With Fastlane out of the way (thank goodness, though the show was solid), it’s time to finally focus on WrestleMania 35, which means we need a card. The matches are either put together or starting to become obvious and one thing is very clear: we are, yet again, in for a freaking ton of matches involving several people, many of whom don’t deserve to be on the show but will be anyway because of this everyone belongs policy from WWE.
That’s what we’re going to look at today: this ridiculous idea that everyone in the company needs to be on WrestleMania for one reason or another. Now before we start, I know that the show has to fill in seven hours somehow and that a lot of it comes down to the bonuses that WWE gives out for appearing on the show (as they should). We’re looking at this from more of a kayfabe perspective this time around, as there is very little reason to have so many people on the show.
Let’s start with some history. WrestleMania hasn’t always been such a crazy long show. The first edition (ok probably not the best example) was a trim two hours and fifteen minutes with a nine match card. One of the most famous shows of all time, WrestleMania 17, featured eleven matches and ran three hours and forty five minutes. Jumping forward to a modern show, WrestleMania 30, had seven matches on its main card, running three hours and fifty three minutes (plus a two hour kickoff show, though the one match there aired in the last portion and ran about sixteen minutes).
This is the kind of thing demoted to the Kickoff Show these days:
That’s when things started to go off the rails. WrestleMania 31 was still acceptable enough, but WrestleMania 32 featured THREE Kickoff Show matches (totaling about twenty five minutes over two hours) with the main show running a staggering four hours and forty nine minutes. Somehow it would get even worse over the next two years, with similar Kickoff Show lengths (though with longer matches) and capped off by WrestleMania’s completely ridiculous FIVE HOURS AND TEN MINUTES.
On what planet is this necessary? WWE is asking fans to sit in a stadium (which takes some time to get inside) for seven plus hours and stay interested throughout. It’s completely ridiculous as it nearly doubles the length of a run of the mill pay per view, which are often considered too long in the first place. You’re talking a near full work day of wrestling in one sitting, yet WWE is wondering why the shows aren’t quite as memorable as before.
That brings us back to the original point: is the show longer because there are so many people on it or are there so many people on it because it’s so long? It’s a combination of both, but in this case I’d lean more towards the former than the latter. At the end of the day, WWE is going to get their money whether the show is long or not, but for some reason they feel the need to cram everyone on in matches that are going to either have to be trimmed for time or put on a show that runs forever.
Remember when this was a WrestleMania moment:
Consider this year’s upcoming show. Based on the stories we’ve seen so far and previous years’ editions, we’re probably looking at a card that looks something like this:
Men’s battle royal
Women’s battle royal
Cruiserweight Title match
Raw Tag Team Titles
SmackDown Live Tag Team Titles
Women’s Tag Team Titles
Raw World Title
SmackDown World Title
Raw Women’s Title
SmackDown Women’s Title
Triple H vs. Batista
Kurt Angle’s retirement match
Shane McMahon vs. The Miz
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
That’s a whopping seventeen matches with maybe six or seven of them likely being singles matches (probably Angle’s retirement match, the Cruiserweight Title match and the ones listed plus maybe one more). There are a few matches you could cut (Miz vs. McMahon, Cruiserweight Title, one of the midcard/women’s/tag team title matches each and maybe the battle royals) but that gets you down to ten matches, many of which are probably going to be multi-person matches.
In other words, it’s clear that things could be cut from the show if WWE actually tried to do so, but that’s not what they do. Instead it’s the shows trending longer and longer, making them harder and harder to sit through. You eventually reach a point where the show is too long to be enjoyable and the fans are sick of things by the end (hence the beach ball annoyances and the fans chanting random things to entertain themselves) of the night.
As annoying as it is, I can’t say I blame them. I’ve sat in the stadium for the last three WrestleManias and I find myself counting down how many matches are left before the night is over. That shouldn’t happen, and it’s the kind of thing that needs to be fixed before it becomes even more of a problem.
Ok stuff like this helps a lot:
It’s a rather simple solution: don’t put so many matches on the shows. You can do this in a few ways, such as adding people to different matches (cutting out some of the lower names from the battle royals and adding in some bigger stars for a bigger prize, like say the midcard titles would be a good place to start) or just not having so many matches. Is anyone begging to see McMahon vs. Miz going for fifteen minutes this year?
As for the money that comes with getting to appear on the show….just pay them anyway. Why is that such a complex idea? I know it’s not the most thrilling idea in the world, but it’s also not thrilling to have the fans getting so sick of the biggest show of the year near the end that they would rather play with a beach ball than watch the show they paid to see.
WrestleMania is often called the Showcase of the Immortals. That’s an awesome name and something that explains the concept of the show quite well. It’s the biggest night of the year and a show that should be remembered forever. Last year, counting the Kickoff Show, eighty seven people wrestled on the WrestleMania 34 card (ignoring managers etc.)
We’re long past the point of having this be about the best of the best (for comparison, WrestleMania 3 had 38 people wrestling) and the show needs to be fixed in one way or several. WWE talks about earning your way to WrestleMania, but in reality it seems that it’s open to everyone, whether you’re an immortal or a ten year old kid.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 2000 Monday Nitro and Thunder Reviews Part 1.
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