For the first time in history, WWE’s biggest pay-per-view, WrestleMania, will be held across the span of two days on April 4 and 5 at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida due to COVID-19 concerns.
Originally slated to take place in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, it was relocated due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Instead of canceling the premiere show all together, WWE decided to move the show into their performance center without an audience for the first time in company history.
“In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place,” read a statement released by WWE. “However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 pm ET 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.”
WWE superstar Roman Reigns pulled out of a marquee match for this year’s show because of COVID-19. Reigns was forced to drop out of WWE back in October 2018 due to leukemia and returned in February 2019 when he told fans that he was in remission.
Reigns addressed and confirmed the rumor of him backing down on his personal Instagram account this past Monday. He told fans that they didn’t know what was going on in his personal life that made him drop from this year’s show. He was also apologetic for not participating.
“For all my fans, I’m sorry. I didn’t get to compete this year and put on a show and entertain but sometimes things are more important,” said Reigns.
The company has canceled all their flagship shows Raw and SmackDown, which would have live audiences, in favor of filming the shows at their performance center without an audience. The shows are still held at their original air times and on their respective networks, USA and Fox.
While other major sports leagues such as the NBA and MLB have suspended games due to concerns with the virus, WWE CEO Vince McMahon has remained adamant that the show must go on. For WWE, WrestleMania is their Super Bowl and it would be hard for the company to cancel such a huge event that has taken months to plan.
Fans will still be able to enjoy the show of shows on the WWE Network, a paid subscription similar to that of Netflix or traditional pay-per-view.