The coronavirus pandemic has taken another bite out of WWE's schedule. So far the company has seen last week's SmackDown, this week's Raw and Wednesday's edition of NXT all move to the WWE Performance Center, while the live events scheduled for over the weekend were scrapped due to the virus. On Monday the company confirmed that another live event, this time in Mobile, Alabama on Thursday, has been canceled. It was then confirmed that this week's edition of SmackDown, booked for the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, has also moved to the PC.
WWE has confirmed the SmackDown episode will feature former NFL star Rob Gronkowski making an appearance, as well as a contract signing between Universal Champion Goldberg and Roman Reigns. Even though the status of WrestleMania 36 remains up in the air, WWE has moved forward in the programming as if nothing has changed about the upcoming April 5 event.
The latest word on the status of WrestleMania is that unless WWE opts to cancel the event (booked for April 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa), Tampa city officials will make the call on Thursday.
"We know that right now WrestleMania is out about three weeks, and we came to the conclusion [that] right now we don't want to pull that plug," Hillsborough county district commissioner Les Miller said on Thursday. "However, we wanted to give it at least a week to see what was going to happen, if the WWE was going to do anything at all. And if that don't, at that point I would suggest we do bring this body back together in an emergency meeting to discuss what we do at that point in time."
Meanwhile WWE is looking at backup plans to keep the show going in some form or fashion, including holding it in an empty arena or at the Performance Center (Vince McMahon is reportedly against both ideas).
"While we remain committed to hosting WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, April 5, we are putting contingency plans in place in the event that it is cancelled by government officials, civil authorities and/or local venues," WWE said in its latest statement. "The health and safety of our fans, performers and employees are our top priorities and we are monitoring the situation closely with our partners and government officials in Tampa Bay."
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