Major sports leagues plagued by shortened seasons and schedule disruptions have dominated the era of COVID-19. However, one company has yet to address this circumstance: World Wrestling Entertainment. Friday night, the 69-year-old sports entertainment company’s popular WWE Smackdown program arrives at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Since March 2020, the company hasn’t lost weeks of television programming.
Now, as the world adjusts to a protracted “new normal”, it shows how WWE’s highlight as athletics can still offer evolved entertainment options in a difficult era.
Does professional wrestling still have soap opera elements? Sure. However, among many things, it now also features current WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair wearing rare outfits ripped from New York Fashion Week headlines and Paul Heyman introducing Brock Lesnar, arguably the most profitable attraction at the box office. in the history of modern combat sports.
Within a decade, Charlotte Flair, the daughter of iconic wrestler Ric Flair (“the kiss-stealer, the wheel and the deal, son of a gun”), is a 13-time WWE Women’s World Champion (currently the WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion).
Flair’s penchant for the haute couture of iconic fashion brands or jewel-encrusted silk and velvet ring dresses for the square circle is a direct homage to her father.
“If your name is ‘The Opportunity’, you have to look similar,” he said.
“As a WWE superstar, it’s important that we always want to grow, evolve and improve,” he adds.
At that point in recent months, her character’s presentation has soared (along with those including current WWE Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, WWE Multiple World Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins, former Women’s Champion Carmella and veteran championship-level actor Bobby Lashley), benefiting from the extravagantly extravagant work of Troy “King Troi” Haynes, stylist and image consultant in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles. In addition to the best of WWE, he also sported the likes of Tiffany Haddish, Nick Cannon and Jazmine Sullivan.
A new era in sports entertainment
Never before have so many professional grapplers invested in the help of a stylist and consultant as much as a wrestling coach. But this isn’t a typical era for the sports entertainment industry either.
Female wrestlers were once just an afterthought in wrestling shows. But over the past 20 years, they have morphed into major event contributors and multimillion-dollar earnings who have demonstrated the ability to shift television rating and public interest needles for an iconic globetrotting brand.
“[Women] they are multifaceted artists now that they have earned the trust of the company. and now, just like men, they have more than just fights, “Flair says.” We’re also doing more segments in the non-wrestling ring. Additionally, we also have media appearances outside the ring. So this allowed me to have a need [for King Troi’s] Opera.”
Brock Lesnar is a 300-pound mountain of a man who, for the past 25 years, is the only combat sports professional to have won heavyweight championships in WWE, Ultimate Fighting Championship, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and National Collegiate Athletic Association.
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Over the past two decades, the suplex-loving powerhouse has distinguished itself as a unique and compelling worldwide box office attraction in combat sports and sports entertainment. Yet, in the square circle, one name was either beside or beyond the ring throughout that period: Paul Heyman.
As an on-screen character for the past five decades, Paul Heyman is not exaggerating his excellence when he says – without any hint of humility, that he’s “the best his job ever done”.
For the past 20 of those past 35 years, he has portrayed the ultimate bigoted licker pandering to Lesnar as his “lawyer” – a lawyer as middle manager seemingly out of place in an expensive CEO suit. Yet, behind the scenes, he is considered a progressive-minded creative with a keen business acumen: he led his outlaw-style company, Extreme Championship Wrestling, for most of the 1990s.
Currently, Heyman’s character, as shown with Lesnar, is a hybrid of both. Lesnar’s success in the ring sometimes seems disappointing. However, his chances of winning also seem significant in the face of opponents such as the famous professional wrestler and previously mentioned (and muscular) mixed martial artist like Bobby Lashley or the current WWE 500+ day Universal Championship holder, the aloof and aggressive Jason Momoa impersonator Roman Reigns.
In this scenario, Heyman plays the crafty businessman who at the same time fears and loves the artist who brags loudly about “[his] client, Brock Lesnar. “Heyman’s perfect character playing his role makes everything around Lesnar seem less like a” one-sided wrestling match “and more a homage to super gladiator fights in the Roman Empire.
“We are in a rare and fascinating moment [combat sports] story, “says Heyman.” There are two fighters, Lesnar and Reigns, who can claim to be both the greatest of all time and the best right now. He adds that a fight between the two “would mirror the hype of [heavyweight boxing matches] between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier “.
The first quarter of 2022 sees WWE not slowing down. Their annual Royal Rumble event is scheduled for January 29th. To follow, on February 19 it will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the international debut of the Elimination Chamber event. The company’s main event, Wrestlemania, is scheduled for April 3 at the AT&T Stadium, with a capacity of over 100,000, in Dallas, suburban Texas.
When asked what, in essence, drives WWE’s continuing legacy of immersive entertainment, Heyman – as expected – makes a grand statement. He insinuates that, having a business model that moves a step faster than the “universe, multiverse and metaverse”, the company succeeds positively “[disrupting] story. “Charlotte Flair adds a more direct background at the intersection of sports and entertainment.
“Nothing compares to the feeling of being in front of our crowd,” he said. “We’re still the best of both worlds. It doesn’t get any better.”
WWE Smackdown at Bridgestone Arena
WWE Smackdown arrives at Bridgestone Arena on January 21. The doors open at 6.45pm. Tickets are available on WWE.com.