It was taped ahead of time, and took place in front of no fans in the WWE Performance Centre, the company’s training base, so it will likely go down as the weirdest show in the Grandest Show of Them All’s history. Many both in and out of the company hoped that this year, things would be back to “normal”. We aren’t quite there yet, but this year should at least look a little more normal than last year!
- WrestleMania 37 will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, where it was supposed to be last year, with around 20,000 fans in attendance across both nights. Fans will be in isolated pods throughout, all wearing masks.
- The stadium, home to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a pirate ship. Hence all the pirate theming (another holdover from last year).
- The show will be hosted by WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Titus O’Neil. This pairing is, er, questionable to say the least given Hogan’s past remarks.
- The traditional “WrestleMania week” will usually see the wrestling fans of the world converge on the host city, with small independent wrestling companies putting on shows in-between the WWE’s major shows. Though some have chosen to run shows this year, it has been massively scaled back, and the usual WWE Fan Axxess event (a wrestling convention run by the company) is also not taking place.
- However, some staples of WrestleMania week are going ahead, as is the case on Tuesday, when both the 2020 and 2021 classes of the WWE Hall of Fame will be inducted on a 2-hour TV show.
- More importantly, NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver will take place on both Wednesday and Thursday. NXT is the “developmental” brand of WWE, featuring wrestlers from the independent scene and those still training. Takeovers are the most consistently good wrestling PPVs, so if you aren’t satisfied with just WrestleMania, check these two shows out too (I’ll do a mini preview at the bottom of this page).
Here is a breakdown of every announced match. IF you have any questions after reading, please send them over to me on Twitter - @TheGutteridge.
Night One - Saturday 10th April
- The WWE Title is one of the biggest titles in WWE (and the whole of wrestling), being the highest prize in the men’s division on Raw.
- Bobby Lashley (left), dubbed the “All Mighty” by his manager MVP (Montel Vontavius Porter for the connoisseur), has been very dominant over the past year, enjoying a long run as US Champion before winning the WWE Title. Up until two weeks ago, he had been the head of the “Hurt Business” team, until he and MVP decided to kick out team mates Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander for being unable to beat Drew McIntyre in a 2-on-1 handicap match.
- Drew McIntyre (right) won the WWE Title from Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania 36 last year, and spent the majority of the last 12 months as champion. The first ever British born WWE Champion has just got done pinning former best friend Sheamus in a series of hard hitting matches.
- Drew lost the WWE Title in February. Having beat 5 other men in a violent Elimination Chamber match, he was beaten up by Lashley, who was acting as a hired gun for The Miz, who immediately cashed in his Money in the Bank contract (the owner of which can “cash in” a WWE Title match whenever they want) to take the title from Drew. Lashley revealed he had helped Miz in exchange for a title match of his own, which saw Lashley dominate Miz to win his first top title in WWE.
What to expect: A major hoss fight. Despite a slightly convoluted path to get here, these two have been booked as the two most dominant men on the Raw brand over the past year, so it makes a lot of sense that they face each other in Night One’s main event. Envision something like a wrestling version of Godzilla vs. King Kong.
- Sasha Banks (left) won the Smackdown Women’s title back in October 2020, beating long time frenemy Bayley in a Hell in a Cell match. The real life cousin of Snoop Dogg, Sasha has been portrayed as “The Boss”, a glamour and success obsessed champion who can flit between being a “good” and “bad” guy. She recently appeared in a few episodes of The Mandalorian, portraying Koska Reeves, a member of Bo-Katan Kryze team of Mandalore separatists.
- Bianca Belair (right) is a product of the WWE system, having a long stint in NXT before moving to Raw in 2020. Described as a “once in a generation talent” in her college sport days, her nickname is the “EST”, because she’s the fast-est, the strong-est and the badd-est.
- Belair earned her title show by winning the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble, which guarantees the winner a title shot at WrestleMania.
- The pair seemed to get along despite their upcoming match, even challenging for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. But when they failed to pick the titles up, Sasha soured on the relationship, slapping Belair after blaming her for losing the match.
What to expect: A Fresh Princess, Belair. Sasha Banks is a known commodity in big money matches, always bringing her a-game when she’s on major shows. So Belair could not hope for a better dance partner for her first WrestleMania match. Win, lose or draw, expect this match to position Belair at the top of the division for years to come.
- Kofi Kingston (middle left) and Xavier Woods (far left) are two of the three members of The New Day team, with current Intercontinental champion Big E as the third man. They are the most decorated tag team of modern WWE, being 11 time tag team champions. The fun loving, pop-culture obsessed trio appeared in DLC for Gear of War 5, and Xavier Woods hosts YouTube gaming channel UpUpDownDown.
- AJ Styles (middle right) is considered by most to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. A world-traveled veteran, he is a former WWE champion, who has recently hired the services of Omos (far right), a 7ft 3in former college basketball player from Lagos, Nigeria.
- AJ Styles basically willed this match into existence, challenging the New Day to step up to face him and his enforcer. Having beaten all comers in the tag division, Kofi and Woods took up the challenge.
What to expect: Three men and a very, very big baby. Kofi and AJ are former WWE champions. The New Day are the biggest tag team of the past 10 years in WWE. By comparison, this is Omos’ first match in WWE. He has been training since 2018, but he’ll need to lean on every inch of the experience in the ring to get through this. Expect the three men around him to do everything they can to make this debut go smoothly.
- Braun Strowman (left) won the WWE Universal title at last year’s event, beating WCW legend Goldberg to do so. He didn’t manage to keep hold of it though, and the huge “Monster Among Men” has been taking it out on authority figures within the company.
- Shane McMahon (right), the son of owner Vince McMahon, has become increasingly convinced of his own abilities over the years, believing himself to be the “Best Wrestler in the World”, even winning a tournament (by entering himself into the final) to crown himself as such in Saudi Arabia a few years ago. He often uses lackeys to do his dirty work, recently enlisting the services of Elias and Jaxson Ryker.
- Shane has been seemingly losing his mind recently, speaking incoherently, and challenging Strowman to matches only to duck out of them at the last second. His several attempts to avoid Strowman led to this steel cage match.
- As you might have guessed, a steel cage match sees the ring surrounded by a cage. You can win by pinfall, submission or escaping the cage, either by climbing out or escaping through the door.
What to expect: A 51 year old swan dive. This is one of the sillier matches on the card, exemplified by Shane recently revealing a “school report card” for Braun in an attempt to frame him as dumb. But if nothing else, we should see Shane McMahon jump off the cage. The man has never met a structure he isn’t willing to jump off, and has done so at Mania before. Best case scenario then is this being a car crash match that is hard to look away from.
- Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny (middle left), whose song “Dákiti” was the most played song on Spotify in 2020, is a huge wrestling fan. With no touring to speak of, he took his chance to get involved with WWE, who are always happy to play host to celebrities, especially at WrestleMania.
- The Miz (middle right) is a former reality TV star, who turned WWE superstar some 15 years ago. Ten years ago at WrestleMania 27, he beat John Cena in the main event thanks to interference from The Rock. More recently, he was WWE champion for all of 2 weeks until he was blown aside by Bobby Lashley.
- This was originally a singles match between Miz and Bunny, but was switched at the last minute to a tag team match.
- Bad Bunny will be teaming with his new wrestler friend Damien Priest (far left), who is a recent call up from NXT, where he had a kind of "sexy rockstar" character. Like if Slash got jacked. They'll be taking on Miz and his long time tag team partner John Morrison, who . . . also has a "sexy rockstar" gimmick, albeit more in the vein of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
- The pairs started feuding way back at the Royal Rumble, where Bad Bunny performed live only to bump into Miz and Morrison backstage. When Miz was eliminated from the Rumble by Priest, Bad Bunny performed a top rope dive onto him on the outside of the ring. Things have bubbled under from there, including Miz and Morrison putting together a diss track called “Hey Hey, Hop Hop”.
What to expect: Smoke and mirrors. Celebrity matches are not uncommon at WrestleMania. In fact, the very first WrestleMania was headlined by Rocky III co-stars Hulk Hogan and Mr T teaming together. Some have even been good, such as the unexpectedly great match between Floyd Mayweather and the Big Show at WrestleMania 24. But Mayweather is a boxer. Mr. T had a boxing background and could act. Bad Bunny is a rapper, although he is apparently a super enthusiastic fan with an eagerness to do well. Hopefully they use enough short-cuts and interference to let this go down as another fun entry in this weird wrestling subset.
- Cesaro (left), the “Swiss Superman”, has been something of an underappreciated workhorse for the WWE for the past 10 years. Considered by most to be the best wrestlers on the roster today to never hold a world title, he has recently got a little bit of spotlight, in part because he has been so consistent in-ring all these years. This has led to his first ever singles match on the big show.
- Seth Rollins (right) recently returned from paternity leave, after welcoming a baby daughter into the world with fiancé and fellow WWE star Becky Lynch. At the time of his departure, he was portraying a messiah figure, similar to Joseph Seed from Far Cry 5. On his return, he has toned this down, instead portraying a self-obsessed “locker room leader” who talks about “drip” a lot.
- The animosity between the pair started when Seth called for a town hall meeting to outline his vision for Smackdown. Everyone left, but Cesaro lingered longest, looking disapprovingly on Rollins. This upset Rollins, and the two have been scraping to get hold of each other ever since.
What to expect: A wrestling classic. The two matches I’m most excited for are weirdly similar; neither have titles on the line, nor stipulations on the match, and both feature real life best friends who work great together. Cesaro and Seth have been friends for over 15 years, and while Seth is a decorated former WWE champion, this feels set up to give his pal a chance to shine on his own terms at WrestleMania (for once). Expect both men to pull out all the stops to steal the show on Night One (I have every faith they will).
- The last match added to WrestleMania, the winning team of this multi-person match will earn a Women's Tag Team Title match on Night 2, taking on current champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
- The teams are as follows (L-R): Naomi and Lana (far left), Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose (middle left), Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott of the Riott Squad (middle right), and Natalya and Tamina (far right).
- Though unconfirmed, it has been leaked that another team, comprised of Carmella and Billie Kay, will be added before the event.
What to expect: Filler. It's a much better time for women's wrestling in the WWE than it was 10, or even 5, years ago. But unfortunately the company still has issues booking multiple stories for their women's roster, which results in poorly built-to matches like this one. They deserve better, and I do hope they manage to put something good together in the 10 minutes they'll get, but this match will likely be used to settle the crowd down between two bigger matches. And the winners will likely find themselves in a similar position on Night Two.
Night Two - Sunday 11th April
- The WWE Universal Title is the other major belt in the men’s division, being the top prize on Smackdown.
- Roman Reigns (middle) was set to face Goldberg for the Universal Title at last year’s event, but pulled out due to concerns about the pandemic, as he had newborn twins at home and had himself not long recovered from a bout with leukemia. He returned in August and became a lot more violent in the process. He has dubbed himself the “Head of the Table” and the “Tribal Chief”, ruling over Smackdown with an iron fist after reclaiming the Universal Title, because he believes he’s the only man fit to rule.
- Edge (right) won the 2021 Men’s Royal Rumble to earn his title shot. A WWE Hall of Famer, he had previously retired 10 years ago due to neck injuries, but thanks to advances in treatment, was able to return at the Royal Rumble 2020 in a massive surprise. He’s known as the “Ultimate Opportunist”, willing to take advantage of any given situation.
- Daniel Bryan (left) similarly was forced to retire due to neck injuries, only to return a few years later. Often portrayed as the underdog, he has experience of winning triple threat matches for world titles, having previously came out on top at WrestleMania 30 by beating Randy Orton and Batista in the main event.
- Bryan challenged Reigns for the title at the previous show Fastlane, where Edge acted as special guest enforcer. At one point the referee was knocked out, so missed Reigns tapping out to Bryan’s Yes Lock submission. This was broken up by an upset Edge, and the ref recovered to see Reign’s pin Bryan to retain his title. This uncertainty led to Bryan getting added to this match.
What to expect: The main event. This certainly feels like the biggest match of the weekend. Roman Reigns has been on the run of a lifetime as the “Tribal Chief”, portraying a layered character and putting on deeply personal matches, including a great series of matches with his real life cousin Jey Uso, who is now his right hand man. Add to that Edge’s improbable return from injury and the eternally popular Bryan, and you have all the ingredients for a very memorable main event.
- Asuka (left) has been Raw Women’s champion since August 2020, seeing off all comers. She has been in the wars recently, having a tooth kicked out of her mouth by Women’s Tag Team champion Shayna Baszler.
- Rhea Ripley (right) has had a strange year. She lost her NXT Women’s Title at last year’s event to Charlotte Flair, and then just hung around on NXT waiting for her call up to Raw or Smackdown. She made it to the final two in the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble, being the last person eliminated by eventual winner Bianca Belair, but had to wait a few more weeks before arriving on Raw, immediately challenging Asuka to a match.
- The pair are recognised as two of the most important NXT Women’s champions of all time. Japanese star Asuka still holds the record of the longest reign with the title (522 days), and never actually lost the title, instead relinquishing it when she moved to Raw. Aussie Rhea ended the second longest reign when she beat Baszler, and became the first person ever to defend an NXT title at WrestleMania last year.
What to expect: Hard hits. Asuka is synonymous with dominance. The “Empress of Tomorrow” went her entire NXT career without being beaten, and on the main roster has enjoyed several long runs as champion, usually only being beaten by odds being stacked against her. Rhea Ripley is one of the most physically impressive women on the roster in her own right, and has an intimidating punk rock look that really sets her apart. Much like Bianca Belair, Ripley feels like she’s set for a long run at the top of the division, so expect this to be a similar spotlighting of this star of the future, whether she wins or loses.
- The Intercontinental Title is the secondary title of the Men's division on Smackdown, the equivalent of the United States Title on Raw and the NXT North American Title on NXT.
- Big E (left) is the fun loving muscle of the New Day faction, although he has recently struck out on his own after the team was split across Raw and Smackdown. He won the Intercontinental Title on Christmas Day when he beat Sami Zayn. He has defended against all comers since, usually with a smile on his face, though recently he has been forced to get more serious.
- Apollo Crews (right) had been a similarly happy, smiley good guy for most of his WWE career, but recent frustrations in his pursuit of the Intercontinental title have seen a change of character. Embracing his Nigerian roots, he has recently changed his look and outlook (including talking with a Nigerian accent).
- The pair have had several matches in recent months, including at the last show Fastlane, which ended with an inconclusive win for Big E. Apollo attacked him after the bell, and a rematch was set for WrestleMania to settle things once and for all.
What to expect: Anger. Perhaps the most personal match on Night Two, both men are enjoying good singles runs after years of tag team success (Big E) or overshadowing (Crews). They’ve both found good fire in recent interviews, and they’ll be out to cement themselves as new singles stars, so they’ll be going all out to put on a good show.
- The United States Title is the secondary title of the Men's division on Raw, the equivalent of the Intercontinental Title on Smackdown and the NXT North American Title on NXT.
- Riddle (left), who recently lost his first name Matt, came to wrestling from the world of UFC. In stark contrast to his physical in-ring style, Riddle portrays a stoner character, an exaggeration of his real life laid back personality (he had two wins removed from his UFC record after testing positive for cannabis). He won the US title in February, taking the title from Bobby Lashley when he pinned John Morrison in a triple threat match.
- Irishman Sheamus (right) spent the last few months in a personal feud with real life best friend Drew McIntyre, desperate to prove he was on his level. He lost their last match at Fastlane, but bounced back by beating Riddle in a non-title match to set up this rematch.
What to expect: The dark horse. Sheamus has been on the best in-ring run of his career, which unfortunately came when all eyes were on his friend Drew McIntyre. This match is something of a reward in some ways for his recent good work, which actually started with a great match with Riddle on TV several months ago. Riddle, too, has overcome criticism of his character’s attempts at “stoner humour” to put on good matches week after week. So this could be an unexpected highlight on Night Two.
- Now bare with me. Bray Wyatt (left) portrays two characters. Usually, he is a children's TV presenter in the vein of Mr Rogers. But then sometimes, he’s “The Fiend”, a supernatural force that hasn’t been fully explained, but is basically the manifestation of Wyatt’s evil side.
- Randy Orton (right) is right up there with John Cena in terms of accomplishments in modern WWE, being a 14 time world champion. He spent a lot of 2020 feuding with Edge and Drew McIntyre, reverting to his old sadistic tendencies. Then he came across The Fiend.
- The pair had several matches at the end of 2020, culminating in a Firefly Inferno match at the TLC show in December. The winner was the man who set their opponent on fire first, and Randy won when he lit “The Fiend” (or at least, an obvious scarecrow dressed like The Fiend) on fire in the middle of the ring.
- The Fiend disappeared from TV, but Randy then moved on to clashing with Wyatt’s sidekick, Alexa Bliss, who also had a “good” and “evil” side. As she prophesied the return of Wyatt, Randy started to have weird things happen to him, including throwing up black ooze.
- At Fastlane, Orton faced Bliss, and at one point in the match, The Fiend punched through the ring and grabbed Orton’s leg. He appeared with a melted mask and burnt clothes, and after hitting Orton, he allowed Bliss to pin him.
What to expect: God knows. I should point out that, in all of this, Bray Wyatt is supposedly the good guy. Yes, the demonic force resurrected by a brainwashed servant using black magic is our hero. Wrestling is odd. Last year, Wyatt had a “Firefly Funhouse'' match with John Cena, which was a cinematic match that was essentially a meta takedown of Cena’s whole career. It was the highlight of Night Two of WrestleMania last year, and was so effective Cena hasn’t appeared in WWE since. My hopes would be high if this was also a cinematic match (as Orton has just as much stuff to pick through as Cena had), but this does unfortunately appear to be a straightforward match, which is a let down to say the least. It’s especially worrying as these two have met at WrestleMania before, in an awful WWE Title match at WrestleMania 33 that involved really cringey projections of bugs and worms on the ring. Fiend matches are either amazing or dreadful, so I really don’t know what to expect. I can say it will be memorable though, for better or for worse!
- Yet another set of real life best friends, the pair have been stuck together ever since they started their wrestling career.
- Kevin Owens (left) is an everyman good guy in the mold of Steve Austin (he even uses the stunner as his finisher), who recently had a long feud with the tyrannical Roman Reigns over the Universal Title.
- Sami Zayn (right) has spent months accusing the WWE itself of having a conspiracy to humiliate him. He’s gone so far as to hire a camera crew to follow him around to document the apparent “mistreatment”. He has been acting more and more unhinged in recent weeks, kicked into high gear when the WWE aired a promo video for a match between him and Baron Corbin which dubbed it the “least anticipated match in WWE history”.
- Kevin was making fun of his long time frenemy, which Zami overheard, leading to this match.
- This is another match with celebrity involvement, as Sami Zayn invited YouTuber Logan Paul to the premier of his documentary on Smackdown, and Paul is now set to be ringside for this match.
What to expect: Hopefully, the best match of the weekend. Cards on the table, this is the match I’m looking forward to the most. Owens and Zayn have the single best chemistry of any two men on the roster, having been feuding on and off for almost 10 years, since they first caused waves in a blood feud in Ring of Honor. They always end up back in each other’s orbit - in fact, this is the 3rd match at WrestleMania in the last 5 years that features both men, though this is their first one-on-one. Given enough time, I have no doubt this will steal the show. The Logan Paul involvement worries me a little, as it might be a distraction (plus he’s an awful human being), but on the plus side, Owens has promised to dive off the pirate ship in the Raymond James stadium!
And that about wraps things up! I’ve got a quick preview of NXT Takeover below for those interested, but this wraps up everything you need to know for WrestleMania.
It may not be WrestleMania as we know it, but having fans back will make a huge difference. The first person to come out is going to get a thunderous ovation, and for a few hours glorious hours, it’ll feel like normal.
I’ll be watching both nights live, so if you have any questions before, during or after the event, please feel free to send them to me on Twitter - @TheGutteridge.
NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver Preview
- Io Shirai © vs. Raquel Gonzalez for the NXT Women’s Title: I for sure expect Raquel to win this one, as she’s been on a tear recently, highlighted by beating Rhea Ripley in a Last Woman Standing match. Io has had a great run as champion, but it feels time for her to leave and give Raquel a run with the title.
- Walter © vs. Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT UK Title: This is going to be STIFF. Walter chops people so hard they have out of body experiences, and Ciampa loves nothing more than gritting things out. There is no way in the current climate that Ciampa is going to win the UK title, but this could be an excellent statement win for Walter (who always over-delivers for big matches) and a great way to get eyes on NXT UK.
- MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado Del Fantasma for the vacant NXT Tag Team Titles: It’s really unfortunate that former champions Lorcan and Burch had to vacate their titles due to Burch picking up an injury, but this feels basically like the match we would have got anyway. MSK have a lot of momentum after winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Tournament, but I think GYV will win here to extend their feud with MSK for a while. And that’s not just because GYV are English . . .
- Six-Man Gauntlet for an NXT North American Title match on Night Two: The obvious answer here is Dexter Lumis, who has had a long feud with current NXT North American champion Johnny Gargano. They could throw a surprise and give the win to Bronson Reed, who has been on a good run recently, but I think they’ll play it safe.
- Pete Dunne vs. Kushida: This may have no stakes outside of “who is the best technical wrestler in NXT”, but given enough time on the show this could be the dark horse for match of the night. Kushida doesn’t tend to win big matches when they come around, so I’ll back Dunne.
Night Two (Deliver?) - Thursday 8th April
- Finn Balor © vs. Karrion Kross for the NXT Title: By far the biggest match NXT has to offer right now, pitting Kross, who had to vacate the title after a one day reign due to a shoulder injury, taking on the man who won the vacant title weeks later. Both have been in fine in-ring form, but I do feel this is a course correction for NXT. Kross should be given the run he never got to enjoy last time, and Balor’s vacation back in NXT feels like it’s done its job in revitalising him and it’s time for him to go back to the main roster, his place on NXT’s Mount Rushmore secured.
- NXT North American Title match: Johnny Gargano will be defending his title against the winner of the 6-man gauntlet on Night One. I suspect it will be Lumis, who has been feuding with Gargano recently, and I’d say he’s the only one with a meaningful chance of winning the title. But Gargano has arguably been the weekly highlight of NXT TV as the deluded leader of The Way, so unless he’s going up to Raw or SD, I’d say he’s odds on to retain.
- Jordan Devlin © vs. Santos Escobar © in a NXT Cruiserweight Unification Ladder match: This match came about as Irishman Jordan Devlin was unable to defend his title due to flight restrictions. Escobar was crowned the interim champion, and now we arrive at the long awaited unification match. I feel like the title has been in a holding pattern until this match could take place, but I think that they see Escobar as a major breakout act, so I’ll back him.
- Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart © vs. The Way for the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles: The Way, comprised of Candice LeRea and Indi Hartwell, have been an hilarious heel act since their inception, and I do like the idea of them holding gold alongside group lead Gargano, but Moon and Blackheart only just won the newly minted titles, so I think they’ll hold on to them for now. Plus, they ride a tank to the ring, which needs repeating whenever possible.
- Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly in an Unsanctioned match: I list this last as there are no titles involved, but this could well main event. The break up of the Undisputed Era, the NXT super group that ruled the roost for several years and even held every men’s title on the show at one point, is being treated like a huge deal. Former leader Cole booted out O’Reilly for alleged “weakness”, and now the two real life best friends (this is very much a theme over this week it turns out) are now out to end each other’s career. There are question marks over what role former UE teammates Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish may play, but I think they’ll use this to launch O’Reilly as the new lead good guy on the show, paving the way for Cole to move to the main roster. This very well could be the best match of WrestleMania week.