For the first time ever, WWE’s SummerSlam, one of the most popular and longest-running events of the sports entertainment company, will be available to watch in movie theaters across the United States.
World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly World Wrestling Federation) has made great strides toward dealing with the lack of live shows in arenas, one of the hallmarks of wrestling sports entertainment. The WWE has been continuously producing and airing wrestling matches weekly through platforms such as Peacock (previously the WWE Network), FOX, the USA Network, and other syndications.
Home viewing of wrestling events has been the norm since the global Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but there is the visceral thrill missing, that only live events can deliver. That may soon change with the compromise of having WWE events available on big screen movie theaters.
WWE SummerSlam has been an ongoing tradition in the line of pay-per-view annual events since August 29, 1988. The very first SummerSlam was held in New York City at the Madison Square Garden. It was the last of the Big Four wrestling events of the then WWF franchise, along with WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, and the Survivor Series. SummerSlam is considered as the second biggest of these annual events, only behind WrestleMania.
SummerSlam 2021 gained buzz among wrestling fans, as it was rumored to feature the return of John Cena (The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker) to the squared circle, to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship title. However, the recent episode on Smackdown appears to set Reigns vs. Finn Bálor as the main card.
Other than Bálor vs. Reigns, other potential matches are speculated to be Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship and Sheamus vs. Damian Priest for the United States Championship. Current WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and the Raw Tag Team Champions AJ Styles and Omos will likely also have matchups leading to SummerSlam.
— WWE (@WWE) July 22, 2021
The upcoming SummerSlam 2021 will be held in Las Vegas at the Allegiant Stadium. The event will still be available on pay-per-view. However, it will be simultaneously released in theaters through the partnership WWE has made with Iconic Events Releasing. According to Melody Yam, WWE Senior Vice President responsible for Global Strategy and Business Development:
Iconic has a stellar track record of bringing people together to experience live events in a unique manner. We’re excited to partner with their team to deliver the WWE Universe a new way to watch our biggest event of the summer live on the big screen.
Iconic CEO Steve Bunnell had this to say regarding Iconic handling the presentation of WWE SummerSlam in movie theaters as a special limited event:
SummerSlam is a marquee event that demands to be seen on the big screen, with big sound, in an auditorium full of excited fans.
Although there is no indication that this will be an ongoing setup, it may be how future WWE marquee events are handled in the future. The audience and following of pay-per-view events has been dwindling in recent years due to the availability and lower costs of live-streaming through the internet. It is a logical choice for WWE to continue to bring their most anticipated and biggest shows up to speed with better options, in order to accommodate wrestling fans and optimize their potential revenue, especially during a pandemic.
At the other end, movie theaters in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world have been suffering massive losses from the said pandemic. As some theaters have offered to host and rent their facilities for private screenings to groups such as families or organizations, options like this upcoming WWE SummerSlam would be a good fit.
WWE SummerSlam 2021 is scheduled this August 21, 8pm (U.S. Eastern Time). The event will be available in 33 theaters through Iconic Events Releasing and on the Peacock streaming service, as well as pay-per-view.