With the recent success of the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament, the subsequent specials and matches on NXT: Takeover shows, the WWE is making its mark in the British wrestling scene. Fan interest and attendance at wrestling events is at an all time high with WWE selling out their twice yearly RAW and SmackDown tapings every year. There truly has never been a better time to be a WWE fan in Great Britain and so we, the people of this United Kingdom, ask in earnest, Will the United Kingdom ever host WrestleMania?
The WWE have a long history of events in the UK, most notably selling out Wembley Stadium in 1992 for SummerSlam. In this show, the 80,355 strong crowd saw hometown hero, The British Bulldog, wrestle his Hall of Fame brother-in-law, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart for the prestigious Intercontinental Championship in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year. Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, the WWE presented a series of UK Exclusive Pay-Per-View events that were broadcast live on Sky Box Office. Eleven such events took place over this period, providing historical WWE moments such as Crash Holly defeating William Regal for the WWE European Championship. WWE Insurrextion 2002 also holds the distinction of being the last event to be broadcast under the WWF name, with the WWE rebrand taking place on the following week’s Monday Night RAW.
Beginning in 2004, WWE would begin to record their weekly television shows, RAW and SmackDown, during their twice-yearly UK tours. These UK events have become highlights of the WWE calendar and too have seen their fair share of history, including a Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year between John Cena and Shawn Michaels in 2007 and Mickie James winning her fourth WWE Women’s Championship against Beth Phoenix. More recently, WWE has introduced the WWE United Kingdom Championship and, building from the success of the tournament to crown an inaugural champion, plans to launch a weekly television show from the UK on the WWE Network.
With a storied history such as this, why have WWE not pulled the trigger on a UK based WrestleMania event? Many have argued, as was the case in 1992, that SummerSlam may be a better option for a big event return to the UK. While fans would likely be appeased by this or any other Pay-Per-View event, the WWE would be missing out on an opportunity to ‘go big’ and make history.
Others argue that a WrestleMania in the UK is logistically impossible because of the time zone differences. It’s well documented and recognized that British fans have suffered 1am start times to watch RAW, SmackDown and PPVs live. The argument that American audiences cannot be expected to change the time they tune in for live WWE action is ludicrous and, quite frankly, insulting. A WrestleMania that began at 7pm UK time, it would be broadcast at 2pm Eastern and 11am Pacific, which is a perfectly reasonable time to tune in for a one off special presentation and, if you disagree, you can tune in on delay on the WWE Network, like much of the world do every week.
Making the Case for Britain
The NFL have set the blueprint for major American business bringing their events to Great Britain and they have reaped the financial rewards of doing so. NFL Tickets sell for around $130 (£103) on average, which is around $44 (£35) more than tickets in America. This trend is true of WWE too, with ticket for RAW costing $42 (£32) more than the same ticket in the US. Furthermore, Wembley Stadium is 25% than most NFL stadiums, where WrestleMania events are hosted annually. Put simply, there’s more money to be made hosting WrestleMania in the UK.
It’s not only the WWE that would make money, though. WrestleMania is proven to be fantastic for local economy, giving a massive boost to the host city’s coffers. For WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, Texas, Forbes Magazine reported a $170 million economic impact. In Santa Clara, California for WrestleMania 31, WWE reported that $22 million was spent on hotels and accommodation within the region, as well as $6.2 million spent by visitors at area restaurants. What mayor would turn their nose up at that kind of revenue for their city?
When previously asked whether he supported WrestleMania coming to London, then London Mayor and current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that he was “dead keen” on the idea. Current mayor Sadiq Khan could not be reached for comment.
The prospect of WrestleMania in the UK has also received support from WWE Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, stating in an interview with The Mirror that she’d ‘love to see a major PPV in the UK’. During WrestleMania week this year, WWE also sent out a survey gauging interest in host cities for WrestleMania, London amongst them.
This proves WWE is thinking about it but if the debut of the weekly UK show is anything to go by, the powers that be are in no rush to give us what we want. It’s a good job we Brits are so good at queuing because we could be waiting for a very long time for a British WrestleMania…
Could WrestleMania work in the UK? What is holding WWE back? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below or on Twitter @thejezshow.