It’s billed as “the showcase of the immortals”, the marquee extravaganza that’s the centrepiece of WWE’s packed calendar.
Wrestlemania, originally slated to take place in front of 90,000 fans at the Raymond James stadium in Florida on Monday (April 6, Singapore time) will now be a two-day event, broadcast on Sunday and Monday morning.
The show was recorded at WWE’s training facility last week in Orlando ahead of a statewide lockdown. No fans were in attendance.
With most major sporting events this year such as the Tokyo Olympics and UEFA’s Euro 2020 tournament upended due to the coronavirus pandemic, WWE still decided to go ahead with the annual Wrestlemania.
“These are truly unprecedented times in our world. As we are all trying to reinvent our companies and brands, WWE has decided that it is critical for us to stay true to our mission of putting smiles on people’s faces,” said its Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon.
In one of the more intriguing matches slated for Wrestlemania, Scotsman Drew McIntyre will face defending WWE champion Brock Lesnar for the championship.
Once personally endorsed by WWE chairman Vince McMahon as the “Chosen One”, McIntyre’s ascent to the top has been a long and winding one, a tale of hard work, sweat and now, possibly redemption.
Initially touted as a “future world champion”, McIntyre was a one-time Intercontinental champion and seemed destined for great things in the future.
However, he let success get into his head and was let go by WWE in 2014.
He performed on the independent circuits in Europe and the US and returned to WWE three years later with a different look and demeanour, choosing to wrestle in NXT, WWE’s developmental system.
After capturing the NXT championship and then losing it soon after to Andrade “Cien” Almas, he returned to WWE’s main roster.
In January, McIntyre defeated 29 other men in the Royal Rumble, including Lesnar, to guanratee his championship opportunity at Wrestlemania.
If McIntyre succeeds, he will be the first ever British WWE champion.
Speaking frankly during a conference call on Friday, the 34-year-old said his initial reaction to Wrestlemania being held without a live audience was one of disappointment and anger.
“I waited so long for this opportunity and it’s not going to be the way I envisioned it. I just sat down and had a think about it. I talked to my wife about it and realised it was a selfish way of looking at it,” he said.
“This is the world that is suffering here. We’ve got a chance of making people happy. We are pushing on. My match especially has a chance of being a feel-good moment. Hopefully, it will bring a smile to some faces.”
POSSIBLE MATCH CHANGES
In another Wrestlemania match, Lacey Evans will join three other female superstars – Sasha Banks, Naomi and Tamina – to challenge WWE Smackdown Women’s champion Bayley.
A former US marine from Georgia, the 30-year-old Evans said: “This is something we have never been through and the world just needs to come together and stay at home.
“For WWE to make a decision to still bring as much entertainment in two full nights for WrestleMania is incredible and you don’t even know which matches are which and when they are going to air.
“You don’t know what to expect at this point and I can guarantee you there have been some changes that a lot of you have no idea about!”
Catch Wrestlemania live on the WWE Network at 7am on April 5 and 6.