Two major professional wrestling promotions currently dominate the scene: WWE and AEW. Both companies have produced countless exciting events and storylines, but one topic that’s up for debate in this article is the use of casino themes in their shows. The bone of contention is – who had the first casino-themed show?
WWE and Casino-themed Shows
Although AEW is known for its casino-themed shows, they are not the first pro-wrestling promotion to introduce a casino-themed show. WWF, now WWE, was the first to submit a casino-themed show with their “the Fully Loaded 2000”. Here’s how it all played out.
Long before the arrival of legal online casinos in the US, when New Jersey became the first state to allow players to access a variety of games, such as slots, table games, and video poker, from online casinos via their computer or mobile devices, the WWE had already introduced a casino-themed show.
For context, online casinos became prominent in the US betting market around 2013. After that time, so many states began to adopt it, and some of the best US online casino sites began to spring up with unique offers and bonuses. However, even before online casinos became popular and official in the US, the WWE had already produced a professional wrestling pay-per-view event at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas, on the 23rd of July 23, 2000.
This event was “the Fully Loaded 2000: The Crap Shoot,” a casino-themed pro wrestling event that started as an In Your House series but later became a WWE PPV event. The show’s main event was a WWF Championship which featured a classic title defence wrestling match between The Rock and Chris Benoit.
The rule of the game was that if Rock (who was defending the title at the time) were disqualified, he would forfeit the title. Unfortunately, The Rock was disqualified and lost the title to Chris Benoit. However, the match was restarted by Mick Foley, the WWF commissioner at the time, and then Rock had another chance to side-slam Chris Benoit and retain his title.
The show had an opening video featuring a casino table with cards and dice rolling, and the voice within the video said, “and now Twix presents WWF Fully Loaded.” Although the event’s plot focused less on casino themes, it had enough casino elements in the main articles of the events, like the poster, graphics, and videos.
AEW and Casino-themed Shows
AEW followed suit with their “AEW All Out: Casino Battle Royale” in 2019. The first Casino Battle Royale was a men’s match during the pre-show of AEW’s inaugural event named Double or nothing. The show was hosted in MGM Grand Garden Arena and earned positive reviews and criticism.
The AEW Casino Battle Royale event was well-received, with 21 entrants participating in the main event and 15 tag teams competing in its variant. Unlike the WWE Fully Loaded 2000, the AEW event had more casino-themed elements integrated into the event, such as wrestlers being divided into groups based on the suit drawn from a deck of cards and a random draw determining the order of entry for each group. The last wrestler to enter, the 21st, is the one who draws the Joker. The winner then earns a match for the AEW World Championship or AEW Women’s World Championship.
In conclusion, WWE had the first casino-themed show, as proven in this article. However, AEW has also embraced the casino theme with its Casino Battle Royale event, showing that both companies have a history of incorporating gambling elements into their shows. Ultimately, it is up to the fans to decide which company executes the theme better.