Watching wrestling without a live audience is a truly bizarre experience

As the coronavirus pandemic has continued to spread, one of the most impacted areas has been sport, with nearly every event either being cancelled, temporarily postponed or forced to take place behind closed doors.

You could argue that many sports don't really need crowds, as after all these are top-level athletes and shouldn't need the roar of an audience to motivate them.

However, a sport that is very dependent on audience reactions is professional wrestling, which against all odds is still happening.

That's right, a sport where sweaty people grapple each other, wearing not much more than tights, is still happening.

Doesn't sound like the healthiest thing to be doing right now, but okay...

While events have been widely shut down across Japan (the second biggest hotbed for wrestling outside of North America), companies in the United States are still going ahead with their shows albeit with no fans.

All Elite Wrestling, a new company in the States with a weekly TV show is still attempting to go ahead with shows with no audience but WWE, the biggest wrestling company in the world have already produced several shows with no audience whatsoever and it has been surreal.

To give you a small taste of what it has been like to watch these shows here is a clip of a verbal confrontation between John Cena and Bray Wyatt, which looks more like an intense play than two wrestlers trying to promote a match between each other.

That was from Friday's edition of Smackdown which airs on Fox and took place from WWE's own Performance Centre, essentially a training ground, in Orlando, Florida.

WWE then aired Monday Night Raw from the same venue, once again with no fans. Here is a segment with the bonafide legend 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin who is a natural on the microphone and working an audience.

WWE has now taken the steps to rearrange Wrestlemania, their biggest show of the year which was due to take place in Tampa, Florida, which would have attracted more than 80,000 wrestling fans to the city.

This will now not happen in Florida and will now take place in the Performance Centre in front of no fans.

Wrestling is no stranger to empty arenas with several matches throughout history taking place in front of no one but they are rare and usually only reserved for special occasions.

There is likely to be a lot of discussion about whether WWE has done the right thing in the next few days before Wrestlemania takes place on Sunday, 5 April.

One element that will greatly affect this major change to Wrestlemania will surely be the cancellation of the multitude of independent shows that usually take place on the lead up to the event.

These are all now likely to be cancelled, potentially leaving many performers and promoters out of pocket on what would have been one of their most profitable weekends of the year.

As an alternative, British star, Will Ospreay, regarded by many as the best wrestler in the world put on an empty arena show in the UK on Monday night, featuring many young and experienced stars from the UK scene, where fans donated money that would help the performers get paid.

Although it's only a bit of fun and would seem inconsequential, wrestling without fans is a truly odd spectacle to behold.

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