WWE fans must break habits of a lifetime ahead of WrestleMania (Opinion)
- This year, WrestleMania will look and feel very different
- Fans may need to change how they view the Show of Shows
These are, undoubtedly, unique times - society is in uncharted territory, not least fans of professional wrestling.
With the coronavirus sweeping across the globe and causing, in many places, tragedy, and destruction wherever it goes, people everywhere have had to take action and change the way they're living - at least temporarily. Work-life has changed, home life is different from how it was, and recreation in all the forms we know it is now unrecognizable.
Along with the suspension of sporting seasons across the world like the Premier League and the NBA to name just a couple, WWE has also been forced to drastically alter what it does and how it presents it. This has been evidenced not least by the fact that this year's WrestleMania will take place without an audience, and at WWE's Performance Center training facility in Orlando, Florida, rather than in front of 60,000 in Tampa Bay.
What's more, large portions of the show are likely to be taped in advance and packaged together in order to ensure the production value of this WrestleMania, more than ever, is compelling and unmissable.
For wrestling fans, it means the biggest show of the entire year will be like they have never, ever known it. There will be almost no atmosphere, no fans in attendance, no pyro. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this matters little. It's immaterial in comparison to life in general. But, in the context of pro wrestling, it's huge. And it's left people not really knowing what to expect.
But just as WWE has a responsibility to keep its key stakeholders (fans, performers, staff and the like...) safe, we, too, as fans have to do our bit to keep things in perspective. In that respect, WWE fans will need to view this WrestleMania differently to any others, and alter their expectations - and that doesn't necessarily mean they have to be lowered.
It's likely that, as a final product, WrestleMania will lack much of what we've come to recognize. With no fans creating an atmosphere, the lack of buzz will inevitably mean the show feels a little flatter than normal - especially when we're in the midst of some of the big match-ups, where performers so often feed of the energy of the crowd.
There will be a lesser feel of hype and anticipation, given the build-up to the Show of Shows has been so heavily impacted with RAW and SmackDown also broadcast with a very different feel recently. We'll need to be careful and resist the urge to criticize.
As a fan base, WWE's supporters are quick to critique matches and performances; who had the best match, who didn't quite live up to expectations, who stole the show? In 2020, WrestleMania will need to be judged and remembered very differently, and those aren't really the questions we can afford to ask.
And then there's the actual watching of the show. As a modern-day society in respect of wrestling, we all want to be in the know, and to be aware of events as-they-happen. Spoilers, for instance, are huge.
But if you're thinking of reading spoilers ahead of WrestleMania this year, please don't. You might feel the urge to but, really, you'd do better to avoid them. Watch the show for what it is - you might enjoy it.
In a year where so much of WrestleMania will be different, there will be one thing that remains the same. It IS WrestleMania. However it may look or feel, it is still WWE's biggest show of the calendar year and the culmination of months of stories.
Many fans will revel in the escapism that comes with watching it - especially in these uncertain times. If you can, break the habit and resist spreading the word.
WrestleMania may be missing some of its spark this year, but let it retain the magic...Published 23 Mar 2020, 17:13 IST