Craig Wilson, Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow
There are only two more episodes of Raw left before the biggest WrestleMania of all time. The WWE are hoping over 100,000 fans will pack into the AT&T Stadium on April 2nd. But has the company done enough to sell the event to us fans? That’s up for discussion in this week’s Sunday Sermon.
Craig: To be honest, it’s probably a no for me. I think the WWE increasingly rely on it being WrestleMania and it being an event that sells itself. Frankly, the name WrestleMania is the only thing selling this event.
As this goes out, we are 3 weeks away from the event itself with still more questions than answers even about the line-up itself. For whatever flaws you might see in the Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker bout, it’s the only thing so far that’s created even the slightest buzz about the event.
Which in itself is frankly staggering. Not a week goes by that fans or writers don’t call for Raw to be reduced from 3 hours and while the length of Raw may indeed make it a tough week, the company can hardly say it doesn’t have the required TV time to book Mania. Throw in a bang average Network “special” in Roadblock, and it presented the WWE with another chance to build to Mania or even, in making Ambrose go over, tear up the script and start again. In the end it did neither.
So, is the current WWE product making you excited about WrestleMania? Do you expect any twist and turns before the show and is the company relying to heavily on WrestleMania selling itself?
Brian: I truly believe the WWE *thinks* they are doing a great job of selling this event, but as a fan…eh. I mean it is WrestleMania and at this stage of the game, the event does indeed sell itself. If you were a new fan though, the build-up hasen’t been all that great. This hasn’t exactly had the cache of other WrestleManias in the past.
That’s not to say this WrestleMania won’t be great, it might be, just the build-up to it hasn’t been the best. Look at the main event the last three out of four years going in, a part time WWE champion has been headlining the show. Whether it was the Rock, Brock Lesnar or Triple H.
Craig: Yeah it’s not a great position to be in. In the WWE’s defence, injuries have hampered the build-up to this year’s event but with 100,000 plus tickets to sell, they haven’t covered themselves in much glory either.
One thing is for sure. If it wasn’t for the fact I’m a Network subscriber I’d not be watching it as I wouldn’t be paying for this show. Surely, there will be many non-Network subscribers in that same boat. No?
Jamie: As I write this I am attempting to watch the first episode of Raw I have seen in about four weeks, which sums up my feelings heading into WrestleMania. Obviously I’ve been a fan of WWE for many years, so cannot speak for younger or newer fans. That said, I just cannot get excited for what appears to be the same old shit. Vince and Shane both want to control WWE, Triple H is the Champion, Stephanie is annoying, Chris Jericho is obnoxious meanwhile Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and The Dudley Boyz are all hanging around too. I get that there are injuries, but the fact that WWE is subbing the likes of John Cena and Seth Rollins with Shane and Trips tells me – and surely everybody – that they don’t have faith in their current roster to step up.
It’s a sad state of affairs when I’m not interested in the top matches – other than Ambrose/Lesnar – and by virtue of the fact that a natural elevation of the mid-card talent was not initiated it is hard to get excited about the undercard too.
This will mean nothing to US based fans, but I shall be making no effort whatsoever to stay up and watch WrestleMania. I’ll watch it at my leisure the following day, like any other WWE PPV.
Craig: That last line is interesting, Jamie. So this year’s WrestleMania holds no more special appeal to you than the shows that take place every month. You probably aren’t the only one. In fact, I’ll be on holiday in Berlin that weekend and haven’t even given consideration to the time difference for watching it in Germany. I may well just watch it, if I can avoid spoilers, on Monday night when I get home.
Would the WWE be making much more effort if the Network didn’t exist?
Jamie: Good point. I heard Michael Cole say on commentary that WrestleMania will be free for new subscribers. That begs the question, who in their right mind will purchase WrestleMania on pay per view? This tells me that WWE do not have to try to sell something that is A. given away for free or B. already sold to existing subscribers. Couple that with Vince’s recent comments about TV ratings not being as important as they used to be and you have a pretty clear explanation as to why – subconsciously or otherwise – the build to this year’s event has been so lacklustre.
Brian: In all honesty, I haven’t gotten excited about a WrestleMania in a few years now. Maybe it’s because I am older now or maybe it is because it just isn’t the event it use to be when I was a kid. Back then, cable wasn’t so readily available to us and we had to purchase tickets to see it on closed circuit television in my local high school gymnasium.
Then when cable came into play, the WWE obviously had to “sell” the event for 60 bucks plus so they went all out. Now with the network and being able to see it at any time I want, not just on THAT day, the excitement just isn’t there any more. I am certainly not saying this won’t be a good show, it might be, just not must see TV right now.
So the build-up to this year’s WrestleMania isn’t getting any of the contributors to this blog all that excited. Are you different? Is the current product getting you excited about this year’s show? Leave your thoughts, as always, in the comments section.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.