When Covid-19 first made its appearance, nobody knew what was going to happen in the world. The virus was vicious in it’s spread and soon it was worldwide, countries closed borders, events were halted and lockdowns began.
It wasn’t long before the wrestling world was affected by the virus.
Swift action was taken by the companies, most of them stopping crowds and cancelling live shows. Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hiroshi Hase met with the people behind NJPW, Stardom, AJPW amongst other Japanese wrestling companies to discuss what would happen, it was decided that they would cease performing until the virus was a lot more under control. This was by far the wisest thing to do, it meant that wrestlers and staff could make sure they were home and safe.
WWE took a totally different path. They stopped live shows other than RAW, SmackDown and NXT, those shows were crowd less and at WWE’s Performance Center. RAW and SmackDown were peppered with old matches as only essential wrestlers and personnel were allowed there. Then, WWE decided to start taping events leading up to WrestleMania with the event at first seemingly going on as normal until the state of Florida decided to put a stop to this, well eventually. WrestleMania became a two-night event with two matches filmed in an amazing cinematic style.
Then, nine days later, WWE had mass releases of both wrestlers and personnel in order to “save money” due to the company not earning the usual amount of money. Over the following weeks, WWE continued the shows going back live and even filming the men and women’s Money In The Bank matches simultaneously. WWE moved back to being taped and with other NXT wrestlers acting as an audience. Covid-19 still hit the WWE and as of recently, it hit a large number of people within the company, something that should halt WWE but hasn’t.
WWE claims that it’s putting the fans first instead of putting their own employees first means that things are only going to get worse for the company.
AEW went for a similar route as WWE by having shows without crowds, however, they decided to have frequent tests of Covid-19. So far, this seems to be working quite well for the company as only two wrestlers have come into contact with somebody who had Covid-19, one being married to somebody who has it. But, with Florida being a so-called hotspot for the virus, this could well be the tip of the iceberg for the company, despite their precautions.
Impact also seems to be going through the same route of testing wrestlers and it’s been said by Rohit Raju that “wrestlers aren’t allowed in the building unless the doctor clears you.” This seems to be working well for the company, as so far no reports of wrestlers with Covid-19 have come out.
There is a multitude of wrestling companies that I haven’t mentioned, but there are some that have like the Japanese companies just ceased filming or if they don’t have a TV/ online deal just have their doors shut. Of all the companies, WWE is by far handling it the worst and what they’re are doing is rather dangerous and foolhardy.
This was a fascinating read! I really didn’t know the wrestling world pre Covid-19 and it’s interesting to see how much different it is and how different everyone is handling it.