The Coronavirus outbreak has affected many mass gatherings such as conventions, concerts and live sporting events causing them all to either get canceled, postponed or like with the WWE and its various shows, change into something entirely different.
In an effort to keep their performers, fans, and staff safe from the outbreak, the WWE has canceled all their live performances and tours around the US. Instead, they now carry on with their shows at their massive WWE Performance Center in Florida without a live audience.
Professional wrestling is a business that’s heavily reliant on reading and playing off the live crowd, so seeing a wrestling show without one is pretty jarring and weird.
Don’t get it wrong, the WWE is no stranger to weird stuff—this is, after all, the company that has given us Doink The Clown, Firefly Funhouse and Colonel Sanders beating up a chicken—but nothing is really quite like seeing Stone Cold Steve Austin throw a good ol’ beer bash to the delight of a couple of hundred empty seats.
And just look at how weird an actual match looks like without the chants, the roar of the crowd and the gasps of awe during the big moves.
However, lack of a live audience didn’t deter some WWE superstars from delivering some incredibly engaging and entertaining promos which clearly shows that they’re masters of their craft no matter what the stage. Just take a look at this scintillating snippet from the returning Edge’s promo on Randy Orton calling him out for WrestleMania:
The ever-professional wordsmith Paul Heyman also proves that he’s got the gift of the gab whether he’s speaking in front of an audience of thousands or an empty performance center.
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch also cut an incredible promo addressing her opponent for ‘Mania, Shayna Baszler.
There’s also the unexpected side effect of making the silence of the arena actually benefit some segments such as in the case of the contract signing between Roman Reigns and Universal Champion Goldberg. The two aren’t particularly stellar while talking to a crowd but the absence of the audience allowed the pair’s collective intensity and animosity to really shine through.
This bizarre time in the WWE also gave birth to some absolutely hilarious moments that we probably may not have gotten otherwise. Just like when WWE COO Triple H came out of the back during an understaffed episode of Smackdown to do commentary with Michael Cole and do silly things like this:
Raw Women’s Tag Team Champion Asuka also provided some backup on commentary on Raw, and the results were a bit different but equally as hilarious. Just watch the end of the match and tell us that isn’t insightful, in-depth analysis. Also, we dare you to tell Asuka that herself.
Finally, there’s also the reigning Smackdown Tag Team Champs Miz and Morrison that just took the challenge of performing in an empty arena and just rolled it. First, the silence of the crowd to their advantage:
Then following up in the next week by filming this absolute gem of a skit in the empty seats:
For better or for worse, this is the current state of the WWE right now. It’s bizarre, it’s refreshing and actually quite fascinating to watch. The WWE’s biggest show, Wrestlemania, is also just around the corner and it’s looking like it’s going to be this way too, at the Performance Center without an audience so that’s sure to be something different to watch as well.
At the very least, there won’t be anyone there to boo John Cena.
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