WWE's attitude has always been the show must go on, and the same applies to WrestleMania 36.
The Show of Shows will continue amid the coronavirus pandemic, moving from a live audience in Tampa to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Speculation suggests the majority of the show has already been taped, though the exact match card and order of events over the course of Saturday and Sunday remains a question mark.
Given that WWE never skips a beat, the fanless environment and pretaped matches will still feature some historic matchups with long-lasting repercussions. Here's a look at the current card listed at WWE.com:
- The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles (Boneyard match)
- Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg (Universal Championship)
- Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena (Firefly Fun House match)
- Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship)
- Edge vs. Randy Orton (Last Man Standing match)
- Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler (Raw Women's Championship)
- Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte (NXT Women's Championship)
- Bayley vs. Naomi vs. Tamina vs. Lacey Evans vs. Sasha Banks (SmackDown Women's Championship)
- Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
- Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
- Elias vs. King Corbin
- Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan (Intercontinental Championship)
- Street Profits vs. Austin Theory and Andrade (Raw Tag Team Championships)
- The Kabuki Warriors vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (Women's Tag Team Championships)
- Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
- The Miz and Morrison vs. The Usos vs. The New Day (SmackDown Tag Team Championship ladder match)
Observant fans will notice a problem there—Roman Reigns won't be competing.
Reigns, whose immune system was compromised after battle with leukemia, won't partake in the universal title match against Goldberg and announced as much on social media. WWE is still playing it off for now, though it's obvious a change will happen at the April 3 edition of SmackDown.
The go-home editions of Raw and SmackDown are always major affairs before a pay-per-view but that makes the upcoming one especially interesting. WWE pulled out a lot of stops to get the Reigns-Goldberg clash on paper, including putting down Bray Wyatt's The Fiend persona in Saudi Arabia to get a strap on the legend.
At this point, WWE would probably get a pass if Goldberg didn't compete at all. And based on the card, things would work out just fine. The legend's match with Reigns was likely to end one of the two broadcasts.
But something like the blood feud between AJ Styles and Undertaker could go in that slot. Or so could the plenty-deserving women's division, which not only features a fun four-way with Bayley vs. Naomi vs. Tamina vs. Lacey Evans vs. Sasha Banks, but also has a must-see offering on the Raw side with Becky Lynch taking on one of wrestling's next bigger stars, Shayna Baszler.
Either way, leave it to WWE to have some unexpected intrigue hanging over an already wild event largely getting the pretaping treatment.
None of this even touches on the biggest match of all: Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre. The latter's amazingly booked run in the Royal Rumble has long set up the ascension for the company's next big star, and the coronation should be historic.
As a whole, WWE has been put in an uncomfortable situation. But there are some pluses to the current format, as the promotion won't have to grapple with a ludicrous show length that fatigues viewers. A lack of a crowd at least means some performers won't go out in a breather match after a massive happening and get met with silence.
Every match gets the silent treatment at WrestleMania 36. Yet so far, WWE's contorting to adapt and entertain has done a brilliant job regardless. Matches have remained as good as ever, and characters have been stretched to meet the circumstances.
For more than its usual reasons, WrestleMania will serve as an impressive expression of the skill put into every facet of the weekly shows while providing fans with a must-have diversion during trying times.