During the last episode of Friday Night SmackDown, WWE superstar Jeff Hardy threw urine in Sheamus’ face as part of a segment to advance their feud heading into last Sunday’s Backlash pay-per-view. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, per Sportskeeda, Fox is reportedly unhappy with WWE for airing the controversial angle and has since erased the footage from the episode.
“It aired on the east coast but not on the west coast. FOX decreed that it violated their standards and practices so they threw a commercial in so we didn’t get to see it on the west coast. That’s what that was all about.”
It remains to be seen if the company will be penalized for the segment. It’s highly likely that WWE will avoid pushing the envelope for the foreseeable future. The storyline between Sheamus and Hardy has been shrouded in controversy since the beginning, as it has openly referred to Hardy’s real-life troubles with alcohol addiction and brushes with the law.
Fox acquired the rights to Friday Night SmackDown in 2019. The deal is estimated to have cost the network $1 billion dollars, and there were reports that executives wanted the show to be sports-centric. The segment between Sheamus and Hardy, however, has been deemed by many fans, pundits and wrestlers as a tasteless soap opera storyline, which might go against the network’s vision for the show.
WWE portrayed a similar segment in 2006 with Shawn Michaels tossing urine in the face of Vince McMahon during an episode of Monday Night Raw. If WWE plans on continuing with segments in this mold moving forward, it will be on the red brand. FOX doesn’t appear to be interested in this facet of sports entertainment.
WWE’s ratings have been dwindling in recent weeks, which is why the company has resorted to more shock factor storylines. The Inquisitr recently reported that the decision to bring Hardy’s personal troubles into the storyline was allegedly to bring more eyes to the product as the company continues to put on shows during the pandemic.
The Fox news caps off what has been a frustrating week for the company. This week’s Friday Night SmackDown tapings were reportedly canceled after a developmental superstar tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the company to test all of its employees and delay plans as a result.
This incident will bring more negative publicity to the company, which has been criticized for continuing to put on shows during a pandemic.