For those of us who never quite outgrew the fun that is professional wrestling, this time of the year is our Christmas.
Wrestlemania, the year’s largest event, staged by the largest company in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment (better known as WWE) has us rostering days off well in advance to ensure we don’t miss the show of shows.
This year’s Wrestlemania will take place in Houston Texas, where in excess of 80,000 fans are expected to pack into AT&T Stadium.
The company hopes to top the 93,173 fans who witnessed Hulk Hogan slam Andre the Giant all the way back at Wrestlemania 3.
Although that crowd number is highly disputed and is more likely to be around the 80,000 people mark, the WWE has genuine hopes of beating even their exaggerated crowd figure on April third.
In the showcase bout, or main event, 14 time World Champion and WWE mainstay Triple H will take on the man positioned to take over as the company’s top good guy, or “babyface” in Roman Reigns.
Wrestlemania has become far more than just a wrestling event, with the ‘Wrestlemania’ brand selling tens of thousands of tickets before a single match has been announced.
In fact over the years it has become more of a week-long celebration than a simple pay-per-view, and provides a massive boost to the city chosen to host said festivities.
As well as the event, which last year sold 76,976 tickets at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium, the WWE hosts fan conventions known as ‘Axxess’ as well as smaller shows, an nXt (the WWE’s developmental organisation) show and the prestigious Hall Of Fame ceremony.
To fans of the genre, Wrestlemania is wrestling’s version of the superbowl. Some say that the superbowl is football’s version of Wrestlemania.
Simply put, the WWE’s showcase event has become a juggernaut. Fans travel half way across the globe to attend the event, with many placing it number one on their bucket list.
Hotels are sold out months in advance, cafes and restaurants are swamped, bars full meaning that the host city generates millions in revenue.
Given all the benefits, it got me thinking; could Australia ever host an event as big as Wrestlemania?
The mega event has never taken place outside of North America, with only the monstrous Sky Dome in Toronto Canada drawing the event outside of the United States, but there has been talk of taking ‘Mania overseas.
The United Kingdom would be the obvious destination, given that Wembley Stadium hosted the largest ever version of the WWE’s second biggest event Summerslam back in 1992 in front of over 80,000 fans.
That being said, given the undoubted success of the UFC’s latest venture down under, you’d have to think that Australia would be in with at least a shout if considered.
UFC 193 took place at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium in November last year, where it set a UFC attendance record of 56,214.
The time difference, although quite large, was absolutely no worry, with the pay-per-view portion of the show kicking off at 2 pm local time, which allowed the event to run on the normal UFC PPV timeslot.
The WWE typically runs its shows two hours earlier than the UFC, being that it has a much larger percentage of its fan base that are children.
This would mean that the show would start at between 10 am and 12 noon, depending on the date of the card and the effect of daylight savings.
Lately only massive stadiums have been considered for Wrestlemania hosting after the event outgrew the arena set up.
Although Etihad Stadium’s capacity for the event would be around 65,000, the stadium would not be large enough to justify the massive amount of performers, writing staff, producers, and ring crew enduring a 14 hour flight.
If the WWE were to host Mania in Australia, it would have to take place at the 100,000 capacity MCG. The WWE would want to create history if it were to make a trip.
The G would be available if Mania were hosted in early March, given that the AFL season proper would not yet have kicked off.
Although the venue would lose seating capacity due to the extravagant sets that have become part of the show, the massive ‘G’ playing surface would allow more fans to sit on the field that would be lost due to the sets.
There is no doubt that the MCG could host such an event, having routinely hosting 95,000 plus for the AFL Grand Final each year.
The stadium could be configured to allow the WWE to erect massive screens to allow those in the nosebleeds to see. Mania has become such an event that people pay to sit in seats where they are no chance of seeing live action, instead watching on the screens to be part of the atmosphere.
There is no guarantee that the event would sell out, but given the star power at the WWE’s disposal, if it really wanted to sell it out, I’m sure they could.
Not only do they have links to Hollywood mega star The Rock, they have a who’s who of proud WWE fans across the sporting and celebrity community. Not to mention having former UFC World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar on their books.
To be worth the trip, the WWE would have to set a new attendance record. Given the state of the Aussie dollar, it’s possible that the WWE could use local workers and supplies to build the set, meaning they could save a lot of money in the process.
The only drawback would be that they’d have to raise ticket prices to make up for the weak Aussie dollar.
Australia has proven it can attract fans to big events in the past after hosting arguably the best Olympics in history in 2000, as well as multiple sporting World Cups.
If Wrestlemania were to come to town, Melbourne could expect an influx of 50,000 tourists plus just for the event itself, let alone the week either side.
The benefits to both sides are obvious, and although I say this through green and gold glasses, I think Australia could not only host the event, but set yet another sporting record crowd.
That being said, given the hundreds of stadiums available to the company within driving distance, it would take a mighty big lure to bring the juggernaut event down under.