Wrestlemania season is here and we’re waiting in gleeful anticipation for the big event. It seems that with every passing week the show gets bigger and bigger, the hype is inflated and the appeal grows. The return to the ring of Daniel Bryan this week just put the hype machine into overdrive and now some fans are expecting this show to be one of the biggest, if not the best of all time. It’s fair to say there’s a reason to that train of thought; the roster is stacked with talent, feuds have been in place for a while and titles are on the line. But just where do I think this Wrestlemania could rank among the elite shows from the past? To try and get an idea, let’s look back, more specifically to the Wrestlemania reviews our illustrious leader John Canton has done over the years and try to stack some matches against one another.
For this, I’ll pick matches from arguably the two most well received and popular Wrestlemanias since its inception; Wrestlemania 17 and WrestleMania 19, along with John’s star rating. I’ll choose a match from each show and stack it up against one from this year’s and try to see if the hype is real or are we getting ahead of ourselves. Ready? Let’s go.
- WM 17 – Chris Jericho vs William Regal (Intercontinental Title) **1/2
- WM 19 – Triple H vs Booker T (Raw Heavyweight Title) ***
- WM 34 – The Miz vs Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Title)
You have to believe that Balor/Miz/Rollins should reach a *** match minimum. The show is long enough for them to draw this match out to around fifteen minutes at least, given the extra dynamics a triple threat has. I don’t see it as being a five star classic, but fully expect it to eclipse the other two matches noted here. I think the offerings from 17 & 19 should’ve been better than they were. Both Jericho and Regal are top professionals, but they were low on the card and the match went just over seven minutes. We know Jericho can put on epic matches given time, so perhaps their match was too short. Booker and Triple H tried hard, but it just didn’t connect. Remember, this was when Triple H was being heavily pushed and protected and his win wasn’t well received by the fans.
- WM 17 – Ivory vs Chyna (Women’s Title) DUD
- WM 19 – Victoria vs Jazz vs Trish Stratus (Women’s Title) **3/4
- WM 34 – Charlotte Flair vs Asuka (Smackdown Women’s Title)
I’m confidently predicting a **** rating for Charlotte vs Asuka. WWE have built this match up over months. Asuka’s undefeated streak is on the line against arguably the best female wrestler on the roster at this moment in time. If rumors of Asuka vs Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 35 are to be believed, then expect Charlotte to do her best to make Asuka earn this win. You can see just how far women’s wrestling has come in WWE in recent years. Though there was stellar talent like Trish, Mickie, Lita etc. a few years back, the level has risen dramatically in that Charlotte/Asuka is being tipped as a potential match of the night. At Wrestlemania. That’s huge. I’m more than confident this match will top both from 17 & 19 respectively.
- WM 17 – Dudleys vs Hardys vs Edge & Christian (TLC Match for Tag Titles) *****
- WM 19 – Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho **** 1/2
- WM 34 – Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan
A difficult one to match up this, as I wanted to use tag matches, but Wrestlemania 19 only had one tag title match (Team Angle vs Los Guerreros) and I didn’t think it would be fair to leave out the epic Michaels vs Jericho match. Now the competition and comparisons really heat up, don’t they? This is high-level classic matches we’re talking about. Does WM 34 have a shot here? Possibly, but I would be wrong in expecting it to top the TLC match. Nothing will in my mind, and WWE have tried more than once. WM 34 does have a great story and feud in this match, similar to Jericho/Michaels and I think it’s fair to compare the two on that scale at least. Do I think we’ll see a five star from Owens, Zayn, Shane & Bryan? I doubt it, but I hope I’m wrong. Safe to say this match should be great, but perhaps not on the same level as the others listed.
- WM 17 – Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit ****1/4
- WM 19 – Kurt Angle vs Brock Lesnar (Smackdown Heavyweight Title) ****1/2
- WM 34 – Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
I think this is where good PPVs become great PPVs. It’s the main events that ramp up the action, the quality and the star ratings. Though Angle/Benoit wasn’t for a title and was lower down the card, it was a fantastic match between two of the best wrestlers at the time. Although WWE will never speak or talk of it again, it was one of the highlights of the PPV for sure. Angle once again stole the spotlight two years later, this time with the young up & comer Brock Lesnar. A real epic that had its moments and high spots, it went some way to showing the world how good Brock was. If you’re unfamiliar with that match, or haven’t seen it in a while, I’d advise watching it again, however don’t expect that sort of performance from Brock this year. His best days are behind him and I hope he can turn back the clock and put in a show like that. He’d have to, to even stand a chance of meeting the star rating for those tremendous matches. Reigns will do his job and do it well, but when you look at the matches from 17 & 19, there was no clear winner to choose from. It’s a shame most fans know what to expect this year.
- WM 17 – Rock vs Austin (WWF World Title) *****
- WM 19 – Rock vs Austin **** 1/4
- WM 34 – AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura (Smackdown Heavyweight Title)
When you talk about great matches, great feuds, timeless memories and superstars, they come no bigger than The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. This is the epitome and pinnacle of what WWE was. Two true greats of the era and of all time. Both men were top billing, both matches were main events and both were incredible. Like I said before, these are the matches that define Wrestlemanias and stick in your memory. For AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, this is what it means to be top billing and to main event Wrestlemania. This is what went before you and you have to try and emulate it. No disrespect to either man, but neither will ever be as big a name as Rock or Austin. Do they have the talent, skill and ability to headline the biggest PPV of the year? Of course. Do I think they can get a five star rating? Yeah, I do. Do I think their match will eclipse the other two above? No, but I believe they can rank alongside those great matches and give us a new memory and a new measuring stick to rank other PPVs by.
In closing I think Wrestlemania 34 will have better mid to lower card matches than either 17 or 19 and I believe the star rating will average better than those two shows. It’s the main events that will pose the biggest test, however. Can Reigns, Lesnar, Styles and Nakamura shine as bright as the stars of yesteryear? Will they be the new yardstick for years to come? I hope so. Whatever happens, this year’s Wrestlemania will be fantastic. I’m going to enjoy it immensely, and I hope you do too.