FanPost

WrestleMania Match Times: A General Overview

In thisss-ahh biz-nisss-ahhh... - Triple H image via TOUT

Editor's Note: This FanPost has been mildly edited for promotion to the front page and various sections within Cageside Seats for your enjoyment, Cagesiders!

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Let's face it, there is nothing more meaningful in life than the basic data that is generated by the scripted world of professional wrestling. One thing that fascinates me about WrestleMania (WM) every year is the distribution of match times throughout the card.

The first 28 WM events have included an average of nearly 10 matches per card. My official count for this study is 279 total matches.

That tally excludes all five of the backstage Hardcore Championship changes from WM18 as well as all WM pre-show matches. I do count pretty much everything else, including potentially questionable segments like Hulk Hogan's title win at WM 9, the Piper/Goldust brawl from WM12, the Miller Lite Pillow Fight from WM 19, and the Sumo match from WM 21.

The first thing that struck me was that the first seven WM events really crammed tons of matches onto the cards:

  • 16 matches: WM 4
  • 14 matches: WM 5, 6, 7
  • 12 matches: WM 2, 3, 20
  • 11 matches: WM 17, 18, 22
  • 10 matches: WM 15, 19, 26
  • 9 matches: WM 1, 8, 9, 10, 16, 24
  • 8 matches: WM 14, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28
  • 7 matches: WM 11, 13
  • 6 matches: WM 12

It is also noteworthy that 8 total matches is the norm for many recent WM events.

The times of these 279 matches adds up to approximately 174,637 seconds of in-ring action from opening bell to closing bell. That is an average of about 10 minutes and 26 seconds (10m 26s) per match.

Here are the important match time percentiles for the 279 total matches:

  • 25th percentile: 5m 27s
  • 50th percentile (median): 9m 12s
  • 75th percentile: 13m 51s

This means that 25 percent of the matches came in at under 5m 27s, 50 percent of the matches lasted under 9m 12s, and 75 percent of the matches lasted under 13m 51s.

Here is a listing of the average and median match times per WM event:

  • WM 1: 6m 52s average, 6m 12s median
  • WM 2: 7m 00s, 6m 19s
  • WM 3: 7m 05s, 6m 19s
  • WM 4: 7m 09s, 5m 55s
  • WM 5: 7m 41s, 7m 51s
  • WM 6: 7m 00s, 5m 50s
  • WM 7: 8m 22s, 7m 57s
  • WM 8: 9m 11s, 8m 39s
  • WM 9: 10m 07s, 8m 55s
  • WM 10: 10m 13s, 9m 49s
  • WM 11: 11m 11s, 9m 42s
  • WM 12: 18m 58s, 11m 47s
  • WM 13: 15m 02s, 14m 28s
  • WM 14: 10m 51s, 9m 36s
  • WM 15: 8m 02s, 7m 54s
  • WM 16: 13m 20s, 9m 38s
  • WM 17: 11m 22s, 9m 18s
  • WM 18: 10m 37s, 9m 51s
  • WM 19: 13m 24s, 13m 49s
  • WM 20: 11m 43s, 9m 52s
  • WM 21: 13m 29s, 13m 27s
  • WM 22: 10m 51s, 9m 27s
  • WM 23: 12m 33s, 11m 12s
  • WM 24: 11m 45s, 11m 36s
  • WM 25: 14m 01s, 13m50s
  • WM 26: 11m 15s, 11m 39s
  • WM 27: 12m 37s, 12m 52s
  • WM 28: 14m 42s, 10m 46s

Notice that the average WM match time of 10m 26s is greatly influenced by the first ten WM events. In fact, WM 15 is the only other event that clocks in with an average match time that is lower than the overall WM average match time of 10m 26s.

The first ten WM events also contained a disproportionately high percentage of the 279 total WM matches: 42.3 percent. When you combine these two facts together, it is clear that the overall average match time of 10m 26s undersells what we should expect from WM matches right now. We are living in a much different era of WM than existed back in the 80's and early 90's.

In general, I would expect an inverse relationship between match time and number of matches. This can be seen with WM 4, WM 12, and WM 13. WM 4 has 16 matches and so the very brief median time of 5m 55s is not surprising. Meanwhile WM 12 and WM 13 are examples of events with a small number of matches and relatively high average match times.

However, WM 11 somehow manages to not really stand out in terms of lengthier match times even though it is only one of three WM events that featured fewer than 8 matches. What the heck happened here? WM 1 is the only event that featured less total in-ring time than WM 11.

Finally, notice that the average time per match at WM 28 was much larger than the median match time for that event. This occurred because the top three main events soaked up 71 percent of the total match time of that card. This main event dominance can be better understood by looking at the sorted data set of times for all of the matches at WM28:

  • 30m 50s (Undertaker vs HHH)
  • 30m 33s (Rock vs Cena)
  • 22m 20s (Punk vs Jericho)
  • 10m 55s (Kane vs Orton)
  • 10m 37s (Team Teddy vs Team Johnny)
  • 6m 48s (Kelly and Menounos vs Beth and Eve)
  • 5m 18s (Big Show vs Cody Rhodes)
  • 0m 18s (Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan)

The shortest of the three main events (Punk vs Jericho) is still more than twice the length of the longest undercard match (Kane vs Orton).

Seeing that WM 29 has been constructed in a somewhat similar vein of heavily emphasizing a triple main event, should we expect this characteristic to repeat again at WM 29?

Now here is a completely different breakdown of these 279 WM match times:

  • 60+ minutes: 1 match
  • 35 to 40 minutes: 1 match
  • 30 to 35 minutes: 3 matches
  • 25 to 30 minutes: 4 matches
  • 20 to 25 minutes: 21 matches
  • 15 to 20 minutes: 25 matches
  • 10 to 15 minutes: 63 matches
  • 5 to 10 minutes: 97 matches
  • 0 to 5 minutes: 64 matches

(If a match lasted exactly 10 minutes, it was included on the "10 to 15 minutes" line rather than the "5 to 10 minutes" line. This sort of thing only occurred three times.)

Without cheating, can you guess which match is the sole member of the "35 to 40 minute" club? Does it surprise you that only 30 of the 279 matches have broken the 20-minute threshold?

________________________

Over the next several days, I plan to write small (hopefully) FanPosts focusing on some of this basic match time data as it pertains to specific categories of matches; such as female matches, championship matches, streak matches, shortest matches, longest matches, and so forth. I also hope to detail some of the difficulties that I encountered in gathering the data.

And I'll conclude this piece with a sorted list of the cumulative bell-to-bell time for each WM event:

  • WM 20: 140m 41s
  • WM 19: 133m 57s
  • WM 17: 124m 57s
  • WM 16: 120m 01s
  • WM 22: 119m 17s
  • WM 28: 117m 39s
  • WM 7: 117m 09s
  • WM 18: 116m 48s
  • WM 4: 114m 28s
  • WM 12: 113m 50s
  • WM 26: 112m 34s
  • WM 25: 112m 05s
  • WM 21: 107m 49s
  • WM 5: 107m 30s
  • WM 24: 105m 41s
  • WM 13: 105m 11s
  • WM 27: 100m 56s
  • WM 23: 100m 20s
  • WM 6: 97m 55s
  • WM 10: 91m 59s
  • WM 9: 91m 00s
  • WM 14: 86m 46s
  • WM 3: 84m 57s
  • WM 2: 84m 00s
  • WM 8: 82m 41s
  • WM 15: 80m 17s
  • WM 11: 78m 17s
  • WM 1: 61m 52s

How exactly did WM 19 and WM 20 end up with over a half hour of additional in-ring action than WM 23 and WM 27? Or maybe a better question is, how exactly does a 4-hour show like WM 27 only manage to fit in one hour and 40 minutes of bell-to-bell action?

Do elaborate entrances, musical performances, video packages, and backstage segments really add up to a half hour of unnecessary filler on some of these 4-hour extravaganzas?

Is having 15 more total minutes of guys like Bryan, Jericho, and Ziggler on your screen this year at WM 29 worth it to you if it means less of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the wrestling blockbuster? As Daniel Bryan might say, for me the answer is an easy "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

That's all for now, CageSiders.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.

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