The growing coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered life for billions of people throughout the world, with large events and gatherings shut down, restrictions put in place on entertainment as well as dining and travel bans. WWE has already felt the impact of these changes by moving its weekly Raw and SmackDown television shows to the Performance Center in Orlando, and now WrestleMania -- the company's biggest show of the entire year -- will follow suit.
Monday afternoon, shortly before the first relocated Raw airs live on USA from the Performance Center, WWE announced the relocation of WrestleMania 36 to its training ground in Orlando.
"In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place," the WWE statement read. "However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 pm ET on WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view. Only essential personnel will be on the closed set at WWE's training facility in Orlando, Florida to produce WrestleMania."
The event, which was to be held at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, April 5 in Tampa, has been in jeopardy since the virus began to quickly spread throughout the United States. While Tampa city officials originally left the ball in WWE's court as to the future of the event, recent reports indicated a new pressure from those same officials for WWE to cancel the event, following in the footsteps of other sporting and entertainment options.
While WrestleMania 36 will forge on, annual WrestleMania week staples NXT TakeOver and the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will not take place, according to a separate statement provided to CBS Sports.
"The WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony and NXT TakeOver will not take place as previously scheduled," the statement read. "We will share further details as they become available."
WrestleMania 36 was expected to bring in more than 70,000 fans to Raymond James Stadium at a time when the CDC has recommended any gathering of more than 50 people be canceled and President Donald Trump as recently as Monday advised limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer. WrestleMania has proven to be a major boost for the local economy with people flying from across the world for the event.
"Our community has waited 36 years to host WrestleMania and while we are saddened that this unforeseen situation has led us to today's announcement, this is totally the right call for the safety and security of everyone involved," a statement from Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee read. "A huge thank you to all of our local leaders and our friends at the WWE, as we collectively worked through the unprecedented fluidity of the last few weeks. The Team Tampa Bay-WWE partnership has never been stronger."
Like recent and future Raw and SmackDown efforts, WrestleMania will take place without a crowd in attendance, a significant change from the massive atmosphere that usually accompanies the promotion's biggest event of the year. The event is headlined by Brock Lesnar defending his WWE championship against Drew McIntyre, WWE universal champion Goldberg putting the title up against Roman Reigns, John Cena vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt and many more high-profile matches.
The move also carries with it significant impact to the independent wrestling scene, which has turned WWE's signature weekend into a wrestling wonderland, with tens of shows taking place in the host city over the weekend. After the announcement, AIW promoter John Thorne tweeted, calling the situation "a worst case scenario."
GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale, who, along with Joey Janela, created massive WrestleMania Weekend success "Joey Janela's Spring Break" and the follow-up gathering of independent promotions "The Collective" tweeted, "4 years of 24/7 wiped away. Heartbroken for everyone."