In the aftermath of Friday Night SmackDown executive director Eric Bischoff’s departure from WWE last week, rumors suggest that backstage morale has dropped to even lower levels since the start of the month. Now, rumors are suggesting the possibility of more releases also hanging in the air as ratings continue to suffer.
In a recent episode of Wrestling Observer Live — as cited on Sunday by WrestlingNews.co — Bryan Alvarez offered an update on the state of the WWE locker room following Bischoff’s departure. Alvarez revealed that, per his sources, more people might be released by the company in the near future. While morale within WWE has allegedly been in less than ideal shape for some time, the mood backstage also seems to have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks, the veteran wrestling journalist added.
“[A]pparently the morale has taken an even bigger hit since October 1st,” Alvarez was quoted as saying.
“If you recall, the belief within WWE … their idea was ‘oh my god, we’re going to FOX and a new boom period is going to kick off.”
Talking about the factors that appear to have disheartened WWE employees this month, Alvarez explained that Friday Night SmackDown‘s viewership numbers declined significantly, losing about 1 million viewers between the October 4 premiere and the second show on October 11. As noted separately by Bleacher Report, the blue brand’s flagship show took another hit in terms of viewership for the October 18 episode, as it only averaged 2.4 million viewers over two hours — down from 2.9 million the week prior.
As for the recent WWE Superstar Draft, Alvarez alleged that it didn’t turn out as planned due to its haphazard execution, despite the promotion’s claims that it had adequately prepared for the two-part event.
Programming note. Due to the @MLBONFOX World Series, this week's episode of @WWE Friday Night SmackDown will air on @FS1 at 8e/7c.— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) October 20, 2019
We'll be back on FOX next week. Play ball! pic.twitter.com/1m30MvEyZr
While many of the problems Alvarez discussed pertained to SmackDown, the red brand wasn’t exempt from criticism. As further cited by WrestlingNews.co, the longtime wrestling insider revealed that he has received text messages from “people within WWE” who claim that they “couldn’t bring themselves” to watch an episode of Monday Night Raw.
Furthermore, Alvarez noted that as of last week, there is still backlash following the controversial referee stoppage finish to the main event of this month’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, where Seth Rollins retained his Universal Championship against “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt.
Commenting on the aforementioned allegations, WrestlingNews.co opined that viewers shouldn’t expect significant changes unless WWE owner Vince McMahon stops taking such a hands-on approach with his product. Although both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown have both benefited from splashier production values in recent weeks, the outlet wrote that these things are mainly there to allay investors’ concerns, as WWE is still burdened by “unsophisticated” storylines and overly scripted promos and segments, among other issues.