Fake wrestling deemed by Florida’s government to be an “essential service”. But why? Could it be. . . . Trump?

Reader Ken called my attention to a Guardian article reporting that Florida’s governor Republican governor Ron DeSantis (a Republican, of course) had deemed “professional wrestling”—a “sport” that is fake and scripted—to be an “essential service”. It was banned under the original lockdown, but the good governor changed his mind. As the Guardian reports:

In an order signed on Thursday, the Florida Division of Emergency Management ruled that essential services now include “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience – including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production – only if the location is closed to the general public”.

A spokesperson for DeSantis’s office told ESPN such services are “critical” to Florida’s economy. WWE started to run live shows, without an audience, on Monday.

WWE is “World Wrestling Entertainment“, a multimedia company. Frankly, I don’t understand the appeal of fake wrestling, but many people love it—apparently a lot of them in Florida.  Well, at least there’s no live audience. But the wrestlers still violate social distancing, of course. (I wonder if they’re tested for the virus).

At any rate, the BBC and The Nation confirm this report, and you can see The Nation‘s article by clicking on the screenshot below

Now why would this gaudy spectacle be deemed an “essential service”. No other sport is, and this isn’t even a sport. Why is “wrestling” considered essential for Florida’s economy while Disneyland, restaurants, and SeaWorld Orlando are not?  Could it be because the CEO, chairman, and majority stockholder of WWE is Vince McMahon, a pal of Donald Trump? As Wikipedia notes,

McMahon and his wife have donated to various Republican Party causes, including $1 million in 2014 to federal candidates and political action committees, such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and the research and tracking group America Rising.The McMahons have donated $5 million to Donald Trump’s charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

His wife Linda also happens to be the former head of the Small Business Administration under Trump.

The Nation calls this a “scandal”, pulling out all the stops in its snarky report, which includes this:

Even more fitting for this scandal-ridden company is that the decision to go to live-event programing comes after news this weekend that an unnamed on-air personality has tested positive for Covid-19. The company was quick to assert that this employee infected nobody, never had contact with anyone, and that everything was completely fine—nothing to see here. But there’s no reason to take anything WWE says at face value. McMahon’s care for his workforce is legendarily abhorrent, with a staggering death toll among its stars over the decades due to drugs, suicide, and one in-ring disaster. If any other sport had WWE’s body count, there would be congressional panels decrying its existence.

In addition, McMahon is taking advantage of Florida’s lax laws concerning Covid-19, enacted by their blithering goon of a governor, Ron DeSantis. WWE will be filming its live shows in the corrupt sinkhole of Orlando, where McMahon has received an “essential business” label from the friendly Florida government. It would be difficult to imagine anywhere more dangerous outside of New York for WWE to set up shop. As Alex Nazaryan of Yahoo News tweeted, “Florida now has twice as many coronavirus cases (20,601) as South Korea (10,537). About 30 million more people live in South Korea than in Florida.”

It’s difficult to imagine a more rancid and more dangerous cross-pollination than that of Trump, DeSantis, and the WWE. Sure enough, the same day that McMahon announced that WWE would be doing live tapings in Florida, former Trump cabinet official Linda McMahon’s (former WWE executive and Vince’s spouse, of course) committed her Trump reelection PAC to spending $18.5 million in Florida in 2020.

Well, I doubt we’ll ever know all the connections here, but Florida’s virus-loving governor, who refused to close down the state for so long, is beholden to Trump, and I’m guessing this decision was made after a Trump acolyte gave DeSantis a quiet word. Whatever happened, this glaring exception to the lockdown needs a good explanation.

h/t: Ken


  1. Muffy Ferro
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    “… rancid and dangerous cross-pollination.” This is a hallmark of the Trump presidency, and I doubt we’ll ever uncover all the pollinators.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    John Oliver gave the WWE his comically critical Last Week Tonight treatment – worth a viewing -check the ‘ol YouTube.

    TL;DW : he loves the absurd hilarity of it

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      I used to watch it when I was a kid in the 90s and it was still called WWF. But when I went to ‘big school’ almost overnight I lost interest in it completely.

      It’s like an imitation-sport for kids, with big personalities clashing, and narrative arcs. You get to play at being a supporter.
      And it’s very easy to understand, there are no shades of grey: every businessman is greedy, every Mexican has stubble and chews a toothpick, every Japanese guy’s a sumo, etc. It’s a real-life Saturday morning cartoon.

      The British version was less popular and much less ostentatious, and everything looked much cheaper – as a result it was completely ignored by everyone at school. We thought it was a bit naff compared to the US version.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        If you want to see a work of art in the wrestling genre, check out Andy Kaufman’s “I’m From Hollywood” movie.


        American culture at its finest.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          That was fantastic. Visceral stuff. He played the heel a bit too well because they really, genuinely despised him.

  3. Mike Anderson
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Pro-Trump PAC run by McMahon pledged $18.5 million the same day DeSantis deemed WWE an ‘essential business’ in Orlando


    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      There you go with your paranoid Leftist inference regarding what is plainly simple coincidence. 🙂

      • Zetopan
        Posted April 16, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

        And the 18,000 similar coincidences involving tRump and his kakistocracy that have occurred since they got into the white house is also just another coincidence.

  4. Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Same as always — the point is to outrage liberals, make rednecks laugh and gloat, and make a display of power to show that Trump’s people don’t follow rules.

  5. enl
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    This just reminds me how much of Fla is swampland. Drained.

    • Zetopan
      Posted April 16, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      A correction: “Insufficiently Drained.” The alligators have even moved into government positions.

  6. XCellKen
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Why do any of y’all watch movies? I mean they are scripted, and filmed in a studio, no ?

    Consider this: In 1999, wrestler Owen Hart was supposed to enter the ring from the ceiling during a live Pay Per View event. The rigging failed, and Hart fell to his death in the ring in front of thousands. What did McMahon do? He carted the body away, and resumed the event

    Also, after 9-11, McMahon was the first to hold a live event. Three days afterwards, if memory serves. He made a speech about how the nation needed entertainment or something. Or he didn’t wanna lose $$$ on cancelled events

    So McMahon is simply reverting to form.

    And many people in the business have compared McMahon to Trump for many years now, long before Trump ran for president.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 15, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Why do any of y’all watch movies? I mean they are scripted, and filmed in a studio, no?

      The salient distinction is that filmmakers don’t endeavor to sell their product to suckers as real.

      A distinction analogous to the one between an optometrist and someone who sells “x-ray specs” through an ad in the back of a comic book.

      • Taz
        Posted April 15, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        filmmakers don’t endeavor to sell their product to suckers as real

        Neither does WWE. Those days are gone.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          I’ll take your word for it. I lost any interest before I was out of grade school, and even then it was clear it was fake (try as they might to sell it as real).

          • Vaal
            Posted April 15, 2020 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

            Taz is correct, Ken.

            These days fans of the WWE not only know it’s fake; the performance of wrestlers are evaluated on a sort of “meta” level. For instance, when Ronda Rousey of UFC fame entered the WWE, fans evaluated her matches not simply on whether she “won” or not, but on her performance – ability to “sell” the moves etc.

            So the performers in the WWE are evaluated more like people evaluate actors in movies.

      • Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        WWE may have pretended to be real wrestling at one time but do you really think that is true now? It’s a cartoonish show in roughly the format of a boxing match. Maybe small children are fooled by it but surely no one else. I don’t watch it but as long as it doesn’t take itself seriously, what harm can it do? I suppose some idiots will injure themselves by attempting to emulate their moves but at least they are getting some exercise and aren’t using guns.

    • Posted April 16, 2020 at 4:57 am | Permalink

      I bet they are not making many films right now.

      Nobody is griping about the fact that a lot of people enjoy this form of entertainment (full disclosure: I’m not one of them), but wrestling is a contact sport entertainment. There’s no way you can maintain social distancing while wrestling and nobody sensible would describe it as an essential service.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    What the McMahons’ WWE shares with Donald Trump is Rule #1: Always, but always, above all else, maintain the kayfabe.

  8. Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Much as I have no real interest in WWE, I did like this fun family movie, “Fighting with My Family” (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6513120/). It’s based on a true story about a young lady from Norwich, UK (yes, WWE is international) who finds fame by signing up with the WWE and becoming one of its stars. It’s definitely lightweight stuff but probably good lockdown distraction. It had special significance to me as niece who went there for a undergrad year (U. of East Anglia, I believe) and is thinking of going there again for graduate school.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      That’s Steve Merchant who wrote it isn’t it? It’s been on my Netflix list for a while now. I might give it a go.

      • Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and it stars Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey, and Vince Vaughn though all are in fairly minor roles.

        • Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          I appreciated that ‘The Rock’ had a rather small part. And i have to say he is a competent actor.

          • Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

            He is. I have also enjoyed his recently ended HBO series, “Ballers”.

          • Posted April 16, 2020 at 4:59 am | Permalink

            I appreciated that ‘The Rock’ had a rather small part.

            When did he do a nude scene?

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted April 16, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink


    • Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      I recently watched it, and enjoyed it. Full of heart, it was.

  9. S.P. Sven van Leeuwe
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    And children’s beauty pageants?
    Surely that is even more vital to the Trump voters?

  10. Roger
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Wrestling was my first introduction to head-deskery. I would say that it was obviously fake, the most obviously fake thing in the universe, and tehn everyone would tell me how stupid I am. Head -> desk.

  11. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    He’s sort of a WWE President. The kind of character the WWE would come up with if they had to have a fictional POTUS in their universe. He’s an eight year old wrestling fan’s idea of what a president should be.

    I think he’s guested in WWE a few times, and he’s basically indistinguishable from any of the people in that world.

  12. Matthew
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Florida and DeSantis’ relationship with Trump brings out all my worst instincts. After supposedly gutting its public health department for years and brushing off the pandemic for far longer than blue states, Florida suddenly had as much corona virus testing as California. I would like for someone to explain how this was possible without massively preferential treatment but I’m not holding my breath.

  13. GBJames
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


  14. JezGrove
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    The British actor Brian Glover was also a fake wrestler of this sort, although I don’t remember the name he used in the wrestling ring. (As a child, I got dragged along to watch him by my dad when they were in the RSC together.) British readers may well remember Brian as the PE teacher in the Ken Loach film Kes and the voice of the Tetley teabag adverts (“Tetley meks teabags mek tea”).

  15. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Tattoo Parlors and Gypsy Carnivals should be next. Oh, gun shows as well.

  16. Mark R.
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Throw it on the corruption heap that Trump et al have been erecting in earnest. His corruption has spread from the White House to the rest of the world like a virulent virus…

  17. Posted April 15, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    “Fake wrestling deemed by Florida’s government to be an ‘essential service’.”

    I wonder if fake news is also deemed an essential service.

  18. David
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    It hasn’t been necessary to point out that pro wrestling is fake for more than 35 years.

    • Posted April 15, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Your comment has been taken under advisement, and rejected. You may have forgotten that we have readers from all over the world, some of whom may not know about the WWE.

    • JezGrove
      Posted April 15, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Sadly, it’s not limited to the US – fake wrestling has a long history here in the UK, too: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_wrestling_in_the_United_Kingdom

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 15, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Donald Trump’s personal commitment to the god, guns, and anti-abortion positions of his core constituency seems equally as obviously fake, yet it still appears to be accepted as real by the reactionary crowds at his rallies (which seem to have much in common with the crowds at WWE events).

    • Roger
      Posted April 16, 2020 at 4:46 am | Permalink

      I know people who though tit was real 20 years ago and they were adults. America is full of dummies I can assure you.

  19. Posted April 15, 2020 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    One should consider that these incredibly stupid decisions will not mean that the wrestlers and the small army of supporting crew members (who run the cameras, sound, lights, make-up, etc etc.) are not equally stupid. I won’t be surprised if they raise holy hell and call them out.

  20. James Heard
    Posted April 15, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    In fact, the WWE and Fox News have a lot in common. Both are scripted, both are fake representations of their charter, and both are supported by the Trump organization👎

  21. Posted April 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Question: “….this glaring exception to the lockdown needs a good explanation.”

    Answer: Because we can. And we don’t care.

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