Tuesday, April 3, 2018

WrestleMania Will Be Seven Hours Long, and That's Okay

Seven hours of Mania (sponsored by Snickers!) isn't too much if you time out your WWE viewing
Graphics Credit: WWE.com
Last year's WrestleMania (technically 33 but unofficially "WrestleMania: The Big Bright Florida Sun") was the longest ever. The pre-show started at 5 PM local time, and then The Undertaker was swallowed up by the ramp just around midnight. That is seven hours. Seven damn hours. And with 13 matches announced for WrestleMania 34 (unofficially "WrestleMania: Also The New Orleans Saints"), the same number as last year's Mania, we are likely in for just as long of a haul.

The glut of content produced by WWE is a perpetual source of hand-wringing. We complain that WWE is asking for too large of a slice of our lives to be devoted to watching their stuff. The trick is to just not watch very much of it. I haven't watched a full episode of RAW or Smackdown in well over a year, and folks, I am doing just fine. I watch most of the PPVs, I catch a video package here and there, and I'm good to go. Maybe I miss out on the little character quirks that pop up throughout the weeks, but I read enough recaps and analysis that I have a good enough idea of what's going on.

But I will watch every minute of WrestleMania and I will be more than happy to do it.

The first reason is that I, like many of you, am a creature of habit and I don't really know how to do anything else but watch every WrestleMania that will be produced until the end of time. Even if I pull the trigger and cancel my WWE Network subscription, I'll still pop in every April and see what Vince McMahon has to offer.

But I will sit through all seven hours and enjoy it because, for better or worse, WrestleMania has become the WWE's State of the Union address: eagerly anticipated, overly long, often dull, but intermittently explosive and memorable.

It has become this way by necessity. WWE has so much content, therefore they have so many performers, that in order to accurately show you what they can do, they have to get everyone out there. Yes, there are 13 matches and in advance, that feels like it will be an eternity. But what are they supposed to do, cut a couple matches? Get rid of the battle royals completely? If they did that, we all would pitch a fit about so and so being left off the card due to time restraints. "Heath Slater is shunned again, and for what?? When will they ever do right by him??" You've heard it all before.

WWE is avoiding this problem not just because they don't want to give the raging mob more fuel for their torches. As crooked of a company WWE may be, they do seem to believe in the principle of putting as many people as possible on the WrestleMania card. The performers get a payday, and they get a show of respect for being with the company. Yes, it results in an incredibly long show, but hey, it's not going to harm our lives by having to watch Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal mope around the ring, especially since Rusev will crush them all and make us smile.

And ultimately, we should remember that the seven hours of WrestleMania will pass through us like so much of the content we consume in 2018. Albums come and go in the blink of an eye. We binge-watch a TV show and then never think about it again. So if we watch seven hours of Wrestlemania, and we only remember like five or six good moments from it, it won't be a huge departure from how we normally live our lives — as fickle zombies excited by momentary bouts of euphoria, distracting ourselves from inevitable death and destruction caused by the forces of money and power.

Happy WrestleMania-watching, everyone!