A little over a week ago, WWE announced that WrestleMania 36 will air as a two-night streaming event hosted by Rob Gronkowski. On the latest episode of After The Bell, Corey Graves opened the podcast with his thoughts on this year's WrestleMania.
"A lot of new news has come out over the past week regarding WrestleMania, which is now too big for just one night," Graves said. "Everybody's got an opinion on it. I would say my mindset is curious. It's gonna be interesting. There's no doubt about that.
"I will save any further judgement until after the event takes place. We can discuss and take it apart as we often do."
WWE has run empty-arena shows for their weekly programs in the Performance Center as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social-distancing rules that have been put in place across many states. Graves talked about the positive aspect that the shows have brought when it came to promos.
"But in the meantime, Friday Night Smackdown, Monday Night RAW [and] NXT all rolling along sans fans, and it's given a really unique perspective to our shows," Graves said. "I've been sitting on my couch watching most of it or wherever I can get eyes on it. Obviously, the absence of fans is a glaring difference to anybody that's watched WWE before, and I'd say there's good parts and bad parts.
"I will start with the positive that being promos have been incredible. Hearing the superstars able to get through these promos and tell their stories and really delve in their characters has been really refreshing, and It's nice. Having spoken in front of a live arena full of people, it can throw you off, and it's nice to really see these guys like a Seth Rollins, Randy Orton or Edge really just able to dive in and tell a story from their character's perspective without any sort of outside influence, without fans chanting 'what' or booing too long or cheering too long. And I just really like the dynamic it's provided for a particular aspect of the show."
Graves transitioned to the negative aspect of the shows. He credited the WWE Universe as being a large part missing from these shows. He talked about how things feel different without a cheering crowd.
"That said, if nothing else has been proven during this whole wild time in our world, it is that, in fact, the WWE Universe, you fans, are the biggest part of our shows in my opinion," Graves said. "Obviously, all the superstars are all working out very very hard to give everybody the best possible RAW or Smackdown experience as a viewer from home, but man, you take away that element of having a live, rocking crowd, it just doesn't feel right. Obviously, in time, everything will be remedied and back to normal.
Over the weekend, ESPN aired past WrestleMania shows on their network. The WrestleMania 30 replay did a good rating, and Graves reflected on how the event took place two nights after he suffered his career-ending injury.
"But we got to do something cool this week with ESPN. We got to air classic WrestleMania's on their network. I was able to shoot the on-camera to add it in to these shows to keep everyone abreast to what's going on in WrestleMania this year, and I got to sit down and watch WrestleMania 30 all over again," Graves said. "I was there as a fan in a different head-space. It was actually two nights after the injury that would end my in-ring career but just sitting in my home watching the energy when Daniel Bryan beat Triple H and watching the Superdome practically explode, everybody was just on their feet, man it brought a whole new dimension and reminded me what is so wonderful and so awesome about sports entertainment and WWE and WrestleMania."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.