We are quickly approaching the 31st WrestleMania and through the history of this event WWE has gone through different eras. WrestleManias I through IX were the “Hulkamania Era” with Hulk Hogan being a part of all of the main events in the first nine WrestleMania’s. The next four WrestleManias, X through XIII, showcased the “New Generation” headlined by the likes of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. WrestleManias XIV through XIX, the “Attitude Era,” were the most profitable with Steve Austin and The Rock headlining. WrestleMania XX was the beginning of the “Ruthless Aggression” era, but is also notable for jump-starting the career of John Cena who would be WWE’s main event star for WrestleManias 21 through 25. WrestleMania XXVI to the present has been the “Part Time Superstars Era,” culminating in part time stars taking up the majority of the main event slots on the biggest show the WWE has all year long.
WrestleMania XXVI was the jump start of WWE’s focus on putting their eggs in the basket of these part time stars to boost PPV buys and attendance numbers for the biggest show of the year. In 2010, at WM XXVI, Bret Hart (wrestled 11 matches that year) came back and competed in his first match since 2000 when he wrestled Vince McMahon (2). Shawn Michaels (25) retired that year after losing a “Career vs. Streak” match against The Undertaker (49). Triple H wrestled Sheamus in the last year he wrestled more than 9 matches in a single year (39).
WrestleMania XXVII was the return of The Rock as the official host of the event that took the spotlight off of the up and coming heel, The Miz. WM XXVII was then more about John Cena and The Rock despite the main event showcasing The Miz defending the WWE championship against John Cena. The Miz’s career has never been the same since. Triple H challenged the Undertaker to end Taker’s undefeated streak. This was Undertaker’s one and only match for 2011 whilst Triple H wrestling in 9 matches in the same year.
WrestleMania XXVIII was the in-ring return of The Rock, who wrestled John Cena in The Rock’s only match of 2012, continuing their rivalry from the previous year. Chris Jericho also made his return to the ring after taking all of 2011 off to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship. Undertaker and Triple H competed in a Hell in a Cell match. This was Undertaker’s only match in 2012 and Triple H’s second of three matches in 2012.
WrestleMania XXIX had part time stars like Chris Jericho (59), Triple H (5), Undertaker (4), Brock Lesnar (3) and The Rock (3). The lead up to this event saw The Rock end CM Punk’s 434 day WWE Championship reign when The Rock won their match at the Royal Rumble PPV. WrestleMania hasn’t had a WWE champion that had ever wrestled in so few matches in the same year calendar year as this was the pinnacle of part time stars stealing the spotlight from the regular roster members.
WrestleMania XXX was a shining moment for regular roster members and workhorses, Daniel Bryan won two matches and became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. This didn’t mean that there weren’t part time stars at WrestleMania, because Batista (32), Road Dogg (18), Billy Gunn (18), Triple H (4), Brock Lesnar (4), and the Undertaker (1) filled out the card.
This year’s WrestleMania has Sting, Triple H and The Undertaker all wrestling their first matches of 2015. This event also has Brock Lesnar wrestling his second match of 2015.
The WWE has every reason to load up their No. 1 PPV of the year with the biggest names in the pro wrestling industry to garner the most PPV buys and WWE Network subscriptions they can. There will come a time when the WWE has emptied the well of top drawing Superstars to use for WrestleMania. This is a direct reflection of the WWE’s refusal to build/keep top Superstars through the “John Cena” era of WrestleMania 21 – present. If the WWE were to go to this same well when the current WWE main eventers are at the same age of the Triple H’s, Undertaker’s, and Brock Lesnar’s of today than they would only have John Cena and Daniel Bryan as Superstars who have histories of drawing. That is unless they can convince the stubborn CM Punk to go against his word and return to the WWE.
It will only be a matter of time before the current crop of NXT Superstars will be relied upon to build WrestleMania’s attendance and WWE Network subscription numbers. John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns will be the “New Generation” Superstars like those in the mid-90’s as they bled into the Attitude Era.
If you are frustrated with the WWE filling up the biggest PPV of the year with part time stars then look to the not so distant future for the next boom period in WWE. Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor are three of the most talented men in professional wrestling. The WWE is looking to add more talented independent talents such as Samoa Joe and the Briscoe Brothers. Those are cream of the crop wrestlers that can draw if the WWE machine will get behind them.