Monday, February 22, 1999
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Big shows should be in big domes
Never has the adage "Seize the day!" ever been more appropriate then it is today for the 'big two' wrestling promoters.
Wrestling is currently experiencing a boom of profit. In fact, I would dare say it is an unprecedented wave of profit. While it has been said that wrestling was tremendously popular in the 1980s, it was really only the WWF that profited. Most other promotions were railroaded to the wayside. However, in 1999, both the WWF and WCW are big business. They are both making big money. Which is why now is the time for both promotions to go for the big show.
Wrestlemania and Starrcade must go the domes: now and not later.
Both WCW and WWF have domed venues that I believe could easily be filled for their signature events. Both companies have demonstrated their drawing power in these buildings with their television programs. WCW has drawn 30,000+ for Nitro in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on two occasions. The WWF just recently visited SkyDome and did the same for RAW. If these are the figures for a Monday night television program, I see no reason why either company's signature PPV would not sell out these complexes.
Every wrestling fan knows that on its home turf, Atlanta, WCW possesses its largest fan base. Things have only been better in the South for the company since ex-Falcon Bill Goldberg's rise to fame. Goldberg won the WCW World Title from Hollywood Hogan on a July '98 Nitro in front of a rabid Georgia Dome crowd. Imagine the prospect of Goldberg regaining the title at Starrcade '99, thus ending the decade in glorious fashion in front of screaming hometown crowd. Imagine how many tickets such an event would sell for the Turner company.
Toronto has long been friendly territory to the World Wrestling Federation. Rowdy behavior during the show aside, a recent RAW in the SkyDome proves that the WWF can draw a big crowd in Ontario's capital city.
While Wrestlemania XV may already be reserved for Philadelphia, holding WM XVI in Toronto would most certainly be fitting. Most fans recall that the WWF opened the '90s Wrestlemania series at the SkyDome and attracted 67,000+. Now they have the opportunity to open a new millennium of Wrestlemanias at the Dome.
Don't let me give the wrong impression, I am not necessarily a "big arena person." I've watched many an exciting ECW match that transpired in front of crowds of 1,000 to 3,000. Yet nothing is more satisfying that to see a wrestling promotion stage its most prized PPV in front of the largest and loudest crowd possible. It brings to light the magnitude of the event. It lets the members of the TV audience know that the show is a big deal. Not a big deal in a Tony Schiavone "biggest &*%* in the history of our sport" way, but truly a big deal. Rest assured the crowds in Atlanta and Toronto would be large enough and loud enough to grab everyone's attention.
It is also my opinion that the earlier each company can announce such an event, the better. If Eric Bischoff decided tomorrow to hold Starrcade '99 at the Georgia Dome, he would have a full 10 months to work with in selling the event. He would be in a good position to prepare a full 10-month promotional effort because the company's operation is based in Atlanta. The WWF has made it a tradition recently to decide a year in advance where to hold the next Wrestlemania. With 365 days to work with, I have no doubts that the WWF could sell enough tickets to overflow the SkyDome, let alone fill it.
The timing has never been better. The popularity of the product is huge. If Bischoff and McMahon know what is best for their bread-and-butter events, they'll put them in front of the big crowds that befit their significance.
Bryce McNeil is from Prime Brook, NS, and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.