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WrestleMania 36: To be, or not to be

WrestleMania 36 comes to you pre-recorded from WWE’s training facility!”

Wait, that doesn’t sound right?

Well, it is.

WrestleMania is World Wrestling Entertainment’s signature event of the year that gives wrestling fans the chance to attend a once in a lifetime spectacle. It also gives WWE the chance to showcase their superstars from the past, present and future at the expense of their fans’ wallets. WWE owner Vince McMahon is no stranger to sky-rocketing ticket prices in order to build on his empire of sports entertainment, which has been against All Elite Wrestling’s competition of recent. However, it’s not just the competition of AEW that they’ll be battling it out with this year.

The recent worldwide amplification of COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, has put a major halt on the weekend altogether and it looks to have created the financial anomaly that the company has done well to avoid for all these years.

The majority of the hardcore WWE fans who purchased a WrestleMania ticket would have been expecting the experience of a lifetime; a schedule consisting of attending exclusive meet and greets, being granted backstage access, and attending NXT’s Takeover show. The money generated by the WWE from these endless weekend attractions allow the company to pay the big bucks to stars such as Goldberg and The Undertaker, who will earn multimillions of dollars in exchange for one-off matches.

World Wrestling Entertainment star The Undertaker (L) competes against Goldberg (C) during the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Super Showdown event in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah late on January 7, 2019. (Photo by Amer HILABI / AFP) (Photo credit should read AMER HILABI/AFP via Getty Images)

You know things are getting serious when Vince McMahon of all people decide to pull the plug on the venue for what is WWE’s major money-maker of the year. Vince would have been licking his lips at the prospect of hosting 75,000 paying customers on April 5th. Last year’s WrestleMania 35 at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium produced $165.4 million in visitor spending in the New York/New Jersey region according to an economic-impact report.

Gloucestershire’s Evolution Wrestling General Manager Lewis Nicholls could not believe that the company’s showpiece event won’t be live from the typical gigantic stadium this year.

“It’s quite unbelievable that WWE have had to cancel WrestleMania in Tampa Bay and it’s got me wondering as to whether this will hinder any future relationships between both parties (WWE and Tampa Bay Team).

“Us avid wrestling fans know that Vince won’t be happy about it – but there’s not much anyone can do at this point. I’m glad WrestleMania is still happening in some form; however, I really can’t see it getting much of a reception.

“Needless to say, it’s a big financial loss for WWE, and it’s a big loss of entertainment for WWE fans in general. I’m gutted”.

The cutthroat-businessman and wrestling tycoon has seemingly had his hands tied tighter and tighter over the past few weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has spread to gargantuan rates, with the death toll surpassing 15,000 over the weekend. Recent showings of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown have been aired from WWE’s training facility in Orlando, Florida, and WrestleMania 36 will follow suit. Naturally, the decision to go ahead with WrestleMania from the Performance Centre has divided wrestling fans on social media.

Despite the vast talent at the disposal of the company, such as Edge, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Roman Reigns, the recent Raw and SmackDown shows felt awkward, boring and exposed. Praise was heaped on Triple H for his efforts to keep the showings from being lackluster, but its criticism was inevitable with the lack of atmosphere and entertainment in general. The fact that the commentary was the best part of a wrestling show speaks volumes on its inability to provide its watchers with entertainment to emotionally invest in.

So, should WrestleMania go ahead? The fans don’t think so, and you’d have thought that the negative critical reception from fans would be enough to cancel proceedings altogether. Pre-recorded wrestling shows have never been much of a success for televised audiences, and WrestleMania 36 won’t be much different. WrestleMania is a spectacle because of the immense host stadium, awe-striking pyrotechnics and crowd interaction – ultimately, three things that the 36th edition will have none of.

The live audience are what make WWE shows so spectacular, and they often are the driving force behind how receptive fans are on social media of pay-per-view events.

MONTERREY, MEXICO – MAY 09: Wrestling fighters, Edge (L) and Undertaker (R) fight during the WWE Smackdown Wrestling at Arenal Monterrey on May 9, 2010 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/LatinContent via Getty Images)

Simply, WrestleMania should be rescheduled. Not just because of the money loss for the company, but because of the lack of emotional investment that will greet a show that will be pre-recorded over 2-weeks prior to the event. Emotional investment is what creates WrestleMania moments, you only have to think back to classics such as Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair to substantiate this. Edge’s return to the Grandest Stage of Them All, Goldberg’s last match and The Undertaker’s anticipated clash with AJ Styles will be met with Michael Cole’s repetitive commentary in oppose to thunderous screams and applauses from 75,000 fans.

Essentially, the company will lose millions of dollars on superstars that fans won’t even get to see in the flesh.

Merge SummerSlam and WrestleMania together for all I care. WrestleMania 36 should be postponed, for both the sake of the company and the fans.

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