Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer is reporting that WWE will be resuming live broadcasts of their weekly television shows Raw, NXT, and Smackdown starting from next week. Last night’s Smackdown was taped but was a regular episode with minimum replays of old footage and followed the usual format, with Michael Cole also regaining his broadcast partner Corey Graves.
Meltzer says that WWE’s television deal with NBCUniversal and FOX only allows them to do a certain number of taped shows, with the rest contracted to be live. The report says that there were fears that if WWE continues to tape shows during this pandemic rather than be live, the television networks would be in a position to withhold money or pay less money due to a violation of contract.
WWE television ratings, while they were in decline before, has suffered greatly since going taped and in front of an empty arena. The constant replaying of old footage, such as long WrestleMania matches, was also a turn off for many fans as they occupied a huge chunk of the broadcast when factoring in commercials.
The decision to go live was taken yesterday afternoon according to Meltzer and this will require all WWE Superstars to fly in to Orlando every single week unless they find temporary housing in the area. Florida remains under lockdown but WWE has been allowed to operate within the closed set for the time being.