UPDATE x2: The original report turned out to be correct after all.
Friday Night SmackDown Proceeds With No Live Audience
Friday Night SmackDown on March 13 will air live as regularly scheduled and emanate from WWE’s training facility in Orlando, FL, with only essential personnel in attendance. The event was originally scheduled in Detroit, MI. pic.twitter.com/o9mR2SNhAj
— WWE (@WWE) March 12, 2020
UPDATE: Looks like this report was incorrect, per a WWE statement issued after a local Fox affiliate in Detroit reported the same thing:
“WWE has not cancelled Friday Night Smackdown in Detroit, however, based on the current situation, we are putting contingency plans in place in the event that upcoming WWE shows are cancelled by government officials, civil authorities and/or local venues.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening professional wrestling around the world and the fate of WrestleMania 36 hinging on a meeting between Tampa officials on Thursday afternoon, WWE has announced the first major alteration of their weekly business.
Per a report from PWInsider reportedly confirmed with multiple sources, WWE is canceling Friday night’s edition of Smackdown on Fox in Detroit, MI, and will instead move both Friday Night Smackdown and 205 Live to Orlando’s WWE Performance Center. WWE ran this week’s episode of NXT live from the PC due to Full Sail University being booked, but in the interest of clarification these sources note that it was specifically, “due to the current coronavirus outbreak.” An official announcement from WWE regarding the move is expected to be forthcoming.
WWE is the latest pro wrestling organization to face setbacks due to the pandemic. So far we’ve seen NJPW cancel the remainder of the New Japan Cup, All Japan Pro Wrestling canceling events through March 22, Stardom running an empty arena show (which you can read about here), and smaller joshi promotions running no-fans tournaments for gift cards. Previously, WWE’s management of the coronavirus threat was to have Braun Strowman tell fans to “wash these hands.” Still a valuable message.
No word yet on whether or not Monday’s Raw show or future editions of Smackdown will also move to the Performance Center, but we’ll keep you up to date on that and any WrestleMania rescheduling, relocating, postponement, or cancellation announcements.