Those of you who follow professional wrestling already know what I’m going to be talking about here. The rest of you will likely need an explanation. It’s time to address the oncoming train wreck of Wrestlemania 36.
I watch professional wrestling to escape from the real world. It’s simple, over the top, and just silly fun. No politics, no current events, just exaggerated characters pretending to beat each other up. Today is the first day of Wrestlemania 36, the biggest event of the year. Normally it’s held in a packed stadium. The WWE spends months building up feuds that will be settled on pay-per-view. There is a ridiculous amount of spectacle involved. Imagine if the Super Bowl was just the halftime show, and it ran for 7 hours. That’s Wrestlemania.
As the coronavirus began to spread and sporting events were cancelled, the WWE held fast. They were not going to postpone Wrestlemania. When they were no longer able to film their weekly television shows live from arenas around the United States, they were determined that the show must go on. A few weeks ago, they began filming TV episodes in their Performance Center. It’s where developmental talent trains. In other words, it’s a gym.
There is no audience. No cheering fans to chant for their heroes and boo the villains. The WWE set up some lights and have tried to make the best of it, but it’s been weird. Some of the wrestlers have opted to stay home and shelter in place, so they’ve had to work with a limited roster. They’ve been creative with it, and put on some good matches, but it doesn’t have the same energy. Because they knew they’d be shut down eventually, they filmed as many episodes as possible over the course of about two weeks. They also pre-taped Wrestlemania matches.
They barely got it all filmed before the county issued the closure of non-essential businesses and told people to stay home.
So rather than a preposterous live extravaganza of pyrotechnics and excess, we’re going to get a bunch of matches taped last week in a gym. That’s already anti-climactic. Then one of the headlining matches was scrubbed because one of the competitors, Roman Reigns, is immunocompromised. He’s a leukemia survivor. There have been reports that other wrestlers opted not to show up, or came down sick, or were sent home because they showed up running a fever.
The Oncoming Train Wreck
Because they taped the TV shows before they taped Wrestlemania, they’ve still been promoting the matches that were originally announced. No one has any idea how many of those matches actually went down. We won’t know until the first part airs later today what new matches might have been added as replacements.
I’m dying to see it. Not because I expect it to be good, although I’m sure everyone will do their best. It’s more that I’m curious to see what they do with so many resource limitations, and so much stacked against them. One this is certain, though. This is definitely going to be unique.
But it makes me sad. This is my escapism. The real world has moved in and blown it all to hell. While morbid curiosity is what’s going to take me into it, I’m nor sure how I’m going to feel when I come out the other side.