It’s been just over a week since WWE Network moved into Peacock’s streaming service, but some wrestling fans are already unhappy with NBCUniversal for removing a few segments from WWE’s past that were objectively in poor taste.
Viewers have noticed that the version of WrestleMania 6 on Peacock no longer includes an interview and match where one side of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s body was painted black. Another short clip where WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon’s on-screen character used a racist term has been completely cut from Survivor Series 2005.
WWE, particularly in the late ‘90s when the “Attitude Era” made pro wrestling a cultural phenomenon, aired plenty of questionable segments that only come off worse when viewed through a 2021 lens. Some were plainly offensive, openly racist, and should never have happened at the time. Others were downright bizarre.
If you think you’re having a bad day, just remember there’s an NBC intern scrolling through WWE’s entire video library, editing out offensive content for the Peacock Network, who is yet to come across Mae Young giving birth to a hand for the first time...— Wrestling Travel (@WrestlingTravel) March 25, 2021
Some wrestlers are having fun with the news:
Pretty sure none of my dads WWF promos are making it to Peacock— Brian Pillman Jr. (@FlyinBrianJr) March 25, 2021
Hey #Peacock if you wanted to edit out any of my dancing gimmick from 2003, that’d be okay.— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) March 26, 2021
On the WWE Network, these shows were all available in their original form without any obvious cuts or censorship. Rather than delete history, fans have suggested that Peacock should go the same route as Disney Plus and show a disclaimer before programming that’s particularly objectionable.
That doesn’t seem to be the approach Peacock is taking. According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBCUniversal is reviewing the entire WWE video library that it gained from the WWE Network deal. This partially explains why only a portion of WWE pay-per-views and past shows are available to stream as of right now; Peacock has said it aims to have the whole vault on its service by late August. WWE is being made aware of any changes and edits, the report says. The Verge has reached out to both Peacock and WWE for more details and context on how the former plans to approach editing WWE content.
The standalone WWE Network service is due to shut down in only a matter of days for customers in the United States: it goes offline April 4th. After that, Peacock will be the lone destination with all of this professional wrestling history. Outside the US, the WWE Network will remain operational, and this has led some fans to seek out VPN options to maintain access to the service they’re familiar with, and one that preserves WWE’s past just as it happened — even the awful bits.