CROW WORTHY

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WWE SummerSlam Event Body Slammed by COVID-19

It’s with a heavy heart, well not really, that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) recently announced they were cancelling their annual SummerSlam pay-per-view event. Now, who cares about wrestling? It’s fake right? Maybe, IDK. Though it is a highly disputed form of sports and entertainment, they still face the risks of Coronavirus like all of us.

Biggest Party Foul of the Summer

The WWE’s “Biggest Party of the Summer” SummerSlam, was supposed to take place at the TD Garden in Boston on August 23rd. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had previously ordered any large summer gatherings and events be cancelled. To ensure safety of the city and its people. Hmmm, sounds like a smart guy. Now, they’re going to be broadcasting from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. The WWE Performance Center is generally catered to the developmental areas where aspiring WWE superstars can train and hone their skills. But for now, it’s the epicenter of all WWE programming. Much like an empty baseball stadium devoid of any spectators, it just doesn’t feel or look the same.

WrestleMania 36 inside the Performance Center

I’ve been a fan of WWE since about 2006, roughly, and have been to more events than a 21 year old kid would like to admit. The WWE usually holds 2-3 events a year on average at TD Garden and is considered one of the hot beds for the WWE fanbase. The others are Chicago, New York City and some would argue Los Angeles. A fun fact that many people may not know is that the WWE has “the Big 4” pay-per-view events: Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series. Boston has played host to all four events at least once. I think it’s pretty cool.

No Money, More Problems

The one aspect that affects everyone, especially Boston’s economy, is the revenue WWE helps their host city bring in. For example, WrestleMania weekend in April presents exclusive fan access events spanning from Monday to the following Monday. This year was cancelled since Tampa was the host city, which is in the host state of the Coronavirus. And they’re supposed to host Super Bowl LV in February 2021. It’s estimated that the city will lose around $360 million in revenue overall which isn’t a small chunk of change. I mean, that’s probably how much Jeff Bezos has in his wallet on a bad day but still.

Boston alike, has been shut down for large gatherings and sporting events with fans in attendance. There is no word yet on how much money Boston was set to take in. But WrestleMania is WWE’s biggest event of the year and they lost around at least $20 million. If that’s any foresight into Boston’s financial future, yikes. The WWE has lost a net value of $55.7 million because of the pandemic, between both quarters. On the flip side, their profits have surprisingly increased to $223.4 million because production costs are so low if you don’t travel anywhere. I wish I could save that much on gas and electricity but what are ya gonna do?

SummerSlam Weekend is usually an action-packed series of shows such as Friday Night SmackDown, NXT TakeOver, and Monday Night RAW. If you were to pay for each show at the lowest price you could find, you’d still be shelling about $400. YEAH RIGHT! Ticket packages including front row seats and memorabilia started at a modest $1,805 for this year. That’s like a semester’s meal plan at my school. Some ticket packages went for $2,950. The Undertaker better give me a Tombstone Piledriver in the ring for that price to even consider paying that. Not in this economy, no sir. Not today. Thankfully but also unfortunately, fans won’t have to spend their money foolishly on a fancy folding chair and set of laminated tickets.

Star Power is the Moneymaker

The WWE hasn’t held a SummerSlam event in Boston since 2006. The show advertised WWE superstar Randy Orton vs. legend Hulk Hogan. The main event featured John Cena vs. Edge for the WWE Championship title. Now I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that after 14 years I’m not still salty I missed that show. But I will say that my mom should have let me go. The most annoying part is that it wasn’t even a school night.

Hulk Hogan confronting Randy Orton, SummerSlam 2006

A lot of the income that WWE generates from these events comes simply from star power. Chairman Vince McMahon likes to play favorites in the “Big 4” events as they’re the most lucrative. The cash cows of WWE like John Cena, Triple H and the Undertaker spearhead these events as the main box office draws.

John Cena is synonymous with being the face of the WWE, Hefty trash bag commercials and numerous Hollywood films. Cena carried the company for the better part of 16 years, but has since limited his appearances for the company. Cena made an honest $10 million in 2019, through merchandise and television appearances. I’m not gonna lie, as good as he may be at wrestling, his movies are hilarious. His role in Blockers had me dying.

John Cena, WrestleMania 23 (2007)

However successful his movies may be, he’s the saving grace of WWE when they’re in a bind for booking stars to make money. Not only that but kids go crazy for him because he’s like a superhero in their eyes. He’s granted over 650 Make-A-Wishes. More than any other celebrity, so that’s cool. Money follows passion and John Cena definitely earned all his fame and fortune by being that superhero and inspiration to kids and others. But honestly just shine the WWE logo in the sky like the Bat Symbol, I’m sure he’ll be there when you need him.

The Road To Recovery

Now let’s face it. A lot of small businesses, big businesses and sports leagues are all suffering from not having patrons/fans in attendance. It’s just what it is right now. It’s a time where “doing the best we can” is all you can ask for. Especially with the numerous health precautions and policies in place.

It’s interesting to think about because the WWE since having moved to Orlando, pre-tapes some episodes and airs them during their given TV time slot. The WWE at one point was just checking temperatures to as a reasonable measure. Until they found almost two dozen positive cases. So naturally, they improved to getting real tests done. You mean the designated COVID testing was the way to do it all along? Well, color me surprised.

However they ensure the safety of their talent and employees is their business. But I wish it were safe to have live events again. To have people actually enjoy the WWE product more so than just watching pre-recorded matches on the USA Network. If you want to do that, just look up old WWE matches on YouTube instead. They’re better.

Whether you watch wrestling or not, I think it’s safe to say you’ve heard of the WWE at one point. For those who are fans, I wonder how you feel about the WWE moving yet another PPV event to the Performance Center? For those who aren’t fans, do you think it’s smart to continue to allow these athletes to compete and wrestle in the midst of a global pandemic? Regardless of how tight on cash this company or any sports/entertainment brand may be.

Mr. Chairman, I yield my time.

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