It looks like the main card of WrestleMania 35 will consist of at least 13 matches. The pre-show appears to be maxed out with the three matches that have already been announced for it, because I can’t find any WrestleMania pre-show with more than three matches. That leaves the following 13 matches for the main card of WrestleMania 35:
- Rousey vs. Flair vs. Lynch
- Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins
- Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston
- Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio
- Women’s tag championship Fatal 4-way
- SmackDown tag championship Fatal 4-way
- Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
- Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin
- The Revival vs. Ryder & Hawkins
- AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
- Bobby Lashley vs. Finn Balor
- Triple H vs. Batista
- The Miz vs. Shane McMahon
It’s going to be really difficult for WWE to cram 13 full matches onto a 5 hour main card for WrestleMania 35. I have timed the previous six WrestleMania events in excruciating detail, and the percentage of match time for each show has been the following:
- WrestleMania 29: 49.7%
- WrestleMania 30: 51.0%
- WrestleMania 31: 41.2%
- WrestleMania 32: 47.5%
- WrestleMania 33: 44.8%
- WrestleMania 34: 42.0%
A couple years ago I used a quicker method to estimate the match time percentage of WrestleMania 21 through WrestleMania 28, and while I’m less confident in these numbers because they partially depend on data that I did not record myself, the results are more of the same.
- WrestleMania 21: 45.9%
- WrestleMania 22: 50.9%
- WrestleMania 23: 45.3%
- WrestleMania 24: 44.9%
- WrestleMania 25: 46.8%
- Wrestlemania 26: 47.6%
- WrestleMania 27: 42.4%
- WrestleMania 28: 49.5%
This is just how it is at WrestleMania. The match time percentage takes a significant dip compared to the typical WWE pay-per-view because of the extravagant entrances and additional non-wrestling segments. These recent cards rarely reach a match time percentage of 50%, and in several cases the show falls short of 45%. The average of the six values from WrestleMania 29 through WrestleMania 34 is 46%. Just last year we saw a match with the Usos and New Day fail to reach 6 minutes in length; that’s the harsh reality of the annual WrestleMania time crunch.
That brings me back to WrestleMania 35 and trying to figure out how WWE is going to fit 13 matches onto the main card. The main cards of both WrestleMania 33 and WrestleMania 34 each had a total show time of roughly 5 hours and 11 minutes. So we’ve already breached the 5 hour mark in recent years, and I don’t think there is any going back. Looking at this lineup for WrestleMania 35, I’m pretty concerned that the main card this year could be in the vicinity of 5.5 hours or more.
So here is the puzzle I present to you, Cagesiders. You have 13 matches and 5.5 hours to work with. Your task is to come up with the bell-to-bell match times for all 13 matches so that the match time percentage falls in the neighborhood of that typical 46% range. For a 5.5 hour card, that means roughly 152 minutes of match time.
Here is what I’ve come up with, ordered from longest match to shortest match:
- Triple H vs. Batista (18 minutes)
- Rousey vs. Flair vs. Lynch (17)
- Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston (17)
- The Miz vs. Shane McMahon (15)
- AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton (14)
- Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins (13)
- Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre (12)
- SmackDown tag championship Fatal 4-way (11)
- Women’s tag championship Fatal 4-way (10)
- Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio (9)
- Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (8)
- Bobby Lashley vs. Finn Balor (4)
- The Revival vs. Ryder & Hawkins (3)
Many of these guesses are lower than I would go with for a typical WWE pay-per-view event. Instead of outright canceling Joe’s match (due to concerns about Rey’s health), I ended up turning Balor’s match into a squash (I figure the Demon entrance is more important than the match itself) and not giving much time to the Revival, since their match really doesn’t matter one bit. I think it’s a really bad idea for Triple H versus Batista to push 20 minutes, but this is Triple H we’re talking about. He’s always in the running for longest match of the night. Shane McMahon’s singles matches always run long as well, and that one could easily extend beyond my guess of 15 minutes.
These numbers add up to 151 minutes, so it’s one possible solution to the puzzle of cramming 13 matches onto a 5.5 hour card under the constraint of a match time percentage in the neighborhood of 46%. Of course I’m sure many of these estimates will look silly when all is said and done, but looking like a fool is always part of the fun in making predictions. And keep in mind that I’m assuming a show length of 5.5 hours. If the show actually remains in line with the previous two years at 5 hours and 11 minutes, then my estimated times need to be cut down even more.
Let me know how you see the match times panning out at WrestleMania 35, Cagesiders. Which matches do you think will be screwed the most for time?