Commentator Hugo Savinovich worked for WWE from 1994 to 2011 and he currently works for AAA. He shared his thoughts on WWE continuing on with shows during the coronavirus pandemic when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"I reported on Lucha Libre Online that with all of the audience being at home, you have some of the worst ratings from SmackDown to Raw," said Savinovich. "Horrendous. So, it tells you that, it's not that they don't like WWE, it's that the fans are fed up with the creative ideas. That also goes into NXT and AEW because regardless of who wins the Wednesday Night War, the two ratings combined don't make for one good rating. There's a big issue about getting it done right to hook the fans.
"Regardless if you are ROH, WWE, AEW, Impact, New Japan, you have to get the fans back and you've got to respect them. I think that's the problem – with Vince it's easy to put the blame on him because he's the No. 1 guy. But all of us should take responsibility and improve them.
"I was just talking to Konnan and my deal would be to create fresh stories. We're gonna be working to create a flamboyant character for AAA but we have to be careful not to piss off the fans like Lashley, Lana and that Rusev story."
Savinovich said a lot of great talent was wasted in the Lana - Lashley - Rusev story. While he is a fan of everyone involved, he said the storyline was "horrible."
"[WWE] wanna stick with stories that the fans don't like and stories that have potential, they're doing microwave airing where foods gotta be done in 30 seconds… Now with no fans at the arena, it shows more the lack of creative that you have or don't have," stated Savinovich.
He then talked about the wrestling business in Japan which focuses more on live gate revenue as opposed to TV revenue. That makes it much different than the business model that WWE operates under.
"Wrestling is not as huge as it was in Japan so they don't have that incentive that Vince has. He has a contract that Linda got him that permission to make wrestling something you need," Savinovich said of Florida deeming WWE essential business during the pandemic.
"They would probably had to forfeit $200 million on the violation of the contract with FOX. I don't know about the one with NBC but that's serious money. So, for him, he has to make that money. Then the boys and girls make a lot of money. So, they can say they're not being forced to go but there's money and the company is running. You see Roman Reigns is not around and that's huge. You don't even see his name mentioned."
Reigns pulled out of WrestleMania due to being immunocompromised but the event still took place, much to Savinovich's chagrin. He says it should not have taken place especially when it was revealed afterwards that a WWE employee tested positive for COVID-19.
"You can never do WrestleMania without fans even though I loved the picture-movie with Undertaker. I hated the one with Cena and The Fiend. But I loved Edge and Orton. So, it was a mixed bag and the guys and girls did a fantastic job," stated Savinovich.
"But WrestleMania should have been held for after SummerSlam. If you can postpone the Olympics, then you can postpone WrestleMania. I don't think it was a good call as WrestleMania has 90,000 fans and has the culture of getting together in a building with Japanese, Latinos, Australians – every walk of life. That's the spirit of WrestleMania and we didn't get that."
Wrestling promotions, like many other companies, are trying to strike the balance between staying safe and making money. Savinovich shared his thoughts on some promotions still going on at this time.
"We need the entertainment so if they keep the place safe, I could see a way where you need to have this. Wrestling is huge and our guys and girls have to make money. I haven't worked for close to two months and I only get paid when I produce, do creative or do consulting for wrestling companies. So, when I don't work, I don't get paid. It's a very delicate situation," said Savinovich.
"You've got to take care of talent and you can't close the world. I live in New York and people have been dying here. It's been horrible and I take precaution, but if we just stay at home then people are gonna be unemployed and small businesses will disappear. I don't know if you'd have money then to go to an actual live event in wrestling because you'd be unemployed and out of work."
Hugo Savinovich will be retiring from pro wrestling in February of 2025. To watch Hugo's emotional retirement announcement video please click HERE. Hugo's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.