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Monday, August 24, 2015

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Booking Wrestlemania: How It Has Changed

By @Cool_Calm_Chris


Wrestlemania 11, April 2, 1995, the first Wrestlemania to feature none of the headlining Superstars from the Golden Era (with the exception of Ted Dibiase and Roddy Piper). On this night, WWF fans witnessed NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor going one on one with Bam Bam Bigelow in the main event, as well as Diesel defending his World Wrestling Federation championship against fellow WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels. On paper, the card looks pretty phenomenal, as it features some of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history such as Bret and Owen Hart, Razor Ramon, The Undertaker, Lex Luger, the 1-2-3 Kid, and many other legendary names. However most wrestling fans, critics, and even wrestlers consider this to be one of the worst Wrestlemanias of all time.

For those that are familiar with this Wrestlemania it would be hard to argue that point. The business was changing, no longer could WWE rely on their top stars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage to bring in business, as most of those wrestlers now worked for the rival company WCW. The WWF had fully transitioned to the "New Generation" era and now the top superstars in the company had to be relied on to bring in the customers. While Bret Hart had managed to become the next top babyface in the company, Vince McMahon was still in the process of grooming new stars to help carry the load. The Kliq, consisting of Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, The 1-2-3 Kid, and later Hunter Hearst Helmsley, had become the most popular faction in the company at the time and it was obvious that Shawn and Diesel were the ones Vince had looked to in carrying "The Torch of the New Generation". While these superstars did struggle to gain an audience during the early stages of the Monday Night Wars, Vince McMahon did not give up on the young stars, and they worked effortlessly to bring WWF back to its former glory.

Fast forward to March 29, 2015, Wrestlemania 31. While the moment that trended the most involved two young superstars in Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, they were not the ones WWE had looked specifically towards in bringing in an audience to fill Levi's Stadium. For the past five years, WWE has relied heavily on the star power of the legends that they have had headlining Wrestlemania for over a decade, as well as attractions to help promote the show (but that is expected for every Wrestlemania). The Undertaker, John Cena, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, etc. have all been used to help WWE promote their biggest show of the year. So what does that say about Vince McMahon's faith in the younger stars?

To be fair, the WWE is a completely different business now than it was 20 years ago. WWE is a publicly traded company now and are constantly trying to please investors. Vince McMahon is a lot less capable of making bold choices and betting the odds on an untested young star, he is obligated at this point to rely on the star power of the superstars that helped build his empire. This is partially why John Cena has fought for the WWE Championship in the last four SummerSlams and will fight for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at this year's event. The freedom to book a Wrestlemania has changed in recent years for WWE.

Like a director working on a movie for Marvel, there are restrictions in place that have to be addressed when booking a Wrestlemania. As much as it would make sense to have a WWE World Heavyweight championship match in the main event, if the superstars involved in the match will not statistically help promote the product in a way that someone like Brock Lesnar would, they would get knocked down the card a bit.

As annoying as it may be for the fans, it's hard to argue that fact, as the last three Wrestlemanias drew either close to or over 80,000 people in attendance. So in conclusion, as hopeful as it may be to think that a triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship involving all three members of the Shield could happen at Wrestlemania 32, do not get your hopes up. However, as Vince McMahon would say, anything can happen in the WWE

-Chris

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