While play has been suspended or canceled across several major sporting leagues across North America due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has largely been business as usual in the world of sports entertainment, albeit with some changes to ensure the health and safety of wrestlers. WWE, for instance, will be holding WrestleMania 36 at an empty Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, on April 4 and 5, and while there had been some calls for the company to cancel or postpone the event, the “Show of Shows” will go on as scheduled. This decision was recently defended by Edge, whose Last Man Standing Match against Randy Orton is expected to be one of the highlights of the upcoming empty-arena show.
Speaking to Digital Spy, Edge opened up about WWE’s insistent refusal to move WrestleMania 36 to a later date, explaining to the outlet that this year has been unlike any other in recent history, with the coronavirus outbreak posing unprecedented challenges to people all over the world. As he pointed out, WWE’s decision to have its biggest event of the year push forward without any delays — even without any fans in attendance — could help people cope with the stress caused by the virus by offering a form of escape.
“Whether that is books, whether that is movies, whatever it is, just to be able to try and forget and laugh and have fun and remember what it is to be human. That’s why we’re doing this. There’s one reason. That’s the reason.”
— WWE (@WWE) March 17, 2020
In addition, Edge told Digital Spy that he feels honored to be able to face Orton at WrestleMania 36, saying that it’s his job as a performer to keep WWE’s fans entertained despite the ongoing crisis.
“As long we can try and be as responsible and as safe as we can, why wouldn’t we try and do this for everyone?” he added.
With Edge and Orton’s WrestleMania match confirmed on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, the upcoming contest will mark the culmination of a feud that started right after this year’s Royal Rumble, where the “Rated-R Superstar” made his return to the ring close to nine years after he announced his retirement.
As speculated by Bleacher Report, the lack of a live audience at the event could allow WWE to add some elements to the match that wouldn’t normally be plausible, such as allowing both men to “brawl throughout the Performance Center,” similar to The Rock and Mankind’s own empty-arena battle on a 1999 episode of Halftime Heat.