**Sigh** I guess I have to write something about this PPV. While you have already been treated to many write-ups about the upcoming Wrestlemania XXXI, I felt obligated to throw in my personal opinions about the card. I have not read other articles about this PPV, so if I do happen to say anything similar, its mere coincidence. I wasn’t planning on writing about it, but I was asked whether I was going to write something the other day. I have found time to do so, so I shall be making my way through the card in no particular order.
Pre-Show – One thing I noticed this year, is that the main show is going to be four hours long, and the pre-show is going to be two hours long. WWE is expecting the attendees to be there for six hours? I feel like the three hour Raws have forced WWE to give Wrestlemania even more time to come across as special. It’s going to be a rather exhausting experience for all involved.
Despite the pre-show being announced as two hours long, we have one match scheduled for it. This includes the tag team title match:- Tyson Kidd/Cesaro vs Los Matadores vs The New Day vs The Usos.
The tag team division has become an afterthought once again. The main problem being is that all four of these teams lack star quality. It lacks anyone who has “It”, and any kind of heated buildup. It’s even harder to take this seriously when the highlight is watching Natalya destroy El Torito. I have found it rather difficult to care about these teams lately. They don’t do anything to grab my attention.
Divas – Let me get this straight. We have a Divas Championship match on the Raw before Wrestlemania, but no Divas match at Wrestlemania itself? What’s even worse is the fact that this tag team match between AJ Lee/Paige vs The Bellas appears to be a match to build up to a (possible) feud between AJ Lee and Paige. This means The Bellas will win again after AJ and Paige fail to work as a team.
Even if AJ and Paige do win this match, it won’t amount to anything. This match barely has a reason to make the card in my opinion. You know what would have been more interesting? A fatal four-way between AJ, Paige and The Bellas for the Divas Championship. At least then it would give the fans hope that either AJ or Paige could dethrone Nikki, and give the “dark horse” factor of Brie turning on her sister. But no, just another divas tag team match. Lame.
André The Giant Battle Royal – I have zero hopes for this battle royal after what happened last year. Cesaro got his Wrestlemania moment, it appeared like he would gain some momentum from that. As we saw, the booking killed his victory, and it amounted to nothing. Why should we care who wins this match after that?
You know what’s even more disappointing? The Miz and Damien Mizdow do not have a singles match and they are both thrown into this instead. I can see a possible Miz vs Mizdow moment at the end of this match, and the fans would go crazy for Mizdow. But yeah … this is WWE we are talking about. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had someone like Kane or the Big Show win. Ryback is another name who could win this, just to keep his name relevant during his time of mediocrity. Whatever happens, I don’t expect it be amazing, unless they happen to capitalize on the amazing build-up they have made between Miz and Mizdow. Keeping expectations as low as possible though.
Orton vs Rollins – It just seems to me that this feud has gone on for a long time, and I cannot buy Orton as the babyface. Funny how … considering how heated the two guys are towards each other, this is only a singles match. Why couldn’t it be a cage match? Or at least a no disqualification? The singles match stipulation does not sit well with me. What is the difference this time to anything we have seen on Raw or Smackdown? Not much. All I can see is Randy Orton getting his revenge and putting this feud to bed.
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match – Everyone knows this match is likely to steal the show in terms of match quality. There is a lot of talent in this match, and it’s so difficult to pick a winner. Basically, WWE took guys who could have gone to the main event of Wrestlemania (Bryan, Ambrose, Ziggler), and found this for them instead. Although it is disappointing to see talent being wasted, matches like these can create moments we will remember for a lifetime.
I am a big fan of Bad News Barrett. Maybe I am biased because he is a fellow Englishmen, but on this occasion I cannot see him defending the title. The “hot potato” angle of everyone stealing his title only tells me that his time is up. I cannot see anyone other than Bryan, Ambrose or Ziggler winning. Stardust, Harper and Truth are there to fill out the numbers.
Daniel Bryan is undoubtedly one of the most loved and respected wrestlers in the business today. It’s hard for the fans to hear him constantly referred to as an underdog. I know Daniel Bryan wants to maintain this image, but maybe this match will serve as his “consolation prize” for him and the fans. I believe the losses to Ziggler were done to give the fans a feeling of lost momentum for Bryan. After much thought, I have decided that Bryan will win this match. If he does not, it will be Ambrose. Ziggler is the dark horse, and that’s how it should be going into a match of this nature. All the participants in this match can work, and all have experience in ladder matches. I’m expecting nothing less than a classic.
Rusev vs Cena – Surprisingly enough, I am looking forward to this match. Before you kill me for having an opinion, I am not a fan of John Cena at all. I can respect Cena as a person, and even as a wrestler, but Cena has always needed the right opponent to get the most out of him. This feud reminds me of the John Cena vs Umaga feud, where Umaga dominated Cena as a monster heel. This led to one of Cena’s better matches of his career, it was absolutely brutal.
At Fast Lane, I was blown away by the match between these two. Not sure how many fans cared to sit and actually watch this match properly, but it was arguably better than the main event. The story telling was top-notch. Cena passing out to The Accolade was a refreshing end to a John Cena match. Maybe I just really enjoy a monster heel destroying Cena? Whatever it is, it seems to work for me.
The biggest problem with this match, can it be better than the last one? I ain’t sure about that. Most sequels end up being cheap copies of their originals, so something needs to be done to set a different tone. Something needs to snap in John Cena (in his character), it’s up to him to get the best possible match out of Rusev. Cena has to make Rusev look amazing again. Rusev has everything to lose, and Cena has everything to win. If Rusev wins, he gets his Wrestlemania moment, and his name becomes concrete with such a prolific victory. If Cena wins, all the momentum Rusev has will soon fade, the US title will “come home”, and the streak will end.
Rusev is being built for the future, having John Cena end his streak here will not help Rusev or Cena. The fans (who already hate Cena) will hate on Cena even more, as his “Superman” powers overcome a guy who JBL claims “cannot be beat”. It’s a tough decision, as Rusev does need to lose at some point, but is Cena the right guy to do it? I don’t think so, and hopefully WWE feels the same way. Rusev defeating Cena is what needs to happen, but I ain’t going to hope too much. As you can tell, I am a big fan of Rusev’s work, this guy is a pure old-school heel, and I want his dominance to continue.
The Undertaker returns – I have mixed feelings about this one. It’s incredibly difficult to build to a match with only one guy. I have to give it to Bray Wyatt though, he has done everything possible to build it all on his own. The promo he cut on Raw took Wyatt to the next level for me. He has proven to me that he can carry on as the dark and mysterious force, much like The Undertaker has done for decades. Wyatt has many years ahead of him, and this does feel like a passing of the torch.
The return of The Undertaker after his loss last year is undoubtedly confusing a lot of fans. Instead of The Undertaker coming back briefly (even if it’s just to cut a promo) to put the fans minds at ease, it’s almost like The Undertaker character has completely forgotten about it. You would assume that after such a historic loss at Wrestlemania, The Undertaker would have addressed it in some fashion, but he hasn’t. This fact alone makes it harder for the fans to buy into this feud between Wyatt and Taker.
The old Undertaker would have made an appearance and said something about it. Without that, the fans are still waiting for him to address it, it’s like .. a terrifying limbo. We want to see The Undertaker, but we don’t want to see The Undertaker return to feud with Wyatt, we want to hear his feelings about the streak ending. Without that closure to such an amazing streak, fans will find it difficult to truly care about this match.
Unless The Undertaker defeats Wyatt and announces his retirement afterwards (which is a huge possibility), the fans are going to be angry and asking lots of questions. Bray Wyatt winning this match will cause an even bigger stir than last years Wrestlemania. It won’t put heat on Wyatt, it will put heat on Vince for booking it that way. If The Undertaker is truly going to retire, give him one last victory against Wyatt, then have him cut a promo as Mark Calloway. Have him put The Undertaker gimmick to bed, let him speak from the heart, and it will make this Wrestlemania memorable just for that one moment.
Sting vs Triple H – I expect this match to be intense, and better than some will expect. Sting has had time to rest from his TNA tenure, and Triple H has proven he can still return and deliver. The one thing that irks me about this match? It’s a singles match. Both Sting and Triple H thrive in a no holds barred environment. They should be allowed to brawl into the audience, they should be allowed to use their respective trademark weapons, and they should be allowed to bleed. The match between The Undertaker and Triple H (the first one) springs to mind. By booking this as a singles match, it turns it into more of a wrestling match than a fight, which isn’t enough.
The build-up for it has been decent, but not amazing. I feel like WWE killed the mystique of Sting by allowing him to talk so close to Wrestlemania. They should have either a) let him talk from the beginning, or b) not let him talk at all. By allowing him to talk we found out what he was thinking, and it hurt the mystique he was bringing to the feud. Even if Sting didn’t talk, the fans would know why he targeted Triple H. Anyone who watched Sting knows he’s always had an issue with corrupt authority. He is the ultimate good guy, he is always fighting the evil, and Triple H is the epitome of evil. We didn’t need Sting to tell us that.
What would have been cool? Sting defeating Triple H, only to get on the microphone afterwards and thanking every single fan for believing in him. That would have gone over much better. Instead they decided to throw it away after an episode of Raw a couple of weeks before, just so they could plug the WWE Network. The promo was pretty short and disappointing also. Not because of the way Sting delivered it, but because he pointed out the obvious with nothing else to add to it. I have mixed feelings about the way they have built the match, but I still expect it to be one of the most memorable.
Main Event: Lesnar vs Reigns – So much has been said about this feud, and many have expressed their lack of interest. You could take the epic Heyman promos out of this feud, and there would be very little footage to hype it. It appears likely that Lesnar will leave WWE, and Reigns is hand-chosen to take the belt off him. The problem is that Reigns simply isn’t over. Whether he is ready or not, he isn’t over with the fans. It’s likely to have one of the biggest mixed reactions of the night, as Reigns fans will cheer Reigns, fans with little interest for Reigns will cheer for Lesnar, and those in-between just won’t care to react. I can see a large portion of die-hard wrestling fans crapping all over it. The one thing to look forward to is the crowd reaction for this main event.
You never know! Lesnar and Reigns could deliver a classic. However … remember the last time Lesnar had a Wrestlemania match just before leaving? It was the classic between Lesnar and Goldberg, a match which ended up an absolute snooze-fest. Even Steve Austin as special guest referee could not save it. Lesnar could have the same mentality going into this, and it takes two men to work a wrestling match. It depends how professional Lesnar wants to be, and how well he can work with Reigns. Lesnar has the experience to lead this match, and he has the experience to make Reigns look good, but does he have the motivation?
Lesnar is not yet confirmed to be leaving WWE. I believe the only way this match can end well is for Lesnar to be victorious. It would bring Lesnar full-circle from one year ago, and it would mean Lesnar continuing on as WWE Champion. It’s difficult to see anyone defeating him for the title though, as WWE did such a great job building him up to be an unstoppable machine. It would feel rather anti-climatic for Reigns to end Lesnar’s dominance, especially after the horrible buildup and vocal reaction to his push. Yet again, it would bring the WWE Championship back, and the title would be defended more. On the other side of the coin, having the title defended every month devalues the attraction of a title match. Vince has stated that having the WWE Network means they don’t necessarily need a WWE Championship match on every PPV. This is why he had no problem putting the title on the part-timer Lesnar.
The winner of this match can only be decided by Lesnar’s decision to stay on with WWE or not. If he is staying on, I can’t see him losing the title. If he is leaving, he has no choice but to lose the title to Reigns. I don’t really want to give a prediction, because sadly it’s not a booking decision anymore, it’s a decision based on an unsigned contract. It’s a lame way to decide the winner of the main event of Wrestlemania, but that’s what it’s come down too. The winner will decide Lesnar’s future, and I hope he stays on.
And of course we have the dark horse. Seth Rollins cashing in is a possibility, but I don’t know. Rollins cashing in on Lesnar would seem unrealistic. Rollins cashing in on Reigns is likely to cause a huge pop for Rollins more than anything else. WWE don’t want the crowd to cheer for Rollins. I would be pretty surprised if he does cash in at Wrestlemania in front of international wrestling fans, who we know have respect for “wrestlers” like Seth Rollins.
Conclusion:- I wasn’t going to write about this topic initially, but I ended up changing my mind. I have a rather cynical view of this PPV, and that is by design. I do not want to hope too much, because if WWE can screw two Royal Rumbles (in a row) up, they can screw Wrestlemania up as well. Recent Wrestlemania’s have lacked a decent undercard to complement the main event matches. WWE tends to focus more on the “main event” matches, and do very little for the undercard. They do this because they don’t want mid-card talents “stealing the show”. It’s very disappointing, but that continues to be their mentality.
The ladder match is undoubtedly going to be the highlight for many. At least WWE gave us something to look forward to in that respect. Now, if I had a gun to my head and I was forced to pick another match from this card that would “steal the show”, it would be Sting vs Triple H. The biggest moment of the night would be The Undertaker’s retirement, if that’s what the Wyatt/Taker feud is leading to. Aside from that, the rest of this PPV will be nothing special, and nothing we have not already seen before on Raw or Smackdown.
The last thing I will say … don’t hope or expect anything to happen, then you won’t be left disappointed when the obvious doesn’t happen. It’s a rather cynical view, but I only view it this way because of the current product and recent booking cock-ups. Who knows, maybe they will get it right this time? If the answer to that question is “yeah .. right .. sure they will” in a sarcastic tone, you and I are on the same wavelength.
And that’s it from me. I can’t think of anything else to say, so hopefully you enjoyed my disappointing tone. Hopefully you continue that tone with your amazing comments, and we end Wrestlemania a happier bunch then we were going into it. Peace.