Happy WrestleMania to all! It’s wrestling geek Christmas and fans will be watching a long, long show; begging the question: Is this WrestleMania too much of a good thing? And the answer is...nope! Including the preshow (which is mostly required viewing), WrestleMania 34 will be about 7 hours long. With programming available almost every day of the week, I’m usually opposed to an overexposure of WWE any other time of the year. But this is WrestleMania. It’s a holiday meant for a healthy wrestling binge.
I’ll probably start off with the customary Savage/Steamboat and move on to some Michaels/Undertaker, the WrestleMania equivalent of setting up the tree and hanging stockings above the fireplace. I’m also partial to Hogan/Rock, so I may have to dip into WrestleMania 18 a bit. Where Royal Rumble is a party, WrestleMania is more intimate. It’s the event to watch with family and close friends (this is all subjective, of course). This year’s card is an amalgamation of long standing rivalries and quickly thrown together matchups; the latter being some of the more interesting ones.
Because of Daniel Bryan’s recovery and being cleared to wrestle, we now have the tag match of Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. While Ronda Rousey’s wrestling debut is sure to bring in some mainstream fans, Daniel Bryan’s in-ring comeback is something I’m personally looking the most forward to. Few people can capture the excitement in the same way as Daniel Bryan. If he is used sparingly going forward, his matches will prove to be even more special. Shane, as always, is bound to do something crazy and put his body on the line; a tried and true technique he uses to make up for his lack of wrestling ability.
We also have at least two dream matches on the card. Straight out of Tokyo, we are getting the gift of a New Japan rematch in Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles. Since these two are guaranteed a classic WrestleMania match based on their past performance, this might as well be the match to watch tonight. That being said, I would put money on this match closing out the show over Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. The Universal Championship match may have the attention of casual fans, but we’ve seen it before. This isn’t a match that the smarks of the world wanted for WrestleMania, so we might see this Raw main event earlier in the night than usual.
So, Lesnar/Reigns may not be the dream match we wanted, but Asuka vs. Charlotte is. When Asuka won the inaugural women’s Royal Rumble, it seemed that she would be challenging Alexa Bliss for her Raw women’s championship. But to the appeasement of the WWE Universe, Asuka showed up on Smackdown to challenge Charlotte, who is definitely the more skilled champion. Considering they might be the two of the most entertaining performers in the company, this is going to be a legendary battle. Not only are they two of the best women’s wrestlers in history, they’re also two of the greatest NXT champions, having a handful of Takeover classics under their belts.
Of course, WrestleMania is always full of surprises. And on paper, the big surprise will come in Braun Strowman’s partner for the tag team championship match against The Bar. There are some obvious options for the mystery partner of the monster among men. As of now, his former Wyatt family ally, Bray, doesn’t have a WrestleMania match. Braun’s recent rival, Elias, is also without a spot on the main card, along with “Woken” Matt Hardy, who is relegated to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. But all of these Superstars currently on the active roster wouldn’t be a grand surprise fit for the Showcase of the Immortals. Nay, a surprise partner at WrestleMania seems like a good opportunity for someone like The Rock to take advantage of. Whether or not WWE is planning a big return of a WrestleMania legend for Braun, it’s going to be a night full of unforgettable moments and, hopefully, rewatchable experiences for WrestleMania holidays for years to come. The Grandest Stage of them all is set, so strap in for a long night in New Orleans.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston. He hosts the comedy podcast, "So Now I'm the Asshole" on Fans.FM and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke