The world is going through a lot of changes right now thanks to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and it is affecting WWE’s universe a lot too. We found out last night that WWE plans to air WrestleMania 36 on two nights for the first time ever on Saturday, April 4th and Sunday, April 5th. In addition to that, WWE states that: “WrestleMania will not only take place at WWE’s training facility but will include multiple locations over two nights.” There will be no fans in the building due to the CDC recommending no big gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19.
It is being reported by John Pollock of Post Wrestling that WWE plans on taping the remaining episodes of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown heading into the two night WrestleMania event. A source informed them that both nights of WrestleMania will likely be taped over the next week also while another source wasn’t sure if that was officially happening yet.
The report notes that WWE will have an “ambitious taping schedule” as they tape episodes of Raw for March 23 and March 30 along with Smackdown episodes on March 27 and April. There’s also Smackdown this Friday, March 20 where WWE is promoting Roman Reigns and Goldberg will be there along with WrestleMania host Rob Gronkowski. That show could be live or they may tape it earlier on Friday.
The report was also mentioned by Wrestlevotes, who noted that it’s not known how long WWE might be able to tape these shows, so that’s another reason to tape them well in advance.
By taping in advance, it would limit travel costs for the talent and prevent any possible travel issues that may occur due to flights being limited due to Coronavirus.
The WrestleMania lineup looks like this right now.
* WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
* Universal Championship: Goldberg (c) vs. Roman Reigns
* Last Man Standing: Edge vs. Randy Orton – Not official yet, but it likely will be when Orton accepts the challenge.
* John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
* Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
* The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
*NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
* Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
It is also expected that other matches will be added to the card for what might include 14 matches.
The original card was to include 16 matches, but we know two of those matches are not going to happen now. That’s because Pro Wrestling Sheet is reporting that there will be no Men’s or Women’s battle royals at WrestleMania. That’s due to the Coronavirus and not wanting too many people in the building at the same time.
If you watched Smackdown last week then you know they only had a few matches. This past Monday’s Raw only showed four minutes of in-ring action with Rey Mysterio beating Andrade in a seven-minute match that also included a commercial. Apparently, the lack of wrestling on Raw is because Vince McMahon doesn’t like matches without crowds. That’s also why WWE ran an Elimination Chamber match on Smackdown to take up one hour of TV time and then on Raw they showed the men’s Royal Rumble match that took up about half of the three hour show. I would expect WWE to continue to air taped matches on Raw and Smackdown.
As always, plans could change and we just hope everybody stays healthy as best we can.
TJR Thoughts: It makes sense for WWE to tape the shows. Why not? There are no fans in the building to watch the matches, so they should be able to keep the results quiet unless people within the company leak them.
As for the battle royals, that’s just common sense at this point where we are told as a society to do “social distancing” and avoid contact with others. There’s no need for those matches to take place.