According to reports from Fightful Select, WrestleMania 38 is going to be another two-night affair, set for April 2nd and April 3rd of 2022.
Last year, the “Too Big for One Night” slogan felt like a gimmick to distract from the show taking place at the WWE Performance Center. It also made up for the lack of NXT TakeOver: Tampa Bay no longer that Saturday night.
Some people, such as yours truly, instantly liked this new format. I was happy to see it return for WrestleMania 37 and curious why WWE didn’t outright announce it for 38 and 39.
Now, we know that this appears to be in the works and WWE likely came around to the idea after crunching numbers from this year’s show.
Of course, like with everything, it’s not perfect. There are some flaws to this idea. However, I think the good outweighs the bad. So for anyone on the fence one way or another, let’s look at the pros and cons of splitting WrestleMania 38 into a two-night affair.
Pro: Avoiding the Burnout
I’m the type of person who, if I love something, I can’t get enough of it. I always watch the full extended edition of Terminator 2: Judgment Day because it has even more extra scenes than the original bonus cut does, for instance. I went to the first Marvel Cinematic Universe marathon to watch Iron Man through The Avengers and loved it.
But not everyone is like that. I know plenty people who get upset at a movie being 2 and a half hours, even if they’re loving every minute of it. They just get antsy, they need to do something else, they hate sitting down in one spot for too long, etc.
WrestleMania 35 had 16 matches on the show. Some of them were cut down to 0:58 and 2:30 just to speed things along and the main event still didn’t end until past midnight.
It’s a lot to ask people to sit through one professional wrestling program for 6 or 7 hours in one shot. The 2-hour kickoff is too much for some, let alone to have that just be “the matches nobody cares about and a bunch of recaps and video packages.” But if you split things in half, you can do an hour pre-show, a 3-hour regular show and suddenly, 8 hours over a weekend doesn’t seem so bad.
This avoids fatigue. People aren’t as in need of a buffer segment just to avoid being too tired to react to one of the matches.
Con: It Loses Prestige
That marathon for The Avengers felt special because it started at 11am and ended at 2-3am. If I had just rewatched all the previous films over the course of a week, one per day, leading up to The Avengers, it wouldn’t have been memorable.
WrestleMania as a one-night show feels more special. It’s a juggernaut of a program and a gauntlet. The Super Bowl is one day and WWE treats WrestleMania akin to that show, rather than the Olympics, spanning a much longer stretch of time.
It can be argued that splitting the difference weakens the appeal of WrestleMania by watering it down.
Pro: More Room on the Card for Variety
A major positive with the extra time is that more Superstars can get on the card, since there’s about an hour’s worth more room. On top of that, WWE can properly split the difference between similar matches to avoid running into any repetition.
For example, having the men’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and the women’s battle royal (which I still think should be reclassified the Chyna Memorial Battle Royal) on the same card makes both look lesser. People instantly compare them and whichever goes second feels like you just watched the same thing. Putting one of them on the opposite night, though, helps spread the wealth.
There’s more of a chance all the championships get defended, rather than any lost in the shuffle. Hell, this year, WWE managed to do a No. 1 contender’s match on the first night to set up the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match on Night 2. Only the SmackDown Tag Team Championship belt was ignored (rather, put on the SmackDown episode prior to WrestleMania as a marketing hook) and no match lasted less than 5:50.
Being able to incorporate more of the roster is a good thing. That way, more people get their big paychecks.
Con: More Filler Matches
If not done correctly, WWE could mistake more room for needing more worthless filler, though.
It should be about the quality of the matches, rather than the quantity. While WWE did manage to get two of the women’s tag team matches on the show, as mentioned above, they could have just thrown Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler in the Tag Team Turmoil match and had it for the title instead of setting up the title shot.
If you polled the audience for most shows, few people are ever interested in the full card. Normally, they’re watching for the general idea of WWE (as in, “I always at least watch WrestleMania every year”) or they’re interested in a handful of marquee bouts. They probably wouldn’t care about half the matches.
That is especially true if WWE doesn’t care, either. Liv Morgan vs. Natalya at WrestleMania 36 is a prime example of WWE basically saying “Whatever. It’s a pandemic. We’re doing random stuff to fill time and nobody should be upset with us, cause at least they’re still getting a WrestleMania.” But if that wasn’t on the card, would anyone have thrown a fit and refused to watch? Doubtful.
The key is making sure each match feels justified. WWE has to look at the lineup and think “Is this worthy of WrestleMania?” rather than “We can probably shove that in there, too. That’ll kill 10 minutes.”
Pro: The “Main Event” Philosophy
WWE loves to toss out superfluous praise. Any opportunity they get, the commentators are told to promote something as a “first time ever”, even if it’s stretching. For the first time ever, this match you’ve seen 6 times this year will happen on the opposite brand. Oooooh!
This goes for the phrase “main event” as in WWE, that’s tossed around to mean more than just the final match of the show.
For example, Royal Rumble winners aren’t spoken of as just being able to challenge for the championship of their choosing. WWE makes sure to say they’ll compete in “the main event of WrestleMania” every year. Without fail, every year that isn’t the final match, fans complain that it isn’t the real main event.