The Disturbing Truth Behind WWE's Backstage Talent Crisis

Why are so many wrestlers trying to quit the most lucrative promotion in the sport?

Sasha Banks Vince McMahon
WWE

2019 has been a year of tumult for WWE.

A company so used to sitting pretty in a seemingly invincible market position is wobbling: not to the point of being dislodged from their ivory tower, but enough to leave a big dent in their public perception, balance sheet, and locker-room harmony.

Raw and SmackDown viewership is declining at an alarming rate, dropping more than 20% between April 2018 and April 2019. Dismal Q1 2019 earnings reports saw revenue fall by 2.8%, operating income of $28.6 million plummet to a net loss, and an 11% live event attendance decline compared to Q1 2018. Barely a week passes without a new Superstar requesting their release or expressing their WWE discontent through other means. The list goes on.

Years of complete pro-wrestling domination have made WWE complacent. Vince McMahon had been writing his own rulebook since WCW's closure, safe in the knowledge that there was nowhere else for disgruntled viewers and frustrated talents to go. He got away with it for the best part of two decades, but now, finally, the balance is shifting, and some big, big problems are spewing from a stifled, disaffected, and undervalued talent roster.

To begin: a deep dive on WWE's most recent backstage controversy.

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Contributor
Contributor

A caffeine-dependent life-form from the frozen wastes of north east Scotland. He once tried to start a revolution but didn't print enough pamphlets, so hardly anyone turned up. Give him a follow @andyhmurray. You'll have a great time. Maybe.