Here at Sports Obsessive, we wanted to do a quick check in on several wrestling news items from today and the past week, including CHIKARA closing, Renee Young, Covid-19 impacts, The Undertaker, Edge, SummerSlam and more.
A global pandemic has prevented crowds from seeing live wrestling for several months. The industry has been rocked by a series of brave individuals speaking out against those who have sexually abused or harassed them. Careers are over and now even promotions such as CHIKARA are shutting down. Edge made one of wrestling’s biggest comebacks, only to have it derailed by injury. The Undertaker has retired. What the hell else can happen in 2020?
It’s pointless to make any predictions in a year like this. All bets are truly off. Right now, the wrestling world is watching, wondering how the now surging cases of Covid-19 will further impact wrestling. WWE apparently has many new cases internally, which is inevitably going to force changes to both creative plans as well as taping schedules. Last night, Renee Young tweeted that she in fact has the virus. Young is wife of AEW Champion Jon Moxley, who missed this week’s episode of Dynamite and now could potentially miss his upcoming title match with Brian Cage at Week 2 of Fyter Fest. WWE producer Adam Pearce and backstage interviewer Kayla Braxton have also confirmed they have tested positive, with this being Braxton’s second time having Covid-19. With both major promotions in the US taping their shows in Florida, the current hotbed for virus outbreaks, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Now is not the time to rush things in an attempt to get back to normal, no matter how bad we all want just that. The question becomes: how well can WWE and AEW protect their talents so the show can still go on?
The news that CHIKARA was shutting down came as a surprise. CHIKARA had been a stalwart in the independent scene for many years, offering a unique product that was enjoyed by many. The allegations against the company and many who work for them were certainly credible and did demand action but this is the biggest development thus far since #SpeakingOut became the other big news story in wrestling. We’ve seen promotions cut ties with some wrestlers and suspend others but this is a whole company shutting down; a roster full of workers and crew who no longer have that place to work. I’m not saying that as a defence of CHIKARA or that they shouldn’t be shutting down, but rather placing emphasis on how big this movement is and how much can change as a result of it.
The interesting thing is, we haven’t really scratched the surface of consequences yet. There are other companies on the independent scene being regularly mentioned in social media conversations as being just as problematic, if not more so, than CHIKARA. There are big names who have credible accusations against them. There will be more people and perhaps even companies that will see their way out of the business before this is all said and done. The questions at this point that remain and who else has consequences to pay and will it be enough to satisfy the many who are justifiably angry?
In some ways, the business has been forced into a timeout this year, with a period of introspection being demanded. Treatment of talent, particularly female talent, will change for the better after the events of 2020. Prior to the start of this year, the independent scene was thriving like never before. Many of those companies haven’t been able to run shows in months due to the pandemic and the unfortunate reality is that many won’t survive the year because of financial losses. Even the major companies are going to have to re-examine how they run live events. WWE may not ever be able to have a house show schedule like they used to or perform in front of as large of crowds as they used to for TV and other major shows. If changes like that are forced to occur, it will cause a ripple effect throughout the entire business.
It seems strange that on the week where The Undertaker retired, it’s not even the biggest story in the business. That’s 2020 for you. The greatest character Vince McMahon ever created, the wrestler whose legacy in that company all others will be measured against, finally feels comfortable walking away. It doesn’t have that cinematic feeling that the end of WrestleMania 33 had, with ‘Taker leaving the hat, gloves and coat in the ring as fans begged him not to go but at the same time, it does feel right. The Undertaker was truly the last outlaw, the John Wayne of WWE as Jim Ross called him, and WWE gave him the perfect platform to tell his story his way before riding off into the sunset.
You can’t help but feel bad for Edge. His comeback at this year’s Royal Rumble was perfect, only to have his WrestleMania moment performed with no live crowd. There should’ve been 80,000 people chanting his name, hanging on his every move but that would not be the case. Nonetheless, Edge and Orton delivered at Mania in a big way. Their follow up match at Backlash suffered from unfortunate marketing but ultimately was another top notch encounter. The bad news coming out of the event was that the comeback which had already hit the roadblock known as Covid-19 now included an injury that will sideline Edge for many months. It’s unlikely that we’ll see him in action again until next year. One can only hope that Edge’s comeback faces less obstacles when he’s cleared to return.
Speaking of Randy Orton, the current booking on Raw and the rumor mill both point to Orton being the challenger to Drew McIntyre at SummerSlam this year. It’s been reported that had he not got hurt, Edge would’ve had his rubber match with the “Legend Killer” at SummerSlam, but with Edge out of action, a natural main event between Orton and the champ is being looked at. It makes sense with how strong Orton has been booked and with there not really being anyone else waiting in the wings. The question becomes: Who loses? Taking the title off McIntyre without him having a strong run hurts his character, but is booking Orton to take a high profile loss the best thing for him right now? My personal hope is that they don’t go with this match and keep these men apart so they both can continue to be booked strong but as of today, it appears to be the working plan.
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