Proposed WWE Change Could “Screw” Main Event Talent

Roman Reigns & Cody Rhodes on WWE SmackDown

On March 8th it was reported that WWE is currently in talks with gambling regulators over legalised betting on “high-profile” matches.

The company is working with the accounting firm EY to secure results of matches in the hope that they will be able to convince regulators that there would be no chance of the outcomes being leaked to the public.

WWE is reportedly citing the Oscars betting template as proof that gambling on pre-determined events is safe.

Should WWE succeed, it could alter the way storylines and television are produced going forward. The company proposed that the results of matches would be “locked in” months in advance. In this instance, wrestlers and lower-level production staff would only learn the outcome shortly before the match takes place.

Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer noted that if the changes are successful it could create issues for some of WWE’s biggest stars.

“If they do this, legitimately, they can’t tell anyone (finishes to matches in advance). It’s not like you’re gonna sneak around the system, there’s gonna be safeguards and everything. The minute they tell people and it gets out, or even if it doesn’t get out, they’ll have people investigating them and they’d be in an incredible amount of trouble for gaming violations and things like that. That’s nothing to mess with. They literally can’t do that. So the talent will not be able to know their finishes, at least in the matches that are being gambled on.

If you’re a guy, and you’ve got a big pay-per-view match – if you’re gonna win the match or you’re gonna lose the match, the working of the match is very different, the story you tell is different. These matches are crafted, set up with agents and all these people, and the structure of the match depends on many different things, such as, ‘Where are we going next?’, ‘What is the match story?’, ‘How do we lead to the finish because what is the match finish’?. If you don’t know any of this…

I don’t know how deep in the card they’re gonna allow the gambling to be because they’re kind of saying selective matches – the guys that this is gonna affect the most is your champions, your Charlotte Flairs, your Roman Reigns, Bianca Belair, Usos, and all of them. They’re the ones who need more than anyone, especially Roman Reigns, to know where he’s going and what he’s doing. And those are the ones who are not going to be allowed to be told, and those are the ones with the most pull.

If Roman Reigns is going into that pay-per-view against Sami Zayn, and he doesn’t know if he’s gonna win or lose until the last minute, how do he and Heyman and everyone craft the storylines for the week before and the week after and where they’re going and how you factor Cody Rhodes in, and everything.”

Meltzer added that there is already some “eye-rolling” backstage at the proposals while breaking the practical implications should WWE be successful.

“The thing is, especially when you have people who have made a lot of money, they’re more likely, unless they need a lot of money… if you’re financially set for life, it’s a lot easier to walk away if you’re mad. And some of these guys are.

There’s sort of like a feeling of, ‘If I know what I’m doing and they explain it to me and everything like that, it’s cool’, and it’s not just about doing jobs and people are mad about doing jobs. There’s a respect factor – especially if people have been there like 15-20 years. Saying, ‘You’re losing here, but this is where you’re going’. But they can’t tell you this either now.

Imagine if you’re in creative, because creative can’t know these finishes. If creative knows the finishes it’s gonna get out. It’s got to literally be Levesque (Triple H) and Bruce Prichard and almost nobody else know the finishes. The agents can’t know the finishes, no-one can. Because if the agents know, they’re gonna tell their favorite wrestler to be buddies with him. I’m not saying it’s gonna get out, but they’re gonna know, and then they’re gonna be hit with a violation.

Almost nobody can know these finishes, so now you’re on the writing team, and you have no idea of these finishes, so you can only write for a week, you can’t do long-term stories.

I don’t know if the people who are wanting to do this to get in with DraftKings and get sponsorship money, while at the same time kind of like screwing up the booking aspect of wrestling, really understand wrestling.

Just the vibes that I’ve gotten from people are just kinda like rolling their eyes, and just thinking it’s really… it’s not a good thing, but it still might happen.

It may be one of those changes, and maybe they feel that this will raise the price (of the company), because now there’s gambling and they can tell the people who they are selling it to that ‘we are going to have a big increase in popularity because gambling will now be allowed on these things’. And they may think that that’s the case.

It’s uncharted water, it may make it more popular in some ways. But they can’t do predictable finishes all the time. Because if you do, it’d be too easy to beat the system and then the gambling people would not want to be involved.

It screws the main event talent a lot because they’re not gonna know where they’re going, and it screws the booker because he’s gonna have to book in a logical manner and an illogical manner at certain points in time to keep from being predictable.”

WWE Still Up For Sale

The same report from CNBC that noted WWE’s plans regarding gambling added that the company is set to meet with potential buyers in April. Vince McMahon returned to WWE’s Board of Directors in January in an effort to help sell the company.

However, it has since been reported that he has had some involvement in on-screen storylines. McMahon attended the March 6th episode of Monday Night Raw, reportedly to visit John Cena.

H/t to Wrestle Talk