Update – Whether or not to wager on WrestleMania 33
April 2nd 2017 is going to be a big day for World Wrestling Entertainment. Indeed, with a crowd in excess of 75,000 expected at the Camping World Arena in Orlando, Florida, the 33rd iteration of WrestleMania looks set to be among the biggest events in the history of Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment behemoth.
As for the scheduled matches, they include reigning WWE champion Bray Wyatt (below) battling Randy Orton, ‘The Beast’ Brock Lesnar going to war with his nemesis Bill Goldberg, and WWE legend The Undertaker squaring off against Roman Reigns.
It has the makings of a truly unforgettable evening. And while Messrs Lesnar, Goldberg and Orton look to be in for a gruelling night, so the growing number of people who bet on WWE events will also be hard at it.
While it might seem a strange notion to some – gambling on a predetermined contest – the practice is far from new and the action it generates isn’t to be sniffed at. The spectacular growth of sport betting combined with the increased popularity of gimmick gambling has put wrestling in a position as lucrative as it is enviable.
“The first time I can recall discussion of pro wrestling betting on a large scale was prior to WrestleMania XXVII in 2011,” explains Brian Elliott, the editor of FSM, the internationally-acclaimed wrestling and MMA magazine. “I’d guess that the bookmakers cottoned on to the annual hype surrounding The Undertaker’s winning streak at WrestleMania [at the time Mark Callaway’s undead alter ego was 18-0 at ‘The Show Of Shows’], and found an enthusiastic number of fans who believed in that so much that it was obvious there was money to be made. It didn’t hurt that The Rock served as a guest host on that show, creating even more publicity.”
But how can you bet on something that’s, well, ‘fake’? First off, while it’ll only be news to the very naïve that wrestling is predetermined, the booking is often altered at very late notice. Many is the champion that didn’t find out they were getting the belt until the night of the contest – ‘The Architect’ Seth Rollins only discovered he was ‘going over’ (winning) at WrestleMania 31 the evening prior to the PPV. And back in the chaotic months before World Championship Wrestling went belly up in 2001, it wasn’t uncommon for performers to learn that they were going over as they made their way to the ring.
It’s also important to bear in mind that, like any athletic contest, wrestling is at the mercy of in-ring injury. When future world champion Eddie Guerrero debuted in the WWF (as it then was), he and tag partner Perry Saturn were meant to defeat their opponents the New Age Outlaws. However, when Guerrero dislocated his elbow after performing his signature Frog Splash, he was in no condition to continue and so the finish had to be altered on the fly. Sure, such events are rare but they’re sufficient to remind the gambler that betting on wrestling is anything but shooting fish in a barrel.
Exactly how hard it is is neatly summed up by Brian Elliott; “You might think that, since pro wrestling matches have planned endings, it would make it easier to bet on than, say, a football match. In reality, the fact that the outcomes are predetermined makes it impossible to track form or do anything but make a wild guess about what will happen. Just think: if football was as orchestrated as pro wrestling, the over-50s team from your local pub could beat Manchester United 6-0 at Old Trafford after having a man sent off. Pro wrestling is not bound by logic, so betting on it makes absolutely no sense.”
But just because it defies common sense doesn’t mean betting on pro wrestling is going to be counted out anytime soon. For wherever there’s money to be made, you can be sure that Vince McMahon will be all ears. What’s more, gambling on the outcome of matches is a great way for wrestling to indulge its insatiable desire to come off as real. Because of this, you can safely bet that gambling and wrestling is a tag team that won’t be breaking up anytime soon.
Update – On Thursday 16th March, PaddyPower issued odds for the entire WrestleMania card.
WWE Championship – Randy Orton 2/9, Bray Wyatt 11/4
WWE Universal Championship – Brock Lesnar 1/16, Bill Goldberg 6/1
Grudge Match 1 – AJ Styles 4/11, Shane McMahon 15/8
Grudge Match 2 – Roman Reigns 8/13, The Undertaker 6/5
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal – Braun Strowman 4/9, Samoa Joe 6/1, Cass 8/1, Big Show 8/1, Luke Harper 10/1, Sami Zayn 12/1, Finn Balor 14/1, Dolph Ziggler 14/1, Kurt Angle 16/1
Cruiserweight Championship – Austin Aires 1/2, Neville 6/4
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship – The Club 8/11, Enzo and Cass 15/8, Cesaro and Sheamus 2/1
Mixed Tag Team Match – John Cena and Nikki Bella 1/2, The Miz and Maryse 11/8
Update – As of Monday 27th March, the WrestleMania odds were as follows…
WWE Championship – Randy Orton 1/2, Bray Wyatt 3/1
WWE Universal Championship – Brock Lesnar 1/10, Bill Goldberg 7/1
US Championship – Kevin Owens 2/5, Chris Jericho 11/5
Grudge Match 1 – AJ Styles 1/6, Shane McMahon 9/2
Grudge Match 2 – Roman Reigns 2/5, The Undertaker 12/5
Grudge Match 3 – Seth Rollins 1/3, Triple H 3/1
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal – Braun Strowman 1/7, Samoa Joe 8/1, Big Show 10/1, Finn Balor 14/1, Luke Harper 16/1, Sami Zayn 20/1, Big E 25/1
Cruiserweight Championship – Austin Aires 15/8, Neville 10/21
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship – The Club 11/10, Enzo and Cass 6/4, Cesaro and Sheamus 5/1
Smackdown Women’s Championship – Naomi 7/4, Alexa Bliss 5/2, Becky Lynch 5/2, Mickie James 6/1, Natalya 9/1, Carmella 14/1, Asuka 16/1
Mixed Tag Team Match – John Cena and Nikki Bella 1/5, The Miz and Maryse 19/4