Mandy Rose (Amanda Rose Saccomanno) has been all over the news after recently being released from WWE. Rose was the queen of NXT during its greatest slump, ruling for over 400 days as their Women’s Champion, but that came to an abrupt end in an impromptu match against Roxanne Perez. Though the circumstances of her leaving may bring about some different opinions, it is clear that the real losers in this situation were the fans.
This is a performer that many have seen work her way up from appearing on Tough Enough back in 2015 – where she won second place but was still offered a contract – and make it through her first run in developmental to debut on RAW. From the Absolution faction to Fire and Desire, and a feud with her longtime associate, Sonya Deville, Rose learned and improved in the ring as well as an entertainer. Whether it was teaming up with Dana Brooke or one of the romance storylines she was placed in, the Golden Goddess did the best with what she was offered. In the summer of 2021, Rose found herself back in NXT, forming a new group with Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne known as Toxic Attraction.
Her reign was dominant and Toxic Attraction soared into prominence as the biggest heels of the women’s division. Rose was always seen as the attractive diva, the sexualized performer, with her gimmick and marketability being based on her appearance, so she embraced that and showed what else she could offer as well. Rose was doing solid work and many took notice, especially those backstage. WWE even encouraged the other women wrestlers to take some cues from her, but it all came crashing down in the end.
Rose helped keep NXT somewhat interesting since her arrival and elevated everyone she worked with. Often, her feuds were the more dominant storylines and her lengthy possession of the title made it feel more important. The brand was better off for her being there, but the champion’s path ended unceremoniously on the December 13 installment, not with a bang, like having Toxic Attraction turn on her and beat the losing goddess down at the end, but a whimper, as Rose stared off in disbelief over the clean finish. It felt outrageous to watch it end like that and fueled suspicions that Rose’s standing in the company had changed for the worse.
There will be no chance to regain that title anytime soon, however, no storyline or redemption to show how a queen recovers from defeat, as Saccomanno was released. Somehow, the show already feels emptier without her, while fans wait to see if her absence is even properly addressed. WWE always moves on, but it’s the viewers who were tuning in (even if only in part) for her that are going to notice the most and be let down.
Much of the evidence points to the idea that Rose knew her actions of posting more extreme sexualized content on her FanTime site could get her in trouble and cost the superstar her job, but many think that firing her may have been an unnecessary measure. There were those that believe Rose was warned and chose the money she was making through her subscription service over continuing with WWE, but newer reports claim that Saccomanno wasn’t given a chance to remove or tone down the materials. This seems unfair and typical of WWE’s usual scorched Earth policies.
Some believe the concern wasn’t as much with what she was posting behind the paywall, but that these images and videos were being leaked out in many places online. However, looking at some events in the past with former superstars like Chyna leaves many fans wondering if it was the nature of the content passing a level they were personally uncomfortable with. It’s understandable that the materials were a concern, but the reaction may have been too much and shown that they were too willing to discard Rose immediately.
“[Head Trainer] Matt Bloom brought to [SVP of Talent Development Creative] Shawn Michaels, told him what some of the stuff that she’s been putting on her subscription service is, and told Shawn what was there,” reported Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. “Shawn’s immediate thing was, ‘We’ve got to get the title off of her immediately.’ Switched around the whole show, got the title off of her.”
It’s easy to say that Bloom was just doing his job, trying to help the company stay in front of potential issues, but this quote about Michaels is a bit annoying for a few reasons. Considering everyone who fans would think might have Rose’s back, or at least want to try and understand her side of the situation, Michaels was high up on the list. He himself appeared in the pages of Playgirl (Oct. 1996) and many other stars found themselves in Playboy, but that was back in the Attitude Era.
Arguably, that’s not the same type of content, but it was clearly a big deal for the time. There were fans that enjoyed the racier side of WWE’s headliners being free to expose themselves, while the period left its influence on the stars of this generation also. Rose herself even channeled Michael’s centerfold shot when she somewhat recreated the pose after winning the NXT UK Women’s Championship and unifying the titles. This is also an image that WWE even shared and promoted on the NXT Instagram account.
Without decrying this as nothing but hypocrisy, it is hard to ignore that WWE seems to be more forgiving on substance abuse and minor criminal activities than it does something of a sexual nature that might upset networks and advertisers – because that is where the real money is. The company is a business first and Rose being on their product means that they are associated with her, so it makes sense WWE might feel threatened by this and decide to release her. It’s their right, but it doesn’t mean it was the right call, and once again shows that not all wrestlers are treated equally when these things happen.
This is another example of WWE taking advantage of classifying their wrestlers as independent contract workers when it suits them and treating them more like direct employees when it comes to their personal lives or extracurricular activities, similar to the company attempting to control their third-party dealings for a while.
Without more information, it looks like the company has several double standards, or at least only understands how to use extreme measures when anything threatens its bottom line. Rose did exactly what they wanted her to, she became a dominant sex symbol, she improved in the ring as well as on the microphone, and it was incredible watching her takeover of NXT. If they couldn’t work something out with her, Rose at least deserved better on her way out. Why not at least write her off, similar to how they did Matt Riddle recently? Instead, the fans are left unsatisfied and reminded not to get too invested in anyone, because something can always happen there.
If there’s one thing that you people should have learned this past year, it’s to put some damn respect on my name!
Amanda Rose Saccomanno will be fine, financially she is reported to be making more than her former WWE contract (which brings up other questions about what women and developmental stars are paid in the company) and if she decides to step into another ring, Rose will conquer that as well. Many fans on social media have come out to condemn WWE for firing her and show their support for Rose.
The hope here is that Mandy Rose, the character we’ve come to respect, will live again. That fans will see a reunion of Toxic Attraction, but more importantly, for the biggest wrestling company in the world to evaluate how they handle their talent and situations like these – especially when it involves a little sexuality and a lot of money.