WWE French-language commentator Pat Laprade noted during a recent episode of the Les anti-pods de la Lutte podcast and revealed that Owens raised concerns with the WWE Chairman & CEO at the TV tapings held on Friday, July 3 at the Performance Center. This reportedly led to the mandatory mask policy, and the fines for not wearing masks while in the building.
Owens reportedly told McMahon that he was not comfortable with the lack of masks being worn by people in the Performance Center, and people being too close to each other. Owens also told McMahon that he was going home, apparently due to COVID-19 concerns. Vince then asked Owens what he wanted him to do, and Owens allegedly responded by saying Vince is the only person that the WWE crew will listen to.
It was also said that Vince asked Owens if instituting a mask policy with fans would work. Owens then said that he once swore on SmackDown, was fined and never did it again, with the idea that the fine was a deterrent. Vince apparently listened and took action as Owens stayed to work the tapings after noticing that people were starting to wear masks and practice better social distancing.
Friday's RAW tapings were for tonight's episode, which will see Owens take on Seth Rollins in singles action.
As we've noted, WWE is now issuing $500 fines for not wearing masks, unless a person is performing in front of the camera. The second offense reportedly brings a fine of $1,000.
It was reported back in June that Owens skipped a set of TV tapings after a developmental talent tested positive for the coronavirus. Owens' wife's grandfather had passed away from the virus a few weeks before. Owens would later post a heartfelt message about the COVID-19 pandemic, which you can see at this link.
WWE officials told their employees a few months ago that they did not have to work during the pandemic if they didn't feel comfortable doing so, and that the decision would not be held against them in the future. Owens appeared on WWE's The Bump in late June and talked about how the company reacted to his decision to miss the tapings in June.
"Due to the circumstances that happened last week with the positive coronavirus test, I just thought it was wiser for me to stay with my family," Owens said. " I told the people in charge my decision, and they were like, 'Yeah, ok.' I think they know that once I make my mind up on something, that's the way it's going to be. They were respectful of my decision. I'm glad I did it because I think this was the best decision for me to do for my family."
(H/T to POST Wrestling)
Brie Coder contributed to this article.