Traditionally speaking, the best WWE shows tend to occur maybe once a year when the global grappling behemoth faces massive unforeseen circumstances like weather events, locker room illnesses, Saudi princes temporarily kidnapping half the roster by preventing their plane from departing after a blood money show in Riyadh, and so on. However even by those standards this is going to be a real doozy: WWE officials have just announced that this year’s WrestleMania will take place in a closed sound stage with zero fans in attendance, amid growing action taken in the global battle against coronavirus.
After a protracted consultation period with the city of Tampa in Florida, WWE officials this morning confirmed that WrestleMania 36, originally scheduled to take place at the 66,000-seat Raymond James Stadium, will now take place at the WWE’s Performance Centre training facility in Orlando, with only essential broadcast, production, and talent personnel permitted in the building.
Per the short statement issued a few moments ago, WWE confirmed “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 has already moved several previously scheduled events to its Performance Centre facility, including broadcasts of flagship weekly TV shows RAW and SmackDown, both of which are currently airing without crowds in attendance.
It’s not the first time a WrestleMania has moved venues, it should be noted. In 1991, the company moved WrestleMania VII from its originally planned venue of the near-100,000 seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the adjacent (and much smaller) Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena due to a combination of low ticket sales and security concerns.
This, however, far outstrips that in terms of significance.
It is an unprecedented move that will have wide-ranging ramifications not just for the event itself, but for the company and the industry writ large.
For now, the event is set to be headlined by a WWE Championship match between Brock Lesnar and Drew McIntyre, and a WWE Universal Championship match between Goldberg and Roman Reigns. Adelaide-born phenom Rhea Ripley will also defend her NXT Championship against Charlotte Flair on the show.
The empty-arena WrestleMania 36 is set to air on Monday, April 6th Australian time.Image: WWE