Throughout history WWE haven’t exactly made a habit of making late changes to the location of their biggest shows.
While swapping venues late in the day for SmackDown or Raw is one thing, switching the host building for a stadium show, is something entirely different. As a result, the announcement that WWE has moved July’s Money in the Bank Premium Live Event from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas Nevada, to the smaller MGM Grand Garden Arena, has come as a shock too many.
Only last year the company sold 50,000 plus tickets for SummerSlam at Allegiant Stadium and although problems occurred internally within the stadium that night (power was lost meaning that all cashless connexions systems became useless), that was not WWE’s fault and out of their control.
The stadium looked the part, making the event feel special and it had a good atmosphere overall for one of WWE’s ‘Big Four.’
WWE have gone all in with stadium shows this year, having already held Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania in stadium settings, with SummerSlam in Nashville and Clash at The Castle to come in September in Cardiff, Wales.
Poor ticket sales in Vegas will be of concern for the company, as larger shows were to become more frequent across its annual Premium Live event offering in future, into 2023 at least.
UFC 276 will be held in Vegas that very same weekend at the T-Mobile Arena and that might also have something to do with poor sales, as Vince and crew are effectively going head to head over the 4th July Independence Day weekend.
Although a surprise, this is not the first time that WWE has moved one of its big events to a different venue. Here we take a look back at the most famous last minute location changes in WWE history.
WrestleMania VII, 1991
Originally scheduled to be held outdoors at the epic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in LA California, a similar story to this year’s Money in the Bank unfolded, with only around 15,000 tickets being sold for the event.
WWE had originally anticipated a capacity of 100,000 seats being filled, setting an attendance record at the coliseum, and having its largest crowd ever, but with just weeks left before the event, this was far from the case.
In another similarity with Money in the Bank, WrestleMania VII had been announced twelve months in advance, with the advertisements for the following year’s event being a part of the WrestleMania VI PPV broadcast in 1990.
A common practice for WrestleMania’s of today, this was the first time the WWE had announced the venue for WrestleMania so far in advance. Posters, pin badges and t shirts had been sold containing the venue.
The adverts announcing the LA Memorial Coliseum as venue for WrestleMania VII were left intact in the Silver Vision UK release of the event, and can be seen on the WWE Network version of the PPV too.
The event on Sunday March 24th 1991, ended up being held at The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, which was directly adjacent to the original Coliseum setting.
WWE insisted that the change was due to unrest, security concerns and death threats that had been received towards the company and specifically WWE Champion Sgt Slaughter and his family. At the time, the Gulf War had been heavily factored into Iraqi sympathiser Slaughter’s title reign and his impending showdown with American Hero Hulk Hogan.
In reality, both were true. There was unrest and Slaughter had received threats. He even took to wearing a bullet proof vest during his matches.
The storyline had been seen by many as being in bad taste, while viewers with family members serving in the military simply tuned out.
As confirmed by Bruce Pritchard in his Something to Wrestle Podcast , security was indeed a huge ongoing issue for the WWE due to the logistics and size of the venue. Police had informed the company that they wouldn’t be able to properly secure the event due to the massive attendance anticipated, and WWE were facing huge potential costs to foot the entire security bill in order to keep wrestlers and fans safe.
A beloved venue of late 1980’s WWE fans, the LA Sports Arena often featured in WWE arena shows of that time, broadcast across the local Z Channel network.
Having held WrestleMania VI at the SkyDome in Toronto, officials had their work cut out to make the Sports Arena look the part for the biggest show of the year. Under the circumstances, they did well.
‘The Super-Stars and Stripes Forever’ USA theme worked well, with American Flags and patriotic banners in red, white and blue hung across the arena and on the screen above the ring. The WrestleMania logo incorporated the theme across the ring aprons as well.
The event turned into a success despite the venue change. From an in-ring standpoint, the Career Ending match between Macho King Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior was one of the best WrestleMania matches to that point, with Hulk Hogan vs Sgt. Slaughter for the WWE Title far exceeding expectations in the top liner.
The event garnered around 400,000 PPV buys.
Originally set to take place at the Capital Centre in Landover Maryland, close to Washington DC and advertised as such for months before, including in the European Rampage Again Tour program from April 1992, the WWE decided to change the venue and capitalise on the growing popularity (and the distinct possibility of a huge increase in revenue from the event) in the UK. In a masterstroke, the iconic Wembley Stadium was the chosen destination.
Held on Saturday August 29th 1992 and remarkably not seen in the US on tape delay until Monday August 31st, WWE grossed over $2 million in admissions and a further $1.5 million from merchandise alone and had a legit 80,000 plus paid attendance for SummerSlam.
To the generation of fans growing up in the UK at the time, the event is still fondly remembered and remains the bench mark that all subsequent UK events would be judged against.
The unique stadium setting with the floor seating designed to resemble the Union Jack created a truly one of a kind event. With the atmosphere electric from before the first bell.
In the ring, the second major PPV bout between The Macho Man and The Ultimate Warrior took place, this time for the WWE title. It’s fair to say that although both bouts were great, the atmosphere at Wembley that night helped to elevate this particular match.
Even a count out decision in favour of the Warrior after interference from Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect, could not dampen the crowd.
SummerSlam 1992 will always be remembered for the Intercontinental Title bout between Bret Hart and the British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith. The match only taking its place in the main event after substantial pressure backstage from The Hitman.
A true classic and one of the greatest bouts in SummerSlam history, The Bulldog would reach his career peak, reversing a sunset flip to win the Intercontinental Title, hoisting aloft the belt as the Union Jack flew proudly and fireworks exploded, with 80,000 fans cheering in delight.
The decision to change the venue for this PPV had certainly paid off at the live gate, although PPV buys were way down from the previous year’s event at around 280,000 buys, justifying the decision to bring the event to the rabid UK fan base.
‘The SummerSlam you thought you’d never see’ lived up to its billing, with two classic match ups and a supporting cast that included Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and even Nailz. 30 years later, Clash at the Castle on September 3rd has a lot to live up to.
WrestleMania 36, 2020
An enforced venue change here, WrestleMania 36 was originally scheduled to take place on April 5th, 2020, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida airing live across the WWE Network.
In mid-March, all WWE programming was relocated to the WWE Performance Centre, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with no audience and only essential staff present.
This threw WrestleMania plans into chaos. At one point, it looked inevitable that the event wouldn’t take place in its usual late March/early April slot in the calendar, and might even be cancelled altogether.
Eventually and begrudgingly, it was confirmed by the company that WrestleMania 36 would be the first major professional wrestling event to be affected by the pandemic. Although, the pandemic or the phrase “COVID-19” were not mentioned on WWE television.
The 36th edition of the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’ became the first WrestleMania to not feature a live crowd and was pre-recorded at the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando, instead of broadcasting live from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The event was broadcast over two nights, now the WrestleMania norm, and allowed the WWE to experiment a little, offering two cinematic matches. The first being the Boneyard Match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles, which was followed up by the bizarre Firefly Fun House match between John Cena and Bray Wyatt. Both garnered critical acclaim.
A strange event to look back on now, WWE initially struggled to adapt to life without a crowd in attendance, although overall the event far exceeded most expectations.
The main event of night two saw Scotland’s own Drew McIntyre defeat Brock Lesnar to claim his first WWE Title and become the first UK born wrestler to win the gold.
Raymond James Stadium would later be confirmed as the host of WrestleMania 37 and in turn adopted most of the pirate/buccaneer themes originally intended and used for WrestleMania 36, including a similar logo.
Unfortunately one year later, a full crowd could still not be in attendance due to the pandemic, but WrestleMania 37 became the first PPV to feature members of the WWE Universe for a full year, since the Elimination Chamber event the previous March. Around 25,000 attended both nights of WrestleMania 37.
All three of these Premium Live Events are available to watch on the WWE Network.