As you may remember, WWE fired David "Fit" Finlay a couple weeks ago, reportedly over complaints from a major sponsor about an incident at the Raw house show in Champaign, Illinois on March 25th. Reportedly, members of the National Guard (a major WWE sponsor) were in attendance and angry that the show opened with The Miz interrupting the National Anthem. For whatever reason, this bit was added to what had opened the Raw house shows for weeks: Miz coming out, cutting a promo, and wrestling Randy Orton in the scheduled main event, with CM Punk attacking Orton after a few minutes to set up the new main event, a Miz/Punk-Orton/John Cena tag match. Finlay was the road agent/producer in charge of the show, so he was the one fired over it to appease the National Guard.
This week, plenty has been written about chairshots to the head. First, I wrote about how a house show match between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan ending with a chair to the head and the Undertaker vs Triple H match at Wrestlemania 27 climaxing with one unfortunately seemed to signal the end of WWE's ban on such shots. After another day or two, the media started to make inquiries to WWE about why Undertaker and Triple H hadn't been fined or suspended for the chairshot as their written concussion policy says they should have been. With the heat on them, WWE announced that they were indeed issuing such a fine, but given the power of those two wrestlers in the company, I was doubtful that it would mean much at all unless the fine was substantial and Sheamus, Bryan, and perhaps the producer in charge of their match were also fined.
Then, today, when asked if I knew who the producer was, it hit me. The Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan match was on the same March 25th show in Champaign, Illinois where The Miz interrupted the national anthem. Thus, Finlay was the agent in charge and would have gone over the concussion policy violating finish with them. So, not only was Finlay the fall guy for ticking off a major sponsor, he also approved a violation of the company's concussion policy. Since, unlike the drug testing policy, the concussion policy doesn't specify that those who violate it must be named publicly, it's possible that Sheamus and Bryan were fined, just not mentioned in the statement on the corporate website because they weren't on the mainstream media's radar, Wrestlemania was.
So, does this mean that Finlay's firing wasn't just over the National Guard response, but also for approving a finish that violated the company's official safety policy? I don't know, but it certainly adds another layer to what's happened. It's also a bit odd: Dave Finlay, who comes from a wrestling family, has been in the business since 1974, is a genius in the ring and a fantastic trainer, who's been in this role with WWE for almost a decade, decides to approve a safety policy violation by mid-carders on a house show in a mid-sized market? What was he thinking?
At the very least, it's an interesting coincidence. Could it have been more?
Maybe. Think about this: Not only were Sheamus and Bryan pulled off the main Wrestlemania pay-per-view card and stuck in the pre-show dark match, but their match was turned into a lumberjack match that then turned into the annual pre-show "get everyone not booked on the card" battle royal. Not only did they lose a shot at having a great match at Wrestlemania, but they went from getting paid for an undercard singles match to getting paid for the pre-show battle royal, where the money is split among somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen wrestlers.No reports I've seen have named every wrestler in the match as of yet, but last year's battle royal had 26 wrestlers.
Being taken off the main Wrestlemania card and having your payoff for the show cut down drastically would be a pretty big punishment.