Vince McMahon Makes Last Minute Changes to Raw, Kills Matt Hardy…For Now

Despite the continued success of Monday Night Raw, WWE CEO Vince McMahon just loves to tinker with the formula.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a WWE event? Obviously, the fights are scripted — but what scripted has meant to the fighters has changed over time. Fans saw the scripted label played with and manipulated last Monday night when WWE CEO Vince McMahon scrapped the fight between Randy Orton and Matt Hardy less than an hour before they were due to enter the ring and instead replaced their match with a guerrilla-style street fighter assault.

Basically, Orton and Hardy have been scheduled to wrestle for some time now, and that fight fell on last week’s Monday Night Raw. The draft for the original show had the two of them in a multi-segment cage match. A fight under those rules was advertised as part of Monday Night Raw for weeks leading up to the event. But, Vince McMahon made an executive decision (that’s why they call him the chief *executive* officer) and called off the entire thing in favor of a brief staged attack that happened outside of the ring. Instead of fighting, Matt Hardy’s persona appeared to be killed off before even being given an opportunity to get onstage.

Matt Hardy’s contract with the WWE is up on March 1st, so it’s unclear if he or his character will continue with the league. What is notable about what happened last night is the total, god-like control Vince McMahon has over what happens in the WWE and how the fights and narratives are determined.

Some have observed that McMahon’s iron grip on the WWE ring may not be a good thing for the fans or for the company. Bloomberg recently reported that, with “shares in [WWE] in a tailspin,” McMahon’s control over the company may no longer reflect what viewers want to see. It was McMahon’s decision alone to scrap the fight, which, while appreciated by some viewers and not appreciated by others, is a decidedly large amount of responsibility for one man to assume over an entire company. WWE stock is down one-third this year, in part due to a growing disconnect between what’s going down in the matches and what fans actually want to see. The WWE has lost roughly 10% of its online subscribers to the WWE Network since this time last quarter.

Many of WWE’s biggest stars have since “gone Hollywood,” from The Rock to John Cena, so it makes sense that ratings have taken a little bit of a nosedive. It remains to be seen whether this trend continues and eventually threatens the life of the league or they can adapt and change. Matt Hardy’s character death was surprising, but hardly enough to start a revolution. McMahon’s surprise fights are a cheap gimmick that can only hold up for so long; if audiences aren’t entertained, eventually they will always go somewhere else.

*All images and media courtesy of Instagram.

Tess Pollok
Tess Pollok is a sports writers and social media manager reporting on the latest trends in bodybuilding, fitness, and strength sports. She also focuses on community engagement with our ever-growing social media network.