WWE Editor @jeffersonlake
Tyson Fury in WWE: A success for the British fighter who swapped boxing for wrestling?
Last Updated: 07/11/19 9:51am
It began with an 'accidental' collision in Los Angeles and ended with a right cross - of sorts - in Saudi Arabia; Tyson Fury's WWE adventure was a brief but effective one.
A single month passed between Fury's introduction on the first Friday night episode of SmackDown on October 1 and his victory over Braun Strowman at Crown Jewel on Halloween night.
In that time, both parties achieved all of the objectives they would have had in mind going into the deal, with the primary goal of increased exposure for both WWE and Fury being fulfilled in grand style.
At the time of that first interaction, it was clear the storyline was going to be something which resonated with fans, and not just WWE fans, but sports fans, on both sides of the Atlantic.
The impact has probably been more strongly felt in Britain than in the United States, and if proof of that were needed it comes in the form of the video of Fury's very first involvement that night in Los Angeles. On the Sky Sports Facebook page it has been watched an eye-watering 39m times, with 22,507 comments made on it.
True, many of those comments are from disgruntled boxing fans questioning the wisdom of Fury associating himself with something which is, of course, sports entertainment rather than sport, and there are also complaints from WWE fans that the company was going outside of their vast talent pool to bring in a non-wrestler in a prominent role.
Then there is the money. It has never been confirmed but several online news outlets put Fury's fee for his month of work with WWE at $11m (£8.5m). For those keeping track, outside of the television appearances, the match itself lasted eight minutes and four seconds.
Such a sum seems almost obscenely huge but it is worth remembering that WWE's latest deal with Fox will see the American network pay them $200m a year to air SmackDown, a little under $4m an episode, and their Saudi events have led them to record-breaking international revenues in the past two years. $11m would also be roughly the going rate for Fury to step in the ring with boxing gloves on.
Fury's motivation will not have been entirely financial, although it will of course have been difficult for him to turn down such a sum. As he confirmed in his interview with Sky Sports, Fury's contract with Top Rank means his fights must take place in the United States.
WWE's presence in a prime time slot on Fox meant that he was exposed to a vast audience right from the outset; that first 'coming together' with Strowman was on the launch episode, which featured a rare appearance by The Rock and drew an enormous TV rating Stateside.
Increased exposure means a bigger profile in America, which means more interest in his fights, more box office buys and - ultimately - more money and fame. Outside of the very limited physical risk, the WWE deal was a no-brainer for Fury, a man for whom the pompous complaints of the purists in his actual sport are unlikely to cut too deep.
It was a winner for WWE, too. From a Sky Sports perspective, no month has ever generated more wrestling-related traffic to the web site and app than the one which has just passed. There is a Tyson Fury-shaped spike in the WWE web numbers for October and stories about his antics also resonated with the boxing crowd and beyond.
Such interest and intrigue will not have been limited to Sky Sports, and - while there is no way to truly gauge such an impact - the presence of Fury in mainstream media provided WWE with great handfuls of the commodity upon which the company places a huge value.
Exposure to a marketplace of potential fans is critical to the success of WWE in their never-ending mission to recruit new followers to the cause and to convinced lapsed fans to come back.
If it takes $11m of cash to a British boxer to achieve that, then so be it. It could turn out to be something of a bargain in the long run.
Fury is scheduled to appear at SmackDown on Friday night, a show which will be recorded in Manchester as part of the company's biennial European tours. Chances are, some people will have bought tickets just to see him and they may - just may - become fans of the rest of what they see.
After that Fury will go back to boxing. A February 22 fight with Deontay Wilder is very much in his diary. He returns to legitimate fighting a richer, more well-known man and he can even now include a professional wrestling victory on his record.