With the COVID-19 pandemic putting sports on hold, independent wrestling events are being affected by the virus as well.
Smaller wrestling promotions like Oshawa’s Pro Wrestling Eclipse (PWE) is cancelling their events. PWE’s promoter, Sean Murley, says he’s not scheduling any events for a while.
“I don’t have any shows planned until May 31, I hope that it (COVID-19) will be under control by then,” says Murley, 56. “It is stopping my ability to plans shows going forward.”
COVID-19 isn’t just affecting PWE but other independent wrestling promotions as well like Battle Arts Pro (BAP) based out of Mississauga. BAP wrestler and Junction City Wrestling producer Andrew McRae says BAP’s personal venue and wrestling school, Battle Arts Academy, is currently not open.
“Well the gym is closed, so no one has been able to train. They still held their ‘Rising Stars’ event with social distance measures in place when they were brand new,” says McRae, 33. “That was I think Saturday the 14th, so that was just as events were beginning to be cancelled.”
He adds last week Battle Arts Academy’s gym was still open but classes were cancelled, including the professional wrestling and martial arts classes. No groups were allowed into the gym but they were allowing individuals to come in and train on their own.
The building has now been closed to adhere to Premier Doug Ford’s order to close all non-essential services and McRae isn’t sure when they’ll open back up.
“The future of…it is uncertain because we don’t know when the gym will open again and if and when we’ll be able to have shows,” McRae says.
Bigger promotions like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and All Elite Wrestling (AEW) are being affected, too. Currently, they’re moving forward with their planned events while relocating to smaller venues.
One relocated event is this year’s WrestleMania which was originally scheduled to take place live at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on April 5. The event has been moved to WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., it’s now being taped as a two-day event for April 4-5.
WWE’s televised events going forward are being put on at the Performance Center with an empty audience to stop the spread of the virus. McRae, who performed as enhancement talent on WWE’s cruiserweight show, 205 Live in 2018, says they have resources to keep the lights on.
“They’re doing everything possible to continue entertaining their audiences under the circumstances,” says McRae. “I think that’s great but I would also say they’re doing that at what cost?”
He adds it doesn’t surprise him that WWE promoter and CEO, Vince McMahon, is doing everything in his power to put on WrestleMania in some shape or form.