WrestleMania 36 was supposed to be Drew McIntyre’s historic crowning moment in front of over 75,000 fans, but could the Scotsman now be made to wait after the WWE’s bizarre decision to make its iconic event a behind-closer-doors show in its ‘Performance Center’?
Scotland rejoiced in January when Ayr-born McIntyre eliminated Brock Lesnar from the Royal Rumble and went on to toss Roman Reigns over the top rope to secure victory and a spot in the main event of the WWE’s biggest show of the year, WrestleMania, on April 5.
Suddenly after years upon years of waiting British wrestling fans were on the brink of finally seeing one of their own hold aloft the most coveted prize in the business of professional wrestling, and thousands were expected to cross the Atlantic to witness their boy’s crowning moment at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
But then suddenly everything changed and fans would no longer be able to attend the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’.
“In co-ordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place,” read a statement. “However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 pm ET on WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view. Only essential personnel will be on the closed set at WWE’s training facility in Orlando, Florida to produce WrestleMania.”
WWE took to producing its flagship television shows inside its training centre in an attempt to stay on the ‘Road to WrestleMania’, but the decision to now host an event that routinely draws over 70,000 fans from all around the world in what is essentially a large gymnasium with no fans in attendance has not been popular.
The show is going ahead though, and the big question now is will the change of situation result in a change to the booking of the show?
With no fans in attendance the WWE no longer has to worry about a mutiny in the stands if the fans do not like the outcome of a match or storyline. We have seen fans vent live during a broadcast before and there was a danger of that happening this time around, most notably during the Goldberg-Roman Reigns match.
The Lesnar-McIntyre match was a potential lightning rod for a mutiny too. Many, many fans have grown bored of how part-time star Lesnar has been booked so strong while the performers they see week in and week out have been booked poorly or even snubbed, and the reaction would have been hugely negative had he walked away from WrestleMania 36 as champion.
There is no doubting that WWE boss Vince McMahon is enamoured with ‘The Beast Incarnate’ and now that the absence of a crowd means no potential for a negative reaction from the stands, could he be tempted to stick with Lesnar as champion for a little while longer?
And if McMahon does see McIntyre as ‘The Chosen One’ like he was billed in storyline many years ago, could he decide that the big Scotsman’s reign should begin with a victory in front of a large audience?
The answer to both of those questions could very well be yes, so backing Lesnar to win at WrestleMania could prove to be the smartest and most profitable bet you could make on this year’s ‘Showcase of the Immortals’, with his odds currently priced at 7/4.