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    Friday, June 5, 2020

    The Curious Case of Drake Maverick

    I have avoided watching WWE products ever since that fateful day that most of us refer to as Black Wednesday—when a large number of WWE employees were either laid off or furloughed. It didn't sit right with a lot of wrestling fans everywhere especially during this delicate situation we're all in. As an employee myself, something just feels off when a multi-billion dollar company proudly announces their importance in the economy and gets support from the local government, then suddenly lets go of people who they implied as part of the "essential services."

    No, I'm not here to nag about the many other red flags in the company. I feel that's a story for another time. However, I am here to write about something that I feel strongly for and that's the apparent rehiring of one Drake Maverick.

    When the first wave of layoffs was announced, it was Maverick's name who caught my eye the most. Days after being announced as a competitor for the interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship, the man was caught off-guard with the news that he was fired from his dream WWE job. That in itself wasn't really the kick to the nuts. It was the fact that after being let go by the company, he was still expected to fulfill his duty and perform a few more matches during this dangerous pandemic.

    It isn't even the main concern of performers not having healthcare. The takeaway was that he was being asked to risk his health and safety to fly to the Performance Center days after being fired to perform tasks that could put him into more risk knowing full well that he was already released from his contract. If that isn't considered loyalty and dedication, then I don't know what it is.

    As I scrolled through Twitter to read more about the people who were released, it was Drake Maverick's emotional video which really hit hard. Here was a guy literally crying because he loves his job so much. He's a guy who isn't a main eventer yet was a staple on our TV screens for the past year because of his long-standing feud with R-Truth for the 24/7 Championship. If you're not too convinced of how touching his promo was, then it's time to rewatch it again.

    Imagine my surprise yesterday when I found the Smark Henry crew talking about Maverick reaching the finals of the tournament and actually getting rehired. In a way, I'm both confused and elated because: (a) we were all brought in to invest in someone losing his job only to feel played because it was turned into a storyline but; (b) the guy actually got his job back because of the support he received from everybody.

    I mean, sure, it's WWE. They've got a tendency to capitalize on things that will garner fan support and then they drop the ball soon afterward. Maybe they wanted the brownie points considering all the negative press surrounding the brand right now. But then at the back of your mind, you start to wonder, how are they going to mess this up? 

    Remember Zack Ryder's very short singles titles runs for both the Intercontinental and United States Championships? Massive fan support forced WWE to utilize Ryder's popularity in 2011 and then they just as quickly kicked him back towards jobber status as easily. Poor Zack (who by the way was also let go sometime after the first wave of releases) had similar qualities as Maverick—he was dependable, he was over, but he wasn't a top dog.

    That's why this rehiring worries me. How long will it take until they pull Drake's dreams from under the rug? We could see Drake become prominent on NXT TV for a bit but am I optimistic about his chances of doing anything big? Don't get me wrong, I'm all up for him keeping his job. But the pessimist in me thinks it's a band-aid that WWE is going to rip off when the backlash dies down.

    But if you think about all of this, one positive thing does stick out. At some point, WWE responded to the outlying reactions from the WWE Universe and listened to the fans. That's actually a trend that I wish could continue. I'm not saying that the fans are always right. But, if the company actually cared about the fanbase and the workers, they would actually give second thoughts before making heavy decisions.

    Do I want WWE to rehire all the workers they let go? Not necessarily, but it does make sense for them to reconsider some of the decisions they've made. Just look at recent hiree Rob Gronkowski who seems to have left the company with little to no fanfare and minimal contribution. I'm not saying Gronk should've been fired instead of someone like Heath Slater or Rusev or (as previously mentioned) Zack Ryder, but again, maybe it's an open suggestion to look at the people who have stuck it out with the company and have been passionate about the business for the longest time.

    In the end, WWE isn't the only wrestling company around, but it's hard to deny that they're the top dog in the industry. And that's also probably the strongest case there is—that they're still doing well even after everything that's happening. If they're still making money after all of this, and they're still trying to sign or rehire Superstars just to keep them away from their competitors, then why did they even release some of these names in the first place?

    The most important takeaway after all of this is the importance of being vocal. To whoever thinks that expressing our opinions doesn't matter, this is proof that, on some level, our voices can help bring change. In today's current state where opinions are frowned upon and voices are being silenced, I know there's a light somewhere out there showing us that if people can unite or support each other, good things can actually happen.

    Congratulations, Drake Maverick. You may not have won your NXT Cruiserweight Championship, but you have earned a spot in my heart for being passionate about this business. I sincerely hope you succeed in this NXT run. Regardless of what I think of the company now, I hope you continue showing everybody what talents you have and make everybody a believer in you and all the underdogs out there.

    Photos and videos from WWE


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your master NXT reviewer at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) while he pursues his musical career courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxRocks). You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE2K19 (or any PS4) skills. When not being a smark, he lives his life as an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.
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    Item Reviewed: The Curious Case of Drake Maverick Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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