Facebook did it again.
I’ve gotten a handful of column ideas because of things I saw on Facebook, and now, it has happened again. As I was scrolling through my feed, I saw two people having a conversation about WWE’s upcoming Clash At The Castle event. The conversation started with them being excited about the show being in Wales (both guys live in England and say they’ll be in attendance), but then it shifted to stadium shows, in general. WWE just ran SummerSlam at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, with an announced attendance of over 48,000 fans. It continues the company’s quest to make SummerSlam a WrestleMania-level show, with huge venues and week-long activities, with last year’s event coming to us from Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada. After hosting that many fans in Nashville, Clash At The Castle will see a stadium setup of nearly 72,000 seats, which will undoubtedly be announced as being 75,000-80,000 fans during the show itself.
To put that into a weird perspective, that’s a guesstimated announced attendance of about 125,000-130,000 fans. Take yourself back to 2016, when WrestleMania 32 had an announced crowd of 101,763 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Forget the fact that Vince McMahon himself would later go on to admit that the 101,763 number included fans as well as “ushers and ticket takers and all of that.” Let’s just run with the number. 101,763 fans. The pay-per-view after WrestleMania 32, Payback, had an attendance of 13,250. Do the quick math and add WrestleMania 32’s number with Payback’s number… that’s 115,013 fans, which is considerably less than 125,000-130,000. You can add the 14,446 fans that attended Fastlane, the pay-per-view (I don’t count Roadblock, which was a house show that got switched to the WWE Network) before WrestleMania 32, you wind up with 129,459 fans.
To even FURTHER put the number into a weird perspective, here’s a list of WWE’s highest attendance numbers for back-to-back events:
- WrestleMania 38 Night 1 & WrestleMania 38 Night 2 (Combined Announced Attendance: 156,352)
- WrestleMania 8 & SummerSlam 1992 (Combined Announced Attendance: 142,522)
- WrestleMania 34 & Greatest Royal Rumble (Combined Announced Attendance: 138,133)
- WrestleMania 2 & WrestleMania 3 (Combined Announced Attendance: 133,258)
My point is that we’re in the middle of something historic. This is one of the biggest pairings of back-to-back shows in company history. The Facebook conversation then switched up to looking at the future. It is being reported that Nashville is in the running to host SummerSlam again next year. This, of course, piggybacks on the news that WWE is looking to do more outdoor stadium shows, as well as major indoor venues, and not just for WrestleMania. We’re seeing it now with SummerSlam and Clash At The Castle, but we’ve also seen it for the last three Royal Rumbles that allowed fans into the building, as well as with some of the company’s shows in Saudi Arabia.
Well… what does the future hold for these big shows? What SHOULD the future hold for these big shows?
The early speculation is that the 2023 Royal Rumble will be held at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The venue has hosted the Royal Rumble on two occasions, with 1997’s event having an announced attendance of 60,477 fans and the 2017 edition having an announced attendance of 52,020 fans. Then, of course, comes WrestleMania 39, which sold over 90,000 total tickets in the first 24 hours of being on sale. Yes, it’s a two-night event, but it’s still a gigantic number of tickets sold, with it being revealed that the tickets sold in that first day make up 80% of the total allocation for two nights.
Yeah, but then what?
Obviously, this new desire to hold more and more shows in giant venues is going to continue. It’s hard to blame WWE for that. Why sell 10,000 tickets for a show and make X amount of money when you can sell seven times the amount of tickets and make considerably more money? Brilliant! Personally, the outdoor stadium shows are not my favorite type of show. I certainly don’t hate them, but I just don’t think they’re the best. I’ve seen them all, whether on television or live in person (WrestleMania 24 and WrestleMania 31). The main thing you notice when you watch the shows, whether in person or at home, is that the sound is different. Even with alllll those people in attendance, the sound isn’t as loud as it could, or should, be. It’s not just my opinion, either. There have been countless wrestlers who have done interviews where they said they’ll be in the middle of the ring while the crowd LOOKS like they’re going nuts but doesn’t SOUND like they’re going nuts. The wrestlers can’t hear the sound that well because all of those cheers, chants, boos, and yelling just travels up and out of the stadium. In an arena or a dome, the sound travels up, bounces off the walls and ceilings, and rockets back down.
It isn’t just the sound, though. For one, you’re always running the risk of weather-related issues. Look no further than the first night of WrestleMania 37, when heavy rain (Jason! JASON! JAAAAASON!) and lightning put the start on the show on hold for over 30 minutes and threatened to derail the entire thing. Even when it doesn’t rain, things can almost go poorly in outdoor shows. At this year’s SummerSlam, it was so hot and humid in the ring that the ropes were getting slippery, and that nearly caused people like Pat McAfee to fall from them. That heat can also affect the fans, too. At WrestleMania 31, we were sitting directly in the path of the sun, and it felt like it was just LEANING on us. We ended up moving up to considerably worse seats and sat there to watch the rest of the show because they were empty and in the shade. Just brutal stuff.
Putting shows in domes, or stadiums with retractable roofs, just seems like a much better idea to me. The crowd reactions are louder, and the weather isn’t an issue for fans and wrestlers alike. Obviously, I don’t know shit about what it costs to hold a show at, say, Nissan Stadium in Nashville compared to a show at, say, the Alamodome in San Antonio. Maybe there’s a big price difference that I’m not taking into consideration, and that’s why WWE continues to seek out those outdoor venues.
Let’s look to the future, though. With SummerSlam and Clash At The Castle taking place at new (for WWE) venues, what other venues should be in line to host a big-time WWE show down the road?
When it comes to venues that have never hosted a major wrestling show, one of the first places in North America that comes to my mind is Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. We’ve seen large shows in Atlanta through the years, but they were always in the old Georgia Dome. WrestleMania 27, the episode of WCW Nitro in 1998 that saw Goldberg defeat “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan to win the WCW World Title, the “Fingerpoke Of Doom” episode of Nitro, and so on. The Georgia Dome was demolished in 2017, and now, Mercedes-Benz Stadium has taken its place as Atlanta’s National Football League stadium. Normal max capacity for the stadium is 71,000 people, and the overall venue record is 78,347. There’s a retractable roof, so you can have your choice of “indoors” or “outdoors” or somewhere in between, depending on the weather. If you’re going to have WrestleMania there, an added bonus would be that Phillips Arena, the likely venue for Raw and/or Smackdown that week, is less than a mile away, which makes things easy for fans and their travel. As an added bonus, the stadium is a beautiful, modern marvel, inside and out. That isn’t necessarily something that is important, but it’s still worth pointing out.
Another first-time choice that doesn’t necessarily jump out at people right away is Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. I totally understand that Indianapolis, Indiana isn’t exactly at the top of many lists when it comes to “tourist destinations” in America, but there’s a lot to do around the stadium for visitors. At the top of that list is anything that has to do with food. I’m not sure about this number in a world that has been turned sideways because of COVID, but before the pandemic, there were over 50 different restaurants within easy walking distance of the stadium. It’s another venue with a retractable roof, so you can have whatever type of setup that you want. The stadium is also receiving constant praise because of its views, with it said that there are no bad seats in the joint. You can see really well from anywhere in the building, and even if you need some help, the stadium features some of the biggest and best video screens of any NFL home.
If you’re looking to have a little fun with it, travel outside of the United States. Clash At The Castle, and the fact that it’s going to end up being attended by well over 70,000 people, is probably going to open a lot of doors for shows happening in that neck of the woods in the future. When I look at soccer (don’t even start with me) stadiums out there, I have some favorites that I would love to see host a WWE pay-per-view. Wembley Stadium (the new one that opened in 2007, not the one that hosted SummerSlam 1992), Emirates Stadium, and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium are all located in London, England. All three of them meet what seem to be WWE’s criteria for hosting shows like this. They’re big, modern facilities. That’s it. It’s all that’s needed. Wembley would probably be the most likely of those options. One, it’s the biggest of those venues, with the ability to pack around 100,000 people in the building for a wrestling show. Two, there’s always the name connection to the old Wembley Stadium, which would be a major selling point for WWE, showing highlights and video packages of SummerSlam 1992. Moving out of England, I’m a big fan of Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. It’s a beautifully unique looking stadium. The idea of WWE holding a pay-per-view in Munich, Germany probably sounds long a pipe dream, but it might not be as far off as you might think. On November 13th of this year, Allianz Arena will host a regular season NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks as part of the NFL International Series. That game is going to shine a big light on the stadium in parts of the world that may not have already known much about it.
I think a lot of the “usual suspects” will always be in play if WWE wants to do big shows at venues they’ve already been to. Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Places like that are going to be in talks to host future editions of WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and the Royal Rumble for the rest of time.
As you may have noticed, things in the world of WWE are changing. Up, down, left, right, in, out, top, bottom… everywhere you look, there are changes taking place. This shift from smaller venues to more and more large stadiums is one of the key changes. What say you, ReaderLand? Are you a fan of these gigantic shows? Is your opinion of them different depending on if you’re there in person or watching it from home? Where are some places in the world that you would like to see WWE go to and put on one of these major shows? As always, hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Bryan Danielson vs Daniel Garcia: I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but these guys are pretty good at this wrestling thing. Daniel Garcia is moving up the current ladder very quickly. Bryan Danielson has an incredibly strong case to make that he is the best in-ring performer of all-time. So much fun here. This was their third singles match against each other, with each man winning one of the first two, and this match ended up being a very fitting closure to their mini-feud. More on the post-match happenings in a bit.
- CM Punk’s Promo: Well, he didn’t lose his promo ability while he was on the shelf for the last couple months. A really well done “shoot” on Jon Moxley (and on Adam Page), delivering lines that a ton of people agree with, even if they’re big fans of Mox. I really like Mox, but guess what? He WAS showcased as the third-best member of The Shield, and he IS the third-best wrestler in the Blackpool Combat Club. He DOES bleed a lot. Punk’s promo stood out even more because of the lack of response from his targets. We didn’t hear from Page at all, and Mox didn’t say much before a brawl broke out. I’m not going to touch on the rumors about Punk going into business for himself here with the Page comments. Everyone believes whatever they want to believe about that, and nothing is going to change their minds, so think what you want about whether or not it was a SHOOT shoot. What I will say is how weird it was, especially since there was no rebuttal.
- Kevin Owens vs Chad Gable: Weird booking here, but not in a bad way. I say it was weird because the goal here is clearly to “rebuild” Kevin Owens as the badass that he once was, which means that you would normally have Owens winning in dominant fashion against somebody. Lord knows Chad Gable has lost in dominant fashion on numerous occasions in WWE, so you would be forgiven if you expected Owens to steamroll him in under three minutes. I’m not complaining that we got a great match, mind you. It just seems like this would’ve been an opportunity to have Owens defeat someone quickly. Unless, of course, we’re getting a rebuild for Chad Gable, too. The best he has looked since signing a WWE contract did come during his time in Triple H’s NXT, so it’s certainly possible.
- InDex Reunion: Pro wrestling has given us a ton of stupid things through the years. Most of that stupid stuff is just that… stupid. That’s the end of it. There are no redeemable qualities. Every now and then, though, you’ll get something that is stupid, but for one reason or another… it just works. InDex falls squarely into the latter category. The whole thing never should’ve worked. A 33-year-old (at the time) Johnny Gargano and a 35-year-old Candice LeRae had two “teenagers” in Austin Theory and Indi Hartwell, who just happened to be 24 and 23 years old, respectively. Indi, ever the rebellious teen, began to fall in love with her father’s enemy, Dexter Lumis. Dexter was clearly a serial killer that had several bodies buried in his backyard and under his basement. That’s just the type of “bad boy” that impressionable young women are going to fall for when they’ve lived a sheltered life, though. Lumis began to fall for Indi, as well, and their relationship moved along quickly, eventually leading to them getting married. Then, real life came into play. First, Theory got called up to the main roster, doing more and more on Raw and less and less on NXT. Next, LeRae left the company to go on maternity leave and had her contract expire. Then, Gargano’s contract expired and he walked away from the business to be with his wife and be a father. Finally, Lumis would be released from his contract, leaving Indi all alone. There was numerous mentions of Lumis on NXT television, with Indi still keeping the flame alive, but Dexter was still gone. Finally, after months away, Lumis has been brought back to the company, and he surprised Indi on NXT. Major props to Indi, who sold the return with what looked to be legitimate emotion. The lovers stood face-to-face again, and they embraced to a huge pop by the NXT crowd. It was such a fun moment. Wholesome. Adorable. I’ve already seen numerous social media posts from people saying that they shed a legit tear watching it, comparing it to Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth reuniting at WrestleMania 7. There is no reason that anything involving InDex, or The Way, as a whole, should’ve worked, but it did. Credit everyone involved for their dedication to the characters and the stories, and for being as over-the-top as necessary. I don’t know if it will be in NXT or on Raw, but I want to see InDex back full-time once again. They’re as “sports entertainment” as sports entertainment is going to get, even with WWE’s apparent shift in priorities under the rule of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
- Ricochet vs Happy Corbin vs Madcap Moss vs Sheamus vs Sami Zayn: With Roman Reigns calling for Sami Zayn to bring the Intercontinental Title to The Bloodline, and with Smackdown being in Sami’s hometown of Montreal (more on that later), I think a lot of people were expecting Sami to win this. While that would’ve made sense, it wasn’t to be. All five men brought it here, and they were given nearly 25 minutes of ring time to work with. Motivated wrestlers, plenty of time to work with, stakes on the line, and a hot crowd… strangely enough, all of that added up to something special. Weird.
- Johnny Gargano: On one hand, this was one of those super rare returns that didn’t get spoiled beforehand by anybody. However, on the other hand, it’s something people probably should’ve seen coming as soon as Triple H came into serious power. Sure, there were the AEW fans who were hoping to see Gargano debut there, especially with this week’s episode coming to us from Gargano’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I’m sure there was some sort of discussion about AEW at some point, but that pull of “Papa H” handling creative for the main roster was too strong. I think we’re going to see some big things from Gargano moving forward. I’m not saying he’s going to get an Undisputed WWE Universal Title reign soon, but I’m not NOT saying it, either. Triple H and Shawn Michaels are both huge fans of Gargano. Don’t be surprised if we eventually relive Shawn Michaels’ “boyhood dream” story with Gargano. I’m just saying.
- Edge vs Damian Priest: I’ve said this before, but I’m pretty sure Edge has it in his current WWE contract that every match he participates in has to be a lengthy contest. This was a good’n, allowing Edge to wrestler like a much younger performer, but also allowing Priest to look like someone that could, and perhaps should, be a top-tier player on Raw. A Toronto crowd that was pretty quiet for most of Raw definitely came alive for their hometown hero here, as they should. They helped to make the match even better. Speaking of crowds…
- Montreal: The city has been a wild and raucous wrestling crowd for as long as I can remember, and this was no different. It was the first WWE show in Montreal since an episode of Smackdown in April 2019, and you could tell right away that the fans were happy to be there. They were molten hot for their guy, Sami Zayn, but they were hot for everything else, too. Roman Reigns got one of the biggest reactions he’s had in years, and it was a face pop to boot! It really is amazing what a hot crowd can do for a wrestling show. Far too often in recent years, we haven’t been able to see that with WWE shows. It didn’t matter if it was a big city or a small city, a television show or a pay-per-view, a new location or a tried-and-true spot… WWE just wasn’t matching up to AEW when it came to consistently great crowds. Times are changing. We’ll see if that continues.
- Kenny Omega: After being on the shelf for nine months with injuries to damn near every part of his body, the former AEW World Champion finally made his return to the company. It was expected with the Trios storyline that was going on, but it was still cool to see him back. More on his return match in a bit, but again, it was cool to see him back.
- Dolph Ziggler vs Finn Balor: Two of the better in-ring performers on the WWE roster busting their ass for 15 minutes. Pretty straightforward. Very enjoyable stuff.
- Preparing For Gunther vs Sheamus: As awesome as it would’ve been to see Sami Zayn win the match in Montreal to earn an Intercontinental Title shot, I have to say that Sheamus winning was a great idea. Sheamus and Gunther are going to give us one of the most physical matches in WWE history, and no, I don’t think that’s hyperbole at all. I’m cringing just thinking about the strikes they’re going to hit each other with.
- Teasing A Face Turn For Daniel Garcia: After Bryan Danielson’s victory over Garcia, he was showing respect to his fallen opponent and was ready to shake his hand when he was attacked from behind by Chris Jericho. Garcia stood by for a few seconds before pulling Jericho off of Danielson to a big pop. To very loud “you’re a wrestler” chants, Garcia continued to stand up to the leader of his stable. Could it be a swerve? Of course it could. It’s just a fun tease and call back to Garcia being name-dropped by Danielson as someone who he and Jon Moxley could mentor and show the proper level of violence to. Garcia would make a great addition to the Blackpool Combat Club one day. Time to see when that day will come.
- Preparing For Bron Breakker vs Tyler Bate: The main event of the upcoming Worlds Collide show will be Bron Breakker taking on Tyler Bate to unify the NXT and NXT UK Titles. Not only is that going to be a really good match, but it’s also a match that carries a lot of intrigue with it. You could say that Bron’s title reign has been built up too much to have it come to an end to a random person that probably isn’t even going to be a full-time wrestler in NXT. Then again, the same thing was said back in March when Bron’s first title reign came to an end at the hands of Dolph Ziggler. The other side of that debate is that a loss by Bron here could open up a main roster call-up for the guy. Bate always looks incredibly strong when he comes to America and wrestles for NXT, so this could continue that streak.
- Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks vs Andrade El Idolo, Rush & Dragon Lee: Do not get me wrong… the match was good. I just didn’t feel like it was as special as it could’ve been when you consider who was involved in the match. A lot of it had to do with Kenny Omega himself. I think it was pretty clear that he was still battling some ring rust. He’s been gone for a long time, so that makes perfect sense. Our expectations have just been pushed through the roof with his performances, so it’s almost like he has to be perfect in every match. That’s not fair, but I think calling something a rusty performance is better than just saying he sucked or anything along those lines.
- Apollo Crews & Grayson Waller’s Promo Exchange: Not that Apollo has had a ton of opportunities to cut promos since signing his WWE contract, but this was clearly the best one he’s cut in his time with the company. He continues to show more fire than he has in a while, and I think that his motivation is really going to help him succeed in NXT.
- Alexa Bliss & Asuka vs Dakota Kai & Iyo Sky: I figured this wasn’t going to end in two minutes, but I’m almost stunned that the match was given nearly 20 minutes. Well, I guess I shouldn’t be stunned. Look at who is involved in the match, and then look at who is making the creative decisions. I should be stunned it didn’t get 30 minutes. Overall, the match was pretty good, but I do have one gripe about it. There were several badly missed strikes and moves during the match. Awkward moments that just looked bad as they happened.
- Dustin Rhodes As The Next RoH World Title Challenger: He doesn’t get used a lot in AEW, but three or four times every year, Dustin Rhodes is allowed to have a televised singles match that is pure quality. Giving him an RoH World Title shot against Claudio Castagnoli looks like it could be the next in that line of matches for the guy. I put his chances of becoming the new champion only slightly ahead of my chances of becoming the new champion, but I have high hopes for the match, anyway.
- Bobby Lashley & AJ Styles vs The Miz & Ciampa: I think we’re all just counting the days until Ciampa moves away from The Miz because nobody has advanced their careers by working with Miz since ‘Nam. Maybe that time is upon us, as Dexter Lumis appeared to outright kidnap The Miz. There’s a possibility that the Miz is now dead. Maybe we’ll get Ciampa as a singles wrestler, or yet another pairing with Johnny Gargano.
- Wendy Choo vs Tiffany Stratton: Even though she lost, Tiffany Stratton continues to impress. I’ve made the comparison before, but there’s a similar vibe with Stratton and the very early stages of Bianca Belair’s career. She has a ridiculous mix of speed, strength, and athletic ability, coming in with a background in gymnastics and bodybuilding. Her first wrestling match was only nine months ago. With everything that Bianca has been able to achieve over the last few years, it might sound crazy to compare her to Stratton, but it really shouldn’t be. Nine months into Bianca’s career, she had a total of one televised match, and that was a Battle Royal. You can claim to be the biggest Bianca Belair fan in the world, but you’re a liar if you say you knew she was going to be special in June 2017. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t be surprised if Tiffany Stratton is doing big things before too long.
- Meiko Satomura: It was cool to see one of the most accomplished women in wrestling over the last three decades showing up in NXT. In another Worlds Collide title unification match, Satomura will be facing Mandy Rose and NXT UK’s Blair Davenport in a Triple Threat Match. That one could be a lot of fun.
This Week’s Playlist: “Pink Venom” by BLACKPINK… “Don’t Let The Light Go Out” by Panic! At The Disco… “Welcome To The Circus” by Five Finger Death Punch… “AfterLife” by Five Finger Death Punch… “Gold Gutter” by Five Finger Death Punch… “The Goodness” by TobyMac & Blessing Offor… “Wish You Were Here” by Lukas Graham & Khalid… “This Is Your Darkness” by Gothminister… “Nails” by Oceanhoarse… “Amaranth” by Nightwish… “While Your Lips Are Still Red” by Nightwish… “Storytime” by Nightwish… “Baby, You’re A Rich Man” by The Fat Boys… “Tonight Is Right” by Keith Washington… “I’d Die Without You” by P.M. Dawn… “End Of The Road” by Boyz 2 Men… “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” by Toni Braxton… “There U Go” by Johnny Gill… “The Best Things In Life Are Free” by Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Bell Biv DeVoe & Ralph Tresvant… “I Adore You” by Caron Wheeler… “Forever Love” by Color Me Badd… “Money Can’t Buy You Love” by Ralph Tresvant… “Hearts On Fire” by John Cafferty… “St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr… “Rock On” by Michael Damian… “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N Roses… “Holiday Road” by Lindsey Buckingham… “He’s A Mental Giant” by Tech N9ne… “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame, Roscoe Dash & Wale… “Lose My Mind” by Young Jeezy & Plies