Sports Illustrated has learned that much of the Raw 25 anniversary show was rewritten approximately three hours before going live after the creative team learned that Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon could not arrive at Raw early enough in the day for pre-tapes and segments with many WWE legends.
Plans for backstage segments with Fallon, including the general manager segment, ultimately became introductions and waves to the crowd.
Raw 25 delivered a nostalgic look back at the history of WWE on Monday nights as well as advanced some of the top storylines. The goal remains to attract more casual viewers during the build to WrestleMania 34, which is why the show opened with Steve Austin and Vince McMahon in an interaction that was certain to attract millions of viewers, many of whom do not watch the product every week.
The WWE creative team was also forced to navigate through another difficult situation after learning that Enzo Amore would no longer be part of Raw.
Amore was scheduled to interact on Raw with Goldust, which had to be scrapped after company officials learned that Amore was accused of sexual misconduct during an incident in Arizona this past October. Amore was also originally in line to take the Dudley’s “Whassup?” head butt to the groin that instead went to Heath Slater.
Sports Illustrated can also confirm that WWE was blindsided by the allegation. Amore–31-year-old Eric Arndt–failed to inform his superiors of the situation. Though WWE is often painted as the antagonist, the company was justifiably furious that it had no knowledge of the pending case despite Amore knowing for three months.
For WWE, this most recent allegation forced the company to decide that Amore’s talent is not worth the headaches he causes. Had WWE known there was an ongoing investigation, Amore would not have headlined the cruiserweight division or appeared as the champion on 205 Live. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the newly-released Amore will now forever live on in WWE infamy as a cautionary tale.
Another major story out of Brooklyn was the persistent rumor that Vince McMahon will make an announcement regarding the XFL before the NFL’s Super Bowl, and what impact that might have on the future of WWE.
The Fox Entertainment Group is interested in purchasing WWE, which should come as no surprise because WWE programming is so valuable. Unlike a television deal with UFC, which is far more genuine sport, the WWE is able to deliver constant, consistent programming and numbers. Fox would greatly benefit from adding WWE’s blend of sports entertainment to its network.
WWE is reportedly adding no new major expenses, which has drawn significant attention to the idea of McMahon selling. The idea of McMahon no longer owning the majority share of the WWE still seems outlandish to many, but time will continue to shape the story, particularly over the next 18 months.