Sunday night came in with a bang and left in a whimper as World Wrestling Entertainment presented its biggest show of the year – WrestleMania 34. It is where the best of the best wrestlers in the business compete for the biggest prizes – not to mention each wrestler’s biggest check of the year.
It is the money show for the company.
This year, the show brought in more than $14 million in ticket sales for a crowd of more than 78,000 in the New Orleans Mercedes Benz Super Dome. That is some serious change to tote around. It is the money many wrestlers work for an opportunity to share in each year. In fact, some of the wrestlers make more at this one event than they make the entire year.
This event has been the showcase for the McMahon Family since Vince Jr. came up with the concept in 1985. The first WrestleMania was held in New York’s Madison Square Gardens and featured Hulk Hogan and Mr. T with Jimmy Snuka at their side against Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff with Cowboy Bob Orton at their side in the main event. A world indoor attendance record of 93,173 fans was set at WrestleMania III, which was also the largest paying attendance in the history of professional wrestling at the time. The event featured Hulk Hogan defending the WWF World Heavyweight Championship against Andre the Giant and the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship match between “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Savage and Steamboat stole the show from Hogan and Andre with what may be the greatest wrestling match in the history of sports entertainment. The new record for attendance at a wrestling event is 101,763 at WrestleMania 32 in Arlington, Texas, at Cowboys Stadium, now AT&T Stadium, where Roman Reigns defeated Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It is no wonder communities all over North America want to have the event scheduled for their venues. They want the money the event brings. And like I said earlier, so do the wrestlers.
Mark William Calaway – now known as The Undertaker – gets $1 million to appear at WrestleMania. That is his deal with the McMahons. He means a great deal to the event since he first appeared in WrestleMania VII and defeated Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka. Calaway was at this year’s event as well and beat John Cena. Sorry, I dropped that result in early. At 53 years old, Calaway does not move quit as quickly as he once did – and a recent hip surgery does not help his cause – but, the fans love The Undertaker and will pour into events just to see him.
But, WrestleMania offers more than a one-trick pony show. It involves as many wrestlers as the company can work into a five-hour show. There is usually a two-hour preshow and then a three-hour Pay-Per-View event. Sometimes the matches at the annual event are a culmination of a year-long storyline. Some are just a few weeks old, but most have been developed over the course of the year by the writers. Yes, wrestling is scripted. So are Soap Operas and other television shows. Make no mistake about it, though, these guys and gals are athletes. They are actors performing their own stunts. They are the best at what they do.
While this all may sound a little silly that adults would act in the manner portrayed by the “professional” wrestlers, make no mistake, you cannot do these things without a lot of training and a lot of athletic ability. It is their talent and ability that make WrestleMania possible – and profitable.
Sunday night in New Orleans, the best of the best was on display. It was the third night in a row where the WWE took over the town. On Friday evening, the WWE inducted new members into its Hall of Fame. On Saturday, the WWE development league – NXT – was on display. This brand is the future of WWE and it showed promise with its performances.
Then the big show was Sunday, and like I said, it started with a bang. Seth Rollins won the Intercontinental Belt with a pin of The Miz in a three-way match that also included Finn Balor. If you graded this match, you would have to give it an A. Charlotte Flair, the Smackdown Women’s Champion defeated an undefeated Asuka with a submission hold – the Figure 8. These two women deserve an A as well. Jinder Mahal pinned Rusev for the United States Championship in a four-way match that included the Champion Randy Orton and Bobby Roode. I do not care for a lot of matches that allow someone to win a title without pinning the champion. And this match was borderline boring. Give it a C. Rhonda Rousey and Kurt Angle defeated Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. Rousey, making her WWE in-ring debut, made Stephanie submit. It was a very entertaining match. It gets an A. The Bludgeon Brothers won the SmackDown tag titles in a three-way match with The New Day and The Usos. Give that match a D. The Undertaker defeated John Cena with his Tombstone move.
It was a short match and did not showcase either wrestler like they should have been showcased. I gave it a C. Daniel Bryan, who had to retire from wrestling because of concussions and then was cleared this year to return to the entertainment business, teamed up with Shane McMahon to defeat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Shane does some crazy stuff when he is in the wrestling ring. I give this match an A.
Nia Jacks defeated champion Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship. It was okay, a B at best. Braun Strowman and Nicholas, a kid between 10 and 11 years old that Strowman picked from the crowd, defeated The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Championship. It was a fun match to watch as Strowman did all the wrestling for his team. No, they were not going to allow a kid to get hurt in the ring. This was entertaining. Give it a B. And, finally, Brock Lesnar kept his Universal Title by defeating Roman Reigns. As much as I dislike Lesnar, the match was far from being the worst of the night. Give it a B.
There you have the results of WrestleMania 34. WrestleMania 35 will be held April 7, 2019 in East Rutherford, N.J. If you want a ticket, you better get it early. Or you can just wait to see if I share the results next year.
Mark Clark is a local sports writer for
The Citizen of East Alabama.