(I thought they said no fans in attendance. There’s a giant one just above Bayley’s head.)
This has been weird. This post is coming to you from right in the middle of the Coronavirus and one of the most obvious changes has been the world of professional wrestling. I watched the 3/13 Smackdown and the 3/16 Raw over the last two days. The 3/20 Smackdown is currently airing as I write this.
If the pattern continues from the previous episodes, I’m not going to watch these shows live. If you are a hardcore wrestling fan, the shows are replaying pay per view matches to fill the time. I watched these live just over a month ago, which with the current state of the world also feels like ten years ago. If I’m to watch classic wrestling during this time I’ll go further into the archives, or if it is modern will be something I have not previously seen. However, if you have not seen these matches before they’re well worth watching with fresh eyes.
Wrestlers are there to entertain the fans and most of them love every moment of it. To perform in front of no one has to be just as bizarre for them as it is for all of us. One of the best reactions I’ve seen compared this quiet WWE to a Samuel Beckett play.
Which wrestling has always been. A morality play. Good vs. evil on stage. It is universal, and also timeless. Nearly every one of these men and women have traveled to an independent wrestling show in a small town and performed in front of less people. Yes, once you count the camera people and crew, most of the wrestlers have performed in front of 5 people. In a way it’s probably like a homecoming for them. With better pay.
I think it’s crazy to be travelling and risking spreading the disease right now. But many of these people live in Florida already and are making a short trip for TV. I’ll be watching All Elite Wrestling sometime in the next couple days, and I was equally impressed with what I saw from them so far.
Impressed because these shows are doing all they can to look professional, be entertaining, perform at their usual level, and give fans an escape for two hours. As more and more sports go off the air, along with TV and movies suspending production, tune in to professional wrestling while you’re at home. Wrestling has the potential to be as timeless as we all hope this pandemic isn’t.