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WWE WrestleMania 37 seven-question preview

Before the first match has even entered the ring, WrestleMania 37’s place in WWE history has already largely been defined.

Just as WrestleMania 36 last year will always be known for its move to the WWE Performance Center following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WrestleMania 37 will be remembered for being the show where in-person fans made their return. It will be the first WWE event with ticketed fans in attendance in more than a year.

WrestleMania 37 won’t mark a return to normal. We’re not at that place yet. We don't even know when the next WWE show with ticketed fans after WrestleMania will be. But for WrestleMania, approximately 25,000 fans will be in attendance each night, which is 36 percent of what Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida would be able to hold in a normal year. The COVID-19 health and safety protocols include seating pods, face masks being required, and temperature checks.

While this won’t be a return to normalcy, it will be a reminder of just how vital live crowds are to WWE. WWE and other professional wrestling promotions have done their best to get by in the pandemic era. The WWE ThunderDome has been such a vast improvement over the shows that took place at the Performance Center. But nothing can replicate what live crowds bring to pro wrestling. There’s a magic that’s created when the live audience reacts to something. The fans have an ability to influence the product in a way that has no equal in any other sport and most types of entertainment. How the pandemic has affected pro wrestling is obviously trivial in comparison to the loss that people have endured and are still enduring. But WrestleMania 37 will be a small example of the things we will be regaining as life hopefully continues to get back to what we once knew.

As for the card itself, WrestleMania 37 night one will be headlined by a historic main event as Sasha Banks defends the SmackDown Women's Championship against Bianca Belair. Night two's main event will see Roman Reigns put his Universal Championship on the line against Edge and Daniel Bryan in a triple threat match. Both nights will have seven-match lineups.

Here are seven questions surrounding the event:

Most anticipated match?

Roman Reigns, Edge, and Daniel Bryan’s triple threat match for the Universal Championship has been the most pushed match on television going into WrestleMania and is the match I’m looking forward to most. It’s an indictment on WWE booking that Edge -- after being retired for nearly a decade and then suffering a major injury not long into his comeback -- had to be turned heel after winning the men’s Royal Rumble, but this is a much better match with Bryan involved.

The weeks leading into WrestleMania have been a reminder of just how special of a performer Bryan is. In the ring and on the microphone, there’s no one better in the company. He’s a legitimate all-time great and no moment of what’s left of his career should be wasted. 

Bryan has been open about wanting to wind down his career as a full-time wrestler. He's spoken about how important being a father is to him and how he wants the younger generation of wrestlers to get opportunities. But, as long as he’s still able to work a part-time schedule while being as home as much as he wants, Bryan shouldn’t lose sight of just how much he can contribute to pro wrestling himself. At 39, Bryan isn’t even particularly old for a wrestler. You may lose some of your athleticism as you enter your 40s, but this isn’t like other sports where you can no longer compete at the highest level. Maturity and experience make you a better wrestler. You’ve been in every situation before and know how to react when it comes again. Having Bryan around in a meaningful top-of-the-card position allows other wrestlers to get better by working with him.

Bryan’s addition also makes the result of the Universal Championship match more interesting. Reigns has been so great since returning last year, but the triple threat could allow him to lose the Universal title without being involved in the fall. The role reversal could be good for his character, going from dominant champion to scorned challenger trying to regain the title that he insists he never lost. Either Edge or Bryan as Universal Champion would freshen up the SmackDown main event scene. And Edge vs. Bryan in a title program would result in a one-on-one dream match that once appeared to be impossible.

Is Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair the right choice for the night one main event?

When Bianca Belair won this year’s women’s Royal Rumble match, her challenging Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship seemed like an obvious choice for one of the WrestleMania main events. The build from that point wasn’t always the greatest, but I still think Banks vs. Belair being the main event of night one is the right decision.

Banks vs. Belair is a history-making match featuring two wrestlers who should be cornerstones of the company for years to come. It’s the second women’s WrestleMania main event in history, and Banks and Belair will be the first Black women to headline WrestleMania. It's an important moment of representation with two deserving performers.

When Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair main evented WrestleMania 35, the significance of that moment was important. It was rightfully celebrated as a landmark day in WWE history. But it was also critical that WWE didn’t allow it to exist only as a singular moment in time. That a women's match is main eventing a night of WrestleMania two years later without Lynch, Rousey, or Charlotte being involved shows how this will now become commonplace.

But aside from its historical importance, Banks vs. Belair is just the WrestleMania night one match that I’m most interested in. Banks is such an ambitious in-ring wrestler and is achieving something that she's long dreamed of. She’ll do everything possible to make this a classic match. For Belair, her potential has been obvious since she first signed with WWE. She’s turned that potential into results and now gets to show it on the biggest stage she’s ever been on. Belair should defeat Banks and fully establish herself as one of the top stars in WWE.

Being able to open WrestleMania as the first match with fans back is more than a consolation prize for Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre. After winning the WWE Championship in front of no fans in the final match of WrestleMania 36, McIntyre now gets to challenge for the title in this year’s WrestleMania opener. Lashley and McIntyre have both stepped up their games leading into WrestleMania. This should be a hard-hitting match between two people who have become the best versions of themselves we’ve seen in their WWE careers.

McIntyre was put in a tough and uncertain position when he won the WWE Championship at the start of the pandemic era. But he did his best to make the most of a bad situation and embraced the cause of leading WWE through this period. Now it seems likely that McIntyre will get to have his moment that couldn’t happen last year -- celebrating with the live crowd at WrestleMania after winning the WWE Championship.

Will Rhea Ripley get WrestleMania redemption?

This match -- and the follow-up to it -- feel really important in the career of Rhea Ripley. It's so vital that her main roster run gets off to a good start. That should involve defeating Asuka to win the Raw Women’s Championship.

Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair was one of the highlights of WrestleMania 36, but Ripley has never fully recovered from the momentum that she lost. Ripley losing the NXT Women’s Championship and not defeating Charlotte to win it back was a short-sighted decision by WWE. But, good or bad, what you did in NXT only matters so much to your main roster success. If Ripley is going to reach the star potential that she obviously has, it’s going to be because Vince McMahon views her that way. Nothing else really matters on the main roster. If she gets off to a strong start, Ripley has the chance to be a top star. If she doesn’t, who knows when she'll get another chance.

Which undercard match could steal the show?

Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro is the safest choice here. It’s two of the 10 or so best wrestlers in the entire company getting the chance to have a singles match at the marquee show of the year. For Cesaro, it’s his first singles match on a WrestleMania main card and potentially the only time he’ll ever be in this spot. He should be hugely motivated to have a great match.

But I’m still picking Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn. It’s totally possible that the involvement of Logan Paul will overshadow the match and keep it from stealing the show, but the role Paul has played in Owens and Zayn’s feud has been fairly understated thus far.

Owens and Zayn’s careers have been intertwined since they began. Both on screen and personally, there’s so much history between them. Facing off in a singles match at WrestleMania is the culmination of everything they’ve ever done professionally. I don’t believe they ever thought that their biggest match against each other would involve a YouTube star, but no one will work harder than Owens and Zayn to try and steal the show.

How will Bad Bunny's in-ring debut go?

I’m a lot more confident that Bad Bunny’s first match will be a success now that he’s officially teaming with Damian Priest against The Miz & John Morrison. The potential for something to go wrong would’ve been far greater in a singles match. No matter how much Bad Bunny has trained, it’s impossible to replicate what a live match in front of a crowd is going to be like. Bad Bunny has plenty of experience performing live, but a musician crossing over to pro wrestling is a much harder transition than an MMA fighter or other professional athlete doing so. A tag match should mean that Bad Bunny is only doing things that he knows he can do well.

If celebrities are going to play a part in WrestleMania, Bad Bunny is the type of star WWE should be utilizing to try and reach younger viewers. And Bad Bunny’s stardom is at the level where if he wants to be involved in WWE at all, it’s a coup for the company. His pro wrestling fandom has shone through in the appearances he’s made. He’s been a positive addition to WWE programming and will hopefully be a positive addition to the WrestleMania card. WWE will get a viral moment with him getting the win at WrestleMania. And if all goes well, the door should remain open for Bad Bunny to do more with WWE down the road.

Least anticipated match?

“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton is easily the match I’m least looking forward to. The build to The Fiend vs. Orton has been so awful that nothing can really come close. And while I’d like to say there’s a chance that the match will still be good despite that, there’s really no reason to give Wyatt and Orton the benefit of the doubt. Wyatt and Orton already had an awful match at WrestleMania four years ago. There are plenty of people who like The Fiend’s character and will like this, but it’s so far away from what I want pro wrestling to be.

Other than The Fiend vs. Orton, Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon’s steel cage match is the only other WrestleMania match that I’m not looking forward to. Strowman and Shane’s feud has also produced some terrible TV. Shane has put in good performances when he’s wrestled at WrestleMania in the past, but him still trying to do the spots he used to do is tempting fate at 51 years old.

Should WrestleMania be a two-night event going forward?

A one-night WrestleMania with a runtime of three to four hours in total is my ideal version of the event. I think it’s important to have that one night where the spotlight is on you and people, whether they watch Raw and SmackDown every week or not, can tune in and see the best WWE has to offer.

But WWE’s recent one-night WrestleManias haven’t worked at all. The marathon cards haven’t been good for live audiences or people watching at home. And while getting as many wrestlers as possible on WrestleMania is a nice thing, it’s done a disservice to those who have had their matches go on late in front of tired crowds. If the choice is between that or a two-night WrestleMania, two nights seems to be better for everyone involved. Even with limited fans, WrestleMania 37 will be a good trial run for how a live two-night WrestleMania would work going forward. 

WrestleMania 37 is taking place this Saturday and Sunday and will stream live on Peacock in the United States and the WWE Network everywhere else. The events will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time. There will also be a pre-show each night starting at 7 p.m. Eastern. The full cards for both nights are listed below:

WrestleMania 37 night one (Saturday, April 10) --

  • SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks defends against Bianca Belair
  • Bad Bunny & Damian Priest vs. The Miz & John Morrison
  • Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) defend against AJ Styles & Omos
  • Steel cage match: Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon
  • Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
  • Tag Team Turmoil match: Naomi & Lana vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke vs. Natalya & Tamina vs. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan) vs. Carmella & Billie Kay (winning team will challenge for Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler's WWE Women's Tag Team titles at night two)
  • WWE Champion Bobby Lashley defends against Drew McIntyre

WrestleMania 37 night two (Sunday, April 11) --

  • Universal Champion Roman Reigns defends against Edge and Daniel Bryan in a triple threat match
  • Raw Women's Champion Asuka defends against Rhea Ripley
  • "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
  • Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
  • Intercontinental Champion Big E defends against Apollo Crews in a Nigerian Drum Fight
  • United States Champion Riddle defends against Sheamus
  • WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler defend against the winners of the Tag Team Turmoil match from night one