In the Coronavirus pandemic that we currently live in the WWE gave their wrestles the option to not compete if they feel that health and safety is at risk. Roman Reigns is one such wrestler whom choose not to compete at WrestleMania. Reigns has had two battles with cancer, one in 2011 and most recently in late 2017- early 2018. For this reason, Reigns pulled out of his championship bout at the showcase of the immortals. With Roman’s past medical history, he felt that his health and safety was more important than winning a title. That’s a seemingly reasonable decision to make, especially when the company gave him the option. Apparently Reigns decision to sit out of Mania did not sit well with the McMahon in charge. As the “Big Dog” has not been seen of or even mentioned on WWE TV since the SmackDown before WrestleMania. This has been reported as an executive decision from Vince McMahon. This decision comes as WWE has made some rash decisions such as continue to produce live TV and made mass staffing cuts, detailed pervious in this article https://worldwidesportsradio.com/what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-wwe/.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is the UFC super fight that we may never see. When their fight set for the original main event for UFC 249 fell through, that was the fifth time that the lightweight match fell through. Khabib vs. Ferguson is regarded as what could be the biggest fight in the history of the UFC, this is even more true today then it was a few years ago. Not only do both fighters have impressive win streaks on the line with Khabib being undefeated at 28-0 and tony winning 12 straight, but this fight will unify the Lightweight titles. A unification fight that the Lightweight division desperately needs. Ferguson won the interim championship by defeating Kevin Lee in October 2017, then Khabib vs. Ferguson was booked for the unification fight. Unfortunately, Ferguson tore his ACL before the fight and that fight fell by the way side. Then Khabib won the Lightweight championship in April 2018 by defeating Al Iaquinta. Then in 2018 Khabib got suspended for several months when he jumped the cage to attack Conor McGregor’s coaches after that fight. So, there was an interim title fight between max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier, which Poirier won. Then after suspension Khabib came back to retain his title against Poirier. So, there is a need for this is a fight that needs to happens and it seemed that it was actually going to happen at UFC 249. Then the world started to shut down and Khabib got stuck in Russia and the main event of UFC 249 became Ferguson vs. Gaethje. If Gaethje wins the fight on May 9th then he gets the next shot at Khabib, not Ferguson.
With the possibility of Gaethje winning the Interim Lightweight Championship at UFC 249, that could shut the door on Khabib vs. Ferguson forever. Not only will a loss at UFC 249 will take Ferguson out of the title picture for now, but there is a lot of talk that when or if Khabib gets to a record of 30-0 he will retire from MMA. If the fight is for the Lightweight title or not, 30-0 is just two fights away for Khabib. For the sake of this argument let’s say that on May 9th Justin Gaethje goes in to the octagon in the main event and knocks out Tony Ferguson. That will drop Ferguson out of the #1 lightweight spot, with his record I would say that he would have to at least win two fights in a row to get back in the title picture. With training camps and recovery time factored in there, I’d say it’ll be close to a year in a half if not more before Ferguson is close to having another title shot. If it was any other fighter then Tony Ferguson, I’d say it be much longer. Fast forward two years Ferguson gets back to the #1 contender spot, but oh wait Khabib gets his 30-0 record, gives the belt back to Dana White and rides off in the sunset back to Dagestan undefeated in his professional MMA career. And we never get Ferguson and Khabib. But of course this all speculation and there’s no telling what the future has is store.
Still there is a high chance that when the Lightweight title gets unified it will not be Ferguson vs. Khabib that will unify the titles. It would be a shame if we never saw the fight between Khabib. Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson will be an Erath shaking, bone shattering, box office breaking mega fight that the UFC needs to happen. we are talking a sold-out area, massive PPV buys, and probably the most hype for a fight in the UFC history. though all parties involved want this fight to happen, if I was a betting man I would put my money on this fight never happening.
UFC 249 was originally scheduled for April 18th in Los Angeles, California, until UFC president Dana White was forced to cancel the event. As the spread of COVID-19 was starting to take its toll on the U.S. Dana White was determined to keep on schedule with the planed fights for the next few months. Though as things started to shut down, UFC 249 started to be in jeopardy of happening. First the main event of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson for the UFC Lightweight Championship had to be changed as Khabib got stuck in Russia when the country shut down their broader. Then, the governor of California wanting the event cancelled, went over Dana White’s head to the Head of Disney to have the event shut down. As Disney owns ESPN, who broadcasts the pay-per-views, Disney has the power to control weather or not a UFC event happens.
Now a week after 249 was supposed to happen, Dana White announced that UFC 249 will take place on May 9th at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. The UFC is able to make UFC 249 happen this soon as FL has deemed sports an essential business. In a world that live sports is at a stand still UFC looks to move forward with their events and they are starting back up with a massive card. Looking first at the main card, the main event Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje for the Interim Lightweight Title. Ferguson currently riding an eight-year, twelve fight win streak desperately wanting that title fight with Khabib. Gaethje is coming into this fight with three straight 1st round KO/TKO victories, though has no been on a PPV since December of 2017. This is going to be a hard-hitting fight with two power house fighters, but Tony Ferguson be too focused on the fight with Khabib that he still hasn’t got. next, the co-main event of Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight Championship. This fight probably has the most interesting background of any fight on this card. This is Cruz’s first fight back after being out of action while over a year due to injury. After a recent fight Henry Cejudo called out Cruz to set up this match up, which was a strange turn of events snice Cejudo is the champion. This fight is personal for the two as they use to be on the national wrestling team together and there is some resentment between the two. This will be a strong technical matchup between the two best bantamweights in the world and could main event it’s own PPV. The third match on card, a heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannu vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik. These are two hard hitting monster and this will surely be a slugfest for the ages. This is a big fight for both men, with the #1 heavyweight Daniel Cormier on the self a win would give #2 Ngannou a title shot. If Rozenstruik wins over the #2 heavyweight it would bring him up the rankings and closer to getting a title shot. The second fight on the card Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar, a featherweight bout between two extremely talented fight who are looking to climb the ranking. The main card will open with Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castroin the heavyweight division. The former NFL player, Greg Hardy has only had a few fights in the UFC, but is looking to make a name for himself as a fight. A win for Hardy here will go a long way to help his young MMA career. This is a card that for a Casual fan like myself, that makes me want to buy the PPV. For those fans who can’t justify spending $80 on a PPV there is going to be three and a half hours of prelim fights with prelim main event of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. UFC 249 is the first event of many as UFC plans to put on four cards in the next month. Though it will be in an empty arena it will be nice to see some form of live sports again. Hopefully this could lead to the rest of live sports coming back in the U.S.
In the build up to this year’s WrestleMania one of the marquees matches on the SmackDown Live side of the card was going to be Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship. When night one of the WrestleMania two-night spectacular came, we did not get Reigns vs. Goldberg, but Braun Strowman vs. Goldberg is the match that happened. The match of Strowman vs. Goldberg came as a surprise to most as the WWE did not really announce the change. In fact, the final decision to change the match did not come until the night before WrestleMania.
It turning out the Reigns’ decision to protect his personal health has created some heat for him backstage. It seems that McMahon is mad at Reigns as pulling out of the universal championship match as the SmackDown main event scene for the next few months has to be rewritten. Reigns was supposed to regain the title he never lost and be the SmackDown headliner for the next few months. Now that Reigns has been effectively written off TV for now the question is what does the future hold for Roman Reigns. Chances is are that any heat between Reigns and backstage officials will go away and he’ll be back on tv in no time. Though this heat could lead to a bigger falling out between the two parties that could end with Reigns parting ways with the wrestling promotion.
If it comes to Reigns leaving the WWE there are many paths Reigns could take. He could continue to wrestle in other promotions, such as major competitor AEW or smaller promotions like TNA, ROH, or New Japan. Or there is a more likely path once Reigns leave WWE, joining his cousin “The Rock” in Hollywood. Reigns has publicly expressed his interest in acting after wrestling. Reigns has even started his acting career by playing a small role in the recent blockbuster Hobbs and Shaw. If Reigns leaves for the Hollywood route it is likely to have the same effect that “The Rock” and John Cena had when they left at their respected times. Roman Reigns debut on main roster WWE in 2010 as part of the Shield and for the last five years has been a main event singles star. For these last five years of main event status, Reigns has been a face of the company and a locker-room leader for which ever brand he has been on weather it has been RAW or SmackDown. If Reigns leaves WWE not only will the company be losing a top talent and box office draw, but also a head of the locker room. There would be a huge hit in morale of the locker room and cause a further disconnect between the talent and management. These events could lead to a massive flood of talent to loss all faith in the WWE and leave the company. There is much to look forward to in the upcoming month as WWE seems to continue to self-destructs admits the global health crisis.
Since the Coronavirus hit the United States live sports in the country have all but stopped. All the leagues and sport organization have stopped play and have shutdown their facilities, all except that of the WWE. In the mists of a global public health crisis, when everyone is told to stay at home, schools and businesses have shut down the WWE sees it fit to continue to produce it’s three live shows a week. Now the wrestling promotion have made some changes to how they operate such as having all of their shows at the WWE performance center in Tampa, FL with no fans instead of traveling from city to city. The promotion sees this as alternative that allows them to maintain their weekly production schedule without putting their talent risk of the virus.
The WWE took to these measures in mid-March as the virus was spreading in America and all other sports were cancelling their seasons. At that point the virus had not spread to the magnitude that it has currently. The spread of the virus came on lead up to the WWE’s biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 36. WrestleMania 36 was supposed to take place on April 5th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, FL. After a couple weeks of the Florida Sports Commission wrestling with the owner and chairman of WWE Vince McMahon, WrestleMania would take place at Raymond James Stadium. This decision was a huge blow to not only the WWE, but independent wrestling promotions and the city of Tampa. Each year WrestleMania brings in tens of thousands of people from all over the world for not only the multitude of WWE’s events including the big show but also a bunch of other wrestling event from different promotions. With the spread of COVID-19 all of these events were cancelled, so it makes you wonder why WWE decided to go through with the show.
When Florida shut down the big stadium show, WWE decided to make WrestleMania a two-night event from the Performance Center. This seemed like a poor move as the last three months of build up for the big show was wasted on what turned out to be a glorified TV taping. Now that WrestleMania has past WWE continues to do their three live shows a week. Not only is the product is unbearable to watch with the empty arenas but viewership is dropping drastically. On April 13th Monday Night Raw drew its lowest ratings ever with around 1.5 million viewers and the last few weeks have numbers have not been much higher. With the dropping viewership and the virus starting to peak it makes little sense why Mr. McMahon does not put his company on hold until the virus claims down. The WWE performance center is in Tampa which has had a high number of COVID-19 cases, so with having the talent travel back and froth to the PC it puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus. For the little reward the risk just does not seem worth it.
For a second it seemed that Mr. McMahon was coming to his senses as reports come out last week the WWE was going to prerecord the next few months of RAW, NXT, and Smackdown shows as Florida did not see WWE as an essential business. These reports came with joy from fans, backstage workers and the in-ring talent alike as the WWE would take one or two days to film all the matches they need for next few months. This would give the WWE product to put out and would allow all whom work for the company to stay home and be safe. All that changed over Easter weekend when it was brought to Mr. McMahon’s attention that the WWE’s TV contracts with both Fox and the USA network only allow for three pre-taped shows a year. Realizing this, all pre-taped plans were scrapped as if the terms of the contracts were violated Fox and USA could restructure the contract cause WWE to loss money. This is an important bit as WWE gets a majority of their revenue from their TV contracts.
Now this is where the story gets really crazy, on April 12th McMahon decides to stick with the live production schedule. Then on April 14th the state of Florida reverses their decision and announces that WWE is considered an essential business, this allows WWE to continue their live broadcasting. This is interesting, as this decision comes off the heels of a SuperPAC supporting President Trump’s reelection run by Linda McMahon donates over $18 million dollars to the Florida Governor. Moving to Wednesday April 15th Vince McMahon has a video call with all WWE employees, in this call the chairman announces that there will mass releases and furloughs on both the talent and backstage side of the company. The like of Kurt Angle, Rusev (Miroslav Barnyashev), Drake Maverick (James Curtin), Zack Ryder (Matthew Cardona), Curt Hawkins (Brian Myers), Karl Anderson (Chad Allegra), Luke Gallows (Drew Hankinson), Heath Slater (Heath Miller), Eric Young (Jeremy Fritz), Rowan (Joseph Ruud), Sarah Logan (Sarah Rowe), No Way Jose (Levis Valenzuela), Mike Chioda, Mike Kanellis (Mike Bennett), Maria Kanellis, EC3 (Michael Hutter), Aiden English (Matthew Rehwoldt), Lio Rush (Lionel Green), Primo (Edwin Colon) and Epico (Orlando Colon Nieves) were released from the company between the 15th and now. There have also been hundreds of writers, producers, and office employees that have been let go or put on leave. It was also announced that all WWE ecuxtives will take pay cuts and that the company will put a hold on moving the company headquarters from Titan tower to a different building in Stamford. All of these actions were deemed as cost cutting measures in these uncertain times.
Though we are in uncertain times it is crazy to see the WWE make such a massive talent release. Especially considering the company spent the last two year trying to sign as much talent as they could to prevent them from going to the new competition AEW. Now a lot of these wrestler not been doing a lot on any of the show and most of them are jobbers. There are some surprising names such as Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows as the tag team was not even a year into their new five-year contract. Regardless of the star power of these names, it is surprise and down right a dick move by the WWE as these people are now left without a steady income in these dire times. Now on the surface the situation seems normal in these times as many companies have been forced to lay people off during the spread of COVID-19. If you take a deeper look in to what’s going on you’ll see that the driving force behind these decisions is the greedy, stubborn 74-year-old billionaire chairman of the broad. Though WWE is not getting the revenue from ticket sales for the live events, the company still has a $500 million dollar cash reserve. Yet the company gets rid of a couple hundred employees while still produce live weekly Television. Coming up in the next few week is company’s quarterly investor call, which the WWE changed the subject of the call from the dropping stock prices to how all these layoffs will help the bottom line in 2020. As this came out it is becoming evident that the WWE took to these measures simply so the company can make a profit in 2020.
As the situation develops further it will be interesting to see how the perception of the company changes from both inside and outside. Will talent want to leave for greener grass? Will the light of political corruption and dirty business practices push talent from coming to WWE in the future? How will the current talent stand by the company? These are interesting times as myself and plenty wrestling fan are asking what the hell is wrong with the WWE?