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Here’s why a 7-hour WrestleMania card still isn’t enough time to include Sasha vs. Bayley

The card for WrestleMania 34 is already packed, but there is still some uncertainty about the booking plans for Raw superstars Sasha Banks and Bayley.

Right now, it looks to me like there will be at least 14 matches taking place at WrestleMania 34 on April 8 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Those matches include:

  1. John Cena vs. The Undertaker
  2. Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H
  3. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
  4. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon & ?????
  5. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (SmackDown Women’s Championship)
  6. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
  7. The Usos vs. New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers (SmackDown Tag Championship)
  8. The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor (Intercontinental Championship)
  9. Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Raw Women’s Championship)
  10. Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal (US Championship)
  11. The Bar vs. Braun Strowman (Raw Tag Championship)
  12. WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
  13. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
  14. Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Final

Some of these matches are not official yet, like the Andre Battle Royal, Cena versus Taker, or Shane’s tag team match. The above list is where I think things are headed based on current storylines. There are at least two storylines not accounted for in the above list, and this includes Sasha vs. Bayley as well as Hardy vs. Wyatt. The Battle Royals exist as a fallback for these superstars, if necessary.

So the big question is, how much available time is there to cram any more matches onto the card? Just like the last couple of years, I am going to assume that WrestleMania 34 will be roughly seven hours long, including the two hour pre-show.

Right before WrestleMania 33, I looked at how much match time is included on WrestleMania cards and concluded that we should expect approximately 47% to 50% (or 140 to 150 minutes) of the main card to be dedicated to the bell-to-bell matches. In reality, the main card of WrestleMania 33 lasted nearly 5 hours and 11 minutes, with about 139 minutes of total match time (44.8%).

With that new data point in mind, I am once again going to be optimistic here and shoot for the 47% to 50% mark when predicting the match times at WrestleMania 34. On a 5-hour card that comes out to 140 to 150 minutes of match time. Only two WrestleMania cards since 2005 have reached 50% match time, and the max during that time was 51%. Until WWE consistently demonstrates otherwise, it’s really going out on a limb to project anything more than 50% match time for a WrestleMania card.

These numbers only apply to the main card, so first I need to designate 3 of the 14 listed matches for the pre-show, allowing me to ignore them for the remainder of this process. It’s pretty much a norm on these marathon PPV cards that three matches end up on the two hour pre-show, and I expect that to continue at WrestleMania 34.

The Cruiserweight match and at least one Battle Royal seem like safe bets to land on the pre-show. After that the field looks wide open to me. I don’t think it’s ideal to put two Battle Royals in such close proximity to each other, but it’s not clear which other remaining match might instead get that final pre-show spot. I could see Strowman, Bliss, or Orton ending up in that position, even though it’s also easy to scoff at the notion of any of those acts being put on the pre-show.

I am going to assign the Orton match for the pre-show, so that leaves me with 11 matches and 140 to 150 minutes of match time to play around with. Here is one very simple and quick guess on how much bell-to-bell time each of those matches might get:

  1. Cena vs. Undertaker (18 minutes)
  2. Rousey & Angle vs. McMahon & HHH (15)
  3. Styles vs. Nakamura (20)
  4. Zayn & Owens vs. McMahon & ????? (17)
  5. Charlotte vs. Asuka (15)
  6. Lesnar vs. Reigns (15)
  7. The Usos vs. New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers (15)
  8. The Miz vs. Rollins vs. Balor (15)
  9. Bliss vs. Jax (6)
  10. The Bar vs. Strowman (7)
  11. Men or Women’s Battle Royal (13)

Styles versus Nakamura feels like the match that would best play out as the long epic rather than just getting right into finishing move spam early on. 20 minutes feels a bit short to me, if anything. I could also easily see Undertaker and Shane each breaking 20 minutes, just like they did last year. Therefore I listed them among the longest matches of the night, but more in the 17 or 18 minute range due to the time crunch. Triple H normally has one of the longest matches of the night and it wouldn’t be shocking at all if he and Kurt wrestled most of the match and it also reached 20 minutes. But considering Rousey and Stephanie’s inexperience, I dropped it down to 15.

With the top four matches out of the way, I gave out 15 minute estimates to each of the next four matches. Even though it’s unlikely they each land at exactly 15 minutes, I think the general plan of giving 60 total minutes of match time to Asuka, Reigns, Usos, and Rollins is a reasonable guess.

Those top 8 matches on the card already put me at 130 minutes of total match time, and that feels a little conservative to me.

In the optimistic scenario where WrestleMania 34 reaches 150 minutes of total match time, that means I only have 20 minutes left for the final 3 matches on the list. The times I have listed for those 3 matches add up to 26 minutes. So my timing predictions have exceeded the upper limit, and a few minutes very likely need to be shaved off. Maybe Nia and Braun will just straight up squash their opponents rather than dragging it out to 6 or 7 minutes. Maybe Rollins and New Day will each only get 10 minutes rather than 15 minutes. But the bigger point here is that this card already looks maxed out to me, even before we get around to adding something separate for Sasha/Bayley or Hardy/Wyatt.

Even in the scenario where enough time can be cut off of my above estimates to have room for one more match, I think there’s a pretty decent chance that the extra time would go to Randy Orton’s match. In other words, Sasha versus Bayley would have competition for avoiding that final pre-show spot.

I will leave it to the reader to play around with their own guesses on the full match list and the match times to see if they can find a realistic way to allocate 140 to 150 minutes of matches while also finding room for a separate Sasha versus Bayley match.

From where I’m sitting, even in the more optimistic scenarios it’s going to be very difficult to find room for that match at WrestleMania 34, unless the main card is extended to 5.5 or 6 hours long. I expect that they will both end up in either the Battle Royal or the Raw Women’s Championship match with Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax.

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