The most important action of Tuesday’s WrestleMania 30 news conference at Hard Rock Café in Times Square didn’t take place on the podium.
To the stage’s left, behind the press chairs, Josh Mathews spoke to the Bella Twins live on the WWE Network before the event began. Scribes turned their backs to the stage and took pictures of that broadcast, part of the biggest gamble Vince McMahon has taken since mortgaging everything he had to put WrestleMania I at Madison Square Garden on closed-circuit TV.
On Tuesday, WWE doubled down once again.
“The WWE’s legacy will be immortalized,” WWE executive and on-air personality Stephanie McMahon said of the online on-demand network, which debuted in February and will have its pay-per-view coming-out party Sunday in New Orleans for WrestleMania 30.
Although the show still will be carried by standard pay-per-view outlets, that income can best be compared to AOL dial-up Internet income. The future involves getting enough people to pay $9.99 a month to make up for and exceed the revenue the company is parting ways with. WWE took in $82.5 million in PPV revenue in 2013, but fans will now be able to get all of those broadcasts along with a cache of other WWE new and classic programming for the monthly fee.
To get the largest audience possible, WWE is bringing back the company’s most iconic stars. Hulk Hogan is back as WrestleMania 30 host after years working for rival TNA Wrestling. The Ultimate Warrior, who was belittled by WWE on a DVD compilation for the circumstances leading to his exile, is now being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Saturday in New Orleans.
Hogan, who was at Tuesday’s news conference, spoke of the nostalgia of being back where he made history by teaming with Mr. T. at WrestleMania. But then he quickly looked ahead.
“WrestleMania is also about pushing ahead for the future, and the future is right now,” said Hogan.
The Hulkster joked that he’s been asking the same question for 30 years, “What’cha gonna do?” But he added that thanks to the new network, “I finally have the answers.”