As COVID-19 continues to impact communities worldwide, more and more local governments are stepping in to protect their constituents. Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged local authorities to cancel or postpone mass gatherings, including WrestleMania 36, currently scheduled for April 5 in Tampa. However, after a meeting between city officials and WWE brass (reportedly including Vince McMahon himself), Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said WrestleMania is still on, and the event will be re-assessed in the coming weeks. WWE later issued a statement via press release:
“While we remain committed to hosting WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, April 5, we are putting contingency plans in place in the event that it is cancelled by government officials, civil authorities and/or local venues. The health and safety of our fans, performers and employees are our top priorities and we are monitoring the situation closely with our partners and government officials in Tampa Bay.”
What could that contingency plan be? Well, if tonight’s relocated episode of Smackdown is any indication, we could possibly see the WWE Performance Center as a staging area for some of Mania.
As plans roll forward for WrestleMania, WWE have had events canceled in areas affected by coronavirus, including this weekend’s slate of NXT house shows as well as main roster live events in Youngstown, Ohio and Toronto. It’s worth noting that in the vast majority of these cancelations, it’s not WWE who is pulling the plug, but venue abiding by new mass-gathering bans created by the local government to protect its citizens. With only 23 days until April 5, it feels like Vince McMahon is playing a game of high-stakes chicken with the city of Tampa to see who blinks first.