It looks like there will be 14 total matches booked for WrestleMania 34 on Sun., April 8, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Whenever WWE hosts these marathon cards, three matches usually end up on the two hour pre-show.
In the above video from Stephanie Hatala and myself, we take a quick look at the inevitable problem that at least one major WWE star will end up performing on the WrestleMania 34 pre-show instead of the main card.
To supplement this video, here is a deeper dive into the problem and a look at every single match that could possibly end up on the pre-show.
The six most important matches of the night are all locks to avoid the pre-show. This includes:
- John Cena vs. Undertaker
- Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
- Rousey & Angle vs. Triple H & Stephanie
- Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
- AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
- Bryan & Shane vs. Owens & Zayn
That means three of these remaining eight matches will end up on the pre-show:
- Miz vs. Rollins vs. Balor
- Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax
- The Usos vs. New Day vs. Bludgeon Bros
- Orton vs. Roode vs. Mahal vs. Rusev
- WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
- The Bar vs. Strowman & Mystery Partner
- Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
- Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
Looking at this list, the Cruiserweight Championship match and the Andre Battle Royal stand out as two clear choices for the pre-show. I can’t really see any scenario where the Cruiserweight championship match makes the main card, whereas the Andre Battle Royal has a small chance if there is a big name like Goldberg involved, or if it features a celebrity like Shaquille O’Neal at WrestleMania 32.
With those two matches moved off to the pre-show, that leaves six matches that are all competing to avoid the final pre-show slot. The main issue here is that all six matches feature a top star.
Balor’s match is the least likely to end up on the pre-show out of all of them. Seth Rollins defeated Triple H last year at WrestleMania 33, the Miz had a mixed tag team match with John Cena on that same card, and there’s at least a chance that Balor pulls out the demon paint. These three stars are all safely above the pre-show level. But then again the Miz was doing either pre-show or battle royal duty at WrestleMania in 2013, 2014, and 2015 (and as recently as SummerSlam 2017), so I’m still including this match on the list of pre-show possibilities, slim as it may seem.
Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax are probably going to have the worst match of the group, but their story has received significant time and development on Raw, much more than the Charlotte versus Asuka feud has received. I doubt that Vince McMahon makes these decisions based on match quality, so all the television time invested in this one makes it seem like a good fit for the main card. Also, the main card will probably need a quick match or two, and this one fits the bill.
The New Day has been a huge success story over the last couple of years, and the Usos’ current story revolves around how they are sick of being left off the main card of WrestleMania. It would be bizarre to emphasize that talking point so much and then still place them onto the pre-show yet again this year. At the same time, the excellent match between these teams at SummerSlam 2017 did end up on the pre-show of that marathon card, so once again, match quality is probably not a major consideration in this equation.
Randy Orton is one of the most accomplished stars in WWE history, and it would be strange for him to fight in the WWE Championship match last year at WrestleMania 33 only to find himself on the pre-show of WrestleMania 34. Then again, Dean Ambrose did fight Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32 and then won the WWE Championship later that year, only to end up on the pre-show at WrestleMania 33. The late addition of Rusev to Orton’s match really helps its chances to avoid the pre-show because WWE probably wants 70+ thousand people singing along with Aiden English and chanting Rusev Day.
The WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal is the first ever of its kind and also includes Sasha Banks. That right there makes it a good choice for the main card (the first Andre Battle Royal avoided the pre-show and included a top star in Rey Mysterio). Sasha Banks is one of the biggest stars in the company and has received flashy elaborate entrances at WrestleMania the last couple of years, so it would be strange to see her relegated to the pre-show. It’s also possible that WWE might want to avoid some fan backlash that could result from this match being on the pre-show, which was probably a factor in the late decision last year to swap Naomi and Ambrose’s match between the main card and pre-show.
Finally, there is Braun Strowman’s quest for the tag titles. Braun Strowman has dominated Triple H and Brock Lesnar at times over the last year and seems to be too big of a star for pre-show duties. But he was also too big of a star for the pre-show last year, yet there he was losing in the Andre Battle Royal. The mystery partner angle is one that should get its big reveal on the main card, rather than the pre-show. Unless the partner is Curt Hawkins, which I guess would be fitting for the pre-show.
At the time Stephanie Hatala and I created the above video contemplating this situation, Rusev had yet to be added to the US Title match. But now that he is there, I am having a really difficult time figuring out which top star will follow in the footsteps of both Braun Strowman and Dean Ambrose last year, winding up on the pre-show.
I can’t really see any other way around it. One of these top acts will be stuck on the pre-show at WrestleMania 34: Seth Rollins, Alexa Bliss, the Usos, Randy Orton, Sasha Banks, or Braun Strowman.
The more I think about it, the Usos look very vulnerable yet again to landing on that pre-show. But two days ago I thought Orton looked like this year’s Dean Ambrose. Maybe tomorrow I’ll settle on Alexa’s match for the pre-show.
I don’t really know what the hell is going on here, Cagesiders. How do you see this issue being settled?