With Wrestlemania 33 set to run just shy of 27 hours, missing the pre-show seemed like a good way to reduce that butt-numbing length. But then WWE added Austin Aries vs Neville to the kickoff show. And the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, complete with bonus Braun Strowman.
Fans were annoyed – particularly over the Cruiserweight title match – but the major outrage was saved for the big Smackdown announcement: the two hour pre-show would also include the blue brand’s Women’s Championship match, as displayed by the below Wrestlemania kickoff graphic, which looks to be advertising the weirdest four way ever.
The Internet wasn’t happy, as prior to the Road to Wrestlemania, Smackdown’s women’s division was prominently featured on weekly TV – and many argued that’s where the real women’s revolution was; with actual characters and feuds rather than just Sasha Banks vs Charlotte over and over again. This hasn’t been the case in recent weeks, however, with the Women’s division mostly being crammed into one half-cooked segment per show.
The online outrage seems to have worked, though, with WWE no longer listing the Smackdown Women’s Championship match on the pre-show, the new graphic just promoting Austin Aries vs Neville vs Andre The Giant. This led Becky Lynch to tweet:
You spoke up. You're awesome. Thank you . #WrestleMania
— Becky Lynch (@BeckyLynchWWE) March 31, 2017
Now everyone can complain when the Intercontinental Title match inevitably takes its pre-show place.
One other last-minute change appears to be what will go on last as Wrestlemania’s proper main event.
Considering the names involved and the feud’s prominent position on Raw, Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship has been expected to close the show. But in light of social media searches being highest for Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker, Dave Meltzer has revealed The Big Dog vs The Deadman is the “very probable main event”.
At least the pre-show people have an actual Wrestlemania match. Despite his devastating debut after this year’s Royal Rumble, Samoa Joe doesn’t have a featured bout at WWE’s biggest show of the year.
While nothing has leaked backstage about The Samoan Submission Machine’s plans for this Sunday, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter notes that “Joe vs [Seth] Rollins is a planned post-Mania direction, whether in singles, or tags.” Dave Meltzer points out the best way to set up this feud would be for Joe to interfere in Rollins’ Wrestlemania match against Triple H. This would fit in very neatly with Joe’s current role as The Game’s enforcer, and the fact it’s an unsanctioned match, allowing for any number of run-ins.