Even though it’s been 10 months now, WWE executives have done their best to never say the word “COVID.” The closest they’ve gotten is probably when they petitioned/bribed the state of Florida for an “essential business” designation so they could keep production going. Or maybe you heard the word “pandemic” when the company was explaining record profits while — simultaneously, mind you — explaining its mass layoffs. There have been multiple outbreaks at their performance center, with their superstars needing to take time off. Some, like Sami Zayn, Roman Reigns, and Charlotte Flair, simply decided to stay safe and stay home. But never on a WWE broadcast did you hear the word “COVID,” nor from any of their social media outlets. Like any corporation run by a conservative madman (redundant, I know), they wanted to pretend it didn’t exist.
Which made Monday afternoon sort of weird. It was inescapable for the company, as reports came out that Raw champion Drew McIntyre tested positive and would need to isolate at home. Seeing as how McIntyre is at least their third biggest personality right now, and just about the only thing on Monday Night Raw, they couldn’t simply just ignore the fact that the anchor of that show was just not around. So they announced it, and even had McIntyre do a PSA about the virus and wearing a mask on Monday Night Raw, which is the first of its kind from the company.
And not even half an hour later, they were trotting out Ric Flair to the ring (not to wrestle, thank god, but possibly to start a romance angle with Lady White Power Lacey Evans, some 41 years his junior).
It would be bad enough if it were just some random, 71-year-old being amongst a company that has not had a handle on the virus, was barely doing any testing not so long ago, located in Florida that is essentially on fire when it comes to the spread of the virus. But this is Ric Flair, who only a year and a half ago was on death’s door with an irregular heartbeat. He’s had a pacemaker put in and a blood clot removed. Two years before that, he had a bowel obstruction that put him in a coma. This is a man who could very well be killed by a stiff breeze tomorrow.
Or he can’t be killed, which apparently is what WWE is banking on.
We all know Flair will never say no to the company, nor to appearing on TV, which he has intermittently throughout the pandemic. The dude will never get enough. They made a whole 30 for 30 about it. And maybe because he’d been on TV before during the pandemic, WWE didn’t think all that much of it by doing it again.
Still, there is something terribly off about WWE finally allowing anything resembling the pandemic and COVID-19 onto is programs, an admittance of the seriousness of the situation, exhibiting how someone as powerful and in-shape as McIntyre can still get it and let it interrupt his life for a bit, and then letting a walking obituary-in-waiting through the doors. It’s like WWE doesn’t know that we know about yet another recent outbreak within the company, as McIntyre is reportedly not the only one affected. Do they know who is? Who’ve they been around? Were any of them around Flair?
But this is WWE, where self-awareness is not only not a trait, it’s actively frowned upon.