Word on the pro wrestling rumor mill is that WWE will continue to produce new wrestling content for television despite the increasing number of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders being enforced by states as the U.S. deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
Although reports vary by source on the where and when of Vince McMahon’s company’s plan, they agree the WWE will not be going on hiatus. Instead, it looks like WWE will opt to continue operating with the precautions they used to film shows up to and including WrestleMania 36, the April 6 edition of Raw, and the episode of NXT airing tomorrow night (April 8): limiting the number of personnel in the building at any one time, medical screening for all who enter the work site, controlling/limiting who they have contact with when they’re not working, and allowing personnel uncomfortable with taking part the option not to.
Their approach has drawn some criticism, but it also seems to be a potential model for other professional sports organizations - especially with even an optimist like President Donald Trump saying it’ll be August or September before fans can possibly attend live events.
UFC President Dana White claims he’s secured a private island location where he plans to hold MMA fights. The NBA is reportedly considering a tournament where star players will compete in the playground game H-O-R-S-E. And Major League Baseball allegedly has a plan to conduct the beginning or possible all of their season in Arizona with players shuttled between games and quarantined living quarters.
Into the debate comes this statement from the Association of Ringside Physicians. When discussing this statement on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer specified that “combat sports” includes pro wrestling for the ARP. Emphasis is mine:
The Association of Ringside Physicians has been actively following the recommendations of the CDC as well as other professional medical societies concerned with the spread of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus.
Sporting events across the world have been cancelled in response to the increased risk of infection and transmission by participants, fans, officials, and support staff.
It is our recommendation that all combat sporting events be postponed until further notice. This includes any and all events, regardless of the number of people involved. Any combat sport taking place during this global pandemic places the athletes, officials, and anyone else involved in the event under unnecessary risk of infection and transmission of Covid-19. In addition, combat sports athletes often require medical attention after a bout, and we do not wish to see any additional strain on an already overwhelmed medical system.
We continue to monitor this ever-evolving situation, and our thoughts continue to be with those who have been and will be affected by this disease.
Our organization remains steadfast in our mission: to serve, protect, and educate all involved in combative sports.
Despite this, there are obviously other doctors and medical professionals signing off on WWE’s plans, and similar ones. ESPN’s report on baseball’s plan - which involves a lot more people and locations than anything WWE or AEW has done - says MLB has the support of federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health.
When even the experts disagree on the correct course of action, it’s next to impossible for lay people to know what’s right. We just have to hope that whatever wrestling and other organized sports entertainment operations do to make money and entertain us during this unprecedented time doesn’t do more harm than good.