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If Wrestlemania 40 was one night only


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Inspired by @BomberPat, this thread may die a very quiet death, but it gave me food for thought.

If this year's mania was only a one night event such as it was in the past, would it have worked?

Putting some very rough rules in place...you can't change or add any matches, only remove, the matches and outcomes took place exactly as they did, and assuming the main event tag from night one took place on the go home Smackdown, what would your perfect card look like?

I have had a go, and I think it has made me realise that with the amount of belts they have now it is bloody hard to book it over a single night without leaving championships off the card. I have added timings and a rough running order to this, and I still can't get it below 4.5 hours. 

Timings are with entrances and victories, and it would mean no Snoop or other celeb shenanigans. I think the crowd would be completely burnt out by the end...but here's my card:

WWE Women’s World championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Becky Lynch - 40 mins

WWE Undisputed Tag Team championships: 6-Pack Ladder match - 40 mins

WWE Intercontinental championship: Gunther (c) vs. Sami Zayn - 40 mins

WWE World Heavyweight championship: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre - 30 mins

WWE Women’s championship: IYO SKY vs. Bayley - 35 mins

WWE United States championship: Logan Paul vs. Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton - 35 mins

Bianca Belair, Jade Cargill & Naomi vs. Damage CTRL (Asuka, Kairi Sane & Dakota Kai) - 20 mins

Undisputed WWE Universal championship: Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes - Bloodline rules - 50 mins

What do you think? Would you change anything? Does this just prove we need the two nights now?
 

Edited by thatvinylgeek
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8 minutes ago, Hannibal Scorch said:

Mania used to be 4/5 hours, for years. But now they’ve seen what a cash cow it is, 2 nights are here to stay.

The last one night Mania (35) clocked in at over 7.5 hours including the pre-show. Yes it's a cash cow, but there was also a lot of negative attention on the runtime and the logistical issues it caused for people getting home etc, so I think boiling it down to one snarky remark is a bit reductive. New Japan did a two-night Wrestle Kingdom the very same year, in January, prior to the first two-night Mania. 

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1 hour ago, SuperBacon said:

I don't mind two nights, but wish it was Friday and Saturday. That's the next hurdle they need to cross. Go on Paul. 

They aren't giving up a Smackdown to make it Friday and Saturday. That would be giving up a guaranteed sell out of an arena and would breach their TV contract. 

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1 minute ago, Lion_of_the_Midlands said:

They aren't giving up a Smackdown to make it Friday and Saturday. That would be giving up a guaranteed sell out of an arena and would breach their TV contract. 

I don't give a shit! I want my Monday morning back!

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1 minute ago, SuperBacon said:

I don't give a shit! I want my Monday morning back!

If you pay up I'm sure Mr Emmanuel will happily arrange everything to suit you. Shouldn't be more than about 12 million dollars. Pocket change for a fellow of your standing. 

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2 hours ago, Lion_of_the_Midlands said:

They aren't giving up a Smackdown to make it Friday and Saturday. That would be giving up a guaranteed sell out of an arena and would breach their TV contract. 

Nick Khan said they aren’t touchy over moving the day of TV shows and were happy to negotiate different days when discussing the rights. Of course now the deal they struck kept it on Fridays but they could have easily moved it to Thursdays as part of the new deal if they fancied moving Mania. SmackDown has had 3 different days since it began.

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Both the endless one night format and the current two nighters were/are symptomatic of a few factors.

Firstly, there’s the revived ideal of getting as many talents a Mania cheque as possible. Which was fine in the Hulkamania Era, when you could make several of a 14/15 match card can be short matches, a few guys won’t complain about being squashed as long as they’re paid, and the tag team division was presented as such that multiple tag matches could be presented as having stakes without feeling as much like obvious filler as (example) they did at Mania 16. But from 8 onwards, a smaller card was presented, and while it was fairly straightforward to do a “best of the best” card (and even then there were a few duds over the years) with fewer genuine stars on the payroll, it didn’t stay that way and the card grew bigger as we progressed into the Attitude Era and more and more wrestlers were regular part of TV that were either hugely over, very good in the ring or both. They assembled some reasonably tight 3.5-4 hour Manias between 17 (the peak) and 22 even if 20 pushed the “only on merit” idea to its limits with two four-ways for the two sets of tag belts AND a Cruiserweight Open, plus a MITB started happening, but the weaker ones were due to match quality rather than too long or too many.  After this point things got out of hand with increasing numbers of Originals vs New Breed/Team Teddy vs Team Johnny clusterfucks, battle royals and multi-ways, outside of 30 which was the last great “everything here matters” one nighter, and 32 felt like it went on for days. The era of “you have to be part of something big to get on the Mania card” was truly over. And that’s saying nothing about having your full time roster to consider AND the extras that came with several Manias of dedicating air time to part time talent or returns - Triple H, John Cena, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, Batista, Kurt Angle, even Shane McMahon.

Secondly, stakes. In combination with the gradual increase in the amount of talent deserving of a featured role, between the start of Attitude and today the amount of important telly on which to tell stories and give reason for feuds swelled from a 2 hour Raw to todays 5+ hours featuring two distinct rosters, and the amount of titles more than doubled. The last few years especially have seen this require more key matches with champion involvement as reinvigorating the men’s midcard titles has given both a shout at getting onto Mania (as both did this year) and the Women’s involvement has increased from originally one match for one belt to, for six Manias in a row now both two singles titles matches AND tag champions either defending or part of a featured six-woman tag - sometimes more still such as the NXT title match at 36 and a gauntlet at night one of 37 to determine challengers. I don’t think they’ve yet had to put on the full 10 matches to contest all the main roster titles that exist today, with two titles defended in the mains of 35 and 38, the women’s tag not defended last year or this, and a couple of years with a unified men’s tag title, but you can see how more belts would necessitate a bigger card. And even with time allocated to allow for more matches you still ended up with screw ups - matches getting dropped, Rey and Joe given a minute etc.

Thirdly, the artistic and commercial benefits to two nights. There’s no secret that crowds were getting burned out on the longer Manias making some later matches on some of them awkward to watch, playing to little more than an indistinct murmur. Of course, the first to get split over two nights was PandeMania 36, where while they didn’t have to worry about knackering a live crowd, they also didn’t have to worry about if they could fill a stadium twice over by splitting it across two nights and furthermore there was the benefit of reasoning people were less likely to skip parts or get bored watching two shows on two nights than one mammoth one. Plus, if you’re going to put on TWO “movie” matches on one event (Firefly/Boneyard) then it makes sense to do them on separate broadcasts. No, they weren’t the first matches in company history to have been filmed this way. I think you’d have to go back to the first Boiler Room Brawl, then Halftime Heat and the Dungeon match. But these with the most overt “Yeah, we made this, you are not watching live” matches since that rubbish where Orton was inside Wyatt’s wanking shed and it kept cutting to angles where we saw no camera man a second earlier. Whether you like that kind of jazz or not (I’m on the fence) it would have been overkill to do both on the same show. A year later with reduced capacity, it made further sense to sell two nights’ worth of tickets, assuming the revenue would offset the cost of renting the stadium for two nights. When they saw how quickly those sold, I imagine the penny dropped quite quickly of “Christ, why have we been doing this for years?”

It’s still a balancing act, creatively, even with two nights. Many times I’ve watched multiple clusterfucks on the same card and lament that none of the personal rivalries could have been settled in straight singles or tag matches because I was raised on scores being settled at “the granddaddy of them all.” Plus it’s hard to see through the transparency of “get this person a cheque” just because it’s WrestleMania for a marginal talent who’s been on one PLE since SummerSlam, but I think they might just get there. This year I think has been the best they’ve managed, even with cramming 12 men into one ladder match and finding a spot for The Final Testament. There have been proper rivalries contested in singles matches with Reigns vs Cody, Rollins vs McIntyre, Uso vs Uso, Knight vs Styles and Io vs Bayley, and still further “big time” feeling singles titles matches in Ripley vs Lynch and Gunther vs Zayn. And certain other wrestlers - Belair, Cargill, Rey, Lashley and the Profits especially, deserved to find their spot on the shows. You’re never going to please everyone, and I felt sorry for Liv Morgan, who’s previously been super over in pursuit of Becky’s belt, owes revenge for the demise of “Liv Brutally” and might have had some kind of comeback story, for Chad Gable who got red hot chasing Gunther, for other members of LWO shirts and LWO skins who might have actually got in the match, and possibly one or two eliminated from the ladder clusterfuck qualifiers. But maybe it’s time they should draw the line somewhere.

TL:DR ; the two night format isn’t perfect but every year they manage it better and better. Apologies, I know that’s not the question the thread posed.

 

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1 hour ago, air_raid said:

Plus, if you’re going to put on TWO “movie” matches on one event (Firefly/Boneyard) then it makes sense to do them on separate broadcasts. No, they weren’t the first matches in company history to have been filmed this way. I think you’d have to go back to the first Boiler Room Brawl, then Halftime Heat and the Dungeon match. But these with the most overt “Yeah, we made this, you are not watching live” matches since that rubbish where Orton was inside Wyatt’s wanking shed and it kept cutting to angles where we saw no camera man a second earlier. Whether you like that kind of jazz or not (I’m on the fence) it would have been overkill to do both on the same show. A year later with reduced capacity, it made further sense to sell two nights’ worth of tickets, assuming the revenue would offset the cost of renting the stadium for two nights. When they saw how quickly those sold, I imagine the penny dropped quite quickly of “Christ, why have we been doing this for years?”

 

Hollywood Backlot Brawl at Mania 12 surely is the first one?

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1 hour ago, air_raid said:

A year later with reduced capacity, it made further sense to sell two nights’ worth of tickets, assuming the revenue would offset the cost of renting the stadium for two nights.

Granted it may have been different purely due to the pandemic times but states pay WWE about $20m to bring WrestleMania to them so they aren’t really paying for stadium hire.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, mim731 said:

Hollywood Backlot Brawl at Mania 12 surely is the first one?

Good shout. Unless I discount that as "no bell, no ref, no decision, no match" as people have done to me re: HHH vs Orton being not really Hunter's last match.... LOL.

That and the first Boiler Room Brawl are the first two PPV matches I recall with a pre-recorded element (bell to bell, or not, so to speak) plus the car chase footage spliced into it. I'm not 100% but I think the Empty Arena match at Halftime Heat was the first time I noticed anything particularly "cinematic" in terms of the filming style - i.e. the visual of Rock's face as the forklift descends on him and worse, his POV of it lowering... like, there's a camera shot there that has no reason to exist. It's a wider conversation, but that was the first one that made me go "Ah, that's some bullshit." It's not "making movies" in the sense of cameras being invisible. It's a pretend sport, and it's a world in which the people doing the filming exist, are seen on screen and acknowledged, and have even been used in the match (as recently as Bad Blood/Hell In A Cell at the point of Halftime Heat). At the point you show me something filmed from an viewpoint where I just saw that there's no cameraman and then you immediately cut back to a shot where I see no cameraman, I'm no longer suspending my disbelief. Subconsciously I no longer can believe I'm watching a wrestling show, I'm fully aware that I'm watching what Max Landis called (and I'm paraphrasing) a TV show about a wrestling show.

4 hours ago, FUM said:

Granted it may have been different purely due to the pandemic times but states pay WWE about $20m to bring WrestleMania to them so they aren’t really paying for stadium hire.

That's the key, isn't it? There's a pretty good chance the "ask" may have been lower given the tourism revenue coming in was in turn going to be lower, so they will have crunched the numbers on monies received - cost of rent + two nights ticket sales and decided it was worth it.

Edited by air_raid
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