Joey Janela & GCW Promoter Brett Lauderdale Give Their Perspectives On The Collective COVID-19 Situation

Joey Janela

Photo Credit: Thomas Tischio / AEW

Quite the buzz of both the positive and negative perspective has been made about GCW The Collective event last week in Indianapolis. While fans and talent alike praise the series of wrestling shows as something very memorable, the event itself was not without its share of incidents. One of the major situations happened to be multiple talents leaving last Sunday COVID-19 positive and questions arose as to if the necessary precautions were made in making sure everyone attending was doing their part in providing a safe as possible environment.

One of GCW’s most notable and top talents is AEW star Joey Janela and he took to social media to defend the measures taken, but to also say that he will make it part of his responsibility to learn from any mistakes from last week. You can read his series of Tweets below:

“Let’s get this straight Everyone of my indie opponents & referees have been tested stated in guidelines from my employer since the beginning of summer, & I’ve made sure of that, going forward I will make sure EVERYONE is tested negative before wrestling on GCW show. No excuses! ”

“Most people think I have something to do with running of the company and that’s not the case, but I do see myself as a locker room leader and a pillar of the company and am in constant communication with @Lauderdale11 & will make sure we continue to run & learn from the mistakes.”

“I can’t talk for you all but most fans I’ve talked to felt safe during the collective. I sat in the stands for about 5 shows and I felt safe, I saw @stepstoolsarahx and @KaiaMcK constantly yelling at drunk fucks to apply their masks properly.

“The locker room was the size of a fucking football field and everyone distanced and wore masks in there too…”

“Also 85% of the wrestlers who wrestled at Collective have gotten their results back and are ok, I’m sure the rest of the ones waiting will receive theirs this morning or afternoon.”

To further add clarity to the happenings of last weekend, GCW promotor Brett Lauderdale spoke with Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful yesterday and gave comments regarding some of the controversy surrounding it. He discussed the process he first went through in booking the venue in Indianapolis.

“When we first signed up, there were still restrictions in place. I had to write a 12-page COVID-19 risk mitigation plan, which spelled out our precaution and what we planned to do to keep spectators and the athletes safe. I went through all 12 pages and spelled it all out. These had to be evaluated and these plans were approved before Indiana rolled back. When this was planned, there were rules in place.”

Lauderdale was asked as to why it wasn’t mandated for incoming talent of the event to have a negative COVID-19 test.

“There is no good answer that would soothe everyone’s concerns. Now that Indie wrestling has come back and there are promotions running regularly and there are big shows occurring and the top performers are working regularly, what you’re basically doing is, putting the validity of any testing into question. There are those incubation periods and the severity of cases as well. It may take you three days to test positive, it may take me seven to ten days. Do we know if we get an accurate result?”

Sapp followed up by asking Lauderdale why not mandate (a test result) it to at least reduce the spread if a talent does happen to test positive for COVID-19:

“We tried to enforce this and other promotions tried to enforce this, but for a lot of people, they just can’t get tested. In a perfect world, we would be able to do this with every show and every performer. I wish we were at the point to where we could do that. Going forward, I’m going to do my best to enforce this. We are going to make this part of our requirements going forward. I wish we had done this for The Collective and I apologize and am sorry that we didn’t. There were many performers who were asked to, depending on who they were in the ring with, who did do it. If that was a requirement, then we failed and we should have done it. It just very difficult to get done.”

Another question asked was the decision to run the event indoors rather than outdoors and if an outdoor venue considered.

“[Outdoor venue] was considered doing it at White River State Park. The weather is unpredictable. What if it rains? Snows? It’s freezing? That was considered. It was done indoors for a couple of reasons. The reason I felt comfortable doing it indoors was because it was a 2,000+ seat arena and I knew that I was only going to have a certain capacity. I felt like there was enough space and it was a large enough building where it would not be cramped and there would be open space. There were also large garage doors that were open for the entirety of both events. There was free air flowing at all times.”

As far as the seating situation with the audience goes, Lauderdale assures that proper measures were taken.

“That was a 2,000 seat arena and there was no rule that said we couldn’t put 2,000 people in that arena or that we had to follow any guidelines at a certain capacity. We made the decision to limit the capacity. I made the decision to limit the capacity on the rows. We usually have 80 people in the front row, 20 people on each side. You can see what was left on the table in the name of safety and precaution. You can say I’m full of shit on that, but numbers don’t lie. We went through every single row and laid down tape and signs, shutting down every other row of the bleachers and encouraging social distancing. Putting a physical impediment to getting there. We could have taken this five times further than we did. Everyone stuck to it and followed it.”

(Transcription credit should go to Jeremy Lambert & Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful)

For the full interview, be sure to check out Fightful.com.

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