A Non-Wrestling Fan’s Guide To Wrestlemania 34 In New Orleans
We're almost there. Wrestlemania 34 will finally arrive in New Orleans this Sunday night. Which isn't just a pro wrestling event, it's a cultural event. In fact, if you look at other large sporting events, like the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game and the Super Bowl, Wrestlemania usually outdraws both.
Wrestlemania also brings a huge economic boom to it's host city and state, which means we get to benefit from this year's event here in Louisiana. The economic impact for last year's Wrestlemania in Orlando topped $180 million, and based on the annual increase of of that impact, this year's event could draw near $200 million.
So, now that we've established that WWE and Wrestlemania are real players in the "real world", let's talk about why it's fun. Here are the big headlines you need to know about for this year's Wrestlemania:
1. Ronda Rousey is a WWE wrestler now.
We need to start with the biggest splash that WWE has made recently. In fact, it might be the biggest contract signing in the history of pro wrestling.
Ronda Rousey, the most recognizable name in the history of female mixed martial arts (and an Olympic medalist) is now a WWE wrestler.
She will be having her first ever WWE match at Wrestlemania, and will be doing it with three of the biggest names in the history of pro wrestling. It will be a mixed-tag match, where her partner will be Olympic Gold medalist and former WWE Champion Kurt Angle. She'll be taking on Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie, and her husband, WWE legend Triple H.
2. Daniel Bryan is back in a WWE ring.
One of the most popular pro wrestlers of the last ten years, Daniel Bryan, had to abruptly retire a few years ago due to concerns about concussion trauma. But after years of seeing specialists, going through tests, and working hard to get back, he's now been medically cleared to return to the ring.
Which is a great story already, but the fact that his first match back will be happening at Wrestlemania in New Orleans makes this even more special.
Last time Wrestlemania was in New Orleans, Daniel Bryan had one of the greatest nights in pro wrestling history, when he defeated three WWE legends in one night to become the WWE Champion.
3. John Cena will probably fight The Undertaker in his last match
Outside of Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar, John Cena is likely the most recognizable active pro wrestler in the world. He's now a full blown movie star, he's a reality TV star, and hosts award shows too.
The Undertaker might be the biggest pro wrestling star, who's only been a pro wrestler, in history. He carried an undefeated streak across over 20 Wrestlemanias, until that streak was broken at the last Wrestlemania held in New Orleans. Last year, he was defeated at Wrestlemania once again, and staged a retirement-like exit from the ring.
However. There have been rumblings that Undertaker wants one more match. Which seems like a real possibility after WWE has been pushing John Cena to call out 'Taker every week, for about a month.
Now, the match hasn't officially been made, but they've now spent a month building this up. While doing the promotion, Cena has also become pretty personal towards The Undertaker, which is generally something that doesn't happen unless everyone involved is alright with it.
I think the only way we don't see John Cena vs The Undertaker is if someone bigger intervenes. Someone like, The Rock. If we end up with The Rock vs. John Cena instead of Cena vs. The Undertaker...there won't be many complaints.
4. Charlotte Flair, daughter of legend Ric Flair, goes for her Wrestlemania moment
Ric Flair's daughter, Charlotte Flair, is one of the best female wrestlers the sport has ever seen. She's an extremely gifted athlete, a former college volleyball player, and has her dad's skills with a microphone in her hand. She currently hold's one of WWE's Women's Championships, and will be facing off with one of the best female wrestlers on the plant Asuka.
There's added intrigue, because since joining WWE, Asuka is undefeated.
5. One of the greatest matches in WWE history has been set up
I actually talked about this one earlier this week. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are two of the greatest pro wrestlers in the world today. They both tore a path across the globe, become massive stars without the promotional machine of the WWE.
They have met in the ring before. During their time with New Japan Pro Wrestling they put on an instant classic. A match people will talk about for a long time. (you can see it now in the link a few sentences above)
But now they're both in WWE, and they're ready to bring that same style to the Wrestlemania stage. This will probably go down as the match of the night.
6. Brock Lesnar's last Wrestlemania might be here
We talked about how big of a name Ronda Rousey is, but right there with her is Brock Lesnar. Now Brock is different, because he was a WWE star before he became a UFC Champion. But since then, he's become one of the biggest money draws in WWE and UFC history. He's floated between both for a decade, but he's getting older. He's probably not going to be able to keep switching.
So if Lesnar wants to get one more shot at the UFC Championship, he's going to need to make his way back to the UFC soon.
Which might be why this statement was made on WWE's Monday Night Raw this week:
The threat is, Brock Lesnar loses, he's leaving WWE. Now technically, he said WWE Monday Night Raw, which opens the door to Brock going to WWE Smackdown on Tuesday nights.
But, in the video of UFC President Dana White above, White says Brock Lesnar is returning to the UFC.
So if this all fits together, Brock may lose Sunday, drop his title, and leave WWE for the UFC (again). My belief is that due to his age, this might be the last time Lesnar is in a WWE ring for a Wrestlemania match.
There's a ton of other cool stuff happening with Wrestlemania this weekend, but if you're not a huge WWE fan, most of it will be secondary to you. But these 6 things should get you excited for Wrestlemania, even if you're not a huge WWE fan.