The value of WWE as an enterprise currently resides at roughly $1.254 billion. Go back to March 2014 and it was at a staggering 5 year high of $2.249 billion. Indeed, as the popularity of the
sport show dwindled in the 2000s, it looked as if MMA would be the death knoll of Professional Wrestling. In total, WrestleMania XXXI brought in 1.326 million viewers, combining both Pay Per Viewers and WWE Network subscribers.
NUBI has its fair share of wrestling fans – hell when The Rock was People’s Elbowing every sucker in sight, who wasn’t? Nevertheless, since Dwayne Johnson jumped ship alongside a raft of other much loved characters, has WWE managed to replace them and keep the show rejuvenated?
We wanted to find out, and so hooked up tickets to the O2 Arena in London for WWE Live. Seated up in the Gods of the former Millennium Dome one thing was instantly apparent: the place was at absolute capacity. For wrestling fans of yore, the pick of the billing was Kane vs. Big Show which essentially boiled down to who had the bigger chokeslam: Kane, aided by a table. Fights prior to this all seemed lost on the capacity crowd, although The Dudley Boyz did also put someone through a table, though that’s to be expected. There was a brief dance off for some reason between R-Truth and Bo Dallas and a well scripted fight between Finn Balor and Sheamus went some way to restoring the crowd’s hype.
The only title-bout on the bill was a match between Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Title to finish off proceedings. This saw half of the roster back in the ring scrapping after Owens got a chair and hit Ambrose for the disqualification.
It may be the difference between the live and televised show, or that this was a minor WWE event 15 years after I last dabbled in wrestling, but the theatre of it seems to have diminished over time. Regardless, as long as millions of people still find enjoyment in the franchise, individual opinion really doesn’t hold sway. For every ex-fan such as me, there were thousands present still in love with the idea of WWE – the audience was decidedly cosmopolitan in composition with all ages represented. We closed the evening with a near brawl of our own at the dizzyingly priced arena bar when we refused to buy drinks for someone who was a) absolutely twisted b) wearing a bucket hat and c) clearly a waste man of epic proportions.
South Park has a great way of putting things in perspective; after they ripped Family Guy it became apparent that Family Guy just wasn’t funny for me any more. Likewise, it seems likely that WWE suffered at those same hands as the clip below iterates.