WWE is experiencing record profits - and seeing increases from their merch division - without the expense of four-to-six non-televised live shows every week. Why would they return to traveling for house shows when a COVID vaccine makes that possible again? Especially when even before the pandemic, those events were losing money?
According to this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, talent are being told they won’t. Wrestlers who’ve negotiated new deals recently are hearing that even when public health allows them to, WWE will not return to their old model of weekly touring for house shows. Prior to the coronavirus lockdowns this March, the Raw and SmackDown crews did several events around each television broadcast.
This makes sense from a business perspective. In addition to the bottom line data, the wear & tear on wrestlers from house shows obviously contributed to injuries and burnout. Eliminating it as a regular fixture of the business is better for performers’ health & wellness - and might leave WWE a little less open to criticism of its classifying wrestlers as independent contractors.
House shows likely won’t go away entirely. There’s benefits to live events, ranging from brand building to giving newer wrestlers experience & established stars an outlet to experiment with their act. One per crew week, or one tour per brand a month, seems like a logical move.
But it will be the end of an era if WWE stars aren’t driving to somewhere like Fort Wayne after a show in a city such as Cincinnati every week.
This could be a boon for independent wrestling, though. If smaller cities and towns aren’t getting live wrestling from Vince McMahon’s company a couple times a year in their area, a local promotion could grow to meet that demand.
Lots to think about. We’ll see how it all plays out in the months and years ahead.