WrestleMania is the WWE's greatest showcase of talent, but it's a fact of life that not everyone has an equal opportunity to perform. Some Superstars will unfortunately be left off the card completely, while others may only have a few minutes to impress. A couple matches will inevitably fall into the latter group at WrestleMania XXIX.
After the most recent edition of Raw, there are now eight matches confirmed for WrestleMania's main card. There could still be a match or two added in the coming days, but the past two WrestleManias have had eight matches, so it's fairly safe to assume that this one will be no different. If that is the case, then there are a couple obvious bouts that could be cut short.
The first one that comes to mind is Chris Jericho vs. Fandango. The build toward that match didn't start until last week, and it wasn't made official until Raw. Things have certainly intensified between the two Superstars, but I can't imagine that they'll be given more than eight to 10 minutes. Jericho is still among the best in-workers in professional wrestling; however, this match is clearly undercard filler.
Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston for the Tag Team Championships could easily get the same treatment. Kane, Daniel Bryan and Ziggler are all legitimate stars, and Langston is a promising prospect, but there hasn't been much attention paid to the tag straps recently. The WWE has a number of tag teams, yet it decided to put Ziggler and Langston in the title match despite the fact that they have never teamed together.
Maybe the WWE will use this tag match as an opportunity to display Ziggler's skill set as he is still in possession of the Money in the Bank briefcase, but whenever I think that way, it rarely comes to fruition. The best-case scenario is that this bout is used as a vehicle to separate Ziggler and Langston so The Showoff can move forward on his own as a World Heavyweight Championship contender.
The upcoming battle between Ryback and Mark Henry is arguably the most anticipated match on the entire undercard, but it isn't likely to last long. Neither Ryback nor Henry is an in-ring technician. They are all about power, and the vast majority of their matches are over within a couple of minutes. This one won't reach the 10-minute mark, but that is due more to necessity than time constraints.
Of the eight matches on last year's card, three of them didn't even reach seven minutes in length. There were several reasons for that, including the fact that the three main event-caliber matches lasted nearly an hour and a half in total. Sheamus vs. Bryan for the world title was viewed as the fourth main event by many, but it infamously lasted a mere 18 seconds as The Celtic Warrior took the strap in short order.
In addition to the length of the main-event matches, we were "treated" to musical performances by MGK and Flo Rida as well as a Brodus Clay dance number. It doesn't appear as though there are going to be any such distractions this year, but it's inevitable that the WWE is going to craft some backstage promos to waste time. With that in mind, the overall pacing of WrestleMania XXIX figures to be similar to the past two years.
One difference is that there will be an hour-long pre-show this year. The YouTube pre-show made its debut at WrestleMania XXVIII, but it was only 30 minutes long, as has been the case ever since. The added half-hour should mean that there will be room for two or possibly even three pre-show matches. Wade Barrett vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship and Team Rhodes Scholars with The Bella Twins against Brodus Clay and Sweet T with The Funkadactyls will almost certainly be featured on the pre-show.
Which match will be most adversely affected by time constraints at WrestleMania?
It's possible that Barrett vs. The Miz could be squeezed onto the main card, but they would suffer the same fate as matches like Jericho vs. Fandango and Team Hell No vs. Ziggler and Langston. Barrett and Miz actually got a fair amount of time on Raw and put on a solid match, but that wouldn't be the case at WrestleMania.
The Rock vs. John Cena II, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar and CM Punk vs. The Undertaker will all receive more than enough time as the WWE wants to ensure that those three matches are as good as they can possibly be. WrestleMania is a four-hour show, which is an hour longer than every other pay-per-view and seems like a long time on the surface. But things move quickly, and it simply isn't possible to allow every match to last 15 minutes or more.
As much as everyone would love to see the vast majority of the roster featured on the WrestleMania card in meaningful matches, it isn't feasible. WrestleMania used to have 15 matches on a regular basis, but half of them were around five minutes long, and there wasn't enough time to have three, 30-minute matches. The WWE has to identify the matches that are going to sell and pour the bulk of their resources into those contests.
If that means a few matches are going to be a bit shorter than some fans would like, then so be it. The WWE has to cater to the masses rather than the minority of fans, and there is no doubt that the majority would rather see The Rock vs. Cena, Triple H vs. Lesnar and CM Punk vs. The Undertaker dominate the show.