“Oooooooooh yeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh,” said Randy “Macho Man” Savage before his seminal bout with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at Wrestlemania III. “I’m the tower of power, too sweet to be sour. I’m too hot to handle, too cold to hold …”
This went on for some time, and then Savage really went at Steamboat.
“Ooooooh yeaaahhhhh, I’m -250 to keep the Intercontinental title, and anyone betting on Steamboat is gonna get steamrolled, ooooooh yeaaaahhhh!”
Savage deserved to be the favorite, of course. He was the defending champ and had recently crushed Steamboat’s larynx with a ring bell, so ….
Of course, the above didn’t actually happen as written. Pretty confident Savage didn’t mention his fictitious odds, as betting on pro wrestling wasn’t a thing back in 1987. And the truth of the matter is, even if betting on pro wrestling was legal, there’s no way Savage would’ve been the favorite. Steamboat would’ve been -10000, as any wrestling fan worth his (Mr. Fuji) salt (in the eyes) back in 1987 knew there was no way “The Dragon” wasn’t walking out of the Pontiac Silverdome without that title belt.
DraftKings, WWE. WWE, DraftKings.
“As a cultural icon and incredible sports and entertainment company, we are thrilled to join forces with WWE and introduce its devoted fanbase to the DraftKings brand,” Ezra Kucharz, the chief business officer at DraftKings, said in a press release early Monday morning. “This relationship helps fuel the engagement and drama of WWE’s signature matchups and storylines as audiences enjoy the second-screen experiences our products provide.”
Now: Don’t get too excited about this, as no state allows actual betting on WWE events. So you won’t be able to legally wager on the Roman Reigns-Edge-Daniel Bryan main event for the Universal Title at Wrestlemania 37 on April 11. The deal, in fact, simply allows DraftKings to offer free-to-play pools. And, presumably, serve as a great way to bring wrestling fans into the DraftKings universe.
And while WWE — with its $5 billion market cap — can hardly be considered a “niche” sport, it is notable this comes on the heels of DraftKings signing deals with the American Cornhole League, Major League Eating, and the Drone Racing League. In short: DraftKings is certainly looking to bring as many American sports fans as they can under their tent.
“I believe DraftKings is trying to cast a wide net and ensure they have an offering for you no matter what your sport of choice is,” Matias Dorta, the vice president of marketing for Roundhill Investments, the company that features a sports betting-focused fund called the BETZ ETF, told US Bets last week. “If you want to bet, DraftKings wants you as a customer.”
And with that as the driving force, DraftKings is surely hoping to turn some WWE fans into honest-to-goodness sports bettors. (Oooooooh yeaaaaahhhhh.) And maybe — maybe? — one day allow those same fans to actually wager on the outcome of the matches.
Don’t bet on it
“There are no plans in Pennsylvania to permit wagering on WWE matches,” said Doug Harbach, the communications director for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
And while I didn’t take the time to email each and every state where sports betting is legal, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say there are currently zero states considering letting people bet on WWE matches.
But … (insert hysterical Jim Ross voice) OH MY GAWD IS THAT OFFSHORE BOOKMAKERS’ MUSIC?!?!
Because yes, you can bet on WWE matches offshore. Which is bonkers, considering these matches are scripted, but yeah: You can bet on them with some unregulated books. And while I couldn’t find posted odds yet for that main event referenced above, can I interest you in Shane McMahon at +300 over Braun Strowman?
A brief detour, if you’ll allow it
Some woulda-been odds for previous WWE events (and please note I was a fan from 1985-1987 and again from around 1996-2000. In short: References, dated.)
Hulk Hogan -800 Iron Sheik
Over/under on number of Hebners needed to end Hulk Hogan’s championship reign: 1.5
Bret Hart -600 Shawn Michaels in Montreal
Over/under on number of “l’s” The Rock will roll: 10.5
Over/under on number of Coors Lights Stone Cold Steve Austin will crush: 6.5
I could go on but I won’t. You’re welcome.
Can legal WWE betting ever happen?
So here’s the obvious question: Is there a world where state regulators would ever allow wagering on WWE matches?
While I think the safe bet is “not over Mankind’s body,” the truth is probably closer to “who knows?”
Consider: Currently, New Jersey and Indiana allow wagering on the outcome of the Oscars. And while comparing the scripted finish of WWE matches to Oscar voting is not quite apples-to-apples (nor is it quite apples-to-anything resembling items fit for human consumption), the fact remains Oscar voting is “fixed” by the time some people are placing their wagers. The outcome is already determined, and there’s trust placed in PricewaterhouseCoopers to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. And even that isn’t failsafe.
“The IGC has not received a request to consider professional wrestling, so we have not conducted a full review,” said Jenny Reske, the deputy director of the Indiana Gaming Commission. “Indiana’s statute does contemplate ‘other events’ and we have a process for that. I think it’s unlikely, though, that scripted events would receive approval.”
So while to sit here and say there’s no way WWE betting will ever be allowed stateside is probably the right take, it wouldn’t completely shock this “Rolex-wearin’, diamond ring wearin’, kiss stealin’ — whooo! — wheelin’ dealin’, limousine ridin, jet flyin’ son of a gun” to one day be proven wrong.
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