Wrestling Doctor's Notes - COVID-19 and WrestleMania Weekend | Smark Out Moment

Wrestling Doctor's Notes - COVID-19 and WrestleMania Weekend

Posted by Ethan Neufeld Thursday, March 12, 2020
Welcome to another edition of Smark Out Moment WRESTLING DOCTOR'S NOTES where we discuss medical issues that are either being reported in the wrestling world or generally afflict wrestlers. As always, please review the disclaimer at the bottom of the article.

Herein I will discuss/summarize the issues currently surrounding the status of WrestleMania weekend in Tampa Bay, Florida with regards to the international health crisis that is COVID-19.

wrestler medical reports WWE superstars injuries


You would have to be living in the Marianas Trench to not have heard the terms "coronavirus" or "COVID" at this point. There is a lot of information out there about this, and lots of information is not necessarily a good thing in the modern digital information age. It would be completely irresponsible of me to make a blanket statement about how much you should be concerned. As much as we criticize government establishments in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a remarkable establishment and one that we should all be very proud of. The CDC consistently puts out up to date and evidenced based information about any current disease topic, and this is not an exception. If you have any questions about this current coronavirus or the COVID-19 disease, please refer to their excellent website here.

3D model of the new coronavirus.
3D model of the new coronavirus. Image courtesy of the CDC.
That being said, a BRIEF summary. There has been an outbreak of a new virus of the coronavirus family that began in China in late 2019. It is formally named SARS-CoV-2. The virus is predominantly respiratory in terms of its spread pattern and symptoms. It likely originated from an animal source but has mutated/evolved to be able to spread human to human. It has since spread to a tremendous number of countries (80+ at the time of this article) in almost every continent. COVID-19 is the name of the respiratory disease caused by this virus.

You may recall other recent viral outbreaks like the prior SARS coronavirus and MERS which are similar respiratory viruses that originated from animals but then became able to spread from human to human. Those viruses produced very severe symptoms with a relatively rapid onset and with a high mortality rate. What is different about this virus is that the death rate is relatively low (2%, but that's pretty significant all things considered) but it most commonly produces only mild symptoms with some people being essentially symptom free. Furthermore, it has a longer incubation period - the time period during which you could be shedding the virus to other people but not be manifesting symptoms. This combination is practically tailor-made to spread rapidly throughout the population and why it has been difficult to pin down. About 1/6 people will have severe symptoms potentially requiring hospitalization. The 2% death rate that is referenced is heavily weighted towards the older population and those with underlying chronic health conditions. So young, healthy people can spread the disease rapidly without even knowing it while the older and more sickly population takes the hit. Again, this is VERY broad strokes here. Please review the CDC's website for comprehensive and accurate information.

What's Being Done?

A lot of stuff. But nobody is really sure if it's helping.

Countries like China have placed strict bans on people even leaving their houses in specific areas to prevent further spread of the virus. Other countries have issued varying degrees of population control with limited success. Many have engaged in public information campaigns to educate people about how to prevent spread of the disease, some way more awesome than others.

In the U.S. there has been a nationwide trend in cancellations of any event that would lead to a conglomeration of people. Concerts, professional meetings, and other performances are being cancelled or rescheduled almost as a rule at this point. Some cities and states have even placed a ban on gatherings of people over specific numbers backed by local legislation with police enforcement. All of this is with the intention of trying to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 cases.

Viruses are basically balls of genetic information that have sole purpose of replicating themselves. Think about the Borg in Star Trek, its almost a perfect comparison. They exist to replicate at the cost of all other life, that's what viruses do. Respiratory viruses are particularly clever because they utilize a process that all humans need to do to survive - breath - and they have moisture from our respiratory secretions and saliva to keep them viable outside of the body. So any situation where a lot of people are all crammed together in one place is the ideal environment for a respiratory virus to go nuts. Everyone breathing, coughing, sneezing, salivating, in a contained place leads to rapid spread. You can see why isolating people to their homes is an attractive measure to take for infection control in this situation.

The Borg are a near perfect analogy to viruses.
We are COVID-19. We will ... make you cough a lot. Image courtesy of the Den of Geek.

What's Going On With WrestleMania?

As of the time of this article, the local government of Tampa Bay is meeting at noon on Thursday 3/12 to determine the action plan for the many major events that will be occurring in Tampa Bay in the near future. This would almost certainly include WrestleMania, which is scheduled to be held on April 5th at James Stadium in Tampa Bay.

At the moment, lots of decisions are being made by WWE based around the COVID-19 crisis. WWE talent has been prohibited from physical contact with fans at events which would have a huge affect on the events of WrestleMania weekend. Several WWE stars have made public statements on the situation including this excellent one by the monster among men. The next SmackDown episode that was originally scheduled for 3/13/20 in Detroit has been moved to the WWE Performance Center, another decision based around the COVID-19 crisis and the very real possibility that the event would be cancelled entirely anyway.

Braun Strowman gets props for promoting hand hygiene to prevent disease spread.
WASH. THESE. HANDS! Image courtesy of prowrestlingnews.com.
While we can't say for sure what will happen it is VERY likely that the local government will follow the trend of the rest of the nation and prohibit any events that have large crowds of people, including WrestleMania. Sadly, this will be the best thing to do from a public health perspective.

What Will the Future Be for WrestleMania and Wrestling In General?

Things are very up in the air at this time. We still don't have a full grasp on the nature of this virus and we actually don't have an accurate idea of how far into the U.S. population its even spread at this point. The U.S. is a country in which it will be very difficult to implement wide reaching strict policies that would completely prevent spread of the virus, so some might see measures like cancelling large events as pointless. But large gatherings of people are a low-hanging fruit that will at least prevent one-time large viral spreading events, and that could save a lot of lives in the long run.

It's quite possible that wrestling events greater than a certain number of people in attendance will be prohibited for the foreseeable future along with any other sporting or performance event. When will this come into effect? How long will it last? Will SARS-CoV-2 be with us forever? It's all still up in the air. But hey, the whole WrestleMania 36 card was up in the air anyway right? Maybe this will buy WWE the time to actually put a good build together for a solid card. Maybe.

Disclaimer: These articles are general discussions about medical topics/diagnoses. As we are not personally interacting with wrestlers and do not have intimate knowledge of their maladies, we cannot comment specifically on their medical courses unless information has been previously freely reported. These articles reference wrestlers as examples based on what is either reported by them or their companies, but what is said beyond that is only speculation based on the general course of a given diagnosis. Any information here should not be used for self-diagnosis. If you are experiencing medical issues yourself, I advise you to see a licensed physician for a full evaluation.


Ethan Neufeld is a snarky but avid wrestling fan, an amateur chef, an exhausted dad, and nerd to the core. He is also a board certified neuroradiologist and spine interventionist who contributes to the sciencey/medical stuff the occasionally leaks into the professional wrestling world. If you fancy, you can follow him on Twitter.


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