With much of the US locked down in an attempt to slow the coronavirus’ spread, many states allow only businesses deemed to be essential to the public interest to operate. Grocery stores, medical facilities, that type of thing. In Florida that also includes WWE.
On Friday, The Wrestling Observer reported that WWE would be resuming live broadcasts of Raw and SmackDown TV shows from its Performance Center training facility in Orlando, Florida. Though no fans would be present, this raised eyebrows. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, earlier in the month issued an executive order telling people to only leave the house if they were either partaking in an essential activity or providing an essential service.
Last Thursday, the city’s director of emergency management added three types of businesses to the list of essential. The last on the list? “Employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience… only if the location is closed to the general public.”
“People have been starved for content, we haven’t had a lot of new content since the beginning of March,” DeSantis said Tuesday, “if people are being told to stay closer to the house it sure does help to have some fresh things to be able to do.”
It’s a huge win for WWE. The company makes most of its money from billion-dollar TV deals — Fox for SmackDown and USA Network for Raw — so running these shows, even with no crowds, is still a business boon. It comes after WWE aired WrestleMania 36 as a.
Previously, WWE had shot several weeks worth of television over the course of a day or two. With Raw and SmackDown returning to live broadcasts, wrestlers, production staff and other officials will have to travel to and from Florida every week.
WWE confirmed the live Raw and SmackDown broadcasts on Saturday — the same day Pro Wrestling Sheet reported the company got its first confirmed COVID-19 case for an on-air (but not wrestling) talent.