As of right now, WrestleManiaaar 36 – it’s pirate themed – is only 25 days away, scheduled to take place on April 5th. That’s under a month. That’s fewer than four weeks. And with the pandemic that’s infected the globe, with the entire country of Italy effectively being quarantined yesterday, government officials will reportedly make a decision tomorrow, Thursday, over whether or not Tampa should run large scale events. Which means, after weeks of increasing speculation, WrestleMania 36 could be cancelled.
Full disclaimer: YouTube does actually demonititze videos that talk about the big sickness thing, so we’re going to try get around it with a pun. Please do not take this to mean that we here at WrestleTalk do not take the global epidemic very seriously. We have, like, three bottles of hand sanitizer in the office right now. So with that in mind, let me introduce you to: Steve Corino-virus. Props to Kayfabe News for the punnage.
WWE’s biggest show of the year is set to take place in Tampa Bay in the state of Florida, where the Department of Health, as of this morning, has confirmed eight people have tested possible for Steve Corino. Three of the eight cases are in the Tampa Bay area. The total number of confirmed cases in the United States as a whole this morning has reached 1,000, with 31 deaths – two of which being in Florida. The global number now stands at just under 120,000 cases and 4,300 deaths.
The increasing seriousness of the situation has seen organisers cancel or postpone a number of major events in an attempt to halt the spread of infection. The South by Southwest festival has been cancelled. April’s Coachella music festival has now been postponed to October. Ireland and Boston have even cancelled their St. Patrick’s Day parades. Great, I guess I’ll have to get drunk at home by myself like usual then…
Stephanie McMahon told the Tampa Bay Times last month about WrestleMania possibly being cancelled: “The health and safety of not only our fan base, but also our superstars, really does come first. We don’t want to put anyone in a bad situation ever, regardless of the circumstance. Those are not risks worth taking.”
And then following two deaths in the Tampa area, WWE issued the statement last week: “We remain committed to hosting WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, April 5, and like other entertainment properties in the U.S., there are currently no plans to cancel or postpone our upcoming events.’”
Dave Meltzer has repeatedly speculated on Wrestling Observer Radio that WWE will be the last company to cancel their event, as that’s just the way Vince McMahon does business. As the Saudi Arabia deal showed, where WWE put on their Super Showdown event there just weeks after the government killed a Washington Post journalist to international outcry, McMahon will press ahead with his plans despite global issues. But as CBS Tampa news anchor Ryan Bass has tweeted, the decision over whether or not to cancel WrestleMania may be out of his hands:
“. @CityofTampa and mayor @JaneCastor will meet on Thursday to discuss canceling or postponing “major” events due to. This weekend’s River O’Green fest isn’t likely to be canceled.”
Tampa Bay’s River O’Green festival is an Irish-themed party centred around the Hillsborough River, where families can come and be Irish for a day and take part in activities. WrestleMania is a few steps above that, with WWE hoping to sell out 70,000 tickets – to people not just from the area, or even the country, but from all around the world, flying in from the UK, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Asia – the exact kind of global spread authorities will want to avoid.
And as WrestleMania has evolved and grown over the last decade, it’s not just that one single day that’s in jeopardy… and the wrestlers themselves are apparently starting to worry…
WrestleMania isn’t just WrestleMania anymore – it’s an international travel destination event that spans five days. The Hall of Fame ceremony on Thursday, SmackDown on Friday night, NXT TakeOver: Tampa Bay on Saturday, WrestleMania 36 itself on Sunday, and the Raw after Mania the following night – all taking place in the same city.
It’s a great boon not just for WWE, who’s stretched out festivities can extend into fan meet and greets with Axxess and special events surrounding their shows – generating more money for the promotion – but also for the local areas, like hotels, restaurants and bars, and also a number of independent wrestling promotions that also travel to WrestleMania weekend, where the streets are paved with marks.
Starting the Tuesday before WrestleMania, a number of indies are hoping to run some of their biggest shows of the year, including WrestleCon’s Supershow, UK promotion Progress, the annual Bloodsport, Japanese promotion DDT, Evolve are putting on two major cards, Shimmer, Joey Janela’s Spring Break 4, Joey Ryan’s Penis Party, German promotion wXw, ROH’s annual big pay-per-view Supercard of Honor. Impact Wrestling are even bringing back the TNA name for a special one-off event in town on Friday 3rd April.
There’s also a number of non-live wrestling events too like stand-up with Mick Foley and Dolph Ziggler, WaleMania VI and a show from Wrestling With Wregret’s Brian Zane.
If WrestleMania is cancelled, fans won’t travel to Tampa for these shows, meaning promoters are going to lose their deposits and talent might not get paid. WWE can weather this storm because they have that sweet, sweet Saudi money. But for the smaller indie promotions, WrestleMania not going ahead could cause them serious problems.
But how has this affected the WWE talent themselves?
While WWE haven’t yet taken a clear stance on Steve Corino, former WWE wrestler Ryback has revealed the locker room is feeling uneasy about the growing crisis, revealing on his succinctly named Ryback TV Shooting Blanks Wrestling Report With Raj Giri show:
“If I’m a wrestler – and I’m speaking from the talent as I’ve talked to a couple of people – the talent believe that WrestleMania is possibly going to get cancelled. This is a business and it will impact a lot of things but you have to protect the wrestlers at all costs.”
The Big Guy specifically outlined Axxess, which is where wrestlers have direct contact with fans in meet and greets. PWInsider have already reported that WWE held a backstage meeting last month about how talent should protect themselves against Steve Corino, and they’ve now implemented a “no touching rule” at live events, as you can see with Sasha Banks wearing gloves at a meet and greet over the weekend. New merch!
This does unfortunately mean, though, we’ll no longer get pictures like this. Hey Becky, I’m a really big fan of yours. A really, really big fan. Hold me. I love you.
Reddit user Looselipsbackstage – who has a pretty good track record with breaking wrestling stories – has said that “All roster members are breathing a sigh of relief” now that the no touching policy is in place.
Well, most of them…
While Braun Strowman is taking this seriously, telling fans “now is more important than ever before to practice our hygiene. You know my mantra is ‘get these hands.’ Well, right now I need everybody to ‘wash these hands.’”
Raw star Angel Garza has posted: “Steve Corino does NOT exist everything is in the mind THREE COOL SUNGLASS WEARING EMOJI TOUNGUE OUT EMOJI!” in reference to him kissing female fans at ringside.
And then claiming he has the cure: “Guess what!! I have the perfect cure for the Steve Cornino. Smiling face with horns EMOJI Smiling face with halo EMOJI it’s just under my nose and above my chin Smiling face with sunglasses EMOJI”
Former Le Champion Chris Jericho has been equally calm, calling the reaction to Steve Corino “mass hysteria” to TMZ:
“I don’t think the public should panic so much. [Fozzy are still going on tour] unless the cops tell us we can’t.”
One piece of misinformation we should count out, though, is Brad Shepard’s recent claim that a WWE employee has had to self-isolate, prompting a “mass email warning” sent out at WWE HQ, leaving everyone “shaken” up.
It’s a claim so serious, WWE on Fox’s official account took the rare step of publicly denying Shepard’s report – commenting on the article’s Facebook post:
“Guys, we usually don’t interject, but when it comes to serious stuff we will. Ringsidenews, especially Brad Shepard, isn’t a trusted ‘news source’ about anything. Please do not listen to them. Do as you will with other journalists, we won’t promote anyone here, but avoid Ringsidenews – especially when it comes to something as serious as this.’”
There’s a lot of misinformation and false claims out there, so remember to fact check any news your mum forwarded you on Facebook.
All Elite Wrestling have now issued a statement about their upcoming live events schedule:
“All AEW events are currently moving forward as scheduled. Of course, the safety and well-being of AEW fans, partners and talent is always our top priority, so we will continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving situation related to Steve Corino and be guided by government officials, health organizations and venue management. AEW will update ticket purchasers if there are any changes to the event schedule, and we encourage everyone in the AEW family to be good to themselves – and each other – by taking preventative actions as recommended by the CDC and WHO.”
The situation is far more severe in Asia, though, and after already cancelling their live events between the 1st and 15th March, New Japan Pro Wrestling have now cancelled the rest of their New Japan Cup tour in the remainder of this month. And All Japan have followed suit. Well, I think they have. Their tweet is all in Japanese.
And, as you might’ve seen yesterday, we here at WrestleTalk have also taken the precaution of postponing our first ever live show, which we were scheduled to put on next Monday. The event will now take place on the 1st June. If you’ve already bought a ticket, you can hold onto it for that new date and we’ll give you a limited edition bit of merch on the day! Or you can contact us using the email address in the video description below to get a full refund. We apologise sincerely for having to postpone the event, and thank you so much for everyone’s support in this so far.
What are the 10 best Elimination Chamber matches of all time?! Find out in Adam Blampied’s latest list video by clicking the video on the right! And several wrestlers are frustrated with WWE backstage! Find out who by clicking the video below that! I’ve been Oli Davis, and that was wrestling.