Triple H: WWE Felt 'Obligation' Not to Cancel WrestleMania 36 During COVID-19April 2, 2020
WWE executive Triple H spoke with ESPN MMA's Ariel Helwani on Wednesday and discussed why WWE decided to go through with WrestleMania 36.
WrestleMania was moved from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Triple H explained the rationale behind moving forward with WrestleMania in front of an empty arena rather than canceling or postponing it (beginning at 2:10 mark):
"I think [postponing or canceling] was obviously considered but we feel like it's an obligation for us. Our fans have been there for us for years and years and years and we want to be there for them in this time where everybody is just doing the best to get through this, stuck home and the world needs entertainment right now. We feel an obligation to give them that. Whether it's exactly what we would like it to be or they would like it to be, it probably won't be, but it will be a version of that. We will make it the spectacle that it needs to be and that we can to the best of our ability and we'll give the fans something to be entertained by. Sometimes people get very caught up in what we do, the arguments of what's happening and why and should've done this or that, but at the end of the day if you don't take it too seriously and you enjoy WWE for what it is, an entertainment source that hopefully we can do what the intent is is putting a smile on your face. If you can forget all that and put it aside and just sit in front of your set and just be entertained by what we do, then we've succeeded."
For the first time ever, WrestleMania will be a two-night event, with Night 1 occurring Saturday night and Night 2 taking place Sunday night. Both shows will emanate from the Performance Center.
Since public gatherings have been banned for the past few weeks, episodes of Raw, SmackDown and NXT have also been held at the Performance Center.
WrestleMania is known for its pomp and circumstance, and over 70,000 fans were expected to attend in Tampa.
Triple H acknowledged that while the situation is far from ideal, some of the things WWE has stumbled upon out of necessity could continue to be used moving forward even once live crowds are allowed to return:
"It's funny, sometimes I often think and I've heard this said a lot, that out of chaos comes genius. Sometimes these moments in time allow you to think outside the box, and do things that you wouldn't necessarily have the ability to do.
"If WrestleMania was just WrestleMania in a stadium and all that, we would be approaching it like we always do. We're approaching this differently, from day one when we thought we were going to do this we thought how can we do it differently and unique and how can we capitalize on the situation that we're in. I think we've done that and I think there will be some things on there that will, I don't want to blow it out of proportion, but I think there's some things that might change the way we do business going forward even after this."
The build to WrestleMania on Raw and SmackDown has felt decidedly different than in past years, and it can be argued that it has actually been an improvement.
In particular, Raw has featured several fantastic promos over the past couple of weeks from the likes of Paul Heyman, Randy Orton, Edge, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and The Undertaker. That was partially a result of the lack of crowd noise and the ability of the performers to speak directly into the camera.
WrestleMania is going to have some unique matches in the form of a Boneyard Match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles, and a Firefly Fun House match between John Cena and "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt. If those matches are successful while making good use of the empty arena, perhaps WWE will continue to think outside the box moving forward regardless of the fan situation.
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