Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced on Tuesday that his state will be open for sports on Saturday including MLB, NHL, NFL, and NBA as long as no fans are present. This would certainly open up the possibility of professional wrestling events and content being produced in the Southwestern state in light of the current pandemic. ESPN reported today Ducey proclaimed on social media that his state was “trending in the right direction.” According to AZBigMedia, the Grand Canyon state is ranked 23rd in the United States with COVID-19 cases. So is wrestling action next in the Southwest?
Now this will lead many wrestling fans to see an opportunity for one of the major televised wrestling promotions in America to possibly start producing television and pay-per-view events in the state. Neither WWE or AEW has made any comments about Arizona as a possible setting to produce content. This is pure speculation looking into the likelihood of televised wrestling getting a new location in these uncertain times.
WWE has been producing their weekly television shows from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando and Full Sail University in Winter Park for over two months now. Florida has been welcoming to the top wrestling promotion in the current climate even with stay-at-home orders in place as Governor Richard DeSantis deemed it an “essential service” in mid-April. This past weekend WWE featured on the WWE Network their first match outside of Florida in months with the frantic Money in the Bank ladder match which was filmed last month in Standford, Connecticut at their corporate headquarters.
Meanwhile, All Elite Wrestling had been relying on taped content from a confined gym in Norcross, Georgia for their weekly Dynamite series on TNT last week when they made their way back into Jacksonvile’s Daily Place which is on the TIAA Field compound. The main event saw Kenny Omega and Matt Hardy take on Chris Jericho and Sammy Gueverra in a wilde street fight that saw action sprawl all over the backstage area.
The facility is owned by AEW President Tony Kahn’s family which owns the NFL team, Jacksonville Jaguar. Fans watching at home seemingly responded warmly to AEW returning to the open air amphitheater which allows for a bigger entrance stage with showbiz glitz and glamour despite no roaring crowd in the 5,500 seats around the ring. During the initial ‘no-fans’ weeks in March, AEW used Daily Place but opted to move to Georgia due a COVID-19 testing site being located nearby and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry forbidding large gatherings at the time.
So as both these companies pivot around current regulations to stay on the air and in the ring, how could Arizona potentially factor in? The region has a history with wrestling’s big destination events.
Arizona has held two of WWE’s marquee events with Royal Rumble in 2019 at Phoenix’s Chase Field, the home of the MLB’s Diamondbacks and in 2010, hosted WrestleMania XXVI in Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium. Now obviously without a live gate in these new uncertain times, WWE would not making millions of dollars in market as they have in the past.
At this point, WWE or AEW would be best served to stick with routine in Florida. They own their facilities in an area where they have both operated for some time, which gives them greater scope for the extra cleaning and maintenance that is required now more than ever.
Still seeing a wrestling ring set up with cactus and scenic dessert landscape in the background on TV would be an aesthetic thrill from the recent stages we have seen WWE and AEW for months now, but let’s keep the talent and staff safe movie forward.
Let’s just collectively try to be patient, healthy, and enduring in the long fight which is still on-going with COVID-19.
What do YOU think of how WWE and AEW are filming their TV shows without fans? Jump into the comments below and tell us what you think.