WWE programming is no longer available in Russia in any form.
Last week, Russia began an invasion of Ukraine that has been raging on since as Vladimir Putin attempts to take control of the neighboring country’s major cities, causing unfathomable damage and killing and injuring countless civilians in the process. As the attacks continue, the rest of the world attempts to show support and solidarity with Ukraine in whatever way they can, and that now extends to WWE.
WWE issued a statement today revealing WWE programming is no longer available in Russia. WWE had a TV deal with Russian network Match which aired its weekly shows, including Raw, SmackDown, and NXT. That partnership has been dissolved effective immediately. People living in Russia can also no longer access the WWE Network, again, a change that has taken effect as of right now.
The statement issued by WWE is a short one that doesn’t actually make any mention of the conflict in Ukraine, nor does it outline the reason for canceling all of its televisual connections with Russia. “The move eliminates access in Russia to any WWE programming,” the statement reads, highlighting some of the content no longer available in the country as well as pointing out that Russian Network subscribers will no longer be able to watch WrestleMania 38.
Although the statement doesn’t clarify why WWE has made the move, doing so is an incredibly big deal. As Vince McMahon has proved countless times in the past, nothing motivates him more than money. Canceling a TV deal will undoubtedly take money directly out of McMahon’s pocket, as will revoking access to the WWE Network for an entire country’s worth of subscribers.
The move is actually a little surprising, even if other companies have been making similar moves to show their support for Ukraine. WWE has an ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia and while the Middle Eastern nation isn’t currently engaged in an invasion that may well trigger World War 3, the partnership is a controversial one. That WWE is willing to show its support for Ukraine and take a financial blow in order to do that is a refreshing change.