He seems set on holding WrestleMania 36 on Sun., April 5 in Tampa unless the government tells them they can’t. But when it comes to WWE house shows and his recently re-booted football league, Vince McMahon is yielding to public health officials’ call for social distancing in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tonight’s SmackDown was moved from Detroit’s Little Caesar’s Arena to an empty-house affair at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Last night, both of this weekend’s house shows were cancelled.
Sat., Mar. 14’s WWE Live Road to WrestleMania SuperShow event at Toronto’s Coca-Cola Coliseum is cancelled. The venue announced, along with details about refunds for ticketbuyers.
Ditto for Sunday’s show in Youngstown, Ohio. One its Facebook page, the Covelli Centre posted: “In accordance with the proclamation issued by Governor DeWine, the WWE live event scheduled for this Sunday, March 15 in Youngstown, Ohio has been canceled. Refunds are available at all points of purchase.”
PWInsider also reports that the Mar. 14 - 15 NXT events in Florida have been cancelled due to state and local government’s urging against gatherings of more than 250 people. That includes tonight in Venice and Saturday’s Daytona Beach show.
While it’s not WWE, the most telling example may be that the XFL has cancelled the remainder of its season. By all accounts, McMahon’s second attempt at the U.S.’s favorite sport was off to a successful start. Now they’ll have to attempt to recapture that excitement in 2021. The league issues the following statement on Thursday:
“Currently, the XFL will not be playing its regular-season games. However, all players will be paid their base pay and benefits for the 2020 regular season. All XFL ticket holders will be issued refunds or credit toward future games. The XFL is committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years.”
With these events being deemed too much of a risk, questions will continue to mount about WrestleMania. Perhaps WWE is hoping efforts like these, and stronger ones by other sports and event promoters, will be sufficient to halt the spread of COVID-19 and allow their April stadium show to go on as planned.
We shall see.