WWE has made a surprising change to its previously announced WrestleMania weekend schedule, the implications of which may not be fully apparent for a few months.
NXT TakeOver New York, which was set to go head-to-head with the already sold out ROH/NJPW supershow at Madison Square Garden, has been moved back one day to Friday night. The Hall Of Fame, which was originally set for Friday, has been moved to Saturday, directly against ROH.
The news came to light earlier today when WWE emailed everyone who has purchased WrestleMania travel packages. They are the only ticket buyers who will be affected by the change as individual tickets for NXT and HOF are yet to go on sale.
Concern in the bubble
This is an interesting move. The immediate thought would be that WWE is concerned about how well NXT will draw against the MSG show, as the NXT and ROH target demographic is very similar. Nevertheless it is still a curious move, as the ROH ticket buyers are largely not the WrestleMania crowd but a combination of local fans and people flying in specifically for the event.
Moving a show because of competition is a very atypical move from the promotion, which usually operates very much within its own bubble without paying any attention to anything else going on outside of it. It may simple be that WWE does not want to have a situation where the local press is reporting on another promotion holding the highest drawing wrestling card in the city that night, especially over ‘Mania weekend.
Or perhaps there is more to it. WWE could be planning something big for that TakeOver show, potentially several major name debuts, and want to ensure that whatever happens is seen by as many eyes as possible and becomes the “talk of the town”, so to speak, rather than the ROH show.
All of this is bad news for the Hall Of Fame, which has struggled in recent years to sell tickets and generate interest. The overly-long speeches, politically motivated inductions and lengthy running time of the event has turned many away. On the surface this move will harm the HOF even further, but perhaps WWE feel it is a different audience that attends the Hall of Fame than will go to NXT or ROH. Or that it will be easier to hide the lower attendance.
For the production crew it makes life more difficult. The make-up of WrestleMania weekend was reconfigured a few years back so that the arena hosting NXT, HOF, Raw and SmackDown was already set up and did not need to change once the HOF was out of the way on Friday evenings. Now the crew will have to set up for NXT, take everything down and set up the HOF, then tear that down again for Raw.