Backstage Updates on COVID-19 Impacting WrestleMania 36 Plans, Latest on the Card and Tapings, More

Backstage Updates on COVID-19 Impacting WrestleMania 36 Plans, Latest on the Card and Tapings, More

WWE has finished all of their tapings that were scheduled for the Orlando, Florida this week, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. They taped everything through the post-WrestleMania 36 edition of RAW on April 6. Several weeks worth of WWE NXT TV were also taped. The shows were taped as empty arena events from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL and Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.

There were also some WrestleMania 36 matches taped on location, most notably The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles in the Boneyard Match, and possibly John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. It sounds like the Taker vs. Styles match may have been taped in some sort of mock cemetery setting. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano for the April 8 NXT episode may have been taped on location as well.

WWE needed to tape everything through Thursday, April 9 because that is when the coronavirus pandemic “stay at home” order expires, at 11pm ET that night. If the April 8 NXT episode wasn’t taped this past week, then the first episode that would not be covered as of this writing is the post-WrestleMania edition of SmackDown on April 10.

We noted before how at least two WWE talents were pulled from WrestleMania 36 due to what were described as symptoms, amid the COVID-19 concerns – Dana Brooke and Rey Mysterio. Brooke was to participate in the SmackDown Women’s Title Six-Pack Elimination Challenge, but it was changed to a Five-Way Elimination with Bayley defending against Tamina Snuka, Naomi, Lacey Evans and Sasha Banks. The Observer reports that Brooke arrived to the WWE Performance Center for the SmackDown episode on March 20, but was asked to quarantine herself after being checked out medically. Rey had symptoms and stayed at home in California, quarantining himself there. Rey was scheduled to be a part of the WWE United States Title match with champion Andrade, and several ideas were tossed around, but WWE went with Andrade and Angel Garza vs. RAW Tag Team Champions The Street Profits with their tag titles on the line. There is no confirmation that Brooke or Mysterio have the coronavirus, and it was just a matter of being cautious. It was noted before that Brooke was sick. The Observer adds that no one in WWE has tested positive for the coronavirus as of today, March 26.

The WrestleMania 36 card was also changed in other ways due to COVID-19, according to the Observer. Some names are being kept confidential because so few know, but it’s been confirmed that multiple talents scheduled for the event either said they were sick, which led to instantly removal from all shows being taped this week, while there were others who didn’t feel sick but had fevers above 100.4 degrees. That is WWE’s cut-off point for not allowing talents to wrestle. There were also others who, on their own, said they didn’t feel comfortable flying in to Orlando to work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both WWE and AEW had told talents that if they didn’t want to travel to work, then they didn’t have to and that the decision would not be held against them when it comes to future bookings.

The Observer reports that 16 matches are still scheduled to air across Night One and Night Two of WrestleMania 36, even after they removed the 7th Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and the 3rd Annual WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. Those matches were nixed from the card because there would be too many people in the ring at once for the coronavirus concerns.

It was noted that the following matches are confirmed to air for the RAW brand: Drew McIntyre vs. WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, Shayna Baszler vs. RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair vs. NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley, Angel Garza and WWE United States Champion Andrade vs. RAW Tag Team Champions The Street Profits, AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker in a Boneyard Match, Randy Orton vs. WWE Hall of Famer Edge in a Last Man Standing match, Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins, and Bobby Lashley vs. Aleister Black.

It was also reported that the following SmackDown matches are confirmed to air on WrestleMania 36: SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Lacey Evans vs. Tamina Snuka vs. Naomi vs. Sasha Banks, The New Day or The Usos vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions John Morrison and The Miz, John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (which could be a gimmick match shot on location), and Elias vs. King Baron Corbin.

The Observer also reported on Roman Reigns vs. WWE Universal Champion Bill Goldberg airing, but the issue was released as the news broke that Reigns had backed out of the match due to concerns over his health amid the coronavirus pandemic. You can read our report on Reigns and the WrestleMania 36 card by clicking here. It was reported that WWE was looking for a replacement for Goldberg’s opponent. There’s no word yet on who that opponent is, but Braun Strowman has been rumored.

There were three other scheduled matches not announced, to make 16. Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler will likely be confirmed on SmackDown, with some sort of stipulation involving Mandy Rose and possibly Sonya Deville. At one point Rose, Otis and Tucker vs. Deville, Ziggler and Robert Roode was planned. They also discussed a match that would see Rose be the special guest referee for an Otis vs. Ziggler singles match. That was changed a few weeks back and Rose’s role is unknown.

One other SmackDown match of the three scheduled to make 16 will likely be Daniel Bryan vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn. Friday’s SmackDown will feature Drew Gulak vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and if Gulak wins, then Bryan gets the title shot from Zayn at WrestleMania.

Another of the three will be a match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles, currently held by Asuka and Kairi Sane. The plan was for Sane and Asuka vs. Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya and WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, but the last word going around was that Natalya and Phoenix were not a lock, and the match was not finalized.

Regarding the WWE United States Title match ideas that were discussed, WWE considered Mysterio, Black, Garza and Humberto Carrillo as potential opponents for Andrade. They also discussed a possible multi-man match for Andrade’s title. They also discussed a Triple Threat for The Street Profits’ titles with Andrade and Garza vs. Mysterio and Carrillo vs. champions Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. However, Carrillo lost his spot on the card when Rey stayed at home due to coronavirus concerns.

Lana is scheduled to be in Lashley’s corner for the match with Black. With the coronavirus impacting Hollywood business, Lana is available earlier than expected from the movie she’s been filming in Georgia with Bruce Willis. Lana’s availability led to the decision to put Lashley back on the card against Black.

The taped WrestleMania 36 event is scheduled to air on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5 at 7pm ET, via the WWE Network and pay-per-view. Former NFL Super Bowl champion and recently-signed WWE Superstar Rob Gronkowski will host both nights. Stay tuned for more updates on the card, including Reigns’ replacement.

WWE currently has the following 12 matches listed for WrestleMania 36 on their website:

Host: Rob Gronkowski

WWE Title Match
Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar (c)

WWE Universal Title Match
Roman Reigns vs. WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg (c)

WWE NXT Women’s Title Match
Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley (c)

RAW Women’s Title Match
Shayna Baszler vs. Becky Lynch (c)

Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match for the SmackDown Women’s Title
Lacey Evans vs. Sasha Banks vs. Naomi vs. Tamina Snuka vs. Bayley (c)

RAW Tag Team Titles Match
Angel Garza and WWE United States Champion Andrade vs. The Street Profits (c)

Last Man Standing Match
Edge vs. Randy Orton

Boneyard Match
The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles

John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins

Elias vs. King Baron Corbin

Bobby Lashley vs. Aleister Black

Follow Marc on Twitter at @this_is_marc. Send any news, tips or corrections to us by clicking here.

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