Ever since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced earlier this month that WWE is an "essential business" in his state, there has been much debate regarding whether professional wrestling should be given so much importance as the world deals with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a recent podcast appearance, WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry shared his thoughts on the issue, discussing a controversial moment on a recent episode of Friday Night SmackDown and explaining why he agrees that pro wrestling is essential during these unprecedented times.
As quoted by WrestlingNews.co, Henry talked about fellow Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels' reference to social distancing on last Friday's episode of SmackDown. Here, he joked about refusing to hug Triple H — who was celebrating his 25th year in WWE — because of the safety protocols that are required around the world in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As explained by Henry, he understands why many fans felt offended by the segment and thought that Michaels' joke came "too soon."
"It's a lot of stuff that's going on that's got people on edge. And that they're not…they're not ready to laugh at it yet," he added.Regarding the classification of WWE — and pro wrestling in general — as an essential business in Florida, Henry said that it's a good thing that sports entertainment has pushed forward despite the pandemic, with WWE and top rival All Elite Wrestling airing new content every week. While he said that there are indeed people who disagree with this assessment, he clarified that there are others who feel differently, particularly those who look to wrestling as a form of escapism to help them cope with the stress brought about by the coronavirus as it affects millions of people worldwide.
"But for all the people that rely on pro wrestling as a form of entertainment to get them through this tough time? Yeah. It's essential. It is highly essential. And I don't expect everybody to agree because everybody doesn't agree on anything…except bacon."As explained by WrestlingNews.co, WWE was recently allowed to start airing weekly shows live at the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, though it's no longer clear whether it will keep on doing so in the coming weeks or whether it will return to taping shows in advance. Similarly, AEW has also been taping episodes of Dynamite in empty-arena settings, though as the outlet noted, the backlash against the 1-year-old company hasn't been as strong as it has been against WWE.