As Coronavirus grips the world in a state of panic, we have seen many events plunged into a state of purgatory as to whether they can go ahead.

    So far, we have seen several football matches cancelled due to an outbreak in Italy, as well as Paris and Milan fashion shows; The Louvre Museum closed due to worries of infection, and Tokyo’s famous cherry blossom festival also took the hit and was cancelled.

    Even though the United States has only received a handful of cases – 103 confirmed cases – two of those have recently been discovered in the Tampa Bay Area. 

    This is obviously a huge worry for WWE as we are well and truly on the Road to WrestleMania. Lots of people are being told to avoid large gatherings and as the last WrestleMania was seven hours long, people attending could be at a much higher risk than somebody going to a football game, when you would typically be in the stadium for around two hours. 

    WWE will have to make sure they put no members of the WWE Universe in danger with this illness, and while you may be surprised by this stat; 30% of fans are now aged 50+. This would put more people than expected at risk, as the highest mortality rates for the virus are amongst anybody aged 60 or more.

    We will be looking through what may become an inevitability in the next few weeks – what could happen if WWE was forced to cancel WrestleMania?

    Independent promotions may thrive

    While everybody attending WrestleMania will undoubtedly be excited about the event, WrestleMania week is increasingly becoming a thriving hotspot for independent wrestling the world over. Companies such as Progress Wrestling, IMPACT, ROH, will all be putting their brand out into fan’s faces, plus there are a load of collaborative efforts such as Effy’s Big Gay Brunch, Joey Janela’s Spring Break and Joey Ryan’s Penis Party which will undoubtedly draw attention.

    The reality is that if WWE was forced to cancel their biggest show of the year, the fans would not be forced to suffer a great deal. Sure, there would be lots of last-minute frantic action behind the scenes of these shows to bring together something to cover the entirety of Sunday that fans would usually reserve for Mania, but wrestling as a whole is a much more tight-knit community than most would imagine, and lots of independent stars would work their butts off to ensure that fans weren’t left too disheartened at missing Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg.

    Maybe the older generation of fans wouldn’t be too into it, but lots of wrestling fans I know would like to cover their losses and see whatever other shows they can.

    The local economy would suffer

    WWE prides itself on how much money WrestleMania makes for the areas that it visits each year. Just over the past five years, WWE has grown each local economy by the following amounts:

    WrestleMania 35: New Jersey – $165.4m

    WrestleMania 34: New Orleans – $175m

    WrestleMania 33: Orlando – $181.5m

    WrestleMania 32: Dallas – $170m

    WrestleMania 31: San Jose – $139m

    Minus San Jose, the performance for all of these is incredible for the WWE brand and shows that WrestleMania is a heavily sought after event. 

    New Jersey has approximately 4x the strength of economy that Tampa does, so if WWE announced a cancellation early enough for customers to avoid travelling from all over the world, Tampa would be devastated by the amount they would lose for a single week of tourism for the city.

    Local restaurants would probably be the worst hit, but thankfully Tampa’s economy is the fourth biggest in the South East of America, so while it wouldn’t be fantastic news, most businesses should be able to ride the wave.

    WWE could be forced into an offseason

    If WWE was forced to cancel their largest event of the year, there would be a huge outcry for the company to force this upon even more of its events. WWE TV tapings regularly draw crowds of anywhere between 3,000-15,000 attendees, which could be considered too high for many health experts if the Coronavirus threat continues to grow.

    While many are stating that Coronavirus may not be that hardy of a virus, if the threat is too high, WWE could be forced to cancel all live shows for the foreseeable future. This would mean wrestlers not getting paid for each appearance, and WWE losing a considerable amount of money in the process.

    While this would not be great news in the short term, this could force WWE into making this a regular occurrence – an off season if you will. It’s something that pockets of people have been asking for over the last several years, as the toll that the touring schedule takes on each superstar’s body is enormous.

    Taking a break from WrestleMania to early summer would not necessarily hurt the company too much, as there is typically a dip in attendance and TV numbers during the post-Mania lull. 

    It could be a silver lining WWE is desperately in need of, as performers may have more energy for the rest of the year, resulting in higher quality shows and a boom in numbers.

    Alternative arrangements could be made

    While not ideal, many football matches in Italy recently have been played in empty arenas, so that could be an alternative for WrestleMania this year as well.

    The WWE Universe plays a huge part in each event, so this is an unlikely option, but an alternative that WWE may be forced into from sponsors, as lots of companies brand their logo all over the event every year. The company would suffer massive financial losses on the event most likely if they lost all of their attendees, but with a rumour surrounding WWE selling their “Big Four” to ESPN+, they may recoup some of their money by going back to the old PPV model.

    WrestleMania may be moved to a different date

    Again, less than an ideal option for WWE, but WrestleMania could always just be postponed until the Coronavirus threat has cleared up.

    The obvious issue with this would be securing the same venue for a date just a few months behind the original showtime. Events like this require a lot of planning, and even to get the people who were attending to come back, they would have to take more time off from work, which is unlikely, so then a potential entire new audience would have to attend. It would be a logistical nightmare, but it’s something I’m sure WWE will have some sort of emergency plan for.

    All of this being said, it’s highly unlikely that WrestleMania would be cancelled due to Coronavirus. Obviously, everybody’s health comes before anything, but with the US being at a fairly low risk right now, Tampa should be okay to hold the event.

    As it stands, we will all be looking forward to matches like John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg and Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar. Let’s just hope that the Coronavirus outbreak comes to a halt and we can all go back to enjoying our wrestling.

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    The author of this article can be found on Twitter @DRL_1990Thanks so much for reading!