In two weeks, I will depart for my fifth WrestleMania. I try not to live in hyperbole, but this year’s “Showcase of the Immortals” has a shot to boast one, if not “the” most stacked cards in the 33 history of the event.
First off, let’s run down the top of the card:
WWE Title: AJ Styles/Shinsuke Nakamura
Universal Title: Brock Lesnar/Roman Reigns
Mixed Tag: Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey/Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
RUMORED: Undertaker/John Cena
RUMORED: Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon/Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Smackdown Women’s Title: Charlotte/Asuka
If we were to just judge that at face value, a few things emerge.
1. Brock and Undertaker’s potential last WWE matches
2. Rousey’s in-ring debut
3. Bryan’s in-ring return
4. A women’s match that is actually considered “top of the card”
I understand the most likely finish of the show is Reigns raising the big red belt will sour the event to some, but contextually, compare this to previous ‘Mania’s.
It is safe to say that Mike Tyson’s involvement with WM14 was the jump start of the Attitude Era and made the WWE front and center on most major news sources. Now Rousey may or may not have equal to Tyson’s value from 1998, but what she does have is a name that will be followed heavily by a more accessible media industry than 20 years prior.
Bryan’s in-ring return has been something the WWE audience has been clamoring for since the announcement of his “retirement”. He is the most “organically over” babyface the company has had in a decade, so much so that the WWE changed their main event plans for WM30 in New Orleans.
Trish Stratus and Lita were great women’s draw in the early 2000’s, but they never had a one-on-one match at ‘Mania. The two competed in a three-way in 18 in Toronto, but never went head-to-head. Until the Charlotte/Sasha Banks/Becky Lynch three-way in Dallas, women’s matches at ‘Mania lacked much interest at all. I could argue the last “great women’s match” at ‘Mania was a decade prior in Chicago when Mickie James defeated Stratus for her first title.
Asuka and Charlotte have not faced each other one-on-one to date. They held it off. They did not make this a multi-woman match. They completely missed the boat last year when they should have held off on the crowning of Bayley in a one-on-one match with Charlotte in Orlando – not a month prior! I am not saying this match should finish the show. However, this is as much as an anticipated women’s match as the WWE could book.
Lesnar is rumored to be heading back to the UFC and Undertaker is likely of having his last match anytime he enters the ring. Cena/Taker, although five years too late, still is a clash of two of the biggest names in the history of the company. The match may tank, but the names will bring star power to the match.
Quantity isn’t always quality. Thirteen matches are set for the show. The WWE placed 15 matches on WM six and seven’s card, but the event was based around one and only one match in 1990 (Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior) and two matches in 1991 (Sgt. Slaughter/Hogan and Randy Savage/Warrior). Wrestle Mania 6 hosted a mixed tag featuring Savage, Sensational Queen Sherri, Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire. Last year, we got Cena and Nikki Bella’s proposal after a win over the Miz and Maryse. This year’s mixed tag has the most star power of any mixed tag match in the history of the show.
Before the WWE Network debuted prior to WM30, WM 28 (Rock/Cena I) led all ‘Manias in buy rates with 1,253K. The first WM was only seen on closed circuit, but starting with 2, the event continued to improve every year up until 5 (Savage/Hogan). The next two years saw a decline, but nothing like they would have for 11 (Diesel/Shawn Michaels)
TOP 5 Highest WrestleMania Buyrates
|WM 28||1,253,000||Rock/Cena 1||Miami, FL|
|WM 23||1,188,000||Cena/Michaels||Detroit, MI|
|WM 27||1,124,000||Cena/Miz, Rock hosts||Atlanta, GA|
|WM 29||1,048,000||Rock/Cena 2||East Rutherford, NJ|
|WM 17||1,040,000||Austin/Rock 2||Houston, TX|
TOP 5 Lowest WrestleMania Buyrates
|WM 13||237,000||Taker/Sid, Bret/Austin||Chicago, IL|
|WM 2||250,000||Hogan/Bundy||Three Cities|
|WM 12||290,000||Bret/Michaels||Anaheim, CA|
|WM 11||340,000||Diesel/Michaels||Hartford, CT|
|WM 8||390,000||Flair/Savage, Hogan/Sid||Indianapolis, IN|
The last ‘Mania to go five-deep at the top was 19 in Seattle.
• Austin/Rock III
• HHH/Booker T
The early ‘Mania’s hold as special place in most fans’ hearts, but mostly those cards where built around the Hogan match and maybe another match or two.
1987 was purely Hogan/Andre. 1988 was the tournament. 1989 was the collision of the Mega Powers. The early ‘Manias gave us Savage/Ricky Steamboat, Warrior/Rick Rude and Bret/Roddy Piper. Most of those cards were littered with mid-card matches with very little build. WrestleMania 10 gave us the Bret title win over Yokozuna to end an eight-month reign, the ladder match with Michaels and Ramon and the initial Bret/Owen Hart collision.
Last year’s event had its prime matches for sure.
• HHH/Seth Rollins
• Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton
• Chris Jericho/Kevin Owens
• The Cena proposal
• The Hardy Boyz return
I believe that WrestleMania 34 has a chance to be really good. We may not get the epic moment of the Undertaker’s streak being broken, the Randy/Liz reunion or even the coronation of the next great main eventer.
But what we have is a card that is loaded with intrigue from several levels.
Chad Dixon (@Dixon23rtr)