On April 2, 2017, all eyes in the wrestling world will be on Orlando, Florida. WWE’s 33rd annual Wrestlemania is going down, and it is easily the industry’s biggest show of the year. Last years event drew over 100,000 spectators to AT&T stadium in Dallas along with several million people watching at home from around the world.
The WWE considers this event their Superbowl, and they pull out all the stops to live up to the hype. All the stars, past and present, come out for the monster extravaganza.
Wrestlmania is billed as a full blown pop-culture phenomenon that’s swelled to an entire weekend’s worth of activities surrounding the main event.
The entire wrestling industry descends upon the host city of Wrestlemania, creating the feeling of more like a modern convention (Wrestlecon actually takes place over the same weekend) with the show itself as the main course. Nearly hundreds of indie shows are put on throughout the weekend, with talent booked from all over the planet.
The show itself has ballooned into a nearly 6 hour affair. Now that the WWE Network is home for the event (though it is still available on traditional pay-per-view), the show has expanded to include a pre-show that itself includes multiple matches.
Rather than going through the entire card, we’ll cover some of the big matches, ones that could likely steal the show, and give a little backstory to get you ready for the big night:
Goldberg(c) vs Brock Lesnar – WWE Universal Championship
If you haven’t been paying any attention to WWE over the past year, it may be a surprise to see that not only has 50 year old Goldberg returned to the WWE, but he’s also the champion. Goldberg actually returned at Survivor Series in November, shocking Brock Lesnar (and the entire wrestling world) by beating the monster in less than two minutes.
After winning the WWE Universal Title from Kevin Owens at Fastlane in February, it seemed like a rematch with Brock Lesnar was a no-brainer to headline the big show.
Lesnar has yet to beat Goldberg, so it’ll be interesting to see if he manages to get some of his brutal offense in on the unstoppable Goldberg, or if it will be another dominant performance by the champ.
If you weren’t aware that Goldberg returned, you’re probably also wondering what a “Universal Championship” is as well. Back in July, the WWE held a draft which split it’s roster between it’s two flagship shows, Raw and Smackdown. Then WWE World champion Dean Ambrose was drafted to the Smackdown brand, so the Universal Title was created for the Raw Brand.
Bray Wyatt(c) vs Randy Orton – WWE World Championship
Speaking of the Smackdown title; Randy Orton will face current champion Bray Wyatt, who won the title in the Elimination Chamber back in February. Randy Orton laid claim to a championship title opportunity by winning the 2017 Royal Rumble.
The feud between the two came to a head when Orton, who pretended to be in league with Wyatt after winning the Rumble, turned on the champ by setting fire to the house that Wyatt’s dead sister’s corpse was in.
Yep, Orton committed arson, burning down a weird sarcophagus in the woods, and is rewarded with a title opportunity. Wrrrrreestling!
The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns
You can’t have a Wrestlemania without the Undertaker. His gimmick of being a powerful living-dead person becomes more believable every passing year the veteran continues to perform.
This year he takes on new face of the company Roman Reigns. Expect a lot of boos for the Rock’s cousin (Reigns) who was in the main event of the last two Wrestlemanias. Although he’s not a bad guy, he’s attracted the same love/hate response that John Cena also receives from being pushed to the top of the card and consistently winning in unbelievable “superman” fashion.
It also doesn’t help that he’s taking on one of the most beloved characters in all of wrestling that incidentally has the most dominant record in Wrestlemania history (23-1). It will be interesting to see the reaction a potential (and expected) Reigns victory against “the phenom” will evoke.
Bayley(c) vs Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax – Raw Women’s Championship
The Raw women’s division has legitimately had some of the best matches in the company over the past couple of years. Sasha Banks and Charlotte put on some classics in what was the hottest feud in the WWE, swapping the title back and forth in the latter half of 2016.
Bayley captured the title from Charlotte in February. She’s had a rough go of holding on to it, hence having to defend against three competitors.
The famous family members of Bayley’s challengers also creates the opportunity for some Wrestlemania surprises. Charlotte is Ric Flair’s daughter, so it’s an easy excuse to get the Nature Boy onto the show. Sasha Bank’s cousin, Snoop Dogg, performed her entrance last year and could likely do so again. Nia Jax is also one of The Rock’s many cousins in the WWE, so look for a cameo from the superstar.
Matches That Could Steal The Show
Along with the big main events, there are always sleeper matches that end up being the most talked about of the evening.
Make sure you don’t miss the pre-show, because the Cruiserweight Championship match between Neville and Austin Aries is likely to be the one wrestling diehards will be drooling over. It’ll be the first Wrestlemania for the two athletes, a debut which is long over for both. Aries’ indie pedigree makes him one of the biggest stars to have never graced the big stage. Combine that with Neville’s freakish athletic skill and this one could potentially be a barn-burner.
Former Universal Champion, Kevin Owens, will be taking on Chris Jericho for the United States Championship. Both competitors have had their share of classic matches, so expect them to take full advantage of the spotlight.
Also look for the confrontation between Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon and AJ Styles to exceed expectations. Styles has arguably been the best wrestler on the planet for the past 2-3 years, and McMahon has a history of memorable Wrestlemania moments. These two could have a classic that could be on highlight reels for years to come.
The show’s also full of stars like John Cena, Triple H, Dean Ambrose and more.
More than ‘Mania
It would be a mistake not to mention some of the other events going on this weekend.
On Friday, you can find many awesome indie shows from companies like Progress and Evolve. It’s also the night that WWE holds their Hall of Fame inductions on the WWE network. This years inductees include Kurt Angle, The Rock and Roll Express, Diamond Dallas Page, Rick Rude, Beth Phoenix, and more.
Saturday is also packed. A can’t miss show is WWE’s NXT Takeover: Orlando. The show is headlined by Shinsuke Nakamura (who made his memorable debut at last year’s Takeover event on ‘Mania weekend) vs Bobby Roode for the NXT championship.
Going head-to-head with NXT Takeover is Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor XI. Headlining that show is a dream tag-team match between Matt and Jeff Hardy (Yep, those Hardy’s) and current hottest team on the planet not signed to WWE, The Young Bucks. It’s a stacked card that also features Adam Cole, Cody Rhodes, Marty Scurll, Dalton Castle and more.
This is only the tip of the iceberg for all the action this weekend. Wrestlemania weekend is certainly the biggest of the year for wrestling fans.