Karl Robinson: The Big Shows
Hello everyone who decided to read this; I’m just going to give you a brief description of my background. I took Media Studies classes at sixth form once I had left high school and ended up with an extended national diploma in media studies after three years. I then released a free online British Wrestling magazine called 3 Count Magazine which unfortunately only lasted 3 issues but I then decided to continue with online interviews on the 3 Count website. Since then I have taken a break from writing and decided to come back by writing for Lock Up; so to get things started my first article will be on “the big shows”.
Now wrestling fans around the world will know that the pinnacle in sports entertainment is the WWE and that WrestleMania is their biggest Pay Per View event around the world. WrestleMania is watched by millions from all four corners of the world but is performing at WrestleMania all it stacks up to be? You could be in a five star match and be given match of the night by many spectators but if you’re not in the main event, five stars mean nothing to those in charge.
Just last year The Undertaker had a classic bout with CM Punk but to the bosses it wasn’t up there with John Cena vs The Rock or HHH vs Brock Lesnar, ok some might have seen it as the 3 back to back main events, but can you really count it as one on running order? The year before that The Undertaker beat HHH inside a Hell in a Cell Match but again with the running order it was way behind The Rock Vs John Cena as the main event.
But lets not forget WrestleMania isn’t just about the five star matches or the main event as we also have those gimmick matches or the matches lacking any reason to be on the biggest Pay Per View. Such as at WrestleMania XXVII we got Michael Cole with Jack Swagger against Jerry Lawler and John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki vs Dolph Zigger and LayCool or at WrestleMania XXVI with the terrible 10 divas tag match. These matches give fans a reason to turn their backs on the action for a moment and get a drink or go to the toilet.
But what can rival WWE’s WrestleMania? WCW used to have Starrcade which they adopted from the NWA, ECW had November to Remember and TNA Wrestling have Bound for Glory. Bound for Glory has become similar to WrestleMania in the fact that they have a set main event, the gimmick matches such as Ethan Carter III vs Norv Fernum at Bound for Glory 2013 or Joey Ryan vs Al Snow at Bound for Glory 2012, but they just don’t have that big show appeal to them. I can say that the concept of the Bound for Glory series is something refreshing but surly they could change it up a little each time.
However having recently seen New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 8 this had the feel of a show even bigger than WrestleMania. I had seen previous Wrestle Kingdom shows such as 7, VI and V and just like 8 they don’t disappoint. NJPW stack the deck when putting on the Wrestle Kingdom shows with a major build up. 8 was headlined by Shinsuke Nakamura defending the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazakuchi Okada defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito and Prince Devitt defending his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Kota Ibushi.
But the card before this match saw other big matches such as the eight man tag team match that kicked off the show with The Young Bucks defending their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships against Forever Hooligans, Suzukigun and Time Splitters; the Killer Elite Squad defending their IWGP Tag Team Championships against Bullet Club, Rob Conway defending his NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Satoshi Kojima and Suzukigun (Minoru Suzukin and Shelton X Benjamin) vs The Great Muta and Toru Yano.
Along with that the show is held in the biggest arena in Japan the Tokyo Dome and while the attendance of 35,000 people may not be as big as the 80,000+ who attended WrestleMania 29 the set-up is much bigger and each wrestler puts their all into not only the matches but their entrances as well. Many might have seen the image of Prince Devitt walking down to the ring in face and body paint but if you saw his entrance you see a group of pallbearers bring a casket out to the stage which Prince Devitt comes out of.
But the only downside to New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 8 is the lack of English commentary. With WrestleMania as previously stated the show is broadcast all around the world and is also broadcast in multiple languages which includes, English, Spanish, Japanese and French. But as for Wrestle Kingdom 8 the pay per view is only available in Japanese and Spanish which can put off many people as they struggle to watch the match with Japanese commentary as they can’t get to grips with what is being said while the match is happening and this can be why New Japan Pro Wrestling don’t get as many plaudits globally as the WWE; and another big difference is that New Japan isn’t seen as an entertainment company compared to the WWE.
So in conclusion you don’t have to have an 80,000 plus attendance to be seen as having a big show such as WrestleMania because fans of wrestling will watch your biggest pay per view if the card is stacked from match one to the main event with pure wrestling matches that see the wrestlers bringing their a game to the show. So for TNA to be able to compete they need to focus more on the wrestling aspect of their shows compared to the entertainment side