WWE Live Shows Return as Florida Updates List of "Essential" Services

Courtesy of WWE
WWE's taped 'WrestleMania 36'

One source says the decision to deem these productions "essential" was due to them being a key contributor to the state's economy.

Sports and media productions have been put on ice across the U.S. amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, but Florida has deemed them "essential businesses" under certain circumstances, including that no fans are in attendance. That means that national wrestling promotions can resume their weekly TV shows from there, and World Wrestling Federation (WWE) did so on Monday with its latest episode of Raw on USA.

The company plans to also air new live shows of USA's NXT on Wednesday and Smackdown on Friday on Fox. 

Florida is under a "Safer at Home" order until April 30, restricting movement outside of homes to "essential" activities. However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office updated its definition of "essential services," which have so far included hospitals and grocery shops, on Thursday in an order that became widely available this week. The new definition adds "employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience, including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate, including services supporting such productions — only if the location is closed to the general public." 

One source said the decision to deem these productions "essential" was due to them being a key contributor to the state's economy.

WWE returned to a live Raw show on Monday from its Performance Center trainings facility in Orlando after weeks of taped shows. The sports entertainment powerhouse recently even taped its biggest event of the year, WrestleMania 36, there and presented it as a two-night event despite some criticism.

"We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times," WWE said in a statement. "We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance."

AEW Dynamite, which airs on TNT every Wednesday, is understood to have taped several weeks' worth of television product. TNT couldn't immediately be reached for comment on whether All Elite Wrestling (AEW) was planning to return to live show production in Florida. 

Another question is whether Endeavor's mixed martial arts promotion, UFC, which has recently had to call off a big show, and other sports could follow suit. An UFC representative couldn't immediately be reached for comment.