Guest Editorial: WrestleMania as you’ve never seen it: Previewing the production and betting on the match times for the 37th annual spectacular

By Grant Sawyer, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@Statmark)

Having worked in both television and wrestling production for years, when WrestleMania season rolls along I’m always fascinated by the entire aspect of trying to time and produce such a massive show. Just for fun, I would type up a basic run-sheet for my like-minded friends to enjoy. Like clockwork, as Mania day grew closer every year, I would frequently be asked if I was going to do one. In recent years, I began sharing this thought process with some of the notable wrestling websites; in order to possibly give fans a different way of viewing such an event.

Every live televised broadcast you see gets very specifically timed out and produced to the smallest detail – from the projected hit time for every individual segment to where the cameras need to be to when the announcers are on screen to every single pre-tape, musical cue, and on-screen graphic that is needed throughout the broadcast. The live nature constantly dictates a series of changes that evolve throughout the show such as segments getting killed due to running heavy (i.e. the show is running longer than originally planned and changes have to be made to keep it on schedule to hit the same out time).

Sports events are a little more unpredictable when it comes to their length and have “floating” out times as opposed to a news broadcast or a ‘Saturday Night Live’ type show which have “hard” out times (meaning they have to be hit at an exact time). At one time, all WWE pay-per-views had to be out by the 3-hour mark (4 for WrestleMania) but with the birth of the WWE Network, their pay-per-view events migrated more towards a floating out time.

With this year’s WrestleMania taking place over two nights, the structure is different to some extent but the majority of production rules still apply. This year, both nights have a floating 11:00pm ET/8:00pm PT out time – a three-hour window down from the single-night five to five-and-a-half hour window they were occupying prior to the pandemic. There will be likely be around 30 segments, with the pre-show playing far less of a factor this year between the Friday night FOX televised event and the general reduction of pre-show matches for this particular WrestleMania. When you see “30 segments”, keep in mind that covers a variety of things that are not actual wrestling matches. Here is a breakdown of the ones that regularly occur during WrestleMania:

6:00 segment – ‘America The Beautiful’, followed by pre-produced Cold Open for the show

2-3:00 worth of segments – One or two backstage promos

1:00 segment – On-camera introduction of ringside celebrities

1:00 segment – Site location of next year’s WrestleMania announced in pre-produced commercial

2:00 segment – Announcement of crowd attendance

3:00 segment – On-camera reset/recap with preshow hosts about 3/4 of the way through the show.

6-7:00 segment – for any potential concert/interview act that is not part of a specific ring entrance

6-7:00 segment –Hall of Fame recap/introductions

6:00 worth of segments – Commercials for various products – Peacock, Snickers, Tap Out, KFC, video games, etc.

Between the ones that do occur and then the additional pieces such as exterior shots of Raymond James Stadium, Tamp Bay, and on-camera announcer segues between segments you end up with right around 30-40 minutes of non-match segments on your typical (five-hour) WrestleMania broadcast. There will occasionally be a non-match segment aberration such as the Rock/Rousey-Triple H/Stephanie promo from Mania 31 which was a 24-minute segment but blew up the non-match segment total for that show to 56 minute. On the other hand, the Rock-Wyatts segment from Mania 32 was a 28-minute segment but since it was “technically” a match, that kept 32’s non-match segment time at 32 minutes.

So as we progress just keep in mind that for WWE’s purposes, it’s all about the segment time and not the actual match itself. In fact, the segment time is usually close to ½ to ¾ of whatever the actual match time is. Two drastically different random examples: Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy at WrestleMania 25 went 13:13 from bell to bell but was a 21-minute segment with the packages, ring-introductions, and post-match wrap-up. Undertaker vs. Triple H from WrestleMania 28 technically ran 30:50 but had a whopping segment time of 52 minutes.

As an aside to my original concept, I would eventually add in an Over/Under figure for match times. If you are familiar with any form of gambling in professional wrestling, then you know that trying to bet the “favorites” led you with far worse odds than even massive underdogs in NFL games. I wanted to take a different approach to that and come up with a figure that would give close to even odds (-110 for the gambling informed) but also be harder to “work” for those in the know than a simple winner and loser bet. That said, I started setting the over/under lines for the actual match time (which would run from starting bell through the finish).

Basing the number on the performers, the position on the card, and the history of similar situations, an over/under number would be a much fairer betting angle to take. While I am not condoning any illegal gambling of any kind, this can certainly be an enjoyable game to partake in with a group setting if you already have some degenerate gamblers with your party. Keep in mind that gambling on professional wrestling is always going to be a slippery slope to say the least, and while I tried to take a different approach, keep in mind that any growth in professional wrestling’s gambling popularity would result in this too being abuse by those close to the vest.

Moving on to breaking down the actual WrestleMania 37 card, there are 7 matches on each of the two nights which makes the card order a little easier to predict with what follows being a logical order with my reasoning of the position of the match as well as how each segment time breaks down based upon what has traditionally been the case for similar segments (keep in mind that any match with a video package added to it adds around three minutes to the total segment time). Just some notes on the logic applied when structuring what match should go where – no similar matches go back-to-back and normally require multiple matches between them.

For example, the battle royals, the 4-way tags, the No Holds Barred & Falls County Anywhere matches, and the women’s matches will all have a separator or two between one another. As we continue, certain segments will need to come as “breaks” in the show, following what in theory will be the hottest matches. This is where a Bayley interview segment, the Hall of Fame introductions, and the celebrity matches will go. While I normally would factor in what could potentially be the most “collapsible” match, that seems unnecessary this year with just 7 matches each night (a collapsible match can be reduced in length if time is needed to be saved late in the show). So with that said, here are my very unofficial WrestleMania 37 run-sheet predictions: 

WrestleMania 37 Night One

8:00pm ET
‘America The Beautiful’ by Bebe Rexha, followed by Cold Open & opening promo with Hogan & company – It stands to reason that Night 1 will open with a promo from some combination of the McMahon family and the host for night 1 in Hulk Hogan. That segment should then segue into the actual opener with a Bobby Lashley-Hulk Hogan “passing in the night” moment feels plausible. The other most likely opener on Night 1 would be the New Day tag as even though tag matches never open Mania, Kofi & Woods are always a no-lose option being the first performers in front of a live crowd (keep in mind that 80% of Manias open with a babyface win as well).
Prediction: 17:00 segment

8:17pm ET
Match #1:
 WWE Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre – If this match gets slated for the opener, many will draw automatic comparisons to the Rollins-Lesnar match from Mania 35 but with it being a 2:29 match, the more accurate comparison here would likely be Edge-Del Rio opener from Mania 27.
Prediction: 22:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 11:08 

8:39pm ET
Commercials (1:00 segment)

8:40pm ET
Match #2:
 Carmella & Billie Kay vs. Lana & Naomi vs. Tamina Snuka & Natalya vs. Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke in a #1 Contender’s Tag Team Turmoil Match – I didn’t originally have this slated at the #2 spot but with 3 tag matches on Night 1 and singles opening and closing in theory while still avoiding any tags going back-to-back, I had to settle on this going second. For any first-time readers, yes, putting together a lineup factoring in all the variables can be an impossible jigsaw puzzle that sometimes just doesn’t have the right piece. The 4-way women’s match from Mania 35 went 10:45 with a 19:00 segment but keep in mind that match was one fall while this one is gauntlet style. I do feel the individual matches will be keep fairly short but will need to go past that comparison.
Prediction: 22:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 14:47 total

9:02pm ET
Commercial / On-camera introduction of ringside celebrities/wrestlers (1:00 segment)

9:03pm ET
Match #3:
 Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins – This was my original #2 match on the show before really analyzing the layout. I assume this will mirror the Rollins-Orton singles at #2 from Mania 31.
Prediction: 20:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 13:15

9:23pm ET
Backstage Promo (2:00 segment)

9:25pm ET
Match #4:
Raw Tag Team Champions the New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Omos and AJ Styles – There aren’t a lot of recent mid-card Mania tag title matches to draw on for comparison. The closest may be Bryan & Shane vs. Owens & Zayn from Mania 34 (15:25 match/30:00 segment) but Omos’ limitations and the general build for this match doesn’t warrant quite that much time.
Prediction: 20:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 11:32

9:45pm ET
Commercials (1:00 segment)

9:46pm ET
Match #5:
 Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman in a steel cage match – Shane will always get his time on Mania, but in no way is this going to be shades of Shane-Taker from Mania 32 (30:03 match/50:00 segment).
Prediction: 22:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 12:39

10:07pm ET
On-camera reset/recap with pre-show hosts (3:00 segment)

10:10pm ET
Match #6:
 The Miz and John Morrison vs. Bad Bunny and Damian Priest – This will fall fairly close to the style of Cena & Nikki vs. Miz & Maryse from Mania 34 (9:37 match/25:00 segment), probably going slightly longer as a match but slightly less as a segment without the wedding proposal attached.
Prediction: 21:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 10:55 match

10:31pm ET
Plug for Night 2 (1:00 segment)

10:32pm ET
Match #7:
 Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair – The longest women’s match in Mania history was the 35 main event (38:00 segment/21:28 match) and I don’t think it’ll reach those heights but likely fairly close to Charlotte-Asuka from Mania 34.
Prediction: 28:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 17:05

11:00pm ET
Fade to black

WrestleMania 37 Night Two

8:00pm ET
Cold Open (3:00 segment)

8:03pm ET
Match #1:
 WWE United States Champion Riddle vs. Sheamus – I don’t feel like they open Mania with a promo two nights in a row, especially with a potential Bayley talking segment on Night 2. Of course Titus has to have a segment somewhere on the show as well but that could also segue into the Bayley piece. As far as Riddle-Sheamus goes, this feels like a fun, solid match to open with. Stylistically, there’s nothing similar between those two matches but I think time-wise, this will be most similar to Ryback-Henry from Mania 29.
Prediction: 13:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 8:46

8:16pm ET
Commercials (1:00 segment)

8:17pm ET
Match #2:
Raw Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley – an absolute dead-ringer for Asuka-Charlotte from Mania 34.
Prediction: 24:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 12:47

8:41pm ET
Backstage Promo (1:00 segment)

8:42pm ET
Match #3:
 Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn – Owens and Jericho got a 25:00 segment/16:17 match at Mania 33 and with the involvement of Logan Paul here, it stands to reason that even if the match isn’t quite as long, the segment time will be.
Prediction: 25:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 14:32

9:07pm ET
Commercials (1:00 segment)

9:08pm ET
Match #4:
 WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E vs. Apollo Crews in a Nigerian Drum Match – It feels like they’ll be given the time to have a war so let’s go with Shane-Styles at Mania 33 for the comparison.
Prediction: 23:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 16:44

9:31pm ET
Titus/Hall of Fame/attendance segues into Bayley talking segment (12:00 segment)

9:43pm ET
Site location of future WrestleMania 38 in pre-produced commercial (1:00 segment)

9:44pm ET
Match #5:
 Randy Orton vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt – Considering they just worked a gimmick match at Mania 34, this feels like it’ll fall into the same time frame.
Prediction: 22:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 10:24

10:06pm ET
Backstage Promo (1:00 segment)

10:11pm ET
Match #6:
 Night One Tag Team Turmoil winners vs. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler – Likely a short and simple breather of a segment.
Prediction: 12:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 6:14

10:23pm ET
Commercials (1:00 segment)

10:24pm ET
Match #7:
 WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Edge in a Triple Threat match. If they stick close to the three-hour format as scheduled, this match is unlikely to break into the top 5 segment times in Mania history (five segments have gone 50-minutes or longer), but should still easily be both the longest segment and match for both nights.
Prediction: 38:00 segment
Over/Under match time: 25:23

11:00pm ET
Fade to black

Grant Sawyer was the technical director for nearly 1,000 professional wrestling events between 1995-2018 and is the editor of the History of Professional Wrestling books at Amazon. After leaving professional wrestling, he became a freelancer videographer for the ACC Network and developed a comic book merchandise website which you can find at GrantsComics.com, on Instagram at GrantsComics, and on Twitter at @Statmark.


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