Making a return from last year’s event, WrestleMania 31 will once again feature the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match to
commemorate one of the biggest—literally and figuratively—legends in the
history of the business.
Last year, Cesaro took home the prize and instead of being
set up for a massive push, was promptly cast aside and forced to struggle for
the rest of the year. Naturally, WWE would like the fans to forget about how
that all went down. Instead, the winner of this match should be viewed as
having won something prestigious in a way that could result in more of a
spotlight being put on them.
However, let’s not forget that despite that being the goal,
this is still not much more than a means to get a large number of talent on the
card. It’s certainly going to be a WrestleMania moment for the winner, but this
is by no means the equivalent of winning the Royal Rumble. There is a lot of
leeway in who can come out on top here and it isn’t the end of the world if a
few months down the line, the victor isn’t in the main event for SummerSlam or
something of the sort.
Keeping all that in mind, who are the most logical choices
WWE should be weighing as potential winners of this match? Let’s take a look at
some of the candidates.
If WWE is going to pick someone at random that could use a
bit of a boost, Ryback is definitely in that category. There seems to be this
“stop and go” mentality when it comes to pushing The Big Guy, where WWE
is willing to acknowledge that the fans cheer for him, but is unwilling to
really do much about it.
There’s only so many times that Ryback can be booked as a
midcarder before any hope that he can be more than that is eradicated. Some of
the other men at this level like Kane and Mark Henry could benefit just the
same, but have world title reigns to their names already. That distinction
makes all the difference. Ryback has yet to win a single title in WWE and if
the plans are true that the United States Championship and Intercontinental
Championship are going to have an increased presence, the more legitimate
contenders for those titles, the better. Ryback would be a great person to add
into that mix and having him win this battle royal would be a nice way to make
up for his losses.
4. Big Show
If you’re talking logic, then what makes the most sense is
for the World’s Largest Athlete to win. After all, this entire match is
dedicated to the memory of the man that Big Show originally debuted as being
the kayfabe son of. Who better to win an Andre the Giant match than The Giant
Big Show is perpetually in an odd position on the roster as
he’s clearly a main event star, but he bounces all over the place. At any given
time, Big Show can be wrestling for the world title or he can be in a feud with
a midcarder or he can be one half of a tag team. Winning the battle royal at
WrestleMania could ensure that he is not fully lost in the mix of all of the
other upper midcarders that will be fighting for opportunities to obtain the
top three titles in the company.
Also, considering how Big Show has had impressive performances
at multiple Royal Rumbles but never walked away victorious, this would be a
decent way to let the audience know that once in a while, the big man actually
will win the match. If a smaller guy is always able to figure out a way to
eliminate someone significantly larger than him, it becomes less believable
that the Andre the Giant legacy in these types of matches is about size and
more about popularity. We all know how that’s really what goes on behind the
scenes, but in a kayfabe sense, popularity shouldn’t be a factor at all, right?
3. Damien Mizdow
If popularity IS a factor, though, then Damien Mizdow’s name
definitely has to come up. Somehow, Sandow was able to defy the odds by taking
a silly gimmick that has been done numerous times before and instead of just
making a couple imitation jokes and fading into obscurity, he’s become
incredibly over with the crowd. It’s been a fun ride to see him play up the
cheers while The Miz feeds the audience with reasons to boo, but it’s time for
this to come to blows.
It wouldn’t have been a mistake for WWE to book a singles
match between these two at WrestleMania, but the creative team opted to put
that on hold. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see them clash at Extreme Rules and
if we do, this battle royal can be the impetus for that match to happen. All it
takes is for The Miz and Damien Mizdow to be the final two in the match and for
Mizdow to ignore Miz’s orders to eliminate himself by tossing his
“boss” over the top rope. The Miz will naturally be flabbergasted as
the fans will be elated. The following night would of course be the time for
The Miz to avenge his loss by attacking Mizdow in a fashion that can dictate
what stipulation their Extreme Rules match will revolve around.
Damien Sandow (who would have to go back to using his old
name instead of Mizdow, obviously) was screwed out of a proper use of his Money
in the Bank title shot and is still in recovery mode after all this time. A win
here could be the difference maker between him getting a push in 2015 and him
being relegated to comedic jobber status. The man’s too good to be thrown away in
the latter role, so he should definitely be taken seriously as someone that can
benefit from a proper WrestleMania moment such as this.
2. The Featured NXT
WWE will be holding a tournament at Axxess to determine
which of the following four wrestlers from NXT will get a slot in the battle
royal: Finn Balor, Adrian Neville, Hideo Itami or Tyler Breeze.
All four men are very talented and could easily win the
tournament and put on a great show. The smart bet isn’t to put a lot of money
down on them winning it, though, as the likelihood that someone from the developmental
brand would defeat every other main roster star is rather low.
But what if that’s exactly what did happen? Sooner or later,
the plan must be to move all of these men to the main roster and if WWE plays
this the right way, this could be a great opportunity to get that process
If the NXT star isn’t too well known to most of the audience, wouldn’t
this be a great way to introduce him to the viewers who don’t check out NXT?
Immediately, he’s looked at as being someone to pay attention to because he
isn’t just making his debut on a random segment on Monday Night Raw that may or
may not be skipped over on the DVR. Sure, his character will need to be fleshed
out more on Raw and SmackDown episodes that follow WrestleMania, but he would start
off with a bang.
This could be the catalyst to moving someone to the main
roster and also giving them their first feud against whomever is the final
person eliminated. That sets up an easy grudge scenario where a good portion of
the work in building up this guy is already done for you.