WrestleMania is the latest live event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic. WWE’s biggest show of the year was originally scheduled to take place in Tampa Bay on April 5th, but the company announced today in an official statement that they’re canceling the event and relocating it in the interest of public safety.
The statement reads:
“In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place. However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 pm ET on WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view. Only essential personnel will be on the closed set at WWE’s training facility in Orlando, Florida to produce WrestleMania.”
WWE already moved its March 13th episode of SmackDown and tonight’s (March 16th) episode of Monday Night Raw to their Orlando training center and canceled the live audience. Other shows like Last Week Tonight and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert have done the same to try and run business as usual while clamping down on the spread of the coronavirus.
It’s extremely weird to imagine a WrestleMania without a crowd – unlike traditional athletic events, pro wrestling is essentially performance theater, and so much of what happens in the ring is fueled by the energy of the fans in attendance. Plus, if there’s no crowd, how will Brock Lesnar hear the boos he so richly deserves? But then again, maybe the WWE’s marquee event will have the bizarre, loose energy of a house show and become something truly memorable in the process. I was already planning to stream WrestleMania on April 5, but now I absolutely cannot afford to miss it.