The Impact of COVID-19 on Wrestling - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

The Impact of COVID-19 on Wrestling - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Dallas Allsopp Thursday, March 19, 2020
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Dallas Allsopp, Ethan Neufeld and Bodeen Green will be discussing the potential impact of COVID-19 on the wrestling industry.

COVID-19 has already shut down many sports and social activities, with wrestling also struggling to put on shows. The decision was made this week to relocate WrestleMania 36 to the Performance Center and hold the event without any fans in attendance, which is a decision that has shocked and upset many fans. But was it the right decision? For more information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on wrestling, please read Ethan's article on the topic here.

Question 1: Did WWE make the right decision in relocating WrestleMania 36 to the Performance Center?

ALLSOPP: No. It was not the correct decision in my eyes, as this was the perfect opportunity to give the roster time to heal and recover from their accumulated injuries. Pretty much every single sport around the world has gone into some form of suspended activity, and WWE should have followed suit. The shows are nothing without a rabid crowd, and as such, WWE should postpone all events until we can safely include fans in shows again.

NEUFELD: It’s certainly a decision, and I think it’s hard to call things right or wrong in this unprecedented situation. While many aspects of the COVID-19 virus are still being worked out, we know that it is highly infectious, has a long and variable incubation time, and can range in symptoms from asymptomatic to fatal. Large crowds of people are an ideal place to promote the spread of the virus, as demonstrated in multiple other countries so far. WrestleMania 36 as we know it was going to get shut down, as having crowds of people in any form is just a no go right now. Another issue is that we have no idea how long this situation is going to persist. WWE could reschedule WrestleMania 36, only to have it cancelled again. I think a compromise would be to have a special event at the Performance Center where they can have some of the matches and wrap up storylines they feel they need to finish, but they just don’t call it WrestleMania 36. WrestleMania is a spectacle, one with a huge crowd. This won’t be WrestleMania as we know it.

GREEN: While I definitely think that WrestleMania 36 should not have taken place, the idea of moving into the Performance Center seems like the wrong decision. Whilst I understand the fact that nobody knows when the COVID-19 epidemic will stop, I feel as if WrestleMania 36 should have been postponed. Having it at an empty arena ruins the spectacle of it all, and makes what should be big moments feel like nothing. In the end, the decision to not have WrestleMania 36 in Tampa Bay is the correct one.

Question 2: Should wrestling as an industry follow other sports worldwide and put a suspension of activities in place?

NEUFELD: There are ways to handle this intelligently whilst still putting on a product. You can test performers to see if anyone is a carrier, and give them a sabbatical if they are. For performers who are cleared, they could continue to perform in these empty arena shows, but they could consider having other performers in the crowd which could be interesting, whilst making the shows feel less awkward. I think though that an alternate, and more reasonable option, is to just let everyone have a break. They’re not going to be able to do anything mindblowingly awesome, so just take a financial hit of sorts and give everyone some much needed time off. It’s the best decision for public health ultimately, and might buy them some good PR.

GREEN: At a time like this, it should be a choice for the performers and staff if they still want to work, with no penalty for those who don't. I still feel as if WWE can produce their weekly shows, even if it means doing it in a empty arena for every show. These sows are especially important, as for 2 or 3 hours we can forget about the world around us and just focus on the people in the ring. However, as previously stated, the health and well-being of the superstars, staff and families involved should be the first priority before deciding to keep producing content.

ALLSOPP: Yes, because the very nature of wrestling makes it a hotbed for COVID-19. Fans and wrestlers being in such close proximity to each other heightens the risks, which is especially prevalent with small arenas used by indie promotions. The industry as a whole would benefit from a period of time to allow wrestlers to heal and freshen up their characters, which would make for a silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud.

Question 3: If WWE was to close for a period of months due to COVID-19, do you feel the company would benefit, or will the lack of shows affect their already dwindling fan base?

GREEN: I feel like there would be a different reaction depending on when WWE decided to have a break. If WWE were to have a break now, there is a good chance they will lose numbers. However, if WWE managed to keep producing their upcoming weekly shows, then I feel WWE can have that break after WrestleMania 36. A break after WrestleMania 36 can maybe give the company a sense of a new beginning, keeping fans excited and perhaps even benefiting them in the long run by not having such a jumbled post WrestleMania 36 period.

ALLSOPP: I feel WWE would benefit from a break, as fans would feel rejuvenated in their interest in the product. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, which would definitely be the case for WWE fans. Roman Reigns would be cheered, The Fiend would feel fresh again, and the midcard would feel interesting once more. Everyone would have an opportunity to press a reset button and rejuvenate their character, whilst fans would have their cravings for wrestling satiated by the biggest company in the industry. Yes, some fans will abandon the product, but in such dark times, WWE may act as a comfort for current and lapsed fans.

NEUFELD: As above, there are pros and cons. Shutting down would give everyone a much needed break, allowing performers to heal up. They could have writer’s / creative meetings remotely and use the time to come up with competent plots. They could re-assess their rosters and decide who they can build up, and where the fat could be trimmed. Considering the rest of the industry is slowing to a halt, I don’t think WWE will be uniquely disadvantaged by not performing. In fact, it could be an example of absence makes the heart grow fonder. If WWE takes a sabbatical and they come back with the same stale stuff, it’ll be a disaster as they’ll lose people in droves.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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AUTHOR OF THIS POST: DALLAS ALLSOPP

Dallas Allsopp is a writer with two main interests, Pokemon and wrestling. He has been writing for a few years for his own personal blogs and is now taking his passion for wrestling and putting it into his writing. You can follow him on Facebook.

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