WrestleMania is still going ahead, just not as we know it
The biggest wrestling event of the year is on. Kind of.
With sporting events and film releases and television productions across the globe shutting down in one form or another en masse due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, it's a difficult time for the entertainment industry.
Fast and Furious 9, No Time to Die, A Quiet Place Part II, Peaky Blinders, Line of Duty, UEFA EURO 2020, the Six Nations, the Premier League - you name it, it's been massively affected.
The show must go on for 'The Grandaddy of Them All', though, with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, duh) ploughing ahead with WrestleMania 36.
Having left it very late indeed following a reported 'who blinks first' stand-off with the city of Tampa, Florida - where Mania was originally set to take place next month - WWE made the announcement late on Monday night that the event will go ahead, though the circumstances will be notably unique.
"In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place," noted the official statement on the matter.
"However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday 5 April 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."
As above, the show, traditionally a huge spectacular set in a stadium, will now broadcast in full from the decidedly much smaller - and presumably entirely empty, audience-wise - WWE Performance Centre in Orlando.
If you're wondering what that might look like, this bizarre snippet from last Friday's episode of SmackDown should give you some idea:
the coronavirus emptying the stadiums and turned professional wrestling's high-octane zaniness into a taut and terrifyingly tense Beckett play https://t.co/mev27EWiDR
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) March 15, 2020
And if you're similarly curious as to what 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin giving a commentator a Stone Cold Stunner behind closed doors looks like, here's that very act from last night's edition of Monday Night Raw:
— WWE (@WWE) March 17, 2020
It's all very odd and the idea of WrestleMania in this environment feels almost impossible, so it's going to be very interesting to see just how this thing shakes out.
As of now, the likes of Drew McIntyre vs Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship, Ireland's own Becky Lynch defending the RAW Women's Championship against Shayna Baszler, Randy Orton vs Edge, John Cena battling 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns challenging Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship are all on the card.
For a 'sports entertainment' staple that thrives on crowd reaction... yeah, best of luck to all the wrestlers on what will be a truly surreal night.