This is going to be a fun post but I do want to make a large point about corporate greed! Originally WrestleMania 36 was scheduled to be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. It’s a huge facility and it’s home to the Tampa Bay Bucs. Well, those of you who are wrestling fans know what comes next, and even if you think you do keep reading… you probably don’t. Those of you who don’t watch wrestling, read on too. I think you’ll find this very interesting. I’m going to tell everyone, a whole bunch of stuff that they probably didn’t know. As we all know, the corona virus has rendered all major venues uninhabitable by more than 10 people. Well that’s certainly not enough people to watch a WrestleMania show. They expected 80,000 plus. …….. Government mandate completely pulled the plug on that. But not so fast. The WWE as a publicly traded company and the largest wrestling entertainment company on the planet has their own building right down here in Orlando Florida.
It’s called the WWE performance center and 1it’s a 20,000 square foot facility used entirely for training purposes. The WWE gave up running big shows in big arenas a couple of weeks ago and instead of closing up shop as many other TV programs have done, The WWE pushes on. They decided that instead of running events in front of 20,000 people in an arena three times a week, they would take it to their performance Center and televise live from there. Of course the problem there is size. Pull out all eight training rings and the facility seats about 200 people. That’s certainly no comparison to the 15 or 20 thousand fans that SmackDown and Raw draw each week… or the five or six thousand fans that NXT brings in… Raw is their flagship show, running 3 hours on Monday nights and SmackDown is televised by Fox on Friday nights.
I relay all this information to let you know just how big this business really is. Right now all three shows are being broadcast from the WWE Performance Center and they certainly would draw 200 fans for each show if they could. The caveat here is that gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited. That forces the WWE to broadcast all of its shows every week with no audience. I watched it once. It was really strange. I never saw anything like it in my life. Totally surreal. For the uninformed, wrestling is scripted. Yes, I know I just broke some hearts out there but it’s scripted for sure and that’s really not a secret. These shows from the performance center are being televised live. During a show in a large arena, the noise is deafening. Not so much at the performance center. They’re operating with a skeleton crew to protect people and even though wrestling is scripted and the end is predetermined the performers still have the ability to make up the match as they go along. They do this by calling out moves to each other. It’s okay to do that when there are 20000 fans screaming all the way up to the rafters, but on live TV with no noise at all?
I can tell you this. You can’t hear them speaking but you can sure see them whispering, and most people who don’t understand what they’re doing are just wondering why these people are talking to each other during a match. It’s wrong and it could never look right. It looks forced. Any mistake is magnified and given the physicality of the business there are mistakes made. This is live TV. Surprisingly ratings are pretty stable for the shows and the money is still rolling in. The live shows stink. Half of the show is dedicated to matches that are older, being played back on video, and the two or three live matches in each program are just plain awful. These are performers, and performers work best in front of a live audience. Given that there are no live sports on television now and the ratings are high, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, president of the WWE continues to run his live shows every Monday Wednesday, and Friday evening. That’s free Enterprise but at what price?
McMahon is still putting on his WrestleMania show. The grandest event of the year in front of no live audience. The thought of that six months ago would have been impossible to conceive. The audience drives the show. They boo the bad guys and cheer the good guys. The heals get heat and the heroes get love. Now nobody’s getting nothing!!! Given that this is probably an $80 pay-per-view event and there is a WWE Network that’s been waiting for this show for months, the show must go on. But at what cost? Performers have been getting sick at these tapings. Andrade, Daniel Bryan, and Dana Brooke have all dropped out of the show.
They are sick. So have Bobby Lashley and Rey Mysterio. They all have coronavirus. There are others too. There are some performers who have asked the WWE that they remain anonymous. Whoever is paying and watching on April 5th will find out who these anonymous people are. The matches have already been set, and people who are missing will be conspicuously absent. In addition, the star of the main event Roman Reigns has dropped out too. As a two-time leukemia survivor, this young man has opted out on the advice of his doctors. His immune system is compromised and if he catches this thing they fear the worst. This begets the question, in this case, why must the show go on? Money!
That was the easiest answer I’ve ever given. Pay-per-view revenue is huge. Yeah, the WWE loses out on the gate and merchandise sales but at least they don’t lose money on the production. Risking young people’s lives, along with production team members just for the almighty buck. In addition, the fans get a substandard show because the biggest stars won’t be there. For those of you not familiar with this semi sport you must understand that this is the biggest event of the year and every performer dreams about performing in this thing. Those who perform receive enormous paychecks for this particular event. Yet, still more performers are opting out of traveling to the event in Orlando and these are people that will be revealed as the show goes on simply because they will not be there. Sounds like a big mess to me. And who suffers? The performers who get sick and of course the fans.
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