Depending on your definition of “WrestleMania Season” and the time frame that it happens, we’re either right in the beginning phase of said season, or we’re about to be there once the Royal Rumble is over and done with. With WrestleMania season comes WrestleMania news, and WWE just delivered some of that this weekend.
If you were watching the NFL playoffs on NBC, you saw the announcement that this year’s edition of Mania was not only changing dates from March 28th to a two-night event on April 10th and 11th, but that the event was moving from Los Angeles, California to Tampa, Florida. If you remember, Tampa was supposed to be the home of last year’s event, before COVID swooped in and forced the move to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
That’s big enough news, but it didn’t end there. It was also announced that next year’s event would take place on April 3rd, 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. AT&T Stadium, of course, was the home of WrestleMania 32 in 2016, where the announced attendance for the show was 101,763.
That wasn’t the end of the news. No, no, there was more to come. We also heard that the FOLLOWING year’s event would take place on April 2nd, 2023 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California. SoFi Stadium was the original home of this year’s event, but with California having much stricter rules and regulations on in-person spectators than Florida, WWE made the decision to move the show to try and get some fans in attendance for the first time in a year.
There’s a lot to unpack there. Let’s go over them in chronological order, shall we?
I think the most important thing about WrestleMania 37 is the fact that WWE is planning on having fans in attendance for the show. We don’t know yet how many tickets they’ll put up for sale, but the early rumor is that they’re planning to have in the vicinity of 25,000 people in the building on each night. Here are some facts… the stadium capacity is 65,618 people, and the attendance for the last Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game held there (January 3rd) was 16,009 people, or about 24% capacity. Obviously, this would be all speculation on my part, but if they can get 16,009 fans in the building for an NFL game, why wouldn’t they be able to get at least that many in there for a wrestling event? When you factor in potential floor seating like WrestleMania always has, you could be looking at 25,000 being there while still distancing and keeping things as “safe” as can be. Even at almost 40% capacity, fans watching at home will think there are 500,000 people in attendance when you compare it to the silence and the piped in Thunderdome reactions we’re used to these days. That’s going to add to every match on both nights, so I’m certainly looking forward to it. Words simply cannot express how much I miss being able to watch pro wrestling with live crowds on a regular basis.
As far as WrestleMania 38 is concerned, it’s all tentative. We don’t know what the future holds. We could all be in the middle of a zombie apocalypse by that point, making WrestleMania a moot point. However, if things go the way people hope they will, the United States might… might… begin to see some normalcy at some point in the second-half of 2021, at least as far as large gatherings in public are concerned. Even in the best-case scenario, I think having 100,000+ fans in attendance 14 months from now is nothing more than a pipe dream. For the last Dallas Cowboys football game held at the stadium (December 27th), the attendance was 30,131 people, which is at about 30% capacity. In case you aren’t a math whiz like I am, the number 30,000 is much greater than 16,000 happens to be, but 30,000 is still a long way from 101,000. There’s just so many things that need to happen (and not happen) before the United States reaches the point where 100,000+ people are able to attend a sporting event again. It could be YEARS before that happens, and no, that isn’t hyperbole at all. Like a lot of other countries, we’re in a vicious cycle as far as COVID is concerned. Our numbers are better when we go closer to a full lockdown, but that type of lockdown is causing small business to shut down left and right. Open things back up and the businesses can remain afloat, but then more people are getting sick and more people are dying. We’re coming up on a year since things really began, and we’ve just topped the 400,000 deaths mark, so it can’t be said if and when things will be back to normal here.
With everything going on in America right now, it’s hard to predict a month from now, let alone a year from now, and it’s for damn sure difficult to predict two years from now. Again, there might not be anyone left alive to attend a wrestling event by that point. Maybe we’ll be living in a utopia. Who knows? What I DO know is that SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles has a listed capacity of 70,240 people for events like football games, and an expandable capacity of 100,240 for events like WrestleMania. Following the pattern I’ve set in the rest of the column, I’d like to tell you the attendance for the last football game to be held at SoFi, but COVID restrictions were so tough in California that the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers played their home games there with no fans in attendance. A brand new $5 billion stadium… left empty. Getting 100,000+ people in the building for WrestleMania in 2023 is more likely than getting that many in the building for a Mania in 2022, but the overall odds of it happening are still pretty unknown. We don’t know what will happen with COVID. We don’t know what will happen with the COVID vaccines. There are just too many question marks right now, but it’s good that WWE is, at the very least, trying to iron out plans for the future.
One thing I noticed, beyond what was there, was something that wasn’t there in WWE’s announcement. Another brand new NFL stadium sits in Las Vegas, Nevada. Allegiant Stadium is the home of the Las Vegas Raiders, and as soon as we heard about the stadium being built, it was speculated that it would be a future home of WrestleMania. Through the years, Vince McMahon has worked himself into a frenzy to get new stadiums to be the host of WrestleMania. WrestleMania 19 was held in Seattle, Washington’s Safeco Field less than four years after it opened. Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan hosted WrestleMania 23 less than five years after it opened. Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas hosted WrestleMania 25 less than seven years after it opened. University Of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona hosted WrestleMania 26 less than four years after it opened. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey hosted WrestleMania 29 less than three years after it opened. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California hosted WrestleMania 31 less than nine months after it opened. The aforementioned AT&T Stadium hosted WrestleMania 32 less than seven years after it opened. WrestleMania 35 returned to MetLife Stadium in 2019, nine years after the stadium opened. If SoFi Stadium does get to host WrestleMania 39, it will be less than three years old when it gets the honors. The only other new stadiums in the NFL that fit the criteria Vince looks for are Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (opened in August 2017) and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota (opened in July 2016). No offense to the people of Atlanta and Minneapolis, but not only is Allegiant Stadium newer, but Las Vegas is a much easier “sell” than either of those cities, tremendous history in pro wrestling be damned. Allegiant officially opened less than six months ago, though, so it’s not as if Vince and WWE have been ignoring it for decades. There’s always WrestleMania 40 in 2024. You know… if we’re still alive.
As is always the case when a discussion about future WrestleMania host cities takes place, I know that the United Kingdom is going to come up. It’s inevitable. I’ve been doing this type of thing for years, and it always happens. I’ll say the same thing now that I’ve said every other time it comes up… as much as I’d love to see Mania take place somewhere in the UK, I just don’t see it happening. I understand that the facilities are great. Wembley Stadium (for you non-UK readers, it’s the new stadium that opened in 2007 on the site of the demolished stadium of the same name that hosted SummerSlam 1992) in London, England has a capacity of 90,000 people, which would be potentially much higher for a wrestling event. Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales had 78,000 people in attendance for the Anthony Joshua vs Carlos Takam boxing match in 2017. London Stadium in… London… has a capacity of 80,000 people for concerts and things of that nature. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London has a capacity of 62,850 people. Emirates Stadium in London has a capacity of 60,704 people. Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England has a capacity of 60,000 people for concerts. That’s only looking at the new and relatively new stadiums. As we’ve seen with WrestleMania 24 and 33 at Camping World Stadium (formerly known as The Citrus Bowl) in Orlando, Florida, WWE doesn’t mind old venues, as that one opened in 1936. The United Kingdom hosting Mania isn’t an issue with venues and host cities. It’s… everything else. Start with the time. WrestleMania 36 started at midnight in England, and ran until well after 3am, and that’s early compared to the previous year’s event, which lasted until 5:30am. What do you do with that? That’s entirely too fucking long, and you’re risking a disaster of fans falling asleep on camera if you’re having a live show running that deep into the wee hours of the morning. This sounds arrogant, but the time of the show can’t be moved, as it works best with the North American audience. You’re not going to get the same level of viewership on the WWE Network if Mania starts before noon in some parts of America. So… do you tape Mania early and air it in its usual timeslot, or even tape it the night before? I mean, you could do that, but take a look at what happens when Raw and Smackdown run taped shows in the United Kingdom. Spoilers hit the internet, people read what happens, and then they don’t tune in when the show airs. It shows in the ratings and viewership numbers for those shows. Why would WWE want a lower turnout for their biggest show of the year? Even if they stacked the Mania card something fierce… even if they had major events taking place like title changes, big heel turns, big face turns, etc… even if they had a five-star 30-minute classic between two world-class workers… people are going to see the spoilers and just catch up another time. Way too risky for WWE. Sorry, folks, it just isn’t going to happen.
Man, we’re in such a weird time in our lives. Before, we could speculate on what city would host the next WrestleMania or two. Now, we speculate on if the next WrestleMania or two will even happen, and if they do happen, whether or not any fans will be in attendance for it. It wasn’t all that long ago that there weren’t any breaking news stories about future Mania sites. To find out, we would just watch WrestleMania, and at some point during the show, there would be a commercial that revealed the following year’s site to the world. As unrealistic as it was, I would always hope for a Mania to be in Hawaii. Not only would it make for a different presentation, and a different thematic experience, but I was living there at the time, so my God, think of the money I would save not having to buy a plane ticket or book a hotel stay! Now that I live in Arizona, that’s why I want to see Mania make its return to the state.
What say you, ReaderLand? I want your thoughts on everything I mentioned here. First and foremost, what are your thoughts on WWE announcing Mania sites a couple years in advance? On top of that, what are your thoughts on the cities and venues that have been chosen? What do you think about the United Kingdom hosting a WrestleMania in the future? I’d especially like to hear from people living in the U.K. for that one, so I can hear how you think it could work out. Finally, what future cities and venues would you like to see be selected as a host? Realistically, of course. We’re not going to get Mania in Hettinger, North Dakota. 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
- Mustafa Ali: God bless him, he’s trying everything in his power to make anything involving Retribution worthwhile. This week, we got another fantastic promo from him, with perfect callbacks to KofiMania, and how that only happened because Ali got injured and was replaced in the 2019 Elimination Chamber by Kofi Kingston. Kofi “stole” Ali’s dream. Kofi “broke” Ali, so now, Ali wants to “break” Kofi by destroying what means the most to him. With Kofi missing time due to a jaw injury, Xavier Woods is all alone, and has become the new target for Ali and the rest of his crew. Ali is one of the best promo men in the business today, and he proves that during the rare opportunity WWE lets him say anything. Will this go anywhere? Knowing WWE, no, but it’s off to a very good start.
- Daniel Bryan vs Cesaro: In another universe, this is a match that could main event WrestleMania. For now, it will have to do as the best televised match of the week. You know you’re going to get quality when these two are involved, and this was no different. Bryan continues to seem like he has a lot of “say” on Friday nights. He’s working better and longer matches than usual, and he seems to be working with a lot of the opponents he wants to work with. It’s making for fun television, that’s for sure.
- Ricochet vs AJ Styles: In an entirely different universe, this is a match that could main event WrestleMania. I said what I said. The match itself was a ton of fun, but the Styles Clash that finished the match took it to a different level. That was one of the most beautifully done sequences you’ll see. Styles basically threw the basketball off the backboard, caught it himself, and threw down a thunderous dunk at the buzzer to win the game. If you haven’t seen the finish, it’s worth your time to go and check it out.
- Kevin Owens: I’m actually scared, folks. I am scared at the mere thought of what Kevin Owens will put himself through to defeat Roman Reigns and win the Universal Title in a Last Man Standing situation. I’m scared at the thought of what Roman Reigns will do in a Last Man Standing situation to beat Kevin Owens and retain the Universal Title. This is going to be a WAR. Maybe Owens will finally be able to find someone that can help him hold off the interference of Jey Uso this time around.
- Darby Allin vs Brian Cage: This match followed the expected formula, but that isn’t the complaint it sounds like. Cage is a cyborg. Allin is willing to put himself through any and everything if it means he’ll pick up a victory. If you put these two in the ring, you know Cage is going to put Allin through hell, and that’s what happened here. It didn’t matter much in the end, though, as Allin retained the TNT Title after Sting made an appearance to counter the interference from Team Taz. AEW needs to be careful moving forward with Allin. With everything he bounces back from, it would be difficult for him to lose the title… whenever that happens… to just a random finisher. He’s going to need to have a limb removed or have an asteroid hit him or something along those lines. Or, AEW could just have another star-making performance like they did for Brodie Lee when he massacred the seemingly unstoppable Cody Rhodes to win the same TNT Title. We’ll see.
- Shinsuke Nakamura: He needed this. We needed this. A push as a singles face for Nakamura. He has even gone back to his original entrance music. You know… the one people “sing” to. We still don’t know if he’ll finally reach the top of the WWE mountain this time around, but damn, I’m excited to watch him make the attempt, that’s for sure.
- MSK: The artists formerly known as Zachary Wentz and Dezmond Xavier have finally made their NXT debuts under the new names of Nash Carter and Wes Lee, respectively. Two of the most exciting young talents in wrestling, these two can potentially make an immediate impact (no pun intended) on Wednesday nights. Their match against Jake Atlas and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was as fun a sub-ten minute tag team match as you’re going to see on any sort of WWE programming. Their upcoming match against Drake Maverick and Killian Dain in the next round of the tournament has a ton of potential, as well.
- KUSHIDA: After racking up win after win after win with no real direction, KUSHIDA finally seems to have a target… Johnny Gargano and his North American Title. It’s not the Battle Of The New Japan Junior Heavyweight Legends against Finn Balor that I’ve been calling for, but it’s still a major step up. Works for me. KUSHIDA and Gargano can have themselves a pretty epic match, or series of matches, and we all win that (Gargano) way.
- Serena Deeb vs Tay Conti: I’ve already said what I had to say about the AEW women’s division, but credit where it’s due, this was a fun match. Deeb remains one of the better women in wrestling, and Conti was able to show a ton of improvement with her in-ring work. More of this, AEW.
- Miro: While we’re on the “More of this, AEW” kick, we should talk about Miro. More often than not, AEW presents him as nothing even closely resembling the monster that he should be, but every once in a while… every now and then… we get to see the dominant performer come out. Now, if they can just hurry up and get Miro as far away from Kip Sabian as possible.
This Week’s Playlist: “When It Rains It Pours” by Luke Combs… “Forever After All” by Luke Combs… “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs… “Better Together” by Luke Combs… “Love You Like I Used To” by Russell Dickerson… “Tip Toe 4” by Riff Raff & Yelawolf… “I Want It All” by Warren G & Mack 10… “On My Own” by Patti LaBelle… “On The Wings Of Love” by Jeffrey Osborne… “You Are My Lady” by Freddie Jackson… “I Miss You” by Aaron Hall… “Ralph Wiggum” by Bloodhound Gang… “Fat Lip” by Sum 41… “Girl All The Bad Guys Want” by Bowling For Soup… “Right Now” by SR-71… “My Friends Over You” by New Found Glory… “Glory Of Love” by Peter Cetera… “Meant To Live” by Switchfoot… “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry… “B.O.B.” by Outkast… “Want You Bad” by The Offspring… “X” by Xzibit… “All The Things I Should Have Known” by K-Ci & JoJo… “Loser” by 3 Doors Down… “If You Must” by Del The Funky Homosapien