This Sunday the WWE hosts the 32nd anniversary of the most significant event on its calendar. WrestleMania will be showcased at the AT&T Stadium in Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The stadium has a max capacity of 105,000 and if things go as the WWE plans, this weekend’s show will be the biggest event in the history of wrestling.
The WWE has experienced at least a decade of ups and downs, unfortunately with the latter outweighing the former in many’s opinion. One can’t help but feel that while this weekend has the potential to be the biggest wrestling event of all time, it could also push the WWE closer to its fateful end if all does not go to plan.
A high number of injuries to key superstars, a lack of star power compared to previous WrestleMania cards, and the massive expectations that have been attached to this event since before it was announced have all contributed to the concern that this year’s WrestleMania may not deliver.
The build up to this year’s showcase has been almost unarguably bad, holding exception only for the return of Shane McMahon as it seems he hopes to single-handedly turn around the misfortunes of the WWE.
I’m as guilty of being as hopeful as the next fan who had the fortune of growing up during the Attitude Era, but when Bray Wyatt and his brothers are ringing the bell to open the markets on Wall Street rather than appearing on Raw, you can be forgiven for not being quite as hopeful.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The man who says the masses need to wake up and whose new merchandise is emblazoned with the slogan “Down with the Machine” took part in the ceremonial start of the day for an entity consisting of people in suits devoted to moving trillions of dollars of personal wealth.
Worse again, he did it in full kayfabe gear, with sheep masks carried by Strowman and Rowan included in what is one of the most ironic and desperate advertising initiatives I’ve ever witnessed. Essentially, this action sums up the tough spot the WWE and WrestleMania are in at the moment.
Trouble beyond the turnbuckles?
The WWE has already suffered from dipping ratings but more trouble could be brewing ahead.
With the WWE Network becoming the new channel for watching pay-per-views and old WWE footage, sales of DVDs and Blu-rays have been badly affected.
Under the WWE Network, wrestlers are not getting any part of the revenue generated from showing previous and present clips. And with the turn of attention to the WWE Network as far as showcasing such footage, former stars could end up joining together to file a class action suit against the company to get their due from the technology shift.
In the past, two personalities have tried but failed to seek royalties from the WWE Network – Doug Summers and Eddie Gilbert. Matches for both have been shown on TV but the two wrestlers were not amply given their share of royalties.
As it stands right now, the present scenario could offer something different if the lawsuit does gain ground. The WWE Network has enjoyed earnings from paid subscription of previous and current shows so it seems only common to find wrestlers joining the cause and fight for what they are properly entitled to.
The WWE charges monthly subscription fees for customers to gain access to new and old archive material and the subsequent revenue is something that former stars believe they should be getting.
There is no definite number yet on the wrestlers who could come on board and air their cause but the WWE may find itself in more trouble moving forward.
Record Breaking or Figure Fixing?
Right now, the WWE is gearing up for its major annual offering in Wrestlemania 32. The annual WWE extravaganza is trying to make do with the current crop of stars they have, with most of the mainstays held out due to varying injuries.
Most recently reported figures from the WWE say that they have sold over 84,000 tickets for the event, which beats their “real” company record of 79,127 tickets which were sold for the 1992 SummerSlam event in London.
The expectations are that a figure greater than 93,173 will be claimed by the WWE when it comes to this year’s event. The figure they’re attempting to break is the number of tickets the corporation claimed to have sold for Wrestlemania III.
Traditionally, the WWE will exaggerate Wrestlemania numbers by 10,000 to 13,000 on average, check their quarterly financial statements and you’ll see how they contrast. A stench of desperation rises off the paper as your eyes take in the false figures.
I’m prepared to be proved wrong on this. Not just that, but I hope to be proved wrong. Unfortunately, it’s been an uncomfortable period of time since a Wrestlemania event satisfied the masses.
If the WWE’s time machine-esque card consisting of Shane-O and Undertaker waging war in a cell and The Game contesting the World Championship belt doesn’t regenerate interest in pro wrestling then I honestly don’t see where they go from here.
It’s a dark time, and the horizon looks even darker. Here’s hoping that this Sunday at Wrestlemania 32 doesn’t send the WWE to hell.