As noted, tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw will air live on the USA Network and all future shows will air live. At least that is the plan right now until they are forced to change course.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer discussed WWE’s decision to go back to live shows and noted how the original plan was to tape several weeks of shows leading up to the Money In The Bank pay-per-view. Meltzer confirmed that the reason why the shows will be live is that Vince McMahon is worried about FOX and/or USA pulling out of their TV contracts because the contracts only call for three taped shows per year. It seems unlikely that the TV networks would want to pull away from their contracts but with ad revenue dropping and cable providers losing subscribers, networks could be forced to cut down on costs and Vince McMahon wants to avoid giving them a reason to void their contract.
Meltzer said that wrestlers arrived at the Performance Center on Friday thinking that they would be taping five weeks of shows and then they would be off until Money In the Bank on May 10th. They actually started to tape SmackDown in the afternoon but McMahon scrapped those plans and then told the production team to air the show as close to live as possible.
Here is what Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio about the TV contracts:
“The reason is the fear of being cut for violation of the contract because the contract states you got to go live 49 weeks a year out of 52.” Meltzer continued, “I’m sure FOX and NBC are gonna deny that they never said it and I’m guessing that they never did say it but maybe they did say it and that’s Vince’s reaction. Or maybe it’s Vince thinking he’s a step ahead and they’ll use that to cut his money so he feels he has to go live. I don’t know the whole thing. I only know the contract is the reason that they are going live.”
It is interesting that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not stepped in to tell WWE not to run shows. When news about the first positive COVID-19 test in WWE broke on Saturday, ESPN attempted to reach out to the governor and they did not get a response.