WrestleMania XXVI features the deepest card of main event matches since WrestleMania XIX, but my anticipation has been met with a concern that not every match will get enough time.
With the exception of WrestleMania XX in 2004, every recent ‘Mania has been four hours long. And only about half of that time goes to actual wrestling, after you include the show’s introduction, the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” wrestler’s entrances, buildup videos, backstage segments, aftermaths, commercials, and the concluding highlight video.
The most time given to actual wrestling at a four-hour WrestleMania was around 132 minutes in 2003. So let’s assume that there couldn’t be much more than that.
We should also take into account that all but two matches—the “Money in the Bank”
ladder match and the match for the tag titles—have the story for a buildup video. That could mean even less wrestling.
So what factors decide how much time a match should get? In my opinion, there are three: marquee value, physical capabilities, and storyline. Let’s take a look at the card:
World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Edge
These two will put on a fast-paced, athletic contest for the World Heavyweight Championship, but because the feud has turned into nothing more than Edge spearing Jericho on a weekly basis (or Jericho dodging the spear) the story just isn’t there anymore. Expect it to go shorter than we had originally expected.
Running Time: 14 minutes
Streak vs. Career: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Even though Undertaker’s health may slow down the pace, Michaels will still carry him to a match almost as long as their encounter at last year’s WrestleMania.
Running Time: 27 minutes
“Money in the Bank” Ladder Match
The longest, and least acclaimed, “Money in the Bank” ladder match was at WrestleMania 23, the first time it involved eight competitors.
This year, there are two more participants, but that doesn’t mean the match will be any longer. Expect this to be faster-paced and thus a little bit shorter.
Running Time: 17 minutes
WWE Championship: Batista vs. John Cena
Their first encounter was a “dream” match, thus it didn’t really need a story. It was just 14 minutes of non-stop action. This time there is a story, so expect an appropriately slower pace and thus a longer match.
Running Time: 21 minutes
No Holds Barred Match: Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Mr. McMahon
A match involving McMahon is guaranteed to feature necessary interference, comic relief, violent spots, and a big finish. Any other match with this kind of buildup would probably go longer, but taking into account the limited ability of both competitors, expect this one to deliver the most entertainment without being embarrassing.
Running Time: 12 minutes
Unified WWE Tag Team Championship: ShowMiz (The Big Show & The Miz) vs. John Morrison & R-Truth
There’s no real story here, other than the question of how Morrison and Truth can work together as a team. If the event had a lighter card, I might have expected this match to go longer, but this will probably be as short as it can be without looking rushed.
Running Time: 6 minutes
Triple H vs. Sheamus
This pairing reminds me a lot of Batista vs. Umaga at WrestleMania XXIV. It features two big men in what will undoubtedly be a “power” match: the face is the one of the biggest names in the business wrestling uncharacteristically low on the card against an up-and-coming monster heel. So this will probably end up being Triple H’s shortest match at WrestleMania since becoming a main-eventer.
Running Time: 11 minutes
Triple-Threat Match: Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase
At one time, this had the potential to be one of the most intense feuds in WWE, but it never quite came to a boil. Because of this, and considering that triple-threat grudge feuds are a rarity, I wouldn’t expect the match to go all that long.
Running Time: 10 minutes
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
This was the last match announced for WrestleMania, which leads me to believe that it could be a squash. After all, in WWE, the later a match is announced, the shorter it is likely to be. And the last two WrestleManias have featured squashes lasting less than 30 seconds.
Moreover, Punk has been the biggest loudmouth heel in WWE since the inception of the “Straight Edge Society.” There’s no better way to shut him up than doing it in 30 seconds.
Do I want to see that happen? Absolutely not, but it would certainly make sense. If they do have an actual match, it’ll probably be a snappy, high-flying affair.
Running Time: 30 seconds or 8 minutes
There you have it: about 126 minutes of in-ring action. How much time do you think every match will get? Let me know.