A weekend full of WrestleMania

David Koier, Courier Staff

This article is about WrestleMania. Most of you reading this may stop reading after that first line. “WWE isn’t a real sport. Why is he putting WWE in the sports section of the newspaper?” It’s simple. WrestleMania is the largest sports and entertainment spectacle of the year and I enjoy the art of pro wrestling. So, let’s get to it.

The Show of Shows. The Grandest Stage of Them All. The Showcase of the Immortals. The Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment. Back in 1985 Vince McMahon took a gamble that would change the world of sports entertainment forever.

He pitched a program that would not only host wrestling matches, but he also brought in some of the biggest names in entertainment. He decided not only to host the event, but instead of putting it on public television, he offered it on close circuit TV (Pay-Per-View as we know it today).

Back then wrestling was split up into territories. The World Wrestling Federation was in charge of the northeast and was located in New York. The WWF had sold out Madison Square Garden countless of times and Vince saw it as the perfect place to set up his huge event.

To try and sell tickets, McMahon knew he had to bring in big names to make this more than wrestling. He needed to make it a spectacle. McMahon brought in stars like pop sensation Cyndi Lauper to manage a women’s title match and Mr. T to fight alongside big-name superstar Hulk Hogan in the main event. Along with those two big names, Muhammad Ali and Liberace were also involved in the inaugural WrestleMania.

McMahon put his career, his business, and his reputation on the line with that first WrestleMania. Not only did his gamble pay off, but now 33 years later, the show is continuing and with more success than ever.

I don’t care if you aren’t a pro wrestling fan, but you have to respect when a business thrives. Here are a few numbers just to show how popular WrestleMania is around the world. WrestleMania is available to watch around the world in 180 countries. The Grandest Stage of Them All brought in $4.55 million in merchandise sales just two years ago. 1.82 million people watched WrestleMania 32 on the WWE Network (that number doesn’t include the additional pay-per-view buys for the event).

2.5 million people mentioned WrestleMania 32 on the day of the event a few years ago. And finally, the WWE brought in $17.3 million in ticket sales for WrestleMania 32, which beat the previous record by $4.7 million.

These numbers are just a few that show how popular this event is. This year the Showcase of the Immortals is the biggest event in the programs history, having a run time of roughly seven hours. I, for one, am very excited for many of these matches. Here are my previews for some of the largest ones.

AJ Styles versus Shinsuke Nakamura is what many people in the wrestling world call a “dream match.” Both wrestlers have been wrestling for countless years before coming to the WWE a few years ago. Styles and Nakamura were some of the biggest names in Japan and the independent wrestling scenes.

The last time the two faced off was in Japan at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in 2016. Their match was rated four and three-quarter out of five stars by The Wrestling Observer Magazine’s Dave Meltzer. Both of these men are considered two of the top wrestlers in the world today. Many people are looking forward to this match because they think that now that the two are in WWE, which is considered the be all end all of sports entertainment, they will earn that last quarter star giving them the perfect match. With the WWE World Heavyweight Championship title on the line, I’m looking forward to this match.

Another top match is Roman Reigns versus WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is definitely on his way out of the company. As some of you readers may know, Lesnar had a brief stint with the UFC and has been in talks with the company on making a return. The WWE has been pushing Reigns for years to be the top dog in the company and the fans have never accepted him. This year it is almost certain that he is knocking off the supposed “unbeatable” Lesnar at WrestleMania. The two big men will fight it out for the championship in what should be an excellent bout.

These two-big championship main events are accompanied by a few more title matches, a pair of battle royals and the long-awaited debut of former UFC champion Ronda Rousey.

Never in a million years did McMahon believe that his small idea, to put his product on closed-circuit TV, would grow into a multi-national entertainment extravaganza. I, and millions of wrestling fans around the world, are looking forward to this Sunday to witness the WrestleMania 34.