According to reports, WWE had as many as two-dozen wrestlers and employees test positive for coronavirus this week. A few miles away in the same state of Florida, AEW had QT Marshall stay home because he came into contact with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus and Jon Moxley, the AEW Champion, sat out last night’s show after his wife, WWE announcer Renee Young, shared that she has been diagnosed with Covid-19.
While there are reports that up to two-dozen people from WWE have tested positive, Young has publicly confirmed her diagnosis along with WWE producer Adam Pearce.
OK … it’s time to stop taping wrestling.
WWE and AEW are simply being irresponsible at this point. Florida was one of the first states to re-open and there is analysis that now suggests it could be the new epicenter for the virus. Earlier on Thursday, some states (including Texas) began to pause its re-openings due to spikes in numbers.
Despite the nation’s attention being distracted amidst political unrest and protests, the coronavirus pandemic did not go away. And now, we’re seeing evidence that it’s getting ready to spike again.
That’s why it’s irresponsible for WWE and AEW to continue its current path forward.
There might be a way for them to continue taping, but it’s going to require an overhaul and total change of approach. The NBA and NHL are close to returning to play next month, if negotiations with the players’ unions end in an agreement. However, the NBA and NHL are both essentially quarantining everyone.
The NBA has talked about a bubble city in Orlando, where players would be quarantined when they arrive and then kept separate from EVERYONE until their season ends, ensuring that no one would come into contact with the virus. The NHL has a similar plan, with the eastern and western conference commencing playoff play in one host city. Players, coaches and staff would only be held at the team hotel (which would be blocked off from all other outside guests), a practice rink and a game rink, again essentially shutting the league off from the outside world to ensure no one comes in contact with the virus.
That’s a stark contrast to pro wrestling’s current model. Sure, WWE and AEW are testing talent before each television taping, but the talent is out of the company’s hands once they leave the property. They’re staying at different hotels, eating at different restaurants and flying in and out of the state on different planes. There are multiple levels of potential exposure.
Quarantining an entire company the way the NBA and NHL plan to do would be costly, but if WWE and AEW aren’t willing to take on that cost, they simply shouldn’t be allowed to tape television right now.
It’s honestly sad to see what’s happening in pro wrestling the last few months. On one side you have pro sports, and the athletes are able to negotiate as a group within their union and make sure their voices are heard in the process. On the other side you have pro wrestling, where non-unionized labor is essentially forced to work so their billionaire owners can continue to fulfill television contracts.
It’s almost like, just maybe, pro wrestlers need a union.