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More On How COVID-19 Outbreak Affected WWE’s Taping Plans, Changes Made

July 3, 2020 | Posted by Joseph Lee
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The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has more details on how the COVID-19 outbreak that happened in WWE last week affected the taping schedule and forced changes.

First, as noted, WWE taped two episodes of NXT (July 1 and 8) on Wednesday, then Smackdown and 205 Live (July 3 and 10) on Thursday. It was originally set two tape two more episodes of NXT (July 15 and 22) yesterday, but that was pushed back to another set of tapings. RAW and Main Event for July 6 and 13 will be taped today.

It was said that it was much safer to keep the RAW brand tapings on one night and Smackdown on another, because doing both on the same night and different weeks on different days caused the outbreak to hit both brands. If the shows are separate, then the outbreak would presumably only affect a single brand.

The news last week led to WWE having everyone wear masks, but there were some exceptions. Rik Bugez, as we noted, said on Twitter that he takes his off when the camera is on him. Meanwhile, Kona Reeves was seen wearing one at one taping but not on June 27. At the July 1 taping, the crowd was moved and there were far less shots of that, and the crowd was also darkened. There were shots of wrestlers without masks, however.

Talent that were normally on the shows but didn’t appear at last week or this week’s RAW tapings included The Street Profits, AJ Styles, Austin Theory, Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose, Randy Orton, Natalya, Nia Jax, Otis, Tucker, Mojo Rawley, Shorty G, Raquel Gonzalez, Rey Mysterio, Dominick, Sheamus and Sonya Deville. However, Styles and Sheamus are advertised for tonight’s Smackdown, so they did take part in that.

It’s believed that some of these names tested positive and at least one was pulled as a precaution. Some, like Owens, asked for the time off to protect their families and some simply weren’t booked. It’s unknown who fits into what category. Rey and Dominick, for example, were originally set to appear live but instead taped a segment from home. It’s likely that anyone who tested positive during the June 23-25 tapings won’t be back until July 8 at the earliest. As we reported, there are reasons for Natalya, Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville being off of TV as well that didn’t involve testing positive. Natalya was off because while he didn’t test positive, Tyson Kidd had a fever. The latter three went on a boat trip also involving Lana.

It was also noted that Jamie Noble, who tested positive, agented the match between Rawley and Shorty G on Smackdown a couple of weeks ago. This doesn’t mean either tested positive themselves, but since they were around someone who had that might be why they were absent.

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