Without an audience in attendance, WWE WrestleMania 36 at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, simply won’t be the same spectacle it normally is. However, the decision to turn it into a two-day extravaganza on April 4 and 5 with three-time Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski hosting is bound to lift the spirits of fans who weren’t sold on the idea of the show’s move from its original venue.
WWE also announced that WrestleMania 36 will take place in multiple locations over the two nights. Each one will be a closed set featuring only essential personnel.
In short, this will be an unprecedented event for a number of reasons. While emanating from a large venue such as Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, would be ideal for the Show of Shows, the company deserves credit for doing the best it can to make the most of an unfortunate situation.
WWE’s announcement Monday that WrestleMania 36 would be moving from Tampa to Orlando with no live crowd was met with a backlash from some fans who were hoping it would be postponed for later in the year.
However, it’s impossible to predict when things will be back to normal. Putting storylines on hold while WWE seeks a solution was a possibility, albeit an unlikely one given the way WWE runs its shows.
With WrestleMania so soon, the promotion might as well go ahead with the event, assuming it is allowed to by that point. The circumstances weren’t what fans wanted or expected, but spreading what should be a stacked card over two days and getting creative with it was a bold yet brilliant move.
For years, WrestleMania has been criticized for being far too long and for ending after midnight on the East Coast (let alone elsewhere in the world). With all the festivities and events WWE typically runs over WrestleMania weekend, airing it on different days never seemed to be something the company was interested in doing.
Despite that format working wonders for New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom in recent years, WWE was hesitant to follow in the the rival promotion’s footsteps because of how it broke away from tradition.
It’s a different ballgame this year, and something needed to be done to keep WrestleMania special. The news it will transpire over two days doesn’t make up for ‘Mania being held at the PC, but it could be a major positive in the long run.
If all goes well on April 4 and 5, there is a chance WrestleMania could become a two-day event, which has its fair share of advantages.
WWE hasn’t had anything less than 10-match card for ‘Mania in nearly five years. With the Raw and SmackDown rosters constantly growing, there is virtually no chance the event will be that short again.
The smartest option is to embrace its abundance of Superstars to ensure every match receives an ample amount of time and, more importantly, to prevent the fans in attendance at future events and those watching at home from getting worn out too quickly.
There’s no telling what WWE has in mind as far as the “multiple locations” are concerned, but it will obviously break up the monotony of everything occurring at the PC. Additionally, the always-electric Gronkowski serving as the host for the festivities will make matters even more interesting.
Gronk’s WWE signing was revealed on the previous edition of SmackDown, and he has already been announced to appear on Friday’s episode. Needless to say, it’s way too early for him to be having his first official match, but hosting an event of WrestleMania’s caliber is the perfect role for him.
That leaves the lineup for WrestleMania to deliver. On paper, there are several ‘Mania matches that won’t mean as much without anyone there, but perhaps WWE takes a page out of AEW’s playbook and puts other Superstars in the crowd so it isn’t completely quiet.
From a safety standpoint, splitting the card in two could also help to ensure fewer roster members are in one place.
If nothing else, WWE is adamant about entertaining the masses at a time when the world could desperately use an escape from reality, and that much should be commended.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.