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

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

Posted by Dallas Allsopp Thursday, July 2, 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, Bodeen Green and Tony Mango will be discussing the current impact of COVID-19 on the wrestling industry.

COVID-19 has been indiscriminate in the way it infects people, with the wrestling industry also falling victim to the adverse effects of the virus. Fans are no longer allowed inside arenas, whilst some companies have even closed down operations. WWE, AEW and Impact Wrestling have all adapted how they present their product, all to mixed results. Have WWE addressed the issue of COVID-19 well? Who has been impacted the most? And has the act of watching wrestling been changed in any significant manner?

Question 1: With the recent outbreak of positive tests for WWE personnel, should WWE close for a while? Do you feel they have addressed the issue of COVID-19 in the best possible way?

ALLSOPP: As selfish as it is, I really want WWE to close up shop for at least a few weeks so everyone involved in the company can spend time away from the WWE Performance Center. COVID-19 is still a dangerous prospect, therefore the recent outbreak of positive tests means that either WWE or their personnel are not being vigilant enough. Precautions have been put in place such as the belated use of masks and glass screens, but in order to get fully on top of the pandemic they need some time to close and regroup.

GREEN: To me, there is no best way to continue a public service such as pro wrestling. No matter how many precautions you take, there will always be a small chance of a disaster happening. Whilst WWE have done a great job in making us forget about what is happening around us for 6 or so hours a week, some flaws have been evident in their handling of the virus. When it comes to the decision to close down or continue their programming, I honestly don't know what they should do, as only WWE know the full severity of the situation. I feel like if they were to shut down it would only be for a few weeks, with more tapings taking place in a shorter period of time.

MANGO: It's hard to take my personal needs out of the equation. If WWE were to shut down entirely, I'd be losing lots of money, so I have to want them to continue out of my own selfish needs. But if this weren't something tied to my finances, I'd be advocating for them to shut down 100%. Then again, let's not fool ourselves into thinking WWE being more responsible would suddenly fix the pandemic at large. Everyone needs to work together for this to get better. If there are thousands, if not millions of people who are ruining it for everyone else by being reckless, it won't matter what WWE is doing. They'll just lose out on all their revenue, ruin their own company and be sitting there waiting for the world to stop acting childish the same amount of time as they are now. All in all, they shouldn't shut down, but they damn sure could do better in helping prevent being part of the problem, as I think they're being too flippant and irresponsible about that in their own borders.

Question 2: A number of companies have had to shut down or reduce their operations as a result of COVID-19. Which company do you feel has been impacted the most? Has their absence been felt by the wider fan base?

GREEN: Whilst it's easy to see how well known independent companies such as EVOLVE, Progress and Ring of Honor have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 virus, a mention has to go out for the smaller and lesser known independent companies out there, especially those situated in a location that has been heavily affected by the virus.

MANGO: The indies are, I'm sure, ruined beyond repair for most of the companies. A lot of those feds likely go the equivalent of paycheck to paycheck to keep themselves operating, so this is likely going to just be a worldwide cancellation of most of those groups. In some ways, it'll all bounce back at some point, eventually, but that doesn't mean much in the now. As long as there are people wanting to train to be wrestlers and small companies wanting to train those people, as well as indie groups gathering to put on small shows, the names of the businesses may change, but they'll pop back up.

ALLSOPP: For me, it has to be EVOLVE. They are reportedly finished as a company, with WWE heavily rumoured to have purchased their assets. It is likely they would have continued to operate had COVID-19 not been an issue, therefore they are the biggest casualty.

Question 3: Has 3 months of watching wrestling without a crowd affected the way you enjoy a match? Can you envision a wrestling show taking place with a live crowd during the second part of 2020?

MANGO: I'm struggling. I've been struggling for a while anyway, but this is making it significantly harder. It just doesn't feel like I'm watching professional wrestling. It feels like I'm doing more work as opposed to watching something for entertainment purposes. Basically, think of it like if I were a movie critic and I went from watching films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I love, to watching fan made music compilation videos on YouTube. The subject material is the same and there's effort put into it, but it's not got the same payout and value for me. I really want to see people return to arenas to help boost the product's watchability, but, naturally, not at the expense of keeping the world unsafe. There are bigger things than pro wrestling.

ALLSOPP: I no longer feel as excited for a match as I previously was, as it helps to have the live reactions of the fans to help invest me in matches where I would otherwise be uninvested. I still look forward to the matches of my favourite stars, however it is hard to look forward to certain lower card matches without a crowd to bounce off.

GREEN: As a fan, I try to stay as positive as I can. When empty arena matches first started happening, it was somewhat interesting at first, however I feel these are getting close to wearing out their welcome. Whilst WWE and AEW have tried to keep things fresh by adding a simulated crowd, the lack of a natural crowd is really starting to have an effect, especially as your options are extremely limited when it comes to booking segments. That being said, it has still been an enjoyable 3 months of wrestling with people like Randy Orton and Edge excelling in this new environment. Another enjoyable part has of course been the new style of cinematic matches which we'd never see in a normal environment. Whilst not every one of these matches has been a home run, they have been amazing to watch. Personally, I can't say if we will see a live crowd in the latter part of 2020 as I'm not a epidemiologist and can't predict how severe the situation will be in a few months. That being said, I am hopeful due to the fact that sports such as Cricket, Formula 1 and Football have been brought back, in addition to Australian Rugby even starting to bring back crowds.

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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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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