WWE is said to have taped numerous episodes of Raw, SmackDown, and 205 Live at their Performance Center in Orlando over the past five or six days, not to mention doing the same for NXT at Full Sail Live in nearby Winter Park. They’re currently filming matches and content for WrestleMania 36, making the Sat., April 4 & Sun., April 5 broadcasts the first time ever the event hasn’t aired live. ‘Mania taping is supposed to wrap up tomorrow (Thurs., Mar. 26).
They’re doing this because of the coronavirus pandemic, of course. WWE wants to ensure they have as much product as possible in case a person or persons within the organization tests positive for COVID-19, or government officials enact even tighter restrictions on the public to slow the spread of the virus.
At least two wrestlers, Rey Mysterio & Dana Brooke, are reportedly quarantined. But it might be the latter possibility that forces WWE to stop filming at the PC and Full Sail.
Jerry Demings, the Mayor of Orange County, Florida - which encompasses both Orlando & Winter Park, along with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dwyer, has issued a “Stay At Home Order” for the county. It mandates anyone not working in an essential business remain at home except to do things like get groceries, go to the doctor, and walk pets.
It doesn’t go into effect until Thursday night at 11 p.m., which is one saving grace for WWE’s plans.
#COVID19 Updates | March 24, 2020— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) March 24, 2020
✅ @OrangeCoFL has 50 confirmed #COVID19 cases
✅ Stay At Home Order will go into effect 3/26/20 at 11PM, for 2 weeks
✅ Stay At Home Order applies to ALL RESIDENTS of Orange County
More info: https://t.co/Wfmbe3zEhn on Executive Order. pic.twitter.com/4AmQi6PoCu
There are others. “Pro wrestling” probably doesn’t qualify as an essential business, but are WWE employees residents? The order doesn’t impact people who can’t work from home, and while WrestleMania 36 will supposedly be filmed in different venues, I don’t think “Kevin Owens’ house” is one of them... so that may be another out.
WFTC 9, Orlando’s ABC affiliate, has a good “what you can and can’t do under the stay-at-home order” primer here.
Still, even if there are loopholes for WWE, Mayor Demings announcement is a sign of the way things are going. There’s probably going to come a time in the next couple weeks where no government is going to look the other way while WWE or AEW brings together enough wrestlers and production staff to create a show.