Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WrestleMania Gets Its Perfect Venue

Jerry Jones' palace of opulence is the perfect home for WrestleMania
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Via WWE.com

WrestleMania 32, as has been long rumored, will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, part of the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The event will happen April 3, 2016. AT&T Stadium is better known as the home venue for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. It is famous (or infamous) for it's massive and relatively low-hanging Jumbotron hanging over midfield. The screen is the largest of its kind, and it has attracted punters to attempt to hit it with high, booming kicks. The stadium also has several party decks and patios, and it has been described as one of the most opulent stadia in American history.

For that reason, it is the perfect home for WrestleMania.

WWE has assumed a larger-than-life mantel for as long as Vince K. McMahon has been running the joint. He spearheaded national expansion, took Mania to football-sized venues instead of basketball arenas and amphitheaters, and booked his top heroes to be gods rather than star athletes. While Mania has done big venues before, none have really approached the bigness that befit WWE's vision for sports entertainment. Even with its gimmicked attendance, the Silverdome was still a football stadium rather than a monument to excess. WWE in the national years has seemingly been about bottling that excess and marketing it in the form of performance art, and no venue had existed except maybe Caesar's Palace for WrestleMania IX that could match McMahon's vision. But for as much as the venue tried to imitate the decadence of the late Roman Empire, it was only a casino. The decor was cheap. The capacity was too small. And toga parties by the time 1993 rolled around were already dated, even by wrestling standards1.

But Jerry-World (a nod to Cowboys owner and noted lunatic Jerry Jones) as it's called provides all the modern opulence that befits WWE's modus operandi with a potential capacity to shatter even the kayfabed mark of 93,000 attendees set back at WrestleMania III. The football capacity is at 80,000. Depending on whether the seats that would be placed on the actual football field would offset existing seats would be cut off to make room for the stage, that number could climb all the way up to nearly 109,000. The 2010 NBA All-Star Game drew 108,713. Those people would be treated to state-of-the-art amenities as well, but the crowning jewel would be WWE getting to make use of the massive Jumbotron, which is the largest in the world. For a company that obsesses about having superlatives affixed to its name, WWE getting to utilize that video board is a no-brainer.

If I were a betting man, WWE will be setting up perhaps its most epic card for the event, one that would befit the first time at this monument to overindulgence. Of course, that idea may not shake out because it seems WWE sucks at long-term planning and the company hasn't even put into stone its WrestleMania card for THIS year yet. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the show was loaded. I'm talking The Rock, Batista, Brock Lesnar, maybe even Steve Austin, or maybe other names poached from the world of mixed-martial arts. Hell, I would be more willing to put money down that Undertaker wrestles next year in perhaps his last match coupled with his Hall of Fame induction than I would him wrestling this year. Of course, the date is a long time off, and a metric shitton of things could happen between now and then.

However, the venue is on lockdown, and it is perhaps the most perfect venue for WWE. A palace of excess and decadence, inhabited regularly by a raving lunatic is the perfect stadium for an entertainment company run by just as raving a lunatic. I'm already excited for April 3, 2016.

1 - I still contend that what's "modern" for pro wrestling is at least ten years passe for regular modern culture, if not more. Bob Backlund's derisive nickname was "Howdy-Doody," named for a show that had already been off the air for 17 years when Vincent J. McMahon gave Backlund the WWWF World Championship.