Wrestlemania has always been the centerpiece of the wrestling calendar. Anytime you can bring a hundred thousand or so diehard wrestling fans to town, there are business opportunities for folks at every level of the wrestling industry. Even during the pandemic, it will be no different next week as the pro wrestling world descends on Tampa.
What is unusual is the fact that there will be twelve straight days of nationally broadcast television wrestling for broadcast consumption:
April 5th: RAW (USA)
April 6th: Impact (AXS)
April 7th: NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver, night 1 (USA); AEW Dynamite (TNT)
April 8th: NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver, night 2 (Peacock)
April 9th: Smackdown (FOX)
April 10th: Wrestlemania XXXVII, Night 1 (Peacock)
April 11th: Wrestlemania XXXVII, Night 2 (Peacock)
April 12th: RAW (USA)
April 13th: NXT (USA)
April 14th: AEW Dynamite (TNT)
April 15th: Impact (AXS)
April 16th: Smackdown (FOX)
That is a lot of wrestling content, even for somebody who is a regular consumer of television content like I am. And some of this is just a function of some weird stuff, like NXT moving to Tuesdays starting April 13th, and then Impact moving to Thursdays starting the 15th. But there will be an overload of not just wrestling content, but high-quality wrestling content over the course of the next week.
Here are some of the top scheduled matches that I’m looking forward to during this period:
Wednesday: WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa (NXT United Kingdom Championship): There is no match I’m looking forward to no next week more than this one. Two guys who do both great character work and can bring it in the ring. And this match is going to be very stiff and very snug.
WALTER has twice delivered what I have percieved to be match of the year candidates, with his match against Tyler Bate in 2019 and his match against Ilja Dragunov in 2020. And Ciampa has a whole list of four and five-star matches in his past. There is a story here surrounding Imperium, Ciampa, and Timothy Thatcher here. But that is secondary to just how good this match is going to be.
Thursday: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly: Two tremendous workers who do tremendous character work and have tremendous chemistry? Sign me up. This of course, is not the first time we have seen this match. These guys had a blood feud back in Ring of Honor in 2015-2016 and I’m glad we’re going to get to see this again on the larger stage of NXT.
Saturday: Cesaro vs Seth Rollins: Cesaro is FINALLY getting a singles match on Wrestlemania, after years of battle royals, tag team matches, and jobbing to a ten-year old kid. This is long overdue for a guy who should already have had a run as a world champion in a major company. Rollins of course has been at the top of the WWE for years now, multiple-time world champion and one of the biggest heels in the company. These two guys have come a long way since this random tag team match I found from 2005.
Saturday: Bad Bunny vs. The Miz: Yeah, I hate the fact that I’m looking forward to this too. But the WWE has had a pretty good run recently of bringing in famous names for big money matches on big stages. It helps when the guys really enjoy the product and are really invest in it. Like Pat McAfee was for his two big matches.
Bad Bunny shows that he understands the product, enjoys the product and is willing to put the product over. The Miz can make anybody hate him and will do anything for the company. That includes putting over a rapper I had never heard of before this angle started. So this will be better than I think it will be. No matter what happens, we’ll always have the image of Bad Bunny winning the 24/7 title.
Sunday: Asuka vs Rhea Ripley (WWE RAW Women’s Championship): For me, no women’s match has been more anticipated than this one. Rhea Ripley is going to be a star in the women’s division for the next ten years or more. Despite some questionable booking along the way, Asuka has been the standard-bearer for women’s wrestlers on the main roster ever since she got the callup from NXT. Ripley was supposed to have her big Wrestlemania moment last year against Charlotte Flair, but that wound up being a little more muted with the show being moved to the WWE Performance Center. With fans in the stands, she’ll get that moment this year in what will likely be a star-making performance.
No matter what happens, Wrestlemania is a special time of year for wrestling fans and if you’re anything like me, you’ll try to catch as much of the action as you can.