It would be a massive understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on pro wrestling and its presentation throughout much of 2020-2021.
In WWE specifically, packed, raucous crowds were replaced by video screens and piped-in crowd noise during the ThunderDome era, however, before even that all we had was the WWE Performance Center and NXT talent posing as fans at ringside.
While better than the initial pin drop silence we got at WrestleMania 36, the whole thing was rather awkward, however given the restrictions there were little other options.
The talent used by WWE to pose as fans were predominantly lesser known individuals who hadn’t been featured on NXT, and as revealed by NXT star Dijak, WWE purposely kept certain talent off screen, yet still wanted them to make noise in the arena.
Speaking to Stick to Wrestling, Dijak revealed that he was in attendance for the AJ Styles vs Bryan Danielson SmackDown match, saying:
“The A.J. Styles, Bryan Danielson match or Daniel Bryan match at the P.C. where they did that because they had all the wrestlers and I was off in a corner hiding because I was one who — there’s so many stories about the pandemic but, there was a list of wrestlers who weren’t allowed to be on TV but we had to be there just for the sake of noise.
“So I’m standing off-camera just screaming really loudly (he laughed). Great match by the way. Super fun to watch, all things being considered of the pandemic.”
During the pandemic era Dijak was amongst several NXT talent who were repackaged for the ill-fated Retribution faction, a group that saw him given the poorly-received name of T-Bar.
Thankfully for Dijak, he would be repackaged in late 2022 and return to WWE’s developmental brand, competing for the North American Championship and more recently engaging in a program with Ilja Dragunov.
Dijon’s rivalry with Dragunov is one that he recently heaped praise on, calling it ‘tremendous’ for its storytelling in particular.
To read Dijak’s comments on the feud ahead of his last man standing match at NXT Battleground on Sunday, May 28 follow this link here.
The card for NXT Battleground on Sunday, May 28 is as follows:
NXT Championship – Carmelo Hayes (c) vs. Bron Breakker
NXT Women’s Championship – Lyra Valkyria vs. Tiffany Stratton
Heritage Cup Championship – Noam Dar (c) vs. Dragon Lee
NXT Tag Team Championship – Mark Coffey & Wolfgang (c) vs. Brutus & Julius Creed
North American Championship – Wes Lee (c) vs. Joe Gacy vs. Tyler Bate
Last Man Standing – Dijak vs. Ilja Dragunov
Transcript courtesy of POST Wrestling
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