Think Tank Express: “Wrestlemania” highlights on ESPN? Oh, the horror

Yes, this actually was on SportsCenter Sunday night. (Credit:


SportsCenter’s package on Wrestlemania XXXI shows us even the WWE is now gaining legitimate sports’ respect

SportsCenter, the news of record when it comes to sports highlights, showed some of WrestleMania XXXI, the biggest WWE event of the year.

The move took a lot of people by surprise – even die-hard wrestling fans who later praised ESPN for showing highlights of UFC Women’s Champion Rhonda Rousey trashing Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and even showed some guy named Seth Rollins winning the WWE title. ESPN’s twitter feed was also reporting results, such as Daniel Bryan’s Intercontinental Title win.

WWE on a sports newscast? OMG, what would Johnny Morris think? What would Chet ChitChat think?

Everyone knows WWE is…um, more entertainment than sports. And it has made more of its share of headlines…often of the wrong kind. And some of the headlines were quite interesting to say the least (the Montreal Screwjob.)

But WWE has been on a roll lately, thanks to its ability to attract celebrities to its programs and its loyal audience, which stuck with the product though good times and bad. An episode of Raw on USA Network often averages more viewers than current Fox animated comedies The Simpsons and Family Guy.

As for the WWE highlights on SportsCenter? Meh. Complaining about Wrestlemania highlights is just as ridiculous as Chicago viewers complaining about Cheryl Scott’s or Aiyana Crystal’s wardrobe – and no doubt local viewers would go into a rage if a clip of Roman Reigns slamming John Cena through a table would show up before Cubs highlights.

And if your sport or team isn’t on SportsCenter…well, isn’t that what the web is for? Oh, I forgot – this is a country whose populace never learned how to program their VCRs.

Recently, the WWE has had more of a presence on ESPN programming and vice versa, according to Awful Announcing. Bill Simmons was a guest commentator on Raw recently, and E:60 went behind the scenes of a WWE production, and ESPN scooped everybody when Brock Lesnar announced in an interview with Michelle Beadle he was leaving UFC and rejoining the WWE.

So what does this mean for sports journalism? Nothing, really. Remember when network owned-and-operated stations regularly aired pieces on prime-time dramas like ER and Alias? It’s not a big deal.

While there are some who criticize the WWE for their lame storylines, pushing the wrong people toward success, and featuring those who refuse to leave the ring when their time is up (The Undertaker vs. Big Show again?) at least they have a strong bench of youngsters – unlike a certain communications medium in this town. If Chicago radio execs ran Wrestlemania, your main event would be Steve Dahl vs. Mancow vs. Jonathon Brandmeier in a Triple Threat match every year.