I have no idea how Wrestlemania worked in the 1990’s, presumably people turned up on the day of the event then turn and went home after the show, these days that is unthinkable, as WWE pushes the whole weekend as an ultimate fan experience, we’ve now been used to people going and spending the whole weekend doing all sorts of wrestling related events, and naturally promoters saw an opportunity.
The first promoter to do so was Cary Silkin, who in 2006 came up with the idea of running a ROH event in whatever town Wrestlemania was that year, thus playing to an audience that would be there already for the weekend’s festivities, the idea worked and became a yearly event for ROH called Supercard of Honor which this year celebrated it’s 11th year.
After a few years other promoters have seen the obvious money making opportunity, and so the floodgates have opened, and this year almost every promotion worth it’s salt descended upon Orlando for a whole week of wrestling action, Google reliably informs me (and please correct me if incorrect) that a massive 93 events took place in Orlando over the week and weekend of the big Wrestlemania event, some UK companies even upped sticks and promoted events in Orlando, amazingly, the fledgling WCPW promotion presented an iPPV event called State of Emergency and internet darling PROGRESS took part in the annual WWN Supershow, as well as running matches during the actual Wrestlemania Axxess event, which is insane for a company as closed as WWE has been in previous years.
The thinking behind this is obvious, you have tens of thousand of wrestling fans in one place, what’s more tens of thousands of wrestling fans who are happy to part with their money to watch more wrestling, and buy merchandise.
True of ROH to be trailblazers in their independent field the precedent they’ve set is insane, did anyone know back in 2006 that 11 years later 93 separate wrestling events would take place in one city, with some companies even putting on shows past midnight after ‘Mania itself. You would think that this would over-saturate the market to pile so many shows in one place, but surprisingly (reportedly, anyway) most of the shows were resounding successes.
So what events (apart from the obvious WWE sanctioned ones) took place, well for information purposes here is a brief list of what events took place:
ROH Supercard of Honor XI
Evolve 80 & 81
Joey Janela’s Spring Break
Kaiju Big Battel
WCPW: State of Emergency
CZW: Best of the Best
What’s amazing is, that list is only scratching the surface, that’s not to get into the seminars, meet and greet, legends events, one man shows and tailgate parties. Also interesting is the amount of different shows available, there’s the stuff for your traditional wrestling fan there’s ROH or Evolve, for the nostalgic crowd there’s all the legend’s show in the area and for those who’s tastes are a little more ‘out there’ there’s Joey Janela’s Spring Break, which featured outlandish matches such as a ‘Cluster#!@’ Match including the Invisible Man, an MMA vs MMA fighter match pitting Matt Riddle against Dan Severn and Joey Janela himself facing off against the patron saint of disappointing tag team members, Marty Jannetty, in what was Janela’s dream match. Or there’s Kaiju Big Battel which featured wrestlers dressed as Godzilla and chums, and no, I aren’t kidding.
Truth be told, it seems there hasn’t been a better time to be a wrestling fans with all this stuff going on, you start to wonder when it will end. When Wrestlemania hits New Orleans next year, will there be even more? What promotions are going to bite the bullet, take the plunge and move their show to Bourbon Street? Well, we don’t know, and as always in wrestling, the best things are the most surprising.