Vince McMahon and the WWE have been in the business of making headlines lately. In addition to the announcement that the XFL was filing for bankruptcy, which was made just hours ago, WWE made the public aware last Friday of their plans to move forward with live broadcasts of their three weekly TV shows, despite coronavirus concerns.
WWE Resuming Live Broadcasts Amid Coronavirus Concerns
Naturally, many people were enraged by this and chastised the WWE for putting their employees in danger, and promoting behavior that goes against most every expert recommendation that is out there.
The anger increased tenfold when later that day Pro Wrestling Sheet broke the news that WWE had confirmed their first case(s) of coronavirus.
WWE TV During COVID
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the WWE has been producing their weekly shows ahead of time at their performance center in Orlando, FL. They claim to have been doing so with the fewest amount of on screen and production employees as possible, taking all possible precautions concerning the coronavirus.
This was going to be the plan though at least early May.
Despite the circumstances, WWE has not missed a single episode. Even better than that, they were actually able to put together an extremely compelling WrestleMania 36, which was also taped well in advance.
Confirmed WWE Coronavirus Case
While WWE has not released the name(s) of those involved, officials claim that there should be no danger to the rest of the employees because the individuals involved did not become symptomatic until after being exposed to friends of theirs at a dinner who worked in acute health care.
The dinner took place on March 26th, which was after WWE had taped all of their shows through WrestleMania. WWE did comment on the story, saying “The employee had no contact with anyone from WWE since being exposed to those two individuals, is doing well, and made a complete recovery.”
They also added that they quarantined immediately and that this individual was on screen talent, but not on the roster.
Employees Must Make a Decision
Would those details make you feel any better about returning to work? It doesn’t seem that way for many WWE employees, as all reports indicate a large number of talent being upset by this decision.
You have to remember that even though WWE is not forcing or requiring any one to be there, wrestlers are essentially independent contractors. If they don’t wrestle, they don’t get paid.
We saw Roman Reigns and The Miz as examples of wrestlers who chose their health over a paycheck or spotlight when they decided not to be part of WrestleMania 36. Roman and Miz also happen to be two of the most popular and most well-off wrestlers on the planet, so that decision is probably a lot easier for them to make.
Possible Dangers of Live Production
The biggest problem WWE faces is that live TV is much more complicated and requires many more people than a taped show.
Everyone who is involved now has to travel to Orlando on a weekly basis, instead of staying there for a short period of time while they tape multiple weeks worth of content, and then not having to return again for quite a while. In addition, there will be more bodies around the ring and in the backstage area in order to make the live show possible.
WWE has been at the forefront of pushing forward, and pushing the boundaries of this coronavirus pandemic. Whether you see what they are doing as a good thing or not, they have convinced themselves that what they are doing is for the benefit of everyone outside the company, saying “We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times… we are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance.”
You can catch RAW, SmackDown and NXT live on their respective cable television homes at their regularly scheduled times starting tonight.