WWE's old way of touring with live events is not likely to return, ever, according to a new report. Even after life in the United States gets back to a level of normal similar to the pre-COVID world, the wrestling company is looking to move away from their old business model that included being on the road nearly 300 days a year, with a good portion of those shows being untelevised live events (house shows).
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that WWE has told talent during recent contract negotiations that the old way of touring with house shows is not coming back. Long time ring announcer Tony Chimel, who often times did the announcing at these untelevised shows, was recently released along with several other employees, another tell that the company is planning more long term changes.
At one time, house shows were the life blood of the industry. Television's primary focus was to turn out attendance at these live events, with advertising during shows geared around the wrestling company coming to a nearby town. However, with the increasing revenue in television rights fees and live attendance dwindling, the house show circuit hasn't carried near the importance that it once did.
In WWE's eyes, the primary purpose of house shows in recent years was to give experience to talent who were not being featured on television, as well as to sell merchandise. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic continued on this year, the company noticed that sales increased through the online WWE Shop website and that they didn't experience much of a drop to their merchandising numbers, even without having any live shows. This no doubt influenced their decision to move forward with limited untelevised live events in the future.
Meltzer wrote in the Observer, "What they found out is that with no house shows, all of a sudden WWE shop merch numbers skyrocketed and the total merch sales ended up being almost identical to when there were shows, which shocked everyone."
While we wouldn't expect these house show events to go away entirely (think special shows at MSG and other major markets), the shift away from the old 4-5 shows per week schedule does seem logical and is quite likely moving forward.