As sports leagues suspend seasons and many states ask people to avoid mass gatherings of any kind, the wrestling business & its fans are anxiously awaiting word on the fate of the biggest event on our collective calendar - WrestleMania.
That decision will impact more than just WWE and people planning to attend many of the events the company is hosting from during the first two weeks of April, however. ‘Mania has become not just wrestling’s Super Bowl, but it’s SXSW or Comic-Con as well. Independent promotions, wrestlers and vendors flock to where WWE is holding the Granddaddy Of Them All every year. People keep spreadsheets of WrestleMania week events, and they still lose track of a few.
It’s those businesses and contractors who could be hit the worst by a coronavirus-triggered cancellation of the show in Tampa on Sun., April 5, 2020. Even if WWE’s main event is postponed, or attended by only a handful of the tens of thousands who’d normally travel for the event, smaller operators will struggle to make up for lost money and exposure they’d have received in a normal year.
David Bixenspan has an excellent piece up at Vice, where he discusses the possible catastrophe for the indies with some of those who’d be affected. It’s well worth a read - check it out here.
One of the promoters Bixenspan spoke to is Highspots’ Michael Bochicchio, the promoter behind WrestleCon. Bochicchio told him “I’m not kidding, if this is a full cancellation, I’ll likely sell my house.”
WrestleCon put out a video earlier to day discussing in more details some of the issues they’re facing. Most notably, it casts new light on why companies aren’t cancelling - their survival may depend on being forced to cancel so as to trigger out clauses in their contracts with venues and other ancillary service providers.
One of the many things that’s hard to fathom about the COVID-19 crisis is the many and varied ways it threatens everything around us. People like Bochicchio could lose everything. An indie wrestler with ten bookings for ‘Mania week may have planned their year around the money they’d make in Tampa.
We’re all anxious right now, but send some good vibes to these folks as you can. And hit a local indie and buy some merch if you’re able to when this is all over.