In this week’s issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer revealed some new information on WWE’s decision last week to fire Paul Heyman from his post as executive director of Monday Night Raw.
Citing the subscriber-only publication, WrestlingNews.co wrote on Friday that Heyman was removed from his position due to a “philosophical change,” with the circumstances of his dismissal being less explosive than they were when he was working in a similar role over a decade ago. This change, as explained, marked a departure from the original plan when Heyman and Eric Bischoff were hired last year to run WWE’s two main roster brands, a move designed for both industry veterans to help build new stars.
In previous conference calls with stockholders, WWE chairman Vince McMahon reportedly blamed the recent ratings declines for Raw and Friday Night SmackDown on a “lack of stars” and an ongoing plan to rebuild for the coming years. That, however, was before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the company taping its shows without fans, as WWE is apparently focusing now on pushing “established” superstars and airing more backstage segments than wrestling matches on Raw.
Although no specific individuals were named among the “established” wrestlers currently being focused on, several veteran talents have played especially prominent roles on Monday Night Raw in the three months since WWE started taping empty-arena shows at its Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. These include the likes of Edge, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, and MVP — all of whom are at least 40 years old, with years of experience as proven performers for the company.
WWE announces Raw and SmackDown creative teams will be combined into one group led by Bruce Prichard. Paul Heyman will focus on his role as on-screen talent. pic.twitter.com/P4hipilzN9
— B/R Wrestling (@BRWrestling) June 11, 2020
With Bruce Prichard — who replaced Bischoff as SmackDown‘s executive director late last year — taking over from Heyman and effectively overseeing both main roster brands, there has been some concern regarding certain wrestlers who received additional exposure in recent months. While rumors have suggested that a number of them might lose their current pushes, some of them — including reigning Raw Women’s Champion Asuka— are expected to remain a key part of the brand’s programming going forward.
Regarding the USA Network, which has been Raw‘s longtime home on television, WrestlingNews.co further cited the Wrestling Observer, noting that the network was all for the rebuilding plan. This was due to the fact that the red brand’s top performers were mostly aging wrestlers at the time Heyman took over as executive director. As such, network officials were allegedly unhappy to learn about Heyman’s firing — a move that was supposedly made with little advance notice.