On March 31st, 1985, WrestleMania was born at Madison Square Garden in New York. Last night, Wrestlemania returned to its roots in New York/New Jersey. WrestleMania 29 was hosted across the river at the Met Life stadium, where over 80,676 people packed in to see this spectacle. The event at the Metlife Stadium set a gate record with nearly $12.3 million, besting the previous gate record of $8.9 million by U2. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was also in attendance in his patented fleece pull over supporting the event and putting over the economic benefit to New Jersey and fundraising for Hurricane Sandy.
Over nearly 30 years, WrestleMania has morphed from a popular culture phenomenon to a major media presence. In addition to having the long running television show with over 1000 episodes, it continues its reach into feature films, philanthropy and social media. While each of these components would be impressive on its own, the effectiveness of it as a media machine is how these individual elements function together to grow its media “Universe”. The goal of any of its performers is to be able to transition seamlessly between multiple media to further extend WWE’s global brand. WWE performers now go between movies, television shows, appearances and other philanthropic activities.
This year’s event featured a first. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson went into the event as not only the WWE champion but also the reigning box-office champ with his new movie GI Joe: Retaliation. Dwayne personifies the aspirations and the direction of the organization. The organization has always tried to transcend its roots of being a wrestling company and further transform into a worldwide media company.
John Cena achieved a measure of redemption by achieving a victory over the Rock to become the champion. Aside from it being John Cena’s 11th championship, at the press conference John demonstrated the global aspirations of the company especially within the Asian market. A Chinese journalist asked John a question regarding the timeline for a return to China. Without missing a beat, John quickly replied in Mandarin. Like many other brands, WWE recognizes the importance of reaching into the growing Asian market for growth. WWE has always been able woo international audiences as reflected in the international diversity of the press corps.
For those monitoring social media, specifically Twitter, during WrestleMania or any other WWE event for that matter, trending topics on any given night can be dominated by WWE trending topics. WrestleMania had dozens of trending topics last night as different performers took the stage.
After filling the Met Life stadium, the WWE doesn’t miss a beat. As a company without an off-season like other traditional sports, they will be going right into the Izod center with over 18,000 fans waiting to see the aftermath of their biggest show of the year on Monday.