WWE officials knew about the comments for at least a year and when they made the decision to bring him to the main roster with a push. It was also known that there was a very good chance that the comments would resurface in a much bigger way than they did last year. The idea was to "ride out the storm" like they did when the comments were previously going around social media. Lars issued his public apology last Friday and that may have made things worse for him, by making him a target. As noted, Titus O'Neil revealed this week that Lars also made private apologies to co-workers individually. WWE officials didn't ask Lars to apologize last year when they dealt with the comments internally, and the story ran its course online. The Observer points to how Lars' public apology last week brought more unwanted attention to the matter. WWE sponsors then got involved after a fan copied the comments to the Mars candy company, who responded and said they had reached out to WWE to see how they were going to handle the matter. It was reported that at least one other sponsor reached out to WWE over the comments.
We noted earlier this year how WWE had plans to bring Sullivan to RAW for a feud with John Cena, which would have ended at WrestleMania 35. Lars reportedly suffered serious anxiety issues backstage before being sent out in front of a RAW crowd, and that led to him taking some time off to deal with what was going on. While the general feeling was that Lars was dealing with "stage fright" and was maybe afraid of performing in front of large crowds, The Observer reports that his fear actually had to do with the controversial comments resurfacing and potential repercussions on himself, those close to him, and the company.
Regarding the $100,000 fine and sensitivity training that WWE announced for Lars this week, the hope is that the size of the fine will make it clear that WWE punished Lars severely, and that it will take the heat away from people who want him fired. The fine is legit and will likely have to be deducted from Lars' future earnings. Lars hasn't been on the main roster long and likely is not able to pay the full fine at this point. As we previously reported, the average salary for a talent in NXT is around $80,000.