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The big one


The biggest wrestling pay-per-view of all time is still three months away but there's already speculation as to how the WWE will be able to fit all the big names from past and present into Wrestlemania. They could relegate the mid-card grapplers to a tag match on Sunday Night Heat. Or dump the cruiserweights in a throwaway battle royal. Or even knock 10 minutes off any matches not featuring a member of the McMahon family.

All believable options but the WWE is instead looking at an alternative plan. They're going to take the event's running time and stretch it like never before. WWE pay-per-views typically fade to black after about three hours. Even the extended 'Mania show last year barely cracked 3:45 but the upcoming supercard is going to blow that number out of the water.

Wrestlemania XX will be over four hours in length, a WWE spokesperson told the Sun this week and if Internet reports are to be believed, the eventual running time could be closer to the five-hour mark.

The mega-event, which goes down March 14 from Madison Square Garden in New York, will kick off with an hour-long pre-game show at 5 p.m. Calgary time, followed by feature presentation at 6 p.m. By the time the final bell rings on the main event, viewers will have been treated to (or punished by, depending on how the show shapes up) almost six hours of first-run action from MSG.

The lineup for Wrestlemania is still up in the air but the seeds for the money matches are already being subtly planted in current storylines. The company seems to be building towards Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg, Triple H vs. Mick Foley, Undertaker vs. Kane and Vince McMahon vs. Steve Austin.

There's also the usual rumblings about big names from the past showing up to bask in the 20th anniversary festivities, with the majority of the talk centring around Bret Hart, The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and (Macho Man) Randy Savage.

When it comes to Hart, I'm pleading the fifth. There's been a lot of buzz the Hitman will show up but Bret himself said it's unlikely he'll ever set foot in a WWE ring again. McMahon and Bret have spoken, spawning even more rumours but if anything comes from those conversations, I'll let Bret address it in his own column.

As for the Warrior, the guy believes his hype and lives his gimmick, which currently involves describing Vince McMahon as a scumbag in public, so I can't imagine the Warrior denting his credibility by accepting a paycheque from the man he claims to despise. Hogan is less likely than ever to show up at 'Mania due to nagging problems from his October knee surgery. The Hulkster has cancelled a booking in Japan next month and his NWA debut has been pushed back until mid-2004.

Savage is all over the press trying to create some fan demand for his return but the WWE apparently has little interest in bringing him in. But no matter who ends up on the card, Wrestlemania XX is definitely one to file under 'can't-miss', set to be the biggest show in wrestling history.