WrestleMania is the biggest event WWE puts on each year, drawing stadium crowds upwards of 70,000 strong, garnering live viewing audiences of upwards of a million, and typically providing WWE’s best selling DVD of the year. It’s an event that transcends the hardcore viewing fan base that tunes in to Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live each week to bring back fans of yesteryear, people with a casual interest, and even non-fans who might take a look at a viewing party or sports bar.
Given the mainstream nature of WrestleMania, and given its history as the longest continuous annual event WWE has had, what happens at the show matters. As Chris Jericho discussed in the WWE The True Story of WrestleMania documentary, what happens on a house show is largely forgotten, what happens on WWE television has a longer shelf life but can still slip fans’ minds. But what happens at WrestleMania? Even—and perhaps especially—bad matches and moments are immortalized if they happen at the Showcase of the Immortals.
It’s still too early to really know WWE’s creative direction, much less what might happen between now and spring in terms of injuries or fan reactions pushing the company a certain direction. The immensity of WrestleMania has fans speculating already, though, and fixating on nuggets of information that have leaked from WWE or through the dirt sheets. This article take a look at ten reported plans and rumors that we fans hope are true, and ten so bad they could see fans head to the concession stands, or potentially leave the stadium altogether.
20 Hope It’s True: The Rock Is Back
The Rock surprised fans when he returned to the WWE fold in the build to WrestleMania XXVI, after the general sense had been he left wrestling behind for Hollywood. The Great One generated buzz, and after costing John Cena the WWE Championship in 2011, went on to back-to-back WrestleMania events. The matches may not have been classics, but Rock looked great.
The Rock made surprise appearances at the next three WrestleManias, including a lightning quick impromptu match with Erick Rowan. He was absent these two most recent years, with rumors that his handlers and film partners don’t love him getting in the ring. Rumor has it Rock wants a return. Given his star power and unparalleled abilities on the mic, fans would be all too ready to welcome him back for WrestleMania 35.
19 Fans Would Walk Out: Roman Reigns Main Events Again
Roman Reigns understandably main evented WrestleManias 31 and 32. These matches were built around the story of him rising to challenge an incumbent world champion. His first match with Brock Lesnar was well-received. Reigns’s encounter with Triple H was less celebrated, but made sense closing the show.
Reigns main eventing at WrestleManias 33 and 34 were less obvious. With no title on the line, Reigns worked The Undertaker in a long, middling match, which seemed like it might be historic for The Phenom retiring—except it wasn’t actually his last match.
Reigns falling to Lesnar this past year was more understandable, but nonetheless a widely panned match that didn’t deserve to close the show.
The fear is that WWE sees Reigns as the main event guy and thus will close WrestleMania no matter what. Maybe a match with The Rock would work, but otherwise fans might walk.
18 Hope It’s True: Ronda Rousey And Charlotte Flair Main Event
Since WWE started taking women’s wrestling on the main roster more seriously in 2015, there have been rumors that women might get the chance to main event WrestleMania. The female roster has since gotten two PPV main events, including the first women’s Royal Rumble. With the addition of Ronda Rousey’s star power, and with a firm crop of established talents, it’s more feasible than ever that WWE could pull the trigger on women closing out ‘Mania.
If WWE goes in this direction, Rousey’s involvement is a given. The opponent with the most name recognition, not to mention the one whom has been most consistently pushed throughout her main roster tenure, would be Charlotte Flair. Best of all? These women legitimately have the chops to pull off a worth match for this setting.
17 Fans Would Walk Out: The Undertaker Works One Last Long Match
It’s hard not to respect The Undertaker for his longevity and body of work. However, when WWE opted to make his match with John Cena at WrestleMania 34 a quick squash, it was probably the best use of The Phenom. Working matches in excess of five minutes has shown his age in recent years. His last great WrestleMania match was in 2013, and even his relatively brief Casket Match with Rusev at the Greatest Royal Rumble show was a slog.
It’s understandable that WWE might have the impulse to feature The Undertaker in one last proper match. However, this is a clear case of a legend better left to ride off into the sunset, rather than putting on another match like his one with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 that drags and grows uncomfortable for fans to watch.
16 Hope It’s True: Daniel Bryan Vs. The Miz
When Daniel Bryan squared off with The Miz at SummerSlam, WWE artfully told the story of a long rivalry, noting that the two have been feuding on and off since 2010. The SummerSlam match was a worthy chapter in their story, but it didn’t offer a conclusion, as The Miz cheated to win. WWE has already extended this storyline to a mixed tag match between the two and their wives at Hell in a Cell.
The question becomes how far the story might reach and where it really will end?
WrestleMania feels like the natural destination to blow off the rivalry. We might even see the WWE Championship get in the mix, as it’s not a reach to picture Miz emerging with the title by spring, and WWE could try to recapture some of the WrestleMania XXX magic with Bryan chasing and finally taking the title.
15 Fans Would Walk Out: A Brock Lesnar Vs. Roman Reigns Rematch
The first match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31 exceeded expectations with both good action and the electricity of Seth Rollins cashing in Money in the Bank. Moreover, their last match at SummerSlam was kept short and benefited from intrigue of Braun Strowman looking on.
In between those encounters, though, Lesnar and Strowman had two awful matches at WrestleMania 34 and the Greatest Royal Rumble, that turned off fans badly.
Having one more Lesnar-Reigns match would make some kayfabe sense, given they have one no-contest, one clear Lesnar victory, one clear Reigns victory, and one indecisive steel cage finish between them. The finale to a WrestleMania trilogy could blow things off for good. It’s also, however, a match fans are painfully sick of, though, between two guys hardcore fans are cold on.
14 Hope It’s True: Seth Rollins Vs. Dean Ambrose
There are certain stars whose WWE destinies seem intertwined, on account of coming up at a similar time, emerging as comparable level stars of their generation, having chemistry, and having the benefit of being booked together early in their careers. We’ve seen it with The Rock and Triple H, John Cena and Randy Orton, Edge and Christian and the Haradys, and Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to name just a few.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose fit the mold as they’ve each been main event guys and they’ve each spent most of their WWE main roster runs teaming together or feuding against each other. One dynamic we haven’t seen yet is Ambrose play the heel to Rollins’s face. The rumor mill has The Lunatic Fringe turning on The Architect sooner or later, and the two talents deserve a spotlighted one on one match with one another at ‘Mania.
13 Fans Would Walk Out: The Rock Vs. Triple H Main Events
Word is that The Rock wants a WrestleMania match, and that in and of itself is a good thing. There’s some intrigue to an intergenerational clash with the likes of Roman Reigns or Braun Strowman, and there’s some appeal to megastar clash with Brock Lesnar. The Rock has only feuded tangentially with fellow third generation star Randy Orton. But Triple H?
The story of Rock vs. Triple H would make sense given their history, their star power and skills would surely make it at least a good match.
It feels like a relative letdown compared to the possibilities.
Worse yet, a match with this kind of marquee power could be slotted for the main event, which while arguably better than Roman Reigns closing the show again, would feel like a big missed opportunity to give at least one current, full-time star that rub.
12 Hope It’s True: Johnny Gargano Vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa have had an absolutely sensational rivalry in NXT, building off of their time as an excellent tag team to build the runaway feud of the year across any WWE brand. There’s a fair argument that each of these guys is more over than half the main roster, and that’s not even calibrating for the lesser exposure of NXT—they’ve just been that successful as the best face and the best heel the company has to offer.
This is the kind of rivalry WWE could reasonably elevate straight to the main roster, as sort of a new and improved take on how Sami Zayn moved up to Raw to continue fighting Kevin Owens. At the least, it would make complete sense to have one more epic NXT TakeOver main event between the two over WrestleMania weekend, likely as not with Gargano winning his first NXT Championship.
11 Fans Would Walk Out: The Show Gets Longer
WrestleManias 32, 33, and 34 all suffered from a similar criticism—they were just too long. Historically, WWE capped PPVs around three hours. There was some precedent for ‘Mania, as the biggest show of the year, running to four hours which could test fans’ patience, but was workable with a card constructed the right way.
These recent ‘Manias, however, have tested the five hour line and suffered from two hour pre-shows, meaning the live crowd and hardcore fans who watch everything tend to be burned out by the second half of ‘Mania itself.
The show has become a slog to get through, and it’s a disservice to the top tier performers who often have dead crowds for big time matches. Hopefully, WWE will learn its lesson and scale back; at minimum, the show shouldn’t get even longer.
10 Hope It’s True: A Guest Call From Jim Ross
Word is that Jim Ross is not done with WWE. Though he hasn’t been exclusive to the company for some time and has most notably worked of late for New Japan, WWE brought him back for multiple projects in recent years.
Particularly if WreslteMania remains as long of a show as it is, having Ross call one or two matches is a welcome change in the audio experience, and a necessary opportunity for the regular broadcast team to catch a well deserved break during the marathon show. On top of all that, fans from years back always appreciate the nostalgia of getting to hear Good Ol’ JR work play by play.
9 Fans Would Walk Out: The New Day Explodes
Rumors have persisted since early summer that WWE is eyeing a split for The New Day. The idea of the guys doing something different makes sense given that they’ve now been teaming for over four years, and have arguably done about all they can in the tag ranks—not to mention that Big E and Kofi Kingston in particular still have the potential to thrive as singles acts.
If the group does part ways, the best choice is for them to remain either a stable or an informal group of friends, rather than any heel turns or bitter splintering. It’s no secret that the guys love working together, and fans will much more readily accept them amiably working on separate angles rather than the group exploding against one another.
8 Hope It’s True: Sasha Banks Back On The Main Card
The rumor mill suggests that, no, WWE hasn’t forgotten about Sasha Banks, she just hasn’t figured into the title picture yet as WWE features Ronda Rousey. Meanwhile, her ongoing rivalry/friendship with Bayley could be read as less of a sign WWE doesn’t care about the two stars, than that management recognizes they’re each popular, and doesn’t want to turn either heel.
Time will tell what happens for Banks and for Bayley, but there’s little denying Banks is one of the most complete female talents WWE has.
She's arguably better than anyone else on the full time roster, particularly from an in ring perspective. Hopefully she will be properly featured again come the biggest show of 2019.
7 Fans Would Walk Out: Kurt Angle Vs. Baron Corbin
Kurt Angle and Baron Corbin have had their share of tensions since this summer when Stephanie McMahon appointed Corbin as Constable—a kayfabe position to stand in as her proxy heel authority figure. The latest turn in the story was McMahon sending Angle on forced vacation on the Raw after SummerSlam. The dirt sheets claim Angle has been stepping up his training to get ready for another round in the ring, and his time off is for that preparation.
But who is Angle preparing to wrestle? Some rumors suggest Triple H which, while not the freshest matchup, would be a logical story and a match worthy of each man’s legacy and reputation. Another rumor is that Angle-Corbin is the road forward. While there’s some logic to WWE pushing a young star opposite a legend, Corbin simply hasn’t proven himself deserving of that match, especially at ‘Mania.
6 Hope It’s True: Kevin Owens Vs. Sami Zayn
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s WWE destinies have been intertwined, feuding through NXT and the main roster before forging a heel alliance fall 2017. The act was starting to lose its focus as WWE didn’t seem to know what to do with them on Raw. While it was a shame for Zayn to get injured, it may have been best for him to get off TV before his stock dropped too far.
When Zayn returns, there are many possibilities for him, and one of them is another program with Owens. While some would say they’ve run their course, the two have proven that even their most forgettable TV matches can’t help breaking three stars. Meanwhile, their best work, like their match at Battleground 2016, broached five star territory. Working again, perhaps with Zayn as a heel and Owens as face, could certainly be WrestleMania worthy.
5 Fans Would Walk Out: A Conor McGregor Match
There’s a long history of WWE bringing in celebrities for WrestleMania, and even having them work matches like Floyd Mayweather going up against The Big Show and Lawrence Taylor main eventing with Bam Bam Bigelow.
WWE could do a lot worse than getting Conor McGregor.
He’s a legitimate fighter and has largely built his name off of pro wrestling style promos and pandering. However, in an era when WrestleMania is both too long and still relegates too many excellent in ring talents to pre-show battle royals, featuring McGregor in a match of his own feels like a misallocation of resources. In particular, while McGregor is certainly famous and has his fans, he’s no Ronda Rousey in terms of generating her level of mass media interest. WWE would run the risk of a McGregor match turning into a big bathroom break.
4 Hope It’s True: More New Japan Rematches
WWE delivered on many hardcore fans’ wishes when it booked AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for WrestleMania 34. The match making bespoke a unique capacity the current WWE roster has to deliver different styles, broadcasting Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar and the mixed tag team match for more casual, mainstream fans, while Styles vs. Nakamura catered better to hardcore wrestling enthusiasts.
Rumor has it WWE has been making big overtures to talents who have been featured in New Japan and Ring of Honor like Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, and The Young Bucks, in the interest of squelching them as competition after the success of All In. If WWE scores even a fraction of these stars, we could be in for WrestleMania 35 featuring another reprisal of a top NJPW rivalry at its biggest show.
3 Fans Would Walk Out: Shane McMahon Vs. Brock Lesnar
As far as the hardcore fans are concerned, WWE is best served to keep away from Brock Lesnar for a little bit. Sure, he’s a unique talent and draw, but he his last year with the company made him feel like an annoyance for how few dates he worked and how middling most of his matches were.
If WWE and Lesnar do come to terms for a WrestleMania 35, it would have to be a pretty special match to not have fans turn on it.
We’re talking an underappreciated workhorse like Sami Zayn getting his big break, or finally booking the Bobby Lashley match many fans have hoped for. Shane McMahon has the name value to be considered for a program with Lesnar, but in terms of his actual skills and believability in a fight with The Beast Incarnate, he’s the antithesis of whom WWE should be looking to.
2 Hope It’s True: Samoa Joe Gets His WrestleMania Debut
WWE introduced Samoa Joe to the main roster shortly before WrestleMania 33, working partly as Triple H’s proxy, and it seemed partly there so he could pinch hit in a variety scenarios if someone got hurt and needed a substitute. It seemed fair enough for him not to work that ‘Mania as he was still a new character, and due for a big push coming out of WrestleMania season.
However, a poorly timed injury didn’t preclude Joe from working WreslteMania 34, but did leave him out of the build to the show, thus lining him up to return after the big show rather than appear on it. Hopefully 2019 will be the year this wildly talented veteran finally gets a chance to work in front a WreslteMania stadium crowd.
1 Fans Would Walk Out: Jinder Mahal Gets A Singles Match
Word varies in terms of what WWE is reportedly planning for and sees in Jinder Mahal. He’s a former WWE Champion, and thus can be plugged into a variety of big matches with a degree of credibility. However, there’s also the elephant in the room that, in terms of getting over, working matches, and delivering on the mic, he has no business in any sort of world championship conversation.
In a roster as deep as WWE has now, Mahal should also not be in the conversation for a singles match at WrestleMania. If WWE does opt to heat him up again for the biggest show of the year, it will be a surefire cue for fans to take bathroom break or visit the concession stands.