More than any sports organization or marquee event, more than the NFL and Super Bowl or MLB and the World Series, WWE is under pressure to make each year's WrestleMania bigger than the last.
Sports fans can forgive a bad Super Bowl because the game played like the game played. They got what they got. Wrestling fans, on the other hand, know about scripting and choreography and continue to demand more and more from subsequent WrestleMania events.
To their credit, WWE puts a metric ton of effort into making WrestleMania a kind of "Wrestling Christmas."
They added an extra hour to the pay-per-view, a pre-show, Hall of Fame ceremony and run full cards at Axxess. They also help fans connect with smaller promotions (like ROH, DGUSA and Chikara) that hold shows in the same city on the same weekend.
At its current rate of growth, though, there's going to be a breaking point. The show's going to be too big. At that time, WWE will attempt to do with a future WrestleMania what other sports have done with their flagship events and stretch one night into a (two-night) series.
Here are five reasons why they should.
(Figuratively. Keith has a great mind for the business and is always cordial with his fans.)
God, they have enough trouble laying out a single four-hour show as it is, can you imagine them trying to do a two-night 6-8 hour event? ... It's an interesting idea on paper, but it would be exhausting to deal with in real life.
Vince McMahon doesn't foster much faith in his fanbase I'll admit, but one thing that his company does well is live event planning—so well that it is going to sell its services to other companies.
I was too starstruck to argue, but WWE runs back-to-back-to-back televised events at least once a month (even if Smackdown does air on tape delay) and it may be the only entertainment company in the world that has the knowledge and experience (and hubris) to pull it off.
Two big complaints after 'Mania are, "Why was that match so short?" and "So-and-so barely got on camera!"
Kane/Orton and Show/Rhodes could have easily anchored a first night at this year's WrestleMania—not to mention the pre-show tag titles match, Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy, and a plethora of possible undercard bouts.
Tensai could have debuted a few days earlier. Brodus Clay could've actually had a match. The WWE could've done another Gimmick Battle Royal or had an "FCW Showcase" match featuring Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Yoshi Tatsu could've gotten a WrestleMania moment instead of a "Road to Axxess."
Jericho and Punk could've had an Iron Man match on the second night, along with Rock/Cena and Undertaker/Triple H's big matches. There could've been more celebrities, more big names from the past and an actual Money In The Bank match.
Maybe Daniel Bryan would've gotten longer than 18 seconds.
If the WWE is worried about gouging customers, the first half of the show could air for free on live TV.
Supported by commercials and a network bidding war, a heavily promoted live special could be the next best thing to a Super Bowl in terms of total box office draw.
It could also serve as a last-ditch sell for casual fans who are on the fence about ordering.
I don't crunch corporate numbers for a living, but there's already a heightened sense of anticipation for "the Big Dance," and a TV stunt is bound to grab mainstream attention.
Wouldn't celebrity guest appearances be more effective on NBC than they would on pay-per-view anyway?
Production costs for two days of WrestleMania are bound to be expensive.
Vince McMahon—who is willing to negotiate "Brock Lesnar" deals and pay celebrities big bucks to guest host Raw—must surely understand, however, that the company has to spend a fortune to make a fortune.
The talent, who'll work just as hard or harder than anyone backstage, might complain at first, but let them cash that extra fat 'Mania payoff check, and we'll see how everybody feels then.
Vince McMahon reorganized his dad's company from the ground up.
He turned the WWWF into a global juggernaut and true entertainment phenomenon, and there aren't many things that he won't do for the sake of bragging rights.
Vince bled in the ring. He "wrestled" a deity and founded the Kiss My Ass Club. This guy has the audacity to look at a proposal like this, to turn his most successful brainchild into a two-day event, guffaw, then say, "By God, I think we'll do this!"—just to say he did.
Jeremiah Allan is a sometime comic book writer, 2009 graduate of Ottawa University (Ottawa, KS) and senior staff writer at Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery. Check the article archive for his previous work...