A few days ago, local Florida media reported that the Orange County Health Department’s Strike Team had begun investigating 17 business locations that are suspected of contributing to the spread of COVID-19. The primary focus was on bars, but there were other kinds of businesses listed as well, including three locations that wrestling fans will recognize:
- WWE Full Sail
- WWE Performance Center on Forsyth Commerce Road
- WWE Amway Arena
For those keeping track, that’s the venue where NXT runs shows, the place where NXT and WWE talent train, and the venue known as the WWE Thunderdome, where all of WWE’s Main Roster shows are currently being run. This can’t be too surprising, since WWE has had multiple reported outbreaks of the virus, and you have to think local authorities are paying attention to that sort of thing.
For their part, WWE released a statement on the subject:
WWE is not open to the public, but rather operating on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance. As part of on-going weekly testing protocols, Aventus Labs have administered more than 10,000 PCR tests to WWE performers, employees, production staff and crew resulting in only 1.5 percent positive cases as compared to the current national average of more than 5%. Additionally, extensive contact tracing takes place and impacted individuals are placed in 14-day quarantine and then only cleared after they test negative.
It’s worth noting that when WWE cites their 1.5 percent of positive cases, they’re calculating that against the 10,000 tests performed, not the number of people tested. They have far fewer than 10,000 employs and have tested everyone more than once, so if it was a percentage of the people tested, the number would be higher than 1.5.
Yesterday, Wrestling Inc. reported that sources within WWE believe that multiple Performance Center trainees, some of whom may be active NXT talent, made formal complaints to the authorities that safety protocols were not being followed. At a recent NXT taping, complaints arose about so-called “anti-maskers” who are not following guidelines and may be putting others at risk. It’s unknown if those complaints are related to the ones made to the local authorities, but it all sure sounds like one big mess in multiple parts.
There’s certainly no shortage of people in his country who are ideologically committed to downplaying the dangers of COVID-19 and discouraging the use of masks, and it’s not surprising that some wrestlers would fall into that trap, considering how rampant conspiracy theories are within the wrestling community. We don’t know who the “anti-maskers” at NXT might be, or the complainers for that matter. What we do know is that the pandemic continues to be an obstacle for Pro Wrestling, as it is for so many other businesses and hobbies, and people are going to need to do a better job of coming together on making things safer for the future.