Ever since last year's WrestleMania XXVIII, WWE has produced half-hour pre-shows for each of its pay-per-views. WWE has decided to go even bigger at WrestleMania XXIX, however, as the pre-show will last one hour. That change should help the creative team when it comes to pacing WrestleMania itself.
According to PWMania.com, Stephanie McMahon announced at South by Southwest 2013 that the WrestleMania XXIX pre-show would be extended by 30 minutes. Although she didn't say what the pre-show would entail, it figures to be similar to the ones we have seen over the past year, only with an extra match or two as well as more backstage interviews.
The pay-per-view pre-shows have been shown on YouTube and WWE.com, and they have offered fans a taste of the event in hopes of increasing pay-per-view buys. The pre-shows have been pretty formulaic to this point, as they have featured a match that couldn't quite fit on the main card. Since the WWE's roster is so large, it's impossible to get everyone on the WrestleMania card, so an hour-long pre-show should afford more opportunities.
One thing that McMahon did mention is that the WrestleMania XXIX pre-show will be more interactive than past ones have been. Fans may even be able to vote on a stipulation or a match that will come into play later in the night. WWE has obviously made a huge push in terms of social media over the past year or two, so an interactive pre-show is the next step in the natural progression of the company.
While that aspect of the pre-show is intriguing, my real interest lies in what the extended pre-show means for WrestleMania XXIX itself. There are currently seven matches scheduled, and that is likely to move up to eight with the inevitable addition of Chris Jericho vs. Fandango.
WrestleMania has featured 10 or more matches on the card many times in the past, but WrestleMania XXVII and WrestleMania XXVIII each had eight contests.
Provided WWE decides to stick with that trend, there are a number of guys who can be placed on the pre-show. An Intercontinental championship match between Wade Barrett and The Miz seems pretty obvious, so that could headline the pre-show.
Also, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro has yet to be placed in a bout, so he may defend his strap against someone like Sin Cara or Kofi Kingston. If there is enough time for a third match, the remaining talent can be put in a traditional pre-show Battle Royal.
Most fans would rather see many of those guys on the main card, but WWE can only do so much with four hours. It used to be pretty common for there to be 14 or 15 matches on a WrestleMania card, but half of them would be five minutes or less, which defeats the purpose. If there is no true reason for a guy to be on the card other than for name recognition, then he may be better off on the pre-show anyway.
Over the past couple years, WWE has gravitated toward a triple main event of sorts. Rather than just one headline match, WWE likes to give the fans three of equal value. Last year is a perfect example, as we got The Rock vs. Cena, The Undertaker vs.Triple H, and CM Punk vs. Jericho. The same thing is true when it comes to WrestleMania XXIX as we'll see The Rock vs. Cena II, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker vs. Punk.
Each of those bouts will almost certainly last at least 20 minutes, and all of them could even approach the 30-minute mark, so that leaves WWE with very little spare time. WWE was so pressed for time last year that the World Heavyweight Championship match between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus lasted a mere 18 seconds. That actually ended up being a good thing for Bryan's career, but it left many fans sour as they felt like they were robbed of a potentially great encounter.
Perhaps there will be a short match on the card, but I doubt it will be the Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger bout for the world title. If WWE was forced to put Barrett vs. Miz and other potential lower-card matches on the televised pay-per-view, then it would definitely take away from the quality of other matches. An extended pre-show will allow WWE to set things up more effectively even if it isn't ideal for some of the talent.
WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, so there is no reason for WWE to not go the extra mile in an effort to help out its Superstars and Divas. Not everyone can be on the main card, but the hour-long pre-show gives WWE a lot of options and should allow for some better matches on the pay-per-view itself as well.