It's the annual time of year where we get reminded the power of the WrestleMania name.
70,000 tickets get sold to an event that has nobody officially advertised for.
As tickets for WrestleMania 34 in April are about to hit the market, it's the time of year when the guessing game begins.
The matches? The surprises? Future venues? Will Mania ever go outside of North America?
So here I go...
The four matches that could be realistically forecasted to build WrestleMania around:
Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns.
Jinder Mahal versus John Cena.
Ronda Rousey versus Charlotte.
Braun Strowman versus The Undertaker.
The fact No Mercy in September had two first-time-ever matches both WrestleMania worthy with Reigns versus Cena and Brock versus Braun tells me Vince McMahon is determined to see Brock defend the title against Reigns in New Orleans.
Barring injury or mumps, what Vince wants he will get.
Jinder Mahal has held the world title on SmackDown Live longer than anyone has expected. His upcoming match with Brock Lesnar could be used as his biggest injection of credibility yet. I'm not suggesting he will win the match clean, but a non-title match on the theme of RAW against SmackDown Live could provide many scenarios of shenanigans allowing Mahal big-time bragging rights. His title reign continuing until WrestleMania is getting more likely every week that pasts. John Cena will be part of WrestleMania and he's looking for title win No. 17.
Inevitable is the best word to describe Ronda Rousey in a match at WrestleMania. She's currently training and learning more about the art of pro wrestling. After her WrestleMania 31 cameo, it seemed a match against Stephanie McMahon could be the plan. But if Rousey had a match against another WWE female Superstar rather than authority figure, WWE can get more out of it for the status of their women's division and more substance out of the match itself. Asuka could still be undefeated by then but Charlotte Flair is the bigger box office appeal to the outside world coming.
Braun Strowman needs a big match as he's the hottest weekly star on the rise. The Undertaker isn't done. Undertaker has made a career out of having to work with big men, many who were very limited. But Braun provides Undertaker a big man to work with who is very athletic on his feet. Braun also has a freakish strength that immediately draws the attraction with the question of can Undertaker survive? I can hear the promo now from Braun saying, "Last time in New Orleans your Streak was broken, but this time it's you that will be broken."
Cue Matt Hardy.
Will WWE ever take WrestleMania across the pond?
As long as Vince is in control I don't think so. Ironically a factor in it is because the international fans outside the United States are so passionate and travel so well. A large percentage of WWE's success with WrestleMania week in whatever city is the fans who have travel. The travel packages WWE provides with hotel and tickets to all of their events is a hot commodity. Simply put, the American fans won't travel outside the United States at the same rate Europeans or Australians or anyone else internationally will. Americans are spoiled at getting such easy and repeat access to WWE events around the calendar year. Many major American cities get WWE events 2-3 times a year.
This factor and the time difference plays a role. A WrestleMania in London, for example, starting at 7 pm local time would mean it starts live in the early afternoon on the east coast of the United States and late morning on the west coast. I don't see Vince McMahon going for that. If WrestleMania ever went outside of U.S. or Canada, it would be Mexico City first. And even that I think is a long way away if ever.
Cities bid on WrestleMania the same way they do for Super Bowl or Olympics. Venues in the city, number of hotels, airport, public transportation and of course money to spend on having the event are all key factors.
WWE loves getting into new venues so Atlanta, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles all are logical Mania destinations in the next five years. As for WrestleMania 35 in 2019, I wouldn't be shocked if WWE goes back to their home base. I love New York City but disliked the location and situation of getting in and out of MetLife Stadium which is technically in New Jersey.
But WrestleMania 29 was an economic success for WWE and NYC. And it's all about the money.