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Did WWE Throw Low Key Shade at AEW and Matt Hardy Right Before WrestleMania?

The love story between Otis and Mandy Rose found its big highlight on the second night of WrestleMania when the two finally overcame the evil doings of Dolph Ziggler and Mandy’s former best friend, Sonya Deville. It was a storyline with many twists and turns – with the final one coming just days before the match.

During the last SmackDown before Wrestlemania, WWE’s mysterious hacker revealed surveillance camera footage showing that Sonya Deville had sent Otis the text messages from Mandy’s phone, which led to Otis being late for his Valentine’s date with Mandy. To ensure that Mandy would not find out, she deleted Otis’ reply, commenting, “Delete. Delete.”

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The phrasing sounded oddly familiar: Matt Hardy has been chanting the word “Delete” in a different context since he became ‘Broken’ in Impact Wrestling a few years back. The timing was suspicious as well as Matt had just left WWE for AEW. Was WWE throwing shade at the departing star? Some fans thought so, and for a good reason. The company has a history of ridiculing parting talent. Even names like Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, or the Ultimate Warrior were not exempt from post-WWE low blows. So why would it be any different now?

To be fair, there might have been an element of ribbing involved in the conception of the scene: a practical joke played on the parting Matt Hardy by the producers of the show. If this was indeed the case, it was extremely harmless compared to other ribs that wrestlers and officials have played on each other over the years, and Matt probably took it with a smile or even a hearty laugh. However, there was likely zero malice in the wording. It seems somewhat unlikely that the wording was even really about Matt at all.

This is all that happened here: Sonya Deville verbally reiterated what she was doing so the viewers could follow the scene. They couldn’t see what she was doing, and so she indicated it with a familiar verbal phrase and physical motion.

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Compare Deville’s action with the Valentine’s Day edition of SmackDown, where Otis read out his text message to Mandy while typing it: “Sounds great, Mandy. Winky-face emoji. See you then. Heart emoji.”

Who reads their text messages out loud while typing – including emojis? But the message had to be delivered to the viewer.

With the rise of technology, new methods have had to be invented to communicate things that can’t typically be presented to the audience, such as text messages. Usually, though, television finds ways around this limitation. Otis could have simply summarized Mandy’s text to Tucker. In Sonya’s case, one alternative for WWE would have been just to show the text messages on-screen. They could have explained that the hacker had gotten access to those text messages. So why didn’t they do that? A potential explanation is that on-screen text usually distracts the viewer, or even that such a display wouldn’t mesh with WWE’s presented version of reality.

So, as odd as it may seem, Sonya – and Otis – had to tell the viewers what they were doing. And while it is unnatural, it is one of the oldest tricks in the script.

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Sonya Deville appeared to imitate an iconic WWE Superstar who recently left the company on SmackDown, but was it intentional or just happenstance?

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