As “Monday Night Raw” was wrapping up last night, reports started to leak out that a member of WWE’s developmental program had tested positive for COVID-19. While no one would ever look to a wrestling company to be an example or beacon of responsible action and safety, the aftermath has torn off any semblance of cover WWE had that it was taking all of this seriously.
It’s hard to pinpoint which is the more galling aspect: that the talent and crew of WWE found out about the positive test the same way the rest of us did, through social media and the internet last night, or that everyone showed up to work thinking they were safe, or however close to that word they felt by working for WWE, when in fact they weren’t.
Second, last night was the first time WWE let in non-employees into their very limited, encased crowds. Friends of performers and local fans were allowed in, though they had to sign a waiver that they would not hold WWE responsible should they get sick. Real confidence builder, that.
If that wasn’t enough, this shit-sundae was topped with the cherry that everyone in that crowd was told specifically not to wear a mask. It was forbidden because they didn’t like how it looked on TV (though this is now under some conjecture). Let that one marinate for a second...much in the way WWE has let COVID-19 marinate in its hallways.
WWE canceled their tapings for today so that everyone at the show last night could be tested. But that only revealed that WWE hadn’t been testing everyone as a rule before this. While AEW has only achieved the benchmark of “questionable” by running live shows of late at Daley’s Place in Jacksonville, at the very least AEW took six weeks off and then tested every performer, crew member, and staff before resuming live shows.
WWE on the other hand, had only been doing temperature checks and questionnaires for everyone, sort of like when you spot your friend holding three beers at once and his only response is “Don’t worry about it.”
WWE has tried to have the appearance of caring by secluding its “live audience” — made up of NXT and developmental talent — behind Plexiglas and supposedly socially distancing them. But cameramen have regularly walked through them, the Street Profits even did their normal entrance through the crowd last night, including high-fiving everyone. Not all that surprising from a company spearheaded by a decreasingly lucid septuagenarian who thinks sneezing is a sign of weakness.
While AEW has done its best to be transparent about its recklessness, most everything about WWE has been shrouded in mystery and guesswork. WWE never took time off like AEW did, it didn’t do a blanket test until just now, and apparently will go on about their business as usual until the results of all these tests are done.
Beyond that, while not as important, the company claimed that anyone choosing to stay home during the pandemic would not be punished. And then almost immediately, Jordan Devlin, Pete Dunne, and Sami Zayn were essentially stripped of the championships they possessed. Roman Reigns has also stayed home, and his name has been mentioned about as much on their shows as Daffy Duck’s — after being the company’s top star for the past five years.
All this was after the company basically bribed the Florida government to let them keep working through whatever half-assed shutdown Florida tried to Florida their way through. All of it adds up to WWE being a very unsafe place for its employees, or more correctly even more so, and WWE caring even less about it.