Two weeks ago, a few friends of mine and I went to Wrestlemania XXVI at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. It was a interesting experience to say the least. The biggest surprise to me was how many die-hard wrestling fans their were. The stadium was close to being sold out, if not completely sold out. There were over 72,000 people in attendance. I was amazed at the positive (financial) affect Wrestlemania XXVI had on the Valley.
I used to watch wrestling in fifth and sixth grade. Back in the day, I was a semi-hardcore wrestling fan. I watched it every week, but wasn’t painting my face and the whole nine yards. Then as I grew older, I stopped watching. I grew out of watching artificially constructed, oiled up guys fighting a scripted fight. So I really didn’t know any of the wrestlers going into the stadium, but I went in with an open mind. Not afraid to cheer and not afraid to laugh.
As soon as I entered the arena, it was clear the WWE knows how to make money. There was WWE merchandise being sported everywhere. Everything from wrestling masks and T-shirts, to full-body costumes and leather boots. I am a huge sports fan, and have been to a wide variety of sporting events, but never have I seen die-hard fans like I saw at Wrestlemania. I wouldn’t be surprised if 46,000 of the 72,000 people there lived their lives for their favorite “WWE Superstar.” At each of the merchandise tables where everything from t-shirts to WWE replica championship belts were being sold. (Note: WWE championships were being sold for $375, and they were flying off the shelves) Last year, Wrestlemania brought in over $50 million for the city of Houston, and it would shock me if it didn’t do the same for the Valley this year.
Not only did the University of Phoenix Stadium sell 72,000 tickets + boatloads of merchandise, but the Westgate City Center in Glendale seemed to do well as the crowd flooded that way after the event. The WWE also hosted a WWE Hall of Fame Event at the Dodge Theater along with a few other events in the Valley to promote Wrestlemania in the week leading up to it. The WWE took a Sunday afternoon pay-per-view event and figured out a way to market it and promote it for a week in advance.
To me – the average fan – the fireworks were cool and there were on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments during some matches, but for the most part it was a little slow. But, the above-average wrestling fans and the die-hard wrestling fans loved the show.
I was very impressed with the WWE and Wrestlemania. I had no idea how big of a business wrestling had become. Did anyone else go to Wrestlemania? If so, how was your experience? If not, am I a huge loser for going?