How WWE have been able to produce WrestleMania 36 – pre-recording, closed sets and NO FANS behind closed doors – The Sun
IT'S Wrestlemania – but as you've never seen it before.
This year sees the 36th edition of wrestling's crown jewel, where stars of SmackDown and Raw combine for a blockbuster evening of entertainment.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic cancelling most of the sporting calendar, WWE bosses have pushed ahead and this weekend's show will be aired as a pay-per-view event worldwide.
How have WWE have been able to produce WrestleMania 36?
TO ensure that the event is safe for their performers, the world of wrestling is having to make severe compromises.
Wrestlemania is the biggest event in the WWE calendar, an annual behemoth which sees up to 100,000 fans pack stadiums across America to watch epic storylines unfold.
But with coronavirus playing havoc with sport around the world, Vince McMahon and Co have been forced into a number of big changes to make sure it goes ahead.
Traditionally, Wrestlemania is a one-night extravaganza.
But this year wrestling fans get two for the price of one for the first time ever, with the show coming at you across TWO evenings on April 4 and 5.
Rob Gronkowski, the former New York Patriots tight-end, is hosting proceedings and returns to the WWE after his own bizarre cameo at Wrestlemania 33.
Gronk – himself a life-long wrestling fanatic – helped friend Mojo Rawley defeat Jinder Mahal in an epic Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal two years ago.
Spoiler alert, but wrestling is scripted. Sorry.
The storylines and drama are pre-determined, but performers throughout the WWE are adept at creating what appears to be an organic and seamless narrative.
And most of all, they feed off the energy and reactions of the crowd.
This time though, all the action will be pre-recorded at either the WWE Performance Center in Orlando or other secret locations – we don't know where.
Originally, Wrestlemania 36 was set for the impressive Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
But the Sunshine State has been locked down due to coronavirus, meaning non-essential travel and public gatherings are prohibited.
According to Forbes' Blake Oestriecher, multiple endings to some contests have been shot to prevent leaks escaping before the weekend.
You've got no fans
The lockdown also means there's around 70,000 WWE fans missing out on the trip of a lifetime.
There will be NO fans attending the behind-closed-doors events either, which are being shot in front of a skeleton production staff.
Closed sets mean only the most trusted WWE employees – and the performers themselves – will know the results of the matches before show time.
Tapings for Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown will also be in front of no crowd until at least April 9.
It's not just wrestling fanatics who are staying at home for the big one.
Quite a few of the wrestlers themselves have stayed away despite the live show being canned, including headliner Roman Reigns.
The Raw star didn't feel comfortable competing during the coronavirus outbreak after a brave battle with blood cancer leukaemia.
He was due to fight Goldberg for the Universal title in a behind-closed-doors version of the Showcase of the Immortals.
The dad-of-three is understood to not want to risk his own health by filming the WWE pay-per-view at this time.
SmackDown Tag Team Champion The Miz has also reportedly pulled out, while US Champion Andrade has allegedly picked up an injury and won't be appearing in Showcase of the Immortals.
Until the tape rolls on Saturday night in the biggest – and strangest – PPV of the year, nobody really knows.
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