The past weekend of following WWE's decision to go from condensed tapings to live broadcasts for its weekly television shows has been filled with more back-and-forth drama than an epic wrestling feud. After initially committing to taping upcoming shows and thus reducing the amount of time wrestlers and crew would need to remain out of their homes, WWE has now said they will broadcast their shows live. To accomplish this purpose in Florida under a state-wide stay-at-home order from the Governor, WWE has declared itself an "essential" part of the media.
WWE pre-taped several weeks of programming leading up to WrestleMania 36 and, all things considered, it turned out okay. WrestleMania 36 was as entertaining as a big wrestling show with no crowd could be, and exceeded most fans' admittedly low expectations. The company looked set to continue that strategy by filming another month's worth of shows in the coming week. However, at the last minute, Vince McMahon reversed course and decided that WWE would go back to broadcasting each show live, or as close to it as possible under the circumstances.
But the saga didn't end there. Immediately after news hit about WWE's plans, a new report was published about a memo going around the company talking about an on-air talent, not a wrestler, who had tested positive for COVID-19. The talent apparently went out to celebrate with people in the medical field after wrapping the taping for WrestleMania 36 and came down with the virus. With mounting pressure from the published report, WWE was forced to issue a statement admitting that an employee had tested positive.
WWE Claims Wrestling is Essential
With questions about the wisdom of continuing to broadcast live, which will force wrestlers and crew to travel to and from the WWE Performance Center, WWE has now released a statement confirming their stance that WWE is an essential part of the media. WWE stated to ESPN as part of a report on the last few day's activities. "We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times," said the statement. "We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance." How government officials will receive the statement is unknown. Gamestop attempted to make a similar claim about the importance of its business and was rebuked by governments and forced to close physical locations. Will WWE suffer the same fate? That remains to be seen, but Raw is set to be broadcast on Monday.