The wrestling world has experienced a very tough week. Alongside the tragic death of Joe ‘Animal’ Laurinaitis, there have been several troubling news stories about star wrestlers who have been struck with the Covid-19 virus.
One of the most striking stories was the report that detailed how many of the wrestling stars who appeared on the AEW tapings earlier this September had tested positive. We recently covered how Lance Archer tested positive for Covid-19, but it seems as though this virus is wreaking havoc throughout the whole of the wrestling world.
From star sumo wrestlers in Japan to a number of college wrestlers testing positive, it’s clear that the virus is already in the heart of this sporting community. However, wrestling organisations have been determined not to let the virus stop the sporting events taking place.
The WWE will make sure that anybody appearing on their shows will have to undergo nasal swab tests while being in a parked car the day before tapings. The participants would then receive a text message later that evening telling them whether they had tested positive or not. If successful, the participant would be allowed to take part in the taping the next day.
However, the AEW has gone further in its effort to get to grips with the virus. The wrestling organisation has created its own off-site facility that gives participants the chance to have a blood prick test. These tests are carried out on the morning of the tapings, and it is thought that the test will be able to give a positive or negative result in just a matter of minutes. If an AEW participant passed the test they would receive a special wristband and they would be allowed to enter the Daily’s Place wrestling amphitheatre.
This has all come a long way since the first outbreak of Covid-19. All wrestling was quickly brought to a halt, and even the bookmakers featured on captaingambling.com and other resources didn’t feature any odds for wrestling events. But as more was known about the virus, there were hesitant steps taken to test the wrestlers more effectively before the bouts.
In June we saw the gradual rollout of simple temperature tests. But this was quickly found to be a relatively ineffective way of monitoring the spread of the virus. As a result, the WWE made efforts to ensure that all wrestlers were able to stay safe through strict quarantine protocols. This saw the rearrangement of locker room facilities, plus even team meeting rooms were reorganised to cater to social distancing guidelines.
While all of these steps have been positive, it still looks like a long way before wrestling returns to normal. The absence of fans from wrestling arenas is still the most telling aspect of how the sport has struggled. Plus the sheer physical nature of wrestling has meant that it has proven to be especially susceptible to the ravages of the virus.
Wrestling was quickly identified as being one the most high risk sports to take part in in regards to Covid-19. This is because the virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets. Any sport that features sustained close proximity between participants is therefore much more likely to see the virus being transmitted. As a result, wrestling has joined the shortlist of high risk sports alongside the likes of rugby and football.
In many ways, it’s remarkable that any wrestling has managed to take place at all. However, there have been a string of postponements and cancellations in the wrestling calendar. The forthcoming WWE NXT match will reportedly have a different main roster as a result of the recent outbreak. With doubts about whether Bobby Fish would be able to attend, it looks like this bout is still up in the air.
All of which has a series of knock-on effects for other planned events on Raw and Smackdown, and it means that wrestling fans will never truly know what’s going to be on the wrestling calendar. However, there is still plenty of determination to ensure that wrestling will be able to carry on through even the toughest of circumstances.