With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to cause sweeping changes all around the world, WWE finally finds itself forced to change its plans for WrestleMania 36.
Public health is obviously the most important issue in this matter, and it was wise for management to close the event to fans.
Unfortunately for WWE, all of this is happening during the most important time of the year for the company.
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The Show of Shows is still scheduled to take place on April 5, but the pay-per-view will now emanate from the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, in front of empty seats.
This development raises a lot of questions about how WrestleMania 36 will be presented and what WWE plans to do about the other events it had scheduled for the same weekend.
For information about the pandemic and precautions to take, please see guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Monday’s Raw, WWE has seven scheduled matches set for WrestleMania 36. This would usually be enough to fill a PPV card, but ‘Mania tends to have up to 10 or more bouts every year.
Certain storylines might end up being put on the backburner for the time being if WWE deems them too important to take place in an empty venue.
Big attractions like Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre and The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles are the kind of matches WWE uses to sell tickets. It wouldn’t be surprising to find one or two of them are being saved for a later date.
The Fiend vs. John Cena will almost certainly take place due to the latter’s schedule, especially since some of his planned projects might be shut down until production can resume safely.
Edge vs. Randy Orton, Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair are also likely to stay on the lineup because they will be able to figure out creative ways to make their contests interesting without a crowd.
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and Women’s Battle Royal have not been mentioned at all and are probably out of the question because getting enough talents to Florida would be difficult under current circumstances.
The next couple of weeks will tell us everything we need to know before April 5, WrestleMania 36.
Counting the two-hour Kickoff show, WrestleMania tends to be between six and seven hours long. It is highly unlikely this year’s event will fill the same amount of time, though.
So now we have to wonder how long the show will be and if WWE will keep it short or try to put on a supersized PPV as usual.
One of the biggest hindrances the company may face is getting enough people to Florida for the event. Airlines are still operating, but some Superstars may not want to risk traveling at a time like this.
Most of the NXT talents live near the Performance Center, so WWE can always use some of them to fill certain spots it had originally planned for Raw and SmackDown Superstars.
If WWE can somehow get the majority of the roster to the venue, we could well end up seeing a five-hour PPV in front of empty chairs. It doesn’t sound like the greatest idea, does it?
WWE issued a statement confirming NXT TakeOver: Tampa and the 2020 Hall of Fame ceremony will not take place during WrestleMania weekend.
What we don’t know is what the company plans to do for the events. Georgia Smith, the daughter of the late British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, took to Twitter and said WWE was hoping to stage the HOF ceremony around SummerSlam on August 23.
This solves one problem but does not tell us what will happen to the matches originally set up for TakeOver. Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix.
NXT specials are not the same as PPVs like WrestleMania. WWE can simply put those matches on a regular upcoming episode of NXT and then build an entirely new card for the next TakeOver event.
All of this is speculation, though. We won’t know what WWE intends to do until it issues another statement.
Postponing WrestleMania 36 was an option but WWE decided to keep the show on April 5, which is an odd choice considering what the event does for the company every year.
WrestleMania is when WWE gets the most mainstream media coverage and the most money in ticket and merchandise sales. None of that will happen now.
With every other sport shut down for the foreseeable future, WWE may see a bump in coverage, but the vast majority of the media is covering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though WrestleMania is only supposed to happen once each year, WWE makes its own rules. There is nothing that says it might not decide to hold a proper ‘Mania PPV later in the year if possible.
For tens of thousands of fans, plans to attend the biggest event of the year have been canceled. WWE may feel like it owes them something to make up for it and a second WrestleMania could be the best option.