This weekend, the 37th instalment of WrestleMania will hit the digital airwaves – a six-hour extravaganza mercifully broken into two digestible morsels. In the past, this was an event where friends would invite you over and Twitter would become awash with incoherent mutterings of muscle boys and girls fighting over possession of wildly dramatic rodeo belts. Now? We’re all at home sending out missives into the digital abyss, hoping for a connection. Or we’re one of the wild-ass folks actually in the audience in Tampa, Florida, because death will come for us all one day, and it might as well happen while we salivate over some of the best thighs in the business.
Anyway. If you’re like… well, a lot of people, either a lapsed fan or someone who has never watched wrestling before, you’ll be wondering just what the hell people are talking about on the internet as this all goes down. That’s where we come in. We’ve put together a hand dandy guide to equip you with everything you need to know about this year’s big show(s), including some solid snark to swing back at ding dongs who make you feel bad for not knowing things about wrestling.
Before we dive in, you’ll want to know some quick basics. (We took Danica’s parents to a local wrestling show once, and quickly realized that not everyone knows the building blocks.) So.
A person can win a match if they can pin their opponent’s shoulders to the ground while a referee counts to three while pounding on the ring mat. Or, they can make them “tap out” in a submission – the tapping signifying “quitting”.
If the match taking place is a championship match and any party pulls an illegal move, that person will lose the match – but the “champion’s advantage” means the championship cannot change hands via disqualification. Unless there are special bonus rules. There often are, and we’ll bring them up as needed.
Now… on with the show!
SOME LARGER CONTEXT
Last year, in the month leading up to WrestleMania, the world shut down pretty tight in response to the early days of COVID-19 and it left the WWE in a bit of a spot. Presenting a high contact medium that required a crowd immediately called upon the company to change how they do things entirely. The company moved their events into the Performance Center they had built and control over in Florida, and because (gestures) Florida is Florida, they had very little trouble continuing their weekly product, sans audience. (Fun fact: a Linda McMahon fronted pro-Trump organization called “America First Action” pledged to spend $18.5 in Florida on the same day Florida’s governor deemed the WWE an essential business so they could continue to tape.)
Since then, the company fired quite a few of their wrestlers, laid off and fired a bunch of their staff, and still managed to boast some of their highest profits of all time amidst struggling live ratings. They also implemented a strict social media edict that fined their talent if they were to use their own Twitter or Cameo accounts to make money on their own accord.
Now, the company has been running shows with arenas filled with screens that have the faces of fans, and piped in cheers and boos. This all changes with WrestleMania, which will have an audience of people who had to sign waivers noting they understand the risks of attending the show, and could very well die from COVID-19, for the privilege of yelling at big muscle boys and girls in person.
Oh, and this year’s show will be hosted by noted racist Hulk Hogan, and Titus “hey, wait, he can’t be racist because his co-host is black!” O’Neil.
So yeah. WWE, still problematic as hell. Let’s do this.
Cesaro vs Seth Rollins
TL;DR // The most impressive man on earth is gonna fight a Drip monster.
How Did We Get Here? // Cesaro has long been one of the best wrestlers in the world, swinging people around, throwing them into the air and uppercutting them like it’s a damn video game. YEARS ago, he and Sami Zayn were on the very first NXT Takeover doing moves that have never, ever been seen before, or since. (For real, I watched both men hit each other and both summersault with their bodies entwined IN THE FRIGGEN AIR before landing gracefully.) Seth Rollins came back after a short paternity leave embodying his real life awful twitter presence as an asshole and added the term “drip” to the mix while wearing wild ass outfits. They have come to odds which I’m fine with because it means Cesaro gets his first one-on-one WrestleMania match and he deserved it a long time ago.
Fun Fact // Cesaro once wrestled as part of an ice cream themed lucha libre team (called Los Ice Creams) as a man named “A Very Mysterious Ice Cream”. This team is famous for a move called the “Cold Stone Stunner” which still makes me laugh today.
Braun Strowman vs Shane McMahon
TL;DR // The boss’s son keeps calling a mountain man stupid and so they’re gonna put them both in a big cage because Vince McMahon could care less if his son lives or dies.
Special Rules // In a cage match, you can win by escaping the cage, or pinning/submitting your opponent.
How Did We Get Here? // The TL;DR almost says it all. Shane started calling a giant man stupid, and the giant man didn’t like it. Shane is also famous for throwing himself off of tall things for his daddy’s love, so why not a cage this time?
Fun Fact // On a recent episode of RAW, the WWE production team played a big choo-choo sound when Braun Strowman ran into a guy during a match and I thought I was having a stroke, because that couldn’t be happening.
Raw Tag Team Championship
The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs AJ Styles & Olmos
TL;DR // A psychologist, a vegan, a flat earther, and the biggest boy are gonna get into a big fight over some gold.
How Did We Get Here? // If we’re being honest, The New Day are tag champs because WWE doesn’t spend much time developing tag teams and their storylines and they’re constantly entertaining and still sell a TON of merch. And AJ Styles is too big to leave off the card, so he’s there with his absolute giant of a bodyguard to do a fun wrestle.
Fun Fact // As always, The New Day makes the feud by using their rub and sheer force of will to build a story out of something they’re just putting together to fill out the card. Seeing a giant boy not only destroy in the ring, but also get upset when his partner doesn’t know his favourite colour is mauve is the two sides of wrestling I love – the far too serious, and the far too ridiculous, mixing together into a tasty stew.
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest vs. The Miz and John Morrison
TL;DR // Bad Bunny is further on his way to an EGOT and The Miz is absolutely furious about it.
How Did We Get Here? // Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny wrote a song about WWE Hall of Famer Booker T, and performed the song at this year’s Royal Rumble. During that same match, The Miz came out and wrecked all of the Completely Legitimate DJ equipment that was left on stage after the performance, because he’s a messy bitch who loves drama. Bad Bunny then came out, and jumped on The Miz from the top rope.
This led to a few mess arounds where Bad Bunny won the 24/7 Championship (which he brought to his performance on SNL), and The Miz won the WWE Championship (which he took nowhere because his run was woefully short this time around. The man beat John Cena at WrestleMania once, you will RESPECT HIS NAME!). Both lost their titles (The Miz to Lashley, while Bad Bunny just… gave the title back to forever champion R Truth) and went back to dicking each other around a bit. After WWE quietly made sure The Miz and Bad Bunny’s partners weren’t both going into the big show with injuries, they went and made this sumbitch a tag match so that a celebrity can get some good hot tags and look rad.
Fun Fact // One of wrestling’s best kept secrets Drew Gulak has been the one training Bad Bunny. Drew Gulak s wrestling famous for being rad as hell, and WWE famous for making people cheer the shit out of Powerpoint presentations. Oh! Also, Damian Priest and John Morrison used to fight in an underground lucha scene that featured mad gods who ate people’s faces off. (Lucha Underground was dope, folks.)
WWE Championship Match
Bobby Lashley (c) vs Drew McIntyre
TL;DR // Two dudes who WWE fired for not being good enough came back and killed it and now they are in the main event.
How Did We Get Here? // In 2019, Drew McIntyre had his star making moment(s) when he eliminated Brock Lesnar in the Royal Rumble, and then murderized him in an empty arena at last year’s incredibly eerie no-audience WrestleMania. He went on to fight Randy Orton for probably half a year, because that weird snake man is still around kicking people in the temple while John Cena is busy eating beaches full of dicks for liberty. After trading victories with Orton, Drew won the Elimination Chamber match against 5 other challengers, before Lashley came out and wrecked him… which let The Miz cash in his Money in the Bank contract for a Championship match at any point in time and win the title. Lashley then yeeted The Miz straight into the sun to win the title, which he deserved a long time ago.
Speaking of Lashley, he’s spent the last year as the powerhouse of a team of black excellence called “The Hurt Business” – which recently fell apart for idiot reasons. He’s been fighting his former stablemates, and I really hope the swerve here is the team has been lulling Drew into a false sense of security before costing him the match. Because Lashley sure as heck deserves this and it is still garbage that WWE has only ever had three black world champions, and he’s been a monster. HE HAS A WILD LIGHTNING ENTRANCE FOR HECK’S SAKE!
Fun Fact // These two already met for a world at Slammiversary 2016 in the Impact Wrestling promotion. Folks make fun of Impact (and for good reason! They used to call themselves TNA and their opening shows featured a small person masturbating furiously in a garbage can among other, worse horrors), but the 2016 era was AWESOME and featured The Final Deletion, one of the most amazing wrestling spectacles ever created. Anyway, if this match is even HALF as good as the show they put on at that show, we’re all in for a friggen’ treat.
MAIN EVENT: Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (c) vs Bianca Belair
TL;DR // Snoop Dogg’s more talented cousin and the EST in the business beat the ever loving heck out of each other.
How Did We Get Here? // Sasha Banks spent the better part of last year being the best part of WWE television by teaming with and fighting against a Very Karen version of former hug monster Bayley. All of that ended with a big Hell in a Cell match where Banks finally won the big one. Meanwhile, Bianca Belair pushed herself all the way up to the main event at the Royal Rumble, where she outlast 29 other women to earn her way to this match. In between that time, WWE did that weird thing they do sometimes where WrestleMania opponents end up teaming with each other to fight for the tag team titles (which the women ACTUALLY HAVE now!) and they lost real bad. Now they’re gonna fight each other into the ground in what will absolutely be the best match of the night. Sorry not sorry, Drewsev and Lashley.
Fun Fact // Belair has an awesome, long ponytail which she uses to WHIP THE SHIT out of her opponents, and I sometimes use her theme music to pump myself up, because it is rad as hell. Oh, and Sasha Banks IS Snoop Dogg’s cousin for real.
Tag Team Turmoil/WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs ?????
TL;DR // Now that the women have a tag team title, their matches can be afterthoughts on the card too!
Special Rules // In a Tag Team Turmoil match, two teams start, and other teams arrive come in as previous ones are defeated, until one is left.
How Did We Get Here? // After much advocation from their wrestlers and their fanbase, the WWE reactivated their women’s tag belts (they had them in the ‘80s!). Since then, they’ve toyed with making them meaningful, but only managed to do so when Bayley and Sasha Banks were tearing it up in the belly of the pandemic. Currently, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler have the titles and they have an issue with each other because Nia has a boyfriend who can do flips and pick out wines. Anyway, they are gonna fight whoever wins the Tag Team Turmoil match… which if they were building from a storyline, would probably involve Lana, who Nia put through tables for literal weeks on end. But it probably won’t, because the WWE tag team scene is a nihalistic batch of nothing (unless you’re in NXT).
Fun Fact // As of this writing, there are four teams in the Tag Team Turmoil, but there’s a rumour that Carmella and Billy Kay will be made a part of the fight on Smackdown tonight, and I sure hope so because Billy Kay is one of the best things to happen to life. Hilarious and talented, I’ll take any spotlight provided to her.
WWE United States Championship Match
Riddle (c) vs Sheamus
TL;DR // A sex predator and a grown up Newsie are gonna roughhouse for a belt.
How Did We Get Here? // Matt Riddle used to do himself some MMA and then he did some indie pro wrestling. Which is where he base-level cheated on his wife, but also allegedly sexually assaulted a fellow pro-wrestler. He’s the good guy, because he is a goof who smokes weed. Sheamus has been beating the hell out of people for a while, because he is literally paid to do so. Anyway, the WWE sure as heck doesn’t take sexual assault seriously, but what would you expect from a company that forced a woman to “bark like a dog” on national television.
Fun Fact // Matt Riddle fights barefoot. Also, believe women.
Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn (with Logan Paul)
TL;DR // Two best friends are gonna fight again and dirtbag idiot man Logan Paul is in the corner of (checks notes) a man who raises money for the disenfranchised in Syria. He’s the bad guy BTW.
How Did We Get Here? // Truly, we’re here because the WWE know they can count on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to put on absolute bangers under any circumstance imaginable. Logan Paul is there because… fuck, I don’t know. I’ll admit, I hate the guy enough I skipped his segment on Smackdown. He’s a racist garbage human who racist garbage humans like, so I guess Vince thought he’d be a pretty good get for a wrestle.
Fun Fact // Logan Paul can eat garbage.
WWE Intercontinental Championship – Nigerian Drum Match
Big E (c) vs Apollo Crews
TL;DR // Apollo Crews used to be a happy good boy, but now he is an angry militant, because the WWE defaults to only two types of black wrestlers.
Special Rules // This is a “hardcore” match… meaning there are no rules. Other than probably (maybe) you have to pin your opponent in the ring.
How Did We Get Here? // Paul Haymen has been rocking it in his spot building up whoever he touches, and in some recent episodes of Talking Smack, he spoke to a defeated Apollo Crews about finding a viciousness. He did, embracing his Nigerian roots, and started going HAM on Big E after a few losses. They’re gonna go big here. And truly: Big E and Apollo deserve a spotlight to kill it on this stage. So this will be rad to see.
Fun Fact // Big E is raising money to do a cool black heroes focused version of School House Rock and y’all should support the man!
WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Asuka (c) vs Rhea Ripley
TL;DR // A lady who all genders young and old wishes to step on their neck is arriving on the main roster fighting another woman who is better than Goldberg.
How Did We Get Here? // The WWE usually only thinks through one women’s match a year, and it wasn’t this one, despite the quality of the people involved. Ripley showed up one day and just challenged Asuka to a championship match, and she said “yes”. Then they had them team up in a losing battle against the tag team champions (you might have heard that plotline before). Anyway, they are fighting now!
Fun Fact // Charlotte Flair, daughter of Ric Flair, was supposed to be a part of this probably, maybe, but (1) a WWE doctor diagnosed her as pregnant when she wasn’t, (2) she then got herself some COVID along with her partner Andrade who (3) managed to somehow (cough cough Charlotte made some demands) get himself released from WWE WITHOUT a 90 Day non-compete clause after not being used for a while. Anyway, I predict Ripley wins, and then Charlotte does a heel surprise beat down, and they do a whole “callback” thing to when Charlotte beat Ripley for the NXT title during LAST year’s WrestleMania.
The Fiend (w/ Alexa Bliss) vs Randy Orton
TL;DR // Uh… so Randy Orton burned the monster identity of a creepy children’s show host in the middle of a WWE ring (seriously) and his female partner resurrected him for revenge purposes, and now they’re gonna fight.
How Did We Get Here? // Wow, um… okay. This CAN be explained, it just takes a lot. Specifically, wrestler Bray Wyatt (who was a swamp man cult leader) disappeared for a long time and came back as a surreal creepy children’s show host who destroyed the soul of John Cena. He messed around a bunch and finally ran into Randy Orton, consummate asshole, who burned him to death in the middle of the wrestling ring. Wyatt’s compatriot, Alexa Bliss took up the mantle of being creepy as hell (and did the job WAY BETTER than Wyatt ever did, which is saying A LOT) and built a match for months until Bray Wyatt re-emerged all burned up, while Orton started spitting up black liquid. Now, they’re gonna fight for one last time, probably. Maybe.
Fun Fact // I dunno, I felt like I gave you a lot of weirdness already. Ah, fuck it. Bray Wyatt used a weird devil puppet of Vince McMahon in various segments and it is never not cool as hell to see that pop up to literally toss WWE sanctioned garbage onto Vince.
MAIN EVENT: WWE Universal Championship Match
Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Hayman vs Edge vs Daniel Bryan
TL;DR // Three daddies walk into a ring.
How Did We Get Here? // Edge went from the start of the Royal Rumble to the end in his “beard daddy” phase of life and earned an opportunity at Roman Reigns. Then Roman started dicking around Daniel Bryan and Edge got jealous and that cranked sumbitch with a chair. Now they are all gonna do a good fight in the best built story of the whole damn show.
Fun Fact // Roman dropped out of last year’s WrestleMania because he has had cancer and didn’t quite trust what WWE had in place for protocols. He came back later, full-on bad guy and killing it in the process, and has been full on the best thing on the show since August. This match is gonna be DOPE.
Alright, folks. That’s the whole deal. You are now ready to tackle the heap of ridiculousness. I’ll be on Twitter all weekend, commenting away when the main show kicks in at 6pm MST both nights.