Report: WWE Tapings Nearly Shut Down Before Being Deemed “Essential Business” by Florida Governor, Timeline of Events

The status of WWE’s television tapings in Florida has changed several times over the past week. Originally it was reported that WWE had planned to tape enough content last week to get them through the middle of May. This plan was changed late last week when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis deemed live sports to be “essential business” allowing for WWE to return to live tapings at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

This week, reporters Jon Alba of Spectrum Sports 360 in Orlando and Stephanie Coueignoux of My News 13 in Orlando revealed how close WWE was to not being able to tape at all. Originally, Orange County (in the Orlando area) deemed WWE as “non-essential” causing the Orlando County Sheriff’s Dept. to visit the WWE Performance Center several times over the last few weeks.

As we have written about recently, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon feels like he’s obligated to run live due to TV contracts with NBC/USA Network and Fox that are paying him to run live content and they are only allowed three taped shows per year (two European shows plus Christmas). That doesn’t mean NBC/USA Network or Fox would cancel WWE’s TV deals if they did taped shows like WWE did before WrestleMania, but this is apparently a reason why Vince wants to run live.

The sheriff’s department informed WWE that they had to shut down the tapings as they were not in compliance with Florida’s “Stay at Home” order. The sheriff’s department reportedly showed up again this past Monday at Raw, but since WWE was now considered “essential,” the show was allowed to continue. The reason given by Governor DeSantis on why live sports was suddenly deemed “essential” is “because they are critical to the economy.”

A reason why Florida has deemed WWE an essential business could be due to some financial incentives. It has also been reported by media outlets that Vince McMahon’s wife Linda (the former WWE CEO) is running a pro-Trump Super PAC for Trump’s Presidential re-election campaign where they are planning to spend approximately $18.5 million for the Republican party in the state of Florida.

According to Alba and Coueignoux, this news of Linda’s Super PAC donating to the Republican party took place on April 9, which was a day before Smackdown last week when we found out WWE planned to run live events at the WWE Performance instead of going with taped shows. It was April 9 when Florida deemed WWE as an “essential business” so it’s easy to see where the connection might be.

Lastly, here’s a clip of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talking about how they looked at things like WWE on a case by case basis. DeSantis said that we need sports and event content, which is part of his explanation for allowing WWE to run more shows.

Vince McMahon has also been in the news a lot in the last week because it was announced a few days ago that his XFL football league is filing for bankruptcy. It doesn’t mean Vince himself is bankrupt or that WWE is in any trouble, but the relaunch of the new league has failed due to the ongoing health crisis that the world is dealing with right now.

This continues to be an ongoing story that changes all the time, but for now, WWE is going to continue to run. This likely means that AEW will be able to go live in the state of Florida as well. That’s to be determined in the future.

There are some fans that are going to complain about this while others will be happy they can still watch WWE and take their mind off what’s going on in the world.