Let's Face It: Like It or Not, Part-Timers Sell Tickets

Chris Featherstone@@CraveWrestlingFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2013


Of course, die-hard fans of the WWE would have a dream fulfilled if CM Punk or Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and competes for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX. In fact, they'd like it more if they faced each other at the event. Granted, it would most likely be one of the best matches that ever happened, and could be compared to Savage/Steamboat at WrestleMania 3.

However, Vince McMahon does not cater to the die-hard fans, which is why so many people are left scratching their heads, wondering why a pay-per-view match for the WWE Championship could possibly lead to a no-contest (I'm referring to Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton at Battleground). Instead, he is looking for ways to enhance his company from a PR standpoint, and to partner with organizations to create even more company exposure.

This is why part-timers work.

Exhibit A: The Rock

I would be the first to admit that I had absolutely no interest in the Rock's recent WWE run. The weekly promo battles between him and John Cena leading to their match at WrestleMania 28 had some good moments, but the match did not go down as one of the best ever. However, he and John Cena were in the main event of two straight WrestleManias, and only one of them was for a title.

Why? Because The Rock sells tickets.  He is a movie star, one who was used as a bridge between his wrestling fans and his movie fans. You think that he won the WWE Championship because he was a hard worker and committed himself throughout the year every week for the company? No way. It was because WWE is aware that his movie fame would bleed over to increase popularity for the company.

Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston bust their butts every week for the company, and look where they are now, only dreaming about being in the main event of WrestleMania. In the meantime, they are spot monkeys and losing more matches than they win.

Rock—on the other hand—can still dig up some unused Attitude Era promos, say that he "Has come back to (insert city here)!" and win the WWE Championship.

Exhibit B: The Undertaker

For 21 WrestleMania events, the Undertaker has defeated every superstar that he has entered the ring with. First, it was Jimmy Snuka; then, Jake Roberts; then, Giant Gonzalez. All of a sudden, as he gained wins against King Kong Bundy, Diesel, Sycho Sid and Kane, a trend become quite noticeable. He was not losing matches. Consequently, the streak was born.

Now, the streak has become one of the main attractions of every WrestleMania card. Determining who will be the Undertaker's opponent has become akin to winning the Royal Rumble. In fact, it has become bigger than the world titles. Ask Shawn Michaels and Triple H. Four straight years wrestling against those two, and each match trumped every world title match in both storyline build and actual delivery.

It sounds crazy to include "Lost to the Undertaker at WrestleMania" on your WWE resume, but interestingly enough, it is a career achievement to be chosen for that opportunity. I am sure streak victims such as Big Bossman, Jimmy Snuka, King Kong Bundy, Mark Henry, A-Train and Giant Gonzalez would acquiesce.  

Exhibit C: Brock Lesnar

It was almost ten years before Brock Lesnar appeared again on WWE television. With the previous appearance at WrestleMania XX leaving such a bad taste in everyone's mouth, compounded with a failed NFL career, wrestling in Japan, and having a short-but-successful MMA career, Lesnar was far away from the WWE life. That is, until the Raw after WrestleMania 28, when his music hit after a John Cena promo about the Rock, which led to an F5.

Did you mark out? I am sure you did.

This resulted in an Extreme Rules match between Lesnar and Cena at the following PPV, Extreme Rules. Did either of them have a title? Nope. In fact, the WWE Championship match, pitting CM Punk and Chris Jericho, occurred before the Divas Championship match between Layla and Nikki Bella.

How about the other Lesnar matches since his return? None of them were for a title, but half of them were the last match of the evening, making three (out of five) matches he has competed in the main event.

Part-timers on the Radar

With WrestleMania XXX looming, several names have been tossed around regarding making an appearance at the event. Namely, Hulk HoganSteve Austin and Goldberg, according to Pro Wrestling Insider, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and F4Wonline.com (the last two links came via Wrestlezone.com).

While the Austin hype has died down, Hogan and Goldberg are still viable options. All four of them would be a good addition on the show, not necessarily in wrestling roles, but they would sell more tickets than an Alberto Del Rio/Jack Swagger World Heavyweight Championship match any day.

As much as fans would prefer Hogan to never step foot in a wrestling ring again, those feelings would be suspended when the "Real American" music hits, the crowd is sucked in by the poses, and a big leg drop is executed. Similarly, wondering if Goldberg still "has it" is more appealing than a John Cena vs. Randy Orton match that would main event the card.

The bottom line is, although many people gripe and moan about the part-timers taking away the spot of deserved WWE superstars that spend all year giving their all in the ring, they just will not match up with a part-timer returning. Especially when it comes to WrestleMania, the money is not in the "Die-hard Fan's Choice" match—it is in the person who can create more of a buzz outside of the typical WWE sphere. As a result, names such as Rock, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar have more of an appeal than CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton.

Like it or not, part-timers are the ones selling the tickets.

Chris Featherstone is a writer for WrestlingINC.com Join him every Tuesday at 11pm ET on the Pancakes and Powerslams show, and follow on Twitter and Facebook.


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