The Governor of Florida, Rob DeSantis, issues a stay-at-home order. The new ruling allows for ‘only necessary movements’, and hits in the middle of WWE filming their TV shows and WrestleMania.
– With shows being cancelled, promotions across the world are in big danger of folding due to the lost business & revenue. Smaller promotions in Japan are especially at risk as running live shows is their bread & butter, with Big Japan being one of those really struggling.
– Kylie Ray, once the face of the AEW women’s division and sure to become their red hot underdog babyface, signs a long term deal with Impact Wrestling. I won’t ask any questions about this I’ll will be immediately swamped by Kylie stans, Impact hardcores & those who still refer to the wrestling media as ‘dirthseets’.
– WWE sends out a survey that tests the waters of potentially having fans live stream their reactions onto the screen during RAW via web cam. THANKFULLY, as of August 2020, they haven’t gone through with this monstrous idea. (EDIT: THEY FUCKING DID END UP DOING THIS, BUT ON A LARGER SCALE; THUNDERDOME).
– New Jack’s Dark Side Of The Ring documentary airs, with Jim “BREAKING KAYFABE IS A CRIME” Cornette explaining how blading works.
– All Japan’s 2020 Champion Carnival is cancelled, and New Japan cancels their Wrestling Dontaku shows set for May.
– WWE’s attempts at empty venue wrestling are a disaster of awkwardness, robotic habits and cringe. There’s little-to-no attempt at adapting the shows or matches to work in such a dead atmosphere, which is amazing considering the dead crowds they usually work in front of.
– On NXT, Keith Lee, Damien Priest & Dijakovic do battle in a hilariously awkward three-way that doesn’t work because there’s no crowd to react to all their impressive moves. They even do the spot where they all trade moves & fall down to evoke imaginary “THIS IS AWESOME!” chants.
– Jake Atlas debuts on NXT without any of his rainbow gear and is destroyed by Sam fucking Shaw and his super dumb offence.
– As for AEW, they fare better at putting on something worthwhile (despite having Shawn Spears in the main event) because the company is still somewhat fresh, but good fucking God the antics of Matt Hardy reach boiling point, with the AEW ratings dropping considerably.
– Ryan Satin continues to plead that he is an unbiased wrestling reporter, and adds to his bootlicker resume by defending his time working with noted anti-immigration aficionado ‘Sheriff’ Joe Arpaio on’ Smile…You’re Under Arrest!’, a show about luring felons with outstanding warrants into fake scenarios for the waiting police. Classy.
– So with ‘Mania still scheduled to take place within mere days & Roman Reigns still being advertised for the main event despite pulling out to keep himself & his family safe, HHH explains in an interview that Roman will eventually be removed from the match in a “Unique Manner”.
– HHH goes on to say, “…there’s going to be critics of everything. I think we’re doing this to provide what we believe is an essential service in entertaining our fans”.
Lads I assure you, WWE is not an essential service to anyone, & if it is they should be put on a register.
– Bear in mind that in order to provide this essential service, 18 matches are taped with 45 wrestlers brought in and out the Performance Centre to mingle with the production team and on-site staff.
– Black Label Wrestling raise over $5000 for independent wrestlers due to appear on cancelled shows.
– With ‘Mania already being taped and spoilers being strictly guarded, we do learn from reports that the tapings went overnight from 11pm to 5am. Fuck. Imagine working a ladder match at 2am for a company who do not give a fuck about your own well being.
– It’s also reported that The Miz turned up but didn’t wrestle as he was feeling ill. No word on if he was feeling ill at the time when he arrived. Either way, this is probably what caused Roman to throw his hands up and say “FUCK. THIS”, ever so rightly.
– To make ‘Mania even more of an awkward slog to watch, WWE refuses to announce the complete line-up for any of the nights, meaning you’ll still have to watch both shows if only a few matches tickle your fancy, with traditional PPV demanding $30 per night. The way this company makes even the simplest shit so hard is baffling.
– So, let’s have it it then. Wrestle fucking Mania. The Grand Daddy of them all. Stephanie opened the show & alluded to the “CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES” which is inline with WWE’s ethos of not mentioning the outside world at all (for fear of reminding people that there are better things to do).
– Braun Strowman is announced as Goldberg’s opponent for WrestleMania with no explanation at all. Huh. Really unique, that.
– There’s a ladder match that was probably filmed at 3:30am, with three guys sweating all over each other, taking bumps onto ladders to the sounds of silence and bumps onto off-camera crash pads. Undertaker & AJ had a cheesy fight in someone’s back garden, that split everyone evenly into either “IT’S SO BAD, IT’S GOOD” and “IT’S JUST BAD”.
– You can read about my extended thoughts on the ladder match (which included Kofi Kingston, the man who won the WWE Championship at the previous year’s Mania in an incredibly rewarding moment, now demoted to the mid-card tag division) HERE
– Gronk was there throughout the show to play the annoying twat figure. He dives off a staging area onto a big pile of NXT dweebs (a move which Vince had to do himself to prove it was safe) & ends up winning the 24/7 title, which I’m sure will pay off handsomely for WWE.
– Edge & Randy Orton do battle around the PC in the most overly-long, scenery chewing, boring as fuck Last Man Standing match ever, & it also included a Benoit tribute spot with Edge hanging Orton in a weights machine. This match so bad that it was even mocked by UK media critic Charlie Brooker on national television.
– I just want to reiterate that the Edge vs Orton walk’n’brawl was 36 MINUTES AND 41 SECONDS LONG, & is the 2nd longest match in ‘Mania history. I’m sure Edge isn’t too bothered by this because of his big paycheck, but no one imagines their big comeback match to be something so dull & shite.
– After taking Shayna’s place as the Rumble winner, Charlotte defeats Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s title in booking so politically predictable that my I almost lost consciousness as I buried my head deep into my hands. Rhea then cuts an emotional promo afterwards where she admits that Charlotte is better. Way to build new stars there. Christ.
– Oh, and Braun beat Goldberg for the big strap with little-to-no explanation of why Roman wasn’t there, even on the night. Still, it was only 2 minutes long and is thus automatically the Match Of The Night.
– AEW shuts down temporarily after filming multiple weeks of TV, including most of the TNT title tournament, in someone’s garage in Georgia. A simpler and more ethical way to handle things, but still a bit shit.
– BritWres wunderkid Mad Kurt begins his campaign of showing up the old guard and tripping up the establishment when he upsets Pete Dunne on Twitter, with burner accounts suddenly appearing out of nowhere to call Kurt a bully. NXT-UK; not the way.
– With plans to also pre-tape several weeks worth of content in a single week, WWE lets slip that they’ll be changing the ring ropes, canvas, turnbuckles and aprons between every match. I hope the staff there get paid by the hour.
– Rhea Ripley’s VISA expires and she returns to Australia, where she’ll hopefully think about how she was used at WrestleMania and get real fucking mad about it.
– RAW loses it’s marbles as Aliester Black vs Apollo Crews goes 27:30 and runs through three commercial breaks. I wouldn’t really recommend seeking this one out unless you’re a glutton for punishment.
– It’s 2020 and, after winning the big strap at WrestleMania, Drew McIntyre is challenged by the fucking Big Show, everyone’s favourite up-and-coming rookie.
– Gargano and Ciampa do battle in an NXT-HBK Wankerpiece of cinematic proportions. This was so fucking cringe that my body actually rejected my ability to turn my head away. Holy Christ. One Final Beat? One Final Beat-Off, more like.
– The NXT-UK tapings scheduled for May are cancelled, hopefully for good.
– There’s a whole to-do on Twitter when people are SHOCKED that Cody Rhodes, a rich white straight man from the south, just might have a hint of right-wing about him when he liked a clearly sarcastic post about Sami Zayn’s left-wing views. Twitter never ceases to frustrate me.
– 70 year old Jerry Lawler, who has a history of major, public heart problems, returns as an announcer to RAW. IN THE MIDDLE OF A FUCKING PANDEMIC.
– After months and months of teasing and whining, WWE release The Revival from their contracts, as fans of proper professional tag team wrestling rejoice. They even get a “future endeavours” post with a photo on the main WWE twitter feed. Lucky them!
– Throughout the pandemic, WWE fans online still shower WWE shows with praise for being ‘brave’ and ‘creative’ during all this. “We just want escapism!” they collectively cry, as watered down, over-produced wrestling takes place in-front of an empty warehouse and cold silence.
– Despite putting their performers & staff in danger by going along with these shows, WWE still go through the motions of releasing advice videos regarding COVID safety such as washing your hands and avoiding touching your eyes. This, coming from sweaty professional wrestlers.
– WWE tapes a whole episode of Smackdown only for Vince McMahon to scrap it in favour of going live. All these unaired shows are going to make for a hot-seller BLU-RAY in a few years.
– So, instead of just going down the route of doing mass tapings and shutting down completely until the next set, WWE returns to live shows for RAW, Smackdown and NXT. Essential service, remember.
– Without a USA-based cruiserweight champion, WWE announces a tournament to crown a new interim champion with two groups of four battling for the highly prestigious honour.
– Right before they’re due to commence with live shows, WWE confirms a positive COVID-19 case with an on-screen talent. Surely this will have them be more careful now, right? Especially with all their fly-in talent and old timers, Right?
– BTW, shout ” YEAH BUT TV DEALS!!!” at me all you want, but how many meetings did WWE & the TV networks have in order to find a more suitable path through this incredibly delicate and perilous situation? You telling me something couldn’t be worked out? Eat the rich, you fucks.
– In order to give their decision to go live some stability, WWE release a ludicrous statement where they claim that WWE is “woven into the fabric of society” and that they “bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance”. The sheer delusion.
– On RAW, Jerrly Lawler refers to Akira Tozawa’s “ramen noodle moonsault” in an ill-advised line that was edited out of the Hulu version. Oh, you daft racist.
– After shutting down all day-to-day operations, terminating all team & league employees in a 10 minute conference call with no questions taken, & filing for bankruptcy, Vince McMahon puts the XFL up for sale in order to pay off it’s creditors. Oh & he also tries to cheat his partners out of money.
– Vince McMahon joins such luminaries as Dana White, Adam Silver, Jerry Jones, Rob Manfred, Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell and Gary Bettman in Trump’s “Won’t somebody please think about the rich people?” advisory board in kickstarting the economy with sports, for some reason.
– Linda McMahon’s Super PAC (no not the Newcastle one) pledges $18.5 million to Florida on the same day that WWE is officially declared as an “essential business” by Florida. That transaction wasn’t exactly subtle, was it?
– “Originally, they were not deemed an essential business. With some conversation with the governor’s office regarding the governor’s order, they were deemed an essential business.” – Mayor Of Orange County Jerry Demings, with a puppeteers hand moving majestically up his arse.
– April 15th: WWE cleans out their closet in order to scrimp and save every dollar despite being on track for record profits. The releases come thick and fast through the day, and more emerge a few days later. It’s a travesty & example of the greed that flows through the company.
– Vince McMahon prepared his staff and talent for the incoming cutbacks, firings and furloughs in a five minute conference call. People would be notified via text in regards to their future. This all actually happened.
– List of people fired or furloughed by WWE:
Mike Chioda (been with WWE since 1989!)
No Way Jose (travelled all the way to RAW during a pandemic only to be fired 48 hours later)
Drake Maverick (kind of)
Gerald Brisco (after 36 years with the company…)
A whole slew of PC trainees
All released into an extremely unstable environment for the sake of profit. Indefensible and utterly gross behaviour.
– Drake Maverick posts a heartbreaking video about his release & how he’s going to miss his friends & family. We’re all extremely supportive & feel for him as he’s fired during a pandemic. Wearing a WWE tshirt & mentioning the cruiserweight tournament is a little fishy though…
– In this time turmoil and hardship, we all look to Seth Rollins for moral support, who lets us all know that we need to “come together on this, unify and lift each other up”. He could lick a boot through a garden hose.
– A large bulk of Japanese wrestling companies come together for a meeting with Japanese officials to ask that testing be made available to talent, and compensation made available for their unemployed wrestlers. They did this as one unit, together.
– During this meeting, Tanahashi spoke passionately about how pro wrestling should be the very very last sport to return. That man…God bless him.
– Vince’s week (oh boy);
– Howard Finkel sadly passes away, aged 69.
– Whereas WWE are slashing people’s livelihoods left, right & centre all in the name of cold hard cash, New Japan continue to pay their employees full salary and benefits. ROH also continue to pay all wrestlers on guaranteed contracts as well as paying staff for cancelled shows.
– COVID-19 throws a major nail into the coffin of NXT-Japan as we all rejoice and shout to the heavens with glee.
– WWE begin their build to Money In The Bank (in which the contestants start at the ground floor of WWE HQ and make their way to the roof) with the tagline “Climb The Corporate Ladder!”, in the same time frame that they released a shed-load of staff and talent.
– Wrestling fave Maffew is informed by Vimeo, his primary upload haunt, that they will CHARGE HIM $10,000 annually for all the bandwidth his videos use up. Averaging 17,500 hits per video is too popular for them to handle, apparently.
– Nia Jax adds another reckless assault charge to her wrestling CV when she drops Kari Sane hard into the buckles, resulting in turnbuckle powerbombs being banned by WWE. I’ve seen Josh Bodom work safer than Nia Jax.
– Former XLF commissioner Oliver Luck sues Vince McMahon as he alleges that Vince fired him in order to take his contract out of the equation in regards to bankruptcy proceedings.
– Gronk, our lovable and extremely well liked 24/7 champion, returns to football with the championship still intact. I’m sure this will lead to worldwide exposure for WWE and their exciting, cutting edge, innovative brand of sports entertainment.
– “I’m fighting my opponent and myself…maybe everyone was right about me” – Drake Maverick in a backstage interview with NXT, after his continued participation in the cruiserweight tournament. The exploitative nature of this angle is just absurd.
– During a live Q&A session, Corey Graves admits out of nowhere, to a very surprised Carmella, that he no longer wants to have sex with her in lockdown. The clip will be included in cringe compilations for the next decade.
– Kenny Omega has what some would call a competitive match with a local wrestler, Alan Angels, on Dynamite. Queue some excruciating discourse about whether Omega loses ‘star power’ because of this. I guarantee none of you even remember this happened until I just brought it up.
– In their quarterly earnings conference call, WWE pass off all the cuts, redundancies and furloughs as just being “properly cautious” and Vince personally adds that “cash is king”. Get to fuck, lads.
– Also, Vince comments on their current position regarding wrestling shows with no fans; “I don’t know if we’re going to be in the live event business as we were before…It’s going to be more content oriented. It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity.” This isn’t a good sign.
-Vince McMahon also talks about the pandemic and the dangers; “Our talent has taken this as a challenge. Our talent has taken this almost as a duty.” GET TO FUCK.
– WWE confirms that there will be no 2K game this year (good) but we will find out that it will soon be replaced with a lazy-looking ugly beat-em up called BATTLEGROUNDS (bad).
– An anonymous WWE employee named ‘John’ submits public comments to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, stating that they’re being forced to work despite the stay-at-home orders, and that he’s remaining anonymous to avoid disciplinary action.
– Vince McMahon, obviously losing the last of his marbles, cuts a really odd promo on Smackdown during an already cringe HHH Appreciation Wank-Off, where he mentions Katie Vick, the Gobbledey Gooker and Bayley’s THIS IS YOUR LIFE segment.
– Despite all the releases and cuts, WWE stock shoots up a little! Hooray for the investors! Hooray for capitalism!
– Although Maverick released a video about his release and subsequently being entered into the cruiserweight title tournament, WWE constantly deny that the initial release was a storyline. Whatever the case, it’s a sure-fire hot contender for ‘Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic’.
– AEW confirms that they’ll be going ahead with some live shows from the start of May, as well as announcing a PPV . The whole thing feels real icky. You can argue the toss about their TV obligations but did they really need a PPV? Disappointing.
– Velveteen Dream is accused of conducting inappropriate relations with a minor, with some damning evidence including pics & a voice capture where he asks “What school do you go to?”. Dream denies the accusation and would still go on to face Adam Cole for the title in May.
– Former NJPW & AJPW wrestler Hiroshi Hase is accused of sexually harassing an underage girl at a Colabo bus cafe (a group set up to help girls suffering from poverty and abuse). Hase apologised for his actions but still denied the harassment allegation.
– In their continuing quest to engage their fans when there are no live events, FITE TV tweet out a photo of Chris Benoit and ask for Twitter’s opinion on him. The tweet is quickly deleted, and they’ll soon move on to asking fans about their first cars & favourite pasta dishes.
– Rumours of Sami Zayn being difficult to work with backstage are abound, as he’s clearly lost his enthusiasm and love for wrestling, and who can blame him when you’ve had WWE beat that passion out of you?
– After his “Ramen Noodle” comment, Lawler issues a weak ‘apology’ where he refers to “heel heat” and the good ol’days.
– After releasing, cutting & furloughing a whole slew of staff & wrestlers, WWE reported a net income of $26.2 million (31 cents a share), with a 60% improvement in revenue compared to the prior year quarter ($182.4 million to $291 million) in their first-quarter revenue report.
– “It’s like, my goodness…I do everything you ask and, like, I can’t get a bone?!” Heath Slater on the mental toll that ten years of WWE booking can have on someone.
– In another example of “WWE FANS WILL BUY ANYTHING!”, WWE sell authentic dirt from the Boneyard Match (during a pandemic, no less). Be sure to hang it on your wall whilst evaluating your life choices.
– After an amazing career spanning two matches in seven months, WWE releases Cain Velasquez. He leaves behind an incredible legacy RIP KING.
– The copyright heathens at WWE take down the TDE Twitter account, because people are quickly realising that WWE’s product is so shitty that they can get the highlights in 3 minutes on Twitter. Even then, TDE was always incredibly positive about WWE no matter what.
– Joey Ryan has a go at Vader for being an alleged ‘bully’ when working with jobbers, only for one of the jobbers who worked with Vader to compliment him on how safe & good he was. Hindsight is a wonderful thing to have in August 2020. The fuck can Joey Ryan call anyone a bully.
– Bill Eaver records an incredibly shit and weird promo in his car where he name drops infamous BritWres nonce D*n E***r for some fucking reason. (Censored the name because the guy is a vanity searching noncey cunt).
– WWE has several class-action lawsuits filed against them due to their ties with Saudi Arabia. In layman’s terms, the suits refer to WWE not giving clear enough information, or misleading information, about their income in regards to those deals.
– After a good TV match, Darby vs Cody Rhodes has pretty weird finish that sees Darby hit the Coffin Drop on Cody, but Cody rolls slightly immediately after the impact for Darby’s shoulders to be on the ground for the win, making Darby look stupid and his finisher look useless.
– NXT continues to be a weird bag of shite by having Keith Lee awkwardly say “I…am…limitless” in an empty venue whilst his opponent, Damien Priest, just stood next to him like a fucking lemon. How do people watch this?
– WWE rename the build for Money In The Bank by adding the tagline “THE RISK IS WORTH THE REWARD”. Honest to God, this tone deaf, gross fucking company.
– Wednesday Night War standings for the end of April: AEW leads 24-5-1.