When WWE refers to WrestleMania as the biggest show of the year, they aren’t kidding, and this time around, it’s absolutely overstuffed with two more weeks left to fill in more of the blanks.
In some ways, this is a good thing, as it ensures the card isn’t going to be stretched thin like Fastlane 2018 was, where a bunch of filler matches will be added at the last minute just to eat up time and try to justify four hours of sitting in front of your screen for really only about 120 minutes of value.
However, with the good comes the bad: there isn’t enough room for everything to breathe.
The Math of Matches
WrestleMania 30 was the first on the WWE Network, so that is the best time to start the gauge of how WWE’s booking trends have been.
That event had 8 matches on the card with an average ring time of 17:02 minutes.
WrestleMania 31 had 9 matches with an average of 14:05 minutes. This dipped down to 13:42 for the 12 matches at WrestleMania 32 and 13:53 for WrestleMania 33’s 13 matches.
Clearly, there’s a trend here, as we’ve gone from 8 to 9 to 12 to 13 matches and this year, we are currently already booked for 14 with the potential for a 15th.
Current Projected WrestleMania Lineup:
1. Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
2. WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
3. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
4. John Cena vs. The Undertaker
5. SmackDown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka
6. Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
7. Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
8. United States Championship: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal
9. Raw Tag Team Championship: The Bar (c) vs. Braun Strowman and ???
10 Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan
11. SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
12. Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
13. Women’s Battle Royal
14. 5th Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
If Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt do something together, that’s a 15th match.
Then, there’s also the musical performance of America the Beautiful by Chloe x Halle, Kid Rock and Elias (although to be fair, Elias may have his merged with Kid Rock to a certain extent).
Even if we go with the shortest average ring time of 13:42 per these segments, we’re looking at exceeding last year’s WrestleMania by half an hour or more, as none of this even factors in all of the extraneous stuff like entrances, video packages, pre-show panel analysis, the Hall of Fame parade, and so on.
They have the same amount of time to work with as last year: 7 hours (2 for the pre-show, 4 for the main card).
This means one of two things: either some of these matches are going to feel rushed, or something is going to have to be cut.
The Pre-Show Dead Zone
Competing at WrestleMania in any capacity is something to be proud of, but there’s an undeniable bias against being put on the pre-show.
There is just no roundabout way to say it other than that the kickoff is reserved for the matches that WWE values the least, unless there’s some sort of odd scenario where management realizes something is better used as a bathroom break later on in the night as a buffer between two other, more important matches.
If you’re on the pre-show, there’s a chance you’re not wrestling in front of thousands of people, but a few scrambling to get to their seats while everyone else is busy getting merchandise or concessions or waiting in line to get in.
Sadly, some matches have to go on the pre-show, as there just isn’t enough time otherwise to put everything in the 4 hours of the main card.
Well, to be perfectly honest, there would possibly be time if WWE utilized the pre-show to contain all of the video packages and did nothing but entrances and matches on the 4 hours of the main show, but that’s never, ever, ever going to happen.
The last two years, there have been three matches on the pre-show. This time around, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are four, but there will definitely at least be three.
My assumption is that the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal will be one of them, as the women’s battle royal is going to be heralded as more “historic” and thus, more important, and they won’t want to have two of the same match type on the main card.
I’m also going with the obvious pick of the Cruiserweight Championship Finals being on the pre-show and possibly the true kickoff of the whole night, going first before anything else. I think that’s a shame for Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali, who deserve more eyes on them in order to draw more attention to 205 Live and give them the proper credit for what I’m sure will be an amazing match, but you can’t fight City Hall. Shout out to my fellow Rocko fans out there.
Those third and fourth matches are up in the air, though. Kid Rock’s segment isn’t happening here, so that can’t fill the void, but if Elias has a solo performance, that might just take place on the pre-show. I think it’s more of a filler bathroom break gap, but it’s a possibility.
More so, I think we’re looking at the United States Championship match being thrust in one of these spots. It’s a shame to think that, but last year, the Intercontinental Championship match between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin fell victim to being on the pre-show when the previous women’s match was switch out from that slot. I don’t think WWE has put much real effort into this story between Bobby Roode, Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal, so I can see them coming up with the excuse that it’s a “big match” and will draw attention to the pre-show, as part of their responsibility, instead of just “meh, we like everything else more, sorry guys.”
If there’s a fourth match, I really hope it isn’t The Usos defending the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, as they made it a point to mention how they’ve never had a main card match at WrestleMania after all these years. Cut those guys some slack and if necessary, give this to either the Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt segment (if it happens) or Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax.