Positive virus test rocks WWE amid face mask furore

WWE audience members didn't wear face masks at RAW taping on Monday. Image: WWE/Twitter

World Wrestling Entertainment has temporarily suspended television production at its Performance Centre in Orlando, Florida after a developmental wrestler tested positive for COVID-19.

The wrestler, who was not named, was last at the Performance Centre on June 9.

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In a statement, WWE associate medical director Dr Jeffrey Dugas said that no other individuals have reported any symptoms, but production will be halted so everyone involved can be tested.

“A developmental talent, who was last on site at WWE’s training facility on Tuesday, June 9, has tested positive for COVID-19,” Dugas said in the WWE’s statement.

“Since that time, no other individuals that attended the facility have reported symptoms.

“However, out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the health and safety of the company’s performers and staff, all talent, production crew and employees on site at the training and production facilities will be tested for COVID-19 immediately.

“Following the test results, WWE plans to proceed with its normal television production schedule.”

Dean Muhtadi, who goes by Mojo Rawley in WWE, tweeted about his own COVID-19 test on Tuesday morning.

Since WWE’s training facility is located in Florida, they’ve been able to continue producing television programs during the widespread shutdown driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis decided in mid-April that the WWE and other sports, entertainment and media were all essential businesses that could continue operating despite statewide stay-at-home orders.

Conflicting reports about ban on face masks

Recently, WWE started having developmental talent appear ringside as audience members.

They’ve been separated from the wrestlers with a large pane of plexiglass, similar to a hockey arena.

But according to Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer, the WWE would not allow anyone to wear masks.

“On top of nobody finding out about the COVID failure until it hit social media, I was told by multiple sources that WWE would not allow anyone in the crowd at the RAW taping Monday to wear masks,” Alvarez tweeted.

However the WWE has since addressed the claims and said face masks were ‘not required’.

“Yesterday, a select number of friends and family were permitted to attend WWE’s TV production,” the statement read.

“These individuals were required to participate in medical screenings prior to entering the closed set at our training facility, and were kept apart from in-ring performers and production personnel.

“Attendance was below 20% capacity and social distancing guidelines were adhered to with at least six feet between parties, thus face masks were not required.”

However many have pointed out that wrestlers did actually interact with audience members throughout the show.

The Wrestling Observer also reported that these COVID-19 tests would be the first that the WWE has done. 

An employee identified as on-screen talent tested positive in April, but the WWE said that the individual had no contact with any WWE employees or wrestlers after being exposed to the virus by two healthcare workers.

They considered the situation to be “low risk” and did not initiate employee or wrestler testing.