The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused many creative industries to reassess how they present and deliver content to audiences. As the preeminent sports entertainment brand on the planet, WWE have seemingly led the way in how to distribute live content, in what is now being referred to as the ‘pandemic era.’
At the start of the pandemic, WWE had to air episodes of RAW, SmackDown, Main Event et al from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Whilst this was a quick fix, it gave WWE Superstars and production staff the opportunity to work around the limitations of bringing content to audiences in an ’empty arena’ environment.
The biggest move made by WWE was the creation of the ThunderDome. The concept was designed as a way to bring audiences ‘into’ the arena via LED screens and at least give off the ‘vibe’ of a WWE live event. Although there have been hits and misses with the limited presentation; WWE have managed to create engaging moments and storylines leading up to this year’s WrestleMania 37 event.
At this point it is expected that WWE will be able to bring fans back into arenas as of WrestleMania 37 in April. The two-night event is scheduled to be headlined by some notable bouts. The main match currently advertised being the Edge vs Roman Reigns WWE Championship bout.
With fans now seemingly able to return to Raymond James Stadium; WWE have used the time following the Royal Rumble to build some major storylines that could play out finally in-front of a live crowd for the first time (on the ‘main roster’) in over a year.
NBC Peacock for WrestleMania 37
WrestleMania 37 will be WWE’s second ever event on the NBC Peacock streaming service. The deal was confirmed earlier this year that WWE’s United States version of WWE Network will be closing down. The content for US based audiences going forward would be part of Peacock’s on demand/live offering.
Peacock has a huge audience of subscribers, with 33 million users signed up to the service in 2020. If you compare this to WWE Network’s 1.5 million globally? That’s a massive potential ‘causal’ audience to grab over the next 5 years of the confirmed deal.
With that in mind, there’s one particular ‘money’ match that WWE could confirm to try and entice new viewers to the programming. That contest being Brock Lesnar vs Bobby Lashley.
Brock Lesnar vs Bobby Lashley – WrestleMania 37
Bobby Lashley returned to WWE back in April 2018. The former ECW Champion appeared on the RAW after WrestleMania 34 and attacked Elias. Whilst Lashley was away from the company he began competing in MMA. With the powerhouse performer having a legitimate ‘shoot’ fight background, coupled with his size and speed? Fans have been clamouring for a potential showdown with Brock Lesnar for years.
Lashley and Lesnar have not crossed paths since ‘The Almighty’ returned to WWE; instead the company have opted to use Lashley in a more midcard role, including in the critically panned love triangle storyline between Lana and Rusev.
With Bobby Lashley getting a shot at new WWE Champion The Miz on RAW next Monday; it leaves the door open for a Lesnar appearance. Lashley would win the title and go on to face the ‘Beast Incarnate’ at WrestleMania. However, Lesnar could cost Lashley the title match; planning a non-title singles bout at the Grandest Stage of Them All against The Almighty.
‘Hitting a Home Run’
Either way, this could potentially be one of the bigger matches on the two-night cards. WWE are looking to hit a home run when they join the NBC Peacock streaming platform in the United States, and this money matchup could go a long way to drawing in a more casual audience.
Brock Lesnar is easily one of the bigger names, on a mainstream basis, on the WWE roster right now. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion is still a major draw for the company. WWE need to try and hit the ground running when it comes to WrestleMania 37 and their new Peacock partnership, and this match could spur that on.
Lesnar vs Lashley is a match that WWE fans have wanted for years; but it could also bring in that ever elusive ‘lapsed’ or newer viewers that WWE are desperate to get.
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