WOW Returning (Again) With Controversy
WOW- Women of Wrestling had a press conference yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Circa Resort and Casino. WOW owner and executive producer Jeanie Buss, WOW founder and executive producer David McLane, and ViacomCBS President of Global Distribution Dan Cohen were the executives in attendance.
They announced a return to television which won’t happen until September 2022. It will air on the weekends on ViacomCBS affiliates in syndication. (I would guess either on Saturday mornings or in the block after the late local news on CBS and/or CW stations on Saturday and Sunday nights).
The wrestlers at the event were WOW Champion The Beast, Tessa Blanchard, Alex Gracia, Killa Kate, Danni Bee, Charity Kane, Imo Akpan and Briana Montez.
AJ Mendez (formerly AJ Lee) was introduced as a surprise. She will be yet another executive producer of the show and part of the broadcast team as the color commentator. She retired from pro wrestling as a wrestler due to neck and spine injuries. Her last matches took place in WWE back in 2015.
This was a strange press conference in a few ways. Not even WOW’s own social media and website announced a single thing about it prior to it. As of this writing, the WOW Facebook page hasn’t even posted any news and content from it. Their Twitter page has the new logo and some video clips which were Tweeted out yesterday evening, but there was no mention about a media event even in the hours leading up to it.
Apparently none of the pro wrestling media were given an invitation to be part of it. “Wrestling… with Demons” never received any information. I checked with four of the major pro wrestling media websites who told me that they were not invited either. A couple of them didn’t even know it took place until they were sent information about it from fans after it happened.
“Wrestling… with Demons” had great experiences covering WOW during their entire run on AXS TV. We would get advanced copies of the episodes so we could write the results at our leisure with the promise that we wouldn’t post them until after the show aired on AXS TV on the east coast each week.
Entertainment Tonight did an exclusive interview with Jeanie Buss, Tessa Blanchard, and The Beast yesterday surrounding the press conference for the ET website and syndicated ET television broadcast. It was the usual pandering and sycophant fluff interview style that ET always does. Buss said the same exact stuff that she did a couple of years ago during the AXS TV/WOW press conference. She said WOW was a “passion project” for her and she wants to give women the opportunity to shine. Blanchard looked very subdued. She and The Beast will continue their feud over the WOW Title by the way things were teased during the interview and photo ops. The Beast defeated her for the WOW Title on November 23, 2019, which was the last episode to air on AXS TV, but the match was actually taped in May 2019. (For the record, Entertainment Tonight is owned by a division of ViacomCBS).
WOW and New Japan Pro Wrestling were sabotaged by Impact Wrestling when Impact’s parent company Anthem Sports and Entertainment bought AXS TV in September 2019. Anthem canceled all of the other pro wrestling off of the network at the end of 2019 to exclusively favor Impact’s television show. The COVID virus pandemic then hit the world in 2020. Live events were shut down for several months in California and that stopped WOW from being able to hold more TV tapings.
A lot can happen between now and late 2022, especially during a virus pandemic. David McLane has had a series of roadblocks and inconsistencies with his various women’s pro wrestling projects going back to the late 1980s. It’s anyone’s guess how long this version of WOW will last this time.
WOW continuing to book Blanchard for this relaunch is a controversial decision. She has been laying low since the middle of last year after earning the reputation of being a terror in a few locker rooms around the world throughout her career. Her last match to date was on 9/12/20 for Warrior Wrestling in Illinois in a loss of their women’s title to Kylie Rae.
In early 2020, the news of Blanchard’s altercation with La Rosa Negra during a 2017 tour with STARDOM resurfaced. The incident happened in the apartment complex where STARDOM has their foreign talent stay. Blanchard allegedly kept harassing Negra and then called her the “n-word” and spit on her. Negra stuck up for herself in return and punched her. The situation got them and a couple of others on the tour banned from future bookings in STARDOM. Blanchard released statements and did interviews in 2020 vehemently denying the use of the “n-word” but never specifically denied that there was a physical altercation.
In June 2020, Blanchard was fired by Impact Wrestling after refusing to attend TV events to drop the Impact Wrestling World Title and holding them up for more money in a failed power play. She was the champion at the time after defeating Sami Callihan in January 2020. The title became vacant after her termination and it was won by Eddie Edwards in July 2020 in a 4-Way Match over Ace Austin, Trey Miguel, Rich Swann, and Eric Young.
WOW released a teaser trailer for their September 2022 return and the whole thing features Blanchard exclusively again like they did with her in the AXS TV days. It looks like they will continue to push her as the face of the company despite the heat on her.
Everything came across like the pro wrestling media wasn’t invited yesterday to shield everyone from tougher questions and for WOW to look more mainstream and credible in the media with the Entertainment Tonight coverage. It will air on ET’s syndicated TV show today but the full interview with Buss, Blanchard, and The Beast is available now on ET Online.
Update: W.W.D. was informed by a few women wrestlers today that they have been blocked on Twitter by WOW for speaking out against Tessa Blanchard and the decision to still book her.