Several big names across the US wrestling landscape have been missing in action since the US government decided to close the borders for most travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. While there is no firm date for re-opening the borders, especially since so many countries are experiencing different levels of difficulty with the pandemic, a travel exemption was recently passed for professional athletes.
On May 22, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security released the following statement:
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf signed an order that exempts certain foreign professional athletes who compete in professional sporting events organized by certain leagues, including their essential staff and their dependents, from proclamations barring their entry into the U.S.
The qualifying organizations mentioned by name are MLB, NBA, WNBA, PGA, LPGA, NHL, and tennis (ATP, WTA).
Unfortunately for pro wrestling fans, none of the major wrestling promotions were listed. However, if there is one thing we learned during the coronavirus pandemic, it is that professional wrestlers are essential workers. Yes, I was as surprised to learn that as you were.
Perhaps WWE could call in a favor to a certain WWE Hall of Famer residing in the White House, but I don’t anticipate that happening since the vast majority of their roster already lives stateside. I can’t see WWE going to those lengths, since they would have minimal gain while it would also open the door for competing promotions to get their own talent into the country.
As it stands now without that exemption, the US plans to open their borders for travel from Canada and Mexico on June 22. Of course, that date could change at the drop of a dime depending on the status of the coronavirus in each country.
The UK and Japan are other major hotbeds of wrestling talent. The travel situation with those countries is murkier. I don’t believe any official dates have been announced yet for intercontinental travel with the US.
If the North American border date gets pushed back, perhaps wrestling promotions can finagle their way into that professional athlete exemption. It would certainly speed up the prospects for wrestlers from the UK and Japan.
Top names affected by the travel restrictions have been:
NXT: Cruiserweight Champ Jordan Devlin, former Tag Team Champ Pete Dunne
AEW: Pentagon, PAC, former Women’s Champ Riho, Jack Evans, Angelico
Impact: World Champ Tessa Blanchard, Tag Team Champs The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander), Daga
ROH: World Champ Rush, World TV Champ Dragon Lee, World Six-Man Champs Mexa Squad (Bandido, Flamita, & Rey Horus)
Tessa Blanchard seems like an odd name for the list given that she is an American citizen, but she is currently in Mexico. I believe Tessa lives in Tijuana with her fiancee Daga. Jack Evans also resides in Mexico with his family. The North are stuck in Canada, but they have still managed to be on weekly Impact! broadcasts with taped segments, most recently a cinematic fight on the Deaner family compound.
Who do you miss most out of the foreign wrestlers signed to US promotions?