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Five cancelled WWE plans in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic

By Raja
Charlotte Flair wasnt supposed to win at Wrestlemania 36 (image courtesy Twitter)

Bengaluru, June 3: The biggest event of the year in pro-wrestling business, WrestleMania was scheduled at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida with an expected capacity of almost seventy thousand fans.

But, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the pay-per-view to a pre-recorded show at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida without fans in attendance which was perhaps the biggest tragedy in the history of the company in a long time.

However, it was not the only change that was noted amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Pre-taped shows sans the people lower the excitement as the company either postponed or canceled a number of storylines.

Major returns and brand-oriented plans had to be halted since they had no choice but to save them when the live shows with the audience will be back.

Here are the five big plans that WWE either entirely nixed or put on hold around WrestleMania 36:

5. Beth Phoenix' in-ring return

Former 2-time Divas Champion and one of the all-time great female wrestlers in WWE history, Beth Phoenix was all set to come out of retirement at WrestleMania 36. She appeared on an episode of Monday Night RAW prior to the show of shows to provide a solid build-up to the match between her husband Edge and Randy Orton.

Reports suggested that Phoenix was also booked to make more appearances to begin a feud with former Women's Tag Team Champions, The Kabuki Warriors, for their belts. She was set to reunite with former best friend Natalya and reform Divas of Doom to compete in a Women's Tag Team Championship match at WrestleMania 36.

But, WWE scrapped the match and the return of the Hall of Famer. Instead, they held another match between The Kabuki Warriors and Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross whether the latter duo became 2-Time Women's Tag Team Champions.

The reason behind WWE not using Beth Phoenix at WrestleMania 36 was that they tried to involve less amount of talents amid the Coronavirus outbreak. Or else, Phoenix could have made history by making two consecutive comebacks at WrestleMania with the same Women's Tag Team Championships, being the goal.

4. Roman Reigns & The Universal Championship

Former Universal Champion Goldberg was confirmed to defend his title against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 36 this year. Goldberg won the belt by defeating "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt at Super ShowDown back in February.

But the Spear vs Spear match never took place. WWE was about to tape the match at the Performance Center when the match got cancelled at the very last minute due to Reigns pulling himself out of the match after arriving at the venue.

Apparently, his immune system was weak due to earlier battle with Leukemia and thus he had a higher chance of catching the Coronavirus. So, he reportedly requested WWE to keep him out after finding out that The Miz was feeling ill.

Before that, Roman Reigns was all set to defeat the WWE Hall Of Famer to become a 2-Time Universal Champion and a 5-time World Champion at WrestleMania. But he kept his health to be the priority as his wife recently gave birth to twin babies. The Big Dog thus eliminated even minimum risks for his family.

3. Rhea Ripley retaining over Charlotte Flair

Rhea Ripley defended her NXT Women's Championship at WrestleMania 36 which was the biggest match of her career, against none other than Charlotte Flair on Night 2 of WrestleMania 36. She is the only NXT wrestler to compete on the main card of WrestleMania in a singles contest which could have ended in a winning effort.

Ripley was being portrayed as a reckless force and she was expected to defeat Flair and continue her title reign. But, Flair did pick up the win and became a 2-Time NXT Women's Champion.

The change in plan for Ripley's title retention was decided at the very last minute, and thus Charlotte was booked to defeat Ripley. WWE thought that putting the NXT Title on Charlotte and bringing her back to NXT could increase TV viewership on Wednesday nights at a time when there are no fans in attendance in shows. But they haven't been fully successful in this attempt.

2. First-Ever three-way brand Superstar Shakeup

WWE Superstar Shakeup became an annual tradition after each year's WrestleMania for the past three years starting from 2017. However, no Shakeup took place so far in 2020.

It was reported by Tom Colohue that 2020 Superstar Shakeup would be different from the previous ones. Superstars from Raw, SmackDown and NXT could've been involved making it a three-way process, for the first time ever. Previously, WWE only included wrestlers from the red and blue brand.

But the plan was reportedly postponed or just cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus problems. There's still a slight chance that the Draft takes place in October.

WWE is now randomly calling up NXT stars to the main roster (Matt Riddle to SmackDown) or trading wrestlers between the two main rosters (AJ Styles to SmackDown in return for a wrestler being sent to RAW in the future).

1. Nexus’ Return At WrestleMania 36

Former WWE Tag Team Champion Darren Young recently appeared on The Dropkick Podcast, to discuss several topics, including his run as a part of Nexus in WWE.

Nexus made their WWE debut in 2010 which makes this year a 10-year anniversary of the incident. Young revealed that WWE would've thrown a celebration at their honour at WrestleMania 36 by bringing them together. It could have created a perfect WrestleMania-moment that never happened due to the Coronavirus pandemic. There's no confirmation available on whether WWE would recreate the angle at a later part of 2020.

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Story first published: Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 12:11 [IST]
Other articles published on Jun 3, 2020
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