INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Leave it to Snoop Dogg to emerge as the Most Valuable Performer of WrestleMania 39.
During a weekend that saw World Wrestling Entertainment set a two-night attendance record for their signature event, the company on the verge of being sold and Roman Reigns remaining the undisputed champion, the iconic rapper stepped up in an emergency.
Snoop Dogg was co-hosting a segment between matches on Sunday at SoFi Stadium with wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin when he goaded Mizanin into an impromptu match with Shane McMahon, who made his appearance at a WWE event for the first time in 14 months. McMahon and Mizanin traded punches before McMahon tore his quad when he did a leapfrog maneuver while trying to avoid Mizanin.
Doctors checked on McMahon before he was helped out of the ring. Snoop Dogg then came back into the ring to continue the match, as he punched “The Miz” twice, then stole a page from “The Rock” and landed a people’s elbow to secure the win.
“My hat’s off to Snoop, just picking it up and like, ‘oh man, he’s hurt? That’s alright, I’ll fix that.’ Just a natural born entertainer,” said WWE head of creative Paul “Triple H” Levesque. “I’ve known Snoop for years in this environment and what kind of a fan he is, but tonight he put himself on a different playing field and respect factor for me. I know a lot of guys that have been in business a long time; if that happened, they’d go, ‘what do we do?’ It was amazing.”
The biggest surprise, though, happened less than eight hours after Reigns pinned Cody Rhodes in the main event when UFC owner Endeavor announced Monday morning it had signed an agreement with WWE to form a new company that will put UFC and WWE under one roof.
Levesque did not answer questions about Endeavor Sunday night, saying he wanted to focus on what happened over the weekend.
Outside the ring, attendance for both days was 161,892 and set stadium single-day records on both nights. The first WrestleMania in Los Angeles since 2005 generated a record gate of $21.6 million, breaking the previous record by 27%.
Sponsorship revenue eclipsed $21 million, more than doubling the previous record, while merchandise sales were up 20% over last year.
The Doggfather stepping in as a pinch wrestler continued the trend of celebrities coming in and not looking out of place.
Social media star Logan Paul participated in a WrestleMania match for the second straight year on Saturday. San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle came out of the stands and was part of a match between former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee and “The Miz.” Rapper Bad Bunny made a cameo during the match between the Mysterios.
“They have no right to be this good,” Levesque said of the celebrities stepping into the ring. “What’s awesome about it is the grind and the level of what they’re willing to put into this because they respect the business, respect for the WWE superstars and what we do and the people that came before them. It’s cool to see them do that, but also awe-inspiring to see how good they are at it and how it raises the bar for everyone else.”
Besides co-hosting with “The Miz” both nights, Snoop drove Rey Mysterio out to the stage in a lowrider before his match against son Dominik Mysterio.
Paul, who lost to Seth Rollins, did high-flying stunts and moves as if he had performed for more than 10 years. McAfee was a WWE announcer for 17 months (April 2021-September 2022) and participated in a match at last year’s WrestleMania, while Kittle has been a long-time wrestling fan.
Bad Bunny, who took part in a tag team match at WrestleMania two years ago, will host WWE’s next premium live event on May 6, which will take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is the first time since 2005 that WWE is going to Puerto Rico.
Bad Bunny could also take part in a match that night. On Saturday, he was doing commentary in Spanish during Mysterio’s match when he stopped Dominik from using a steel chain he would hit his father with. Rey Mysterio capitalized on the distraction and would hit his finishing move to get the win and set up a possible storyline between Bad Bunny and the younger Mysterio.
Reigns continuing his 900-day-plus reign as champion was mostly unexpected. Rhodes had all the momentum going into the match, and all indications pointed to a title change. Still, WWE’s creative forces have decided to continue Reigns’ dominance atop the company.
Barring injury or a giant surprise, Reigns will become the first WWE wrestler to reach 1,000 days as champion in early June. At this point, Reigns will likely keep the title through Summerslam in early August in Detroit, or he could still be the champion by next year’s WrestleMania in Philadelphia.
“I want somebody to step up and take this ball from us,” Reigns said. “Because if you don’t, we’re just going to keep a chokehold on this.”
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Joe Reedy, The Associated Press