It’s been exactly one year since the infamous moment when the WWE let go or furloughed more than a dozen of their wrestlers and employees in early 2020 at the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic within the United States. Sound familiar? The result led to numerous careers being changed, a mixed reception from the wrestling community and undoubtedly the biggest mass exodus in all of professional wrestling history, but why did it happen and what were the effects that came out of this decision? This was “Black Wednesday”.
The Return Of The XFL
Before we can talk about ‘Black Wednesday‘ in its entirety, we must look at the events that ultimately paved the way for the mass firing and to do that, we first have to go back to February of 2017.
Around this time, ESPN released a 30 for 30 in-depth documentary called; ‘This Was the XFL’ which chronicles the idea of Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol (an executive for NBC and friend of McMahon) to create a football league that would compete with the NFL. The result was the XFL, which was a joint venture by the WWE and NBC to create a football league with the hopes of being able to attract football fans following football season as well as being competition for the NFL, instead, the whole thing wounded up being one of Vince McMahon’s biggest flops and cost both him and NBC each 35 million dollars.
In the documentary, Vince jokingly considers reviving the XFL but many didn’t know that Vince would make good on that promise. In late 2017 reports came out Vince was not only serious about bringing the league back but he also sold millions of dollars in WWE’s stock to create Alpha Entertainment which would be used to manage the new revived XFL and to distance itself from the day-to-day operations of the WWE.
Long story short, the XFL officially began its season on February 8th 2020 (a day after that year’s Super Bowl) and much like the original XFL, the ratings were good at first with 3.1 million watching only to see that number drop considerably as the league went on but that was just the beginning of the problems that would affect the XFL.
By March of that same year, the league would suspend all games going forward due to the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic into the United States and about a month or so later reports of stars being terminated and all operations coming to an end started to come out as the league would end up filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
As a result, the XFL would be up for sale with the hope that someone would be able to buy the assets in order to pay off the debt; The person who ended up by it was nothing other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who along with a host of other partners bought the rights to the XFL for a reported 15 million dollars and rumours that the league would be back in action in 2022.
But while the Coronavirus may have halted the progression of the XFL for now, the virus itself wasn’t finished messing around with other sports-related events…
10 days prior to ‘Black Wednesday‘. On April 5th, WWE was set to have one of it’s biggest events Wrestlemania 36 from the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Florida but not before a number of other wrestling themed events we set to take place a day or two before ‘Wrestlemania Weekend’ as this is usually the time when wrestling fans from around the world come out to watch not only Mania but also the other wrestling shows that happen previously making the whole thing a really big deal.
2020’s Wrestlemania Weekend saw a line up of events like NXT Takeover: Tampa Bay, that year’s WWE Hall of Fame Induction, WrestleCon, A TNA Wrestling Retro show called “TNA: There’s No Place Home” and so many other amazing things that were set to take place, unfortunately the previously mentioned Covid-19 pandemic forced many states to shut down leaving many of these shows cancelled due to travel restrictions and without fans in attendance some of these events could not be able to pay off their stars among other issues.
While the WWE would move Wrestlemania 36 to their Performance Center located in Orlando, they did so with no crowds and even broke up the mania card into a two night event making it the first time something like this has ever happened before.