A number of wrestling promotions have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak and some shows have been either postponed, canceled or even done in empty arenas, the latter of which Kota Ibushi is not a fan of.
In an interview with NJPW, Ibushi said he's not exactly a fan of wrestling shows being done in empty arenas. On a personal level, Ibushi said he doesn't want to be on shows to just show off his wrestling moves, but to interact and engage with a live crowd, something that is pretty much impossible to do in an empty arena.
"There’s a lot of different ways of thinking about it, but completely honestly, I’m not a fan of empty arenas. There’s of course a lot of merit to watching video, and you can get a closer sense of the action in the ring perhaps. The thing is though, I’m not really about showing off what moves I can do. I want to be engaging a live crowd. In that sense, I really don’t see the point of running events if there aren’t going to be any people there," Ibushi said.
Ibushi recalled a time he wrestled in front of virtually no fans with DDT, although he believes it wasn't by design and simply no one showed up to the show, and it was awkward for him.
"I guess so. Just after I debuted with DDT I took an indie booking in this town… To be fair, I don’t think it was an empty arena by design (laughs). I looked at this empty building before my match and asked, ‘Shouldn’t the show have started?’ and they went, ‘Yeah, 15 minutes ago, but nobody’s shown up yet.' I was actually a mystery opponent on that card! I don’t know if announcing my name beforehand would have made a difference. Anyway, it felt really weird in front of no people, but I wanted the best for this place, so I put everything I had into the match anyway," Ibushi said.
The biggest company to be doing empty arena shows is WWE, who just held their most recent episodes of both Raw and SmackDown at the WWE Performance Center in front of no fans.