Wrestling. The laughing stock of “sports,” right? Just ask Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and he may tell you a different story.
Mayweather, considered by many boxing critics to be one of the best boxers in recent history, and possibly even up there with some of the all-time greats, recently took his professional record of 39-0 and set foot in a slightly different ring than he is used to.
This ring is not controlled by the big wigs of Las Vegas or the boxing circuit, but rather controlled by a man whom many consider the father of modern day sports entertainment, Vince McMahon Jr. Mayweather made the decision to put his body on the line for World Wrestling Entertainment. This decision is one that was not received well by many critics. Questions rose across TV shows and radio air waves.
“Why are you doing this?” or “What is your motive?” are questions that Mayweather constantly answered on shows, including Larry King Live. In his responses he was given points that he had to touch upon by McMahon to tell the story that the WWE was trying to sell. Mayweather helped to regenerate the classic drama of boxing, which in many ways has been lost since the Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield fights.
Boxing is a pure sport, while wrestling obviously has its enjoyable chair shots to the head and other such impurities. But professional wrestling provides the story lines greats like Muhammad Ali used to provide, without fail, in and out of the boxing ring – story lines like the almost embarrassing interest people took in Tyson’s meltdown and fall from grace.
Mayweather’s foray into wrestling does not taint his career as a boxer or the sport of professional boxing, but invigorates both and gives boxing a celebrity face, much like Kobe Bryant is for the NBA and Peyton Manning is for the NFL.
In the end, it came down to personal reasons for Mayweather that he decided to join up with the WWE. He said wanted to continue to prove that he was the best and by beating Paul Wight, better known as the WWE’s Big Show,, he would do just that. It should also be noted that before coming back to the WWE a little more than a month ago, Wight had taken time off from the company for about a year to train to be a boxer. Mayweather also went on record as saying he had been a wrestling fan for a long time and that influenced his decision.
Granted their “fight” at WrestleMania was a well-scripted work, orchestrated by McMahon and his staff of writers that was billed as a wrestling/boxing match. But does that really even matter? Does it matter that in the end it was decided Mayweather would beat the Big Show? Or does the fact that their match came off as one of the most realistic on the show have any impact on the real issue here? In all honesty, no. None of that does, because Mayweather proved in a different way that he is one of the best.
“Floyd Mayweather is something else. The best celeb/athlete I think the WWE has ever worked with at a WrestleMania,” Jim Ross, Hall of Fame broadcaster for the WWE said in his blog.
So the big question on everyone’s mind is, so what?
The so what is a several-fold answer.
First, Mayweather helped raise WWE’s stock value since he has been working with the company. Next, WrestleMania set a new attendance record for the Citrus Bowl in Florida with 74,635 people. Those who weren’t able to actually be in attendance were able to purchase the event worldwide on pay-per-view. More than $5.85 million was generated from ticket sales, not including the money that merchandise sales and PPV buyers brought.
For all the critics who want to chastise Mayweather, simply tell them to look at boxing history and wrestling history and it will be evident just how intertwined they are.
Boxing greats like Jack Dempsey, Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and even worldwide figure Muhammad Ali have all stepped foot in the squared circle at some time or another in their boxing careers. Countless other celebrities and athletes have done the same as well.
So how much of a laughing stock is wrestling? The numbers and facts don’t lie.