Katz Files: What about a Wrestling Superbowl?

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

What about a Wrestling Super Bowl?

The Kingfish Arnie Katz, now almost recovered from Super Bowl festivities, ponders the possibility of a “big event” for professional wrestling.

The approach of WrestleMania 25, with memories of Superbowl 43 still in mind (and lower tract), got me thinking about whether professional wrestling could stage an event of this magnitude.

The simple answer is: No.

For one thing, wrestling would have to be a whole lot more popular. Thanks largely to gambling, pro football has 50 times as many fans as pro wrestling. Even Bruce Springsteen as the Special Ring Announcer isn’t going to inflate the audience to Superbowl proportions.

The Superbowl also has the entire structure of professional football leading toward it as the culmination of an entire season. If pro wrestling boiled down to one, 19-week tournament and every entrant had the media coverage of Hulk Hogan and there was no champion crowned until the SuperRing, then you might have something that would be one-tenth as popular as the Superbowl – and by far the biggest day in the history of pro wrestling.

And there is no gambling interest whatsoever in pro wrestling. That would be a little like betting on the outcome of a movie.

Of course, pro wrestling is not going to have a year-long, fully televised tournament to lead up to a single pay per view, so that’s not going to happen.

WrestleMania 25, whatever its strengths and weaknesses, won’t come close to fulfilling the dream of a Wrestling SuperRing. It just isn’t that special enough in a world where there are at least two pay per view wrestling cards, and usually more, available to the wrestling fan. At a time when UFC’s MMA pay per views cracks the million-subscriber barrier month after month, WrestleMania doesn’t even seem all that large.

WrestleMania started out as an event intended to bring pro wrestling new visibility. Recent years have seen a few D-list celebrities at the event, but there hasn’t been any serious attempt to elevate WrestleMania to the level of the World Series and Kentucky Derby, much less the Superbowl

It takes bigger celebs than Jenny McCarthy and Kevin Federlein to pull non-wrestling fans in sufficient numbers and it might take several big names, including live music performances, to get the desired effect.

The plain truth is that celebrities are not that much of a draw in this celebrity-soaked culture of ours. They are especially weak in wrestling, because they don’t wrestle. .

WWE did have a glimmer of an idea of how to work that transformation when it split its promotion into two (and then three) rosters. WWE originally planned to keep the shows separate and bring them together only for the big pay per views. As the company’s largest event, <WrestleMania would’ve benefited from a line-up of marquee match-ups that fans would not have seen the whole year.

The inability to control, direct and develop the supporting plotlines doomed that experiment. WWE wanted matches to have a context and that lured them into switching guys around to the various shows for exposure.

Once the talent got thoroughly jumbled, the pay per views lost the ability to bring together lots of big-name wrestlers who don’t ordinarily meet each other.

The Real Question

Since not even WrestleMania comes close to being a Superbowl-level event, the real question is: Could pro wrestling create an event that would be significantly greater than WrestleMania or Slammiversary?

To create the Wrestling Superbowl, WWE and TNA would have to put aside their petty competitiveness and create a jointly sponsored card in which champions fought champions and promote inter-promotional feuds.

Done the right way, embellished by mainstream star power from the entertainment world, such a WWE-TNA showdown would have the potential to pull at least a 50% higher buy-rate than any present wrestling pay per view.

It still wouldn’t be like football’s Superbowl, but it would be well above the level of any wrestling event that currently exists.

Alas, we’re not going to see even that, except maybe when we close our eyes and dream.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s liveliest daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll come back and join me.

And, please, bring your friends.

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]
(2/4/09)