In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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Rey Mysterio and Dana Brooke have self-quarantined, according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer (LINK), and are off the WrestleMania card. The Six-Pack Challenge has been turned into a Five-Way Elimination match, according to WWE.com’s latest graphic showing Bayley and her challengers – Tamina, Naomi, Sasha Banks, and Lacey Evans (LINK). Last Friday on Smackdown, Dana was mentioned as part of the line-up. She hasn’t posted anything on social media regarding whether she’s injured or sick or or otherwise has a reason she would have been pulled from the match. She hasn’t been announced as having been suspended for a Wellness Policy violation.
Rey Mysterio was expected to be part of a four-way U.S. Title match, but eyebrows were raised last night on Raw when Andrade & Angel Garza were moved to a tag title match against the Street Profits instead. Rey is not listed for the WrestleMania card at this point.
PWTorch has heard from wrestlers who say they are aware of many colleagues under self-quarantine either out of an abundance of caution due to their travels and being around so many other travelers or due feeling symptoms. PWTorch reached out earlier today to WWE and AEW to find out what their policy is on releasing information publicly or internally about wrestlers exhibiting symptoms, but haven’t heard back yet. If fans have interacted with wrestlers at airports with autographs or selfies, it’d be valuable to release information on public figures who are experiencing symptoms and are in self-quarantine as a result.
Wrestlers I’ve reached out to are increasingly anxious and concerned about their health and safety. Wrestlers who were once at peace with the precautions being taken would understandably be rattled by a colleague now experiencing symptoms. In the last two weeks, wrestlers were not being allowed “on set” for TV events with a fever or any symptoms. All indications from our sources within both companies and other reports are that WWE and AEW are taking steps to separate and isolate wrestlers, limiting person-to-person interaction to only on-air situations. The lack of social spacing by announcers from each other and other wrestlers, and the Street Profits shaking hands with Byron Saxton last night and Steve Austin shaking Byron’s hand last week, along with MJF yelling a foot or so away from Tony Schiavone’s face last week show that not every step that could be taken to limit interaction among wrestlers and set a good example for the public is being taken, though.
Although WWE is not releasing details, it’s expected that several, if not most or even all WrestleMania matches will be taped between now and a week from now, allowing WWE to “shut down” even before WrestleMania. They could then have wrestlers self-quarantine for two weeks after WrestleMania matches are taped so they can be highly confident that anyone who might continue to wrestle at the Performance Center thereafter were at very low risk of having contracted the virus and potentially spreading it to others.
With nearly all other forms of live entertainment involving person-to-person interaction shut down, everyone would understand if WWE and AEW did the same thing. There are extreme measures that could be taken, such as isolating groups of 10-12 wrestlers, referees, and camera operators in individual quarantine for two weeks, then have them live together thereafter and not mix with anyone else at all and thus safely continue to show up once a week to perform live wrestling matches for an indefinite period of time. The risk in that situation would be minimal if those steps were taken, but anything short of that would, to some degree, be putting the health of those interacting at TV events at risk. Raw roster wrestlers aren’t mixing with Smackdown roster wrestlers or NXT wrestlers so far, so that gives WWE more confidence that they could stave off a mass spread of the virus among a large group of wrestlers should one group have wrestlers with symptoms. That’s a step WWE and AEW can take that wasn’t practical for sports teams who travel and play other sports teams several times a week with dozens of athletes interacting close-up for extended periods of time in a game.