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WrestleMania taking place with no crowd is the perfect decision during weird times

It will be unlike anything else, and that’s a good thing.

WrestleMania. The granddaddy of them all. Wrestling’s biggest night, normally on its brightest stage, will now be performed in front of a crowd of zero.

WWE announced Monday that the coronavirus pandemic would affect the company’s premiere event of the year, moving it from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay to the WWE Performance Center. An unprecedented move further underscoring how the sports world is being influenced by the threat of Covid-19. It’s also welcome, brilliant, and could make this year’s event more special than anything in the past.

WWE explained how this operation will take place:

“In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place. However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 p.m. 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.”

This will be like nothing we have seen before. For more than three decades, WrestleMania has been a spectacle unlike any other. The sport’s Super Bowl. It’s morphed into a multi-hour, open-air extravaganza with rock bands, special events, flashy introductions and dream matches. In many ways, it’s the season finale for WWE, and we’re used to it being larger than life. This year it will feel perfectly sized.

With the communal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus comes reasonable disappointment for temporarily losing some of the things that help us cope with everyday life. Wrestling is, in many ways, the last remaining escape for sports fans. It’s an athletic endeavor which, through its mere construction, allows for the oversight required to allow a sporting event to continue while limiting its impact on the population as much as possible. An opportunity to forget about the threat of a global pandemic and just enjoy extremely athletic men and women pretending to risk their lives for our entertainment.

There’s a tacit understanding that the show must go on, now more than ever — and this banner is unifying wrestlers across companies and borders. WWE has been running its weekly RAW and Smackdown shows each week inside the performance center; AEW announced it will follow suit by moving to a closed set, as well. Sure, it’s a competition between the sport’s two megaliths to build/retain their audience, but I’d also like to think there’s an element of gallantry, too. These companies know people need an escape. Distract us, entertain us, make us feel something — and if that’s something other than fear, well, I’ll relish the opportunity.

WrestleMania 36 will endure as a testament to this surreal time we are living in, serving to remind us not only of what we lost, but hopefully what we gained by embracing the shared responsibility to take care of each other. While it’s naive to think WrestleMania wouldn’t go on as normal if there weren’t mounting pressure to do so, moving it behind closed doors is the right move.

It’s also a chance to see people beat the crap out of each other for a few hours in the ring.

And right now, we all need to see heroes rise.