SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
On October 2, approximately one week after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the state’s move to “Phase 3” of reopening amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WWE sent select, unadvertised “NXT TakeOver 31” RSVP invitations to previous “NXT Live at Full Sail” ticket buyers via the “NXTTickets” mailing list. The last use of this mailing list regarding televised events was to announce the April 3 cancelation of the April 15 “NXT Live at Full Sail” and provide refund instructions.
Immediately following “NXT TakeOver 31” on October 4, another round of RSVP invitations were sent to an increased pool of NXTTickets customers, changing the allowable group size from four to six people. PWTorch received one of these e-mails directly:
Thank you for being a passionate member of the NXT Universe! We hope you enjoyed TakeOver 31! We have a special opportunity for you to be a part of this week’s NXT Broadcast on Wednesday October 7! This is an opportunity for a limited number of the NXT Universe to be LIVE & IN PERSON at the Capitol Wrestling Center as part the Live Event Audience. This invitation is good for a maximum of 6 people.
Please reply to this email to confirm that you are able to attend NXT this Wednesday October 7 at the Capitol Wrestling Center on the campus of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL.
If you are selected, you will receive further correspondence with instructions on how to attend, COVID-19 testing procedures and on-site screening procedures.
Please note that you must be over the age of 16 unless accompanied by a guardian and must provide photo ID upon check in at the Capitol Wrestling Center.
The event will be held at limited capacity with social distancing measures in place. Face coverings will be mandatory throughout the course of the event.
If you are interested in attending please reply with the following information:
- Total number of tickets requested (maximum of 6)
- Name of each attendee:
- Email address for each attendee:
- Mobile phone number for each attendee:
Thank you for your consideration and supporting NXT! We look forward to seeing you weekly!
Further amendments to verbiage between invitations include the addition of indicating “on-site screening procedures” and the elimination of a requirement to “sign a waiver of liability upon arrival.”
PWTorch reached out to anonymous fans in attendance for the October 7 event. They clarified that the “COVID-19 testing procedures” involve WWE furnishing nasal swab tests to the RSVPs accepted for pre-approval, and the fans themselves are responsible for their own same-day off-site testing appointment in staggered windows to accommodate everyone. WWE then responds with e-mails confirming or denying final acceptance based on reported results.
The first live “NXT on USA” to host fans at the indoor WWE Performance Center was also the last WWE event to host live fans at all before the company switched to a more or less bi-weekly taping schedule. PWTorch was on-site for that March 11 event, for which attendees were instructed to park at Full Sail University to be shuttled over on tour busses due to a lack of parking at the Performance Center. With weekly shows going live once more, according to the fans queried, limited parking has been designated on location and must be adhered to at risk of being towed.
For both programs from the re-branded “Capitol Wrestling Center” thus far, fans have been seen one to two rows deep lining a plexiglass barricade surrounding the entrance ramp and ring. Adding to guidelines stated in the invitation, fans specified that each “pod” behind the plexiglass is limited to groups of eight to ten. They also pointed out that personnel are in place to enforce guidelines. TakeOver’s audience visibly included more of the usual WWE Performance Center trainees and “friends and family” than Wednesday’s, and to home veiwers TakeOver’s mask policy appeared to be under looser enforcement compared to Wednesday’s. “ThunderDome”-esque LED boards have also been featuring fans in virtual attendance, complete with piped-in crowd noise, though no public registrations for such attendance appear to have taken place.
One fan favorably compared the evening to their experience at a September “AEW Dynamite” event: “Others just do day-of temperature checks but WWE goes the extra mile and tests all fans on their dime. They enforce the regulations with actual people, not just signs, and overall I felt safe and happy I can enjoy what I love safely with people I have not seen since March.”