In another sign that professional – and collegiate, while we're at it –sports are resuming too quickly, a WWE performer who is part of their developmental talent roster has tested positive for COVID-19. The test results led the company to suspend scheduled tapings Tuesday at the WWE's Orlando Performance Center, while WWE wrestlers and developmental talent, and all production employees, get tested.
This unnamed wrestler was last present at the Orlando Performance Center on June 9. Developmental wrestlers train on-site at the Performance Center, wrestle for NXT tapings and they have been used as "audience members" during recent tapings of WWE's bigger Raw and Smackdown television shows.
Alarmingly, this news broke right around the same time that WWE issued an edict banning face masks at tapings for wrestlers and production staff, according to veteran wrestling journalist and insider Dave Meltzer, telling employees that, if you want to wear a mask, just stay at home. Wrestling reporter Bryan Alvarez confirmed this news on Twitter.
And according to Forbes, there were even a "limited number" of fans allowed into the audience Monday Night's Raw taping, right after which the news broke on social media about the positive test after Raw aired.
Reportedly, WWE talent found out about this late Monday night the same way the rest of us did, through the internet.
This is not the first time a WWE employee has tested positive – a non-wrestling employee tested positive in late March – but this is the first time one of their wrestlers has tested positive.
Gov. Ron DeSantis gave WWE the "essential business" green light to continue to hold their television tapings in Orlando as back in April, a decision that may or may not have been related to the America First Action PAC, chaired by WWE owner Vince McMahon's wife Linda, doing a multimillion dollar ad buy for Trump in Florida.
For the last few months, WWE has been taping the majority of its content, including Raw, Smackdown, as well as NXT and other related programming, at their Orlando Performance Facility.As of this writing, the plan is to resume tapings in Orlando on Wednesday, June 17.
WWE provided Orlando Weekly with a statement on this story regarding masks and audience rules at their tapings: "Fans have not been in attendance at WWE events since March 13. Yesterday, a select number of friends and family were permitted to attend WWE’s TV production. These individuals were required to participate in medical screenings prior to entering the closed set at our training facility, and were kept apart from in-ring performers and production personnel. Attendance was below 20% capacity and social distancing guidelines were adhered to with at least six feet between parties, thus face masks were not required.”
This article first appeared at our sister publication Orlando Weekly.
Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you up to the minute news on how Coronavirus is affecting Tampa and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.