WWE WrestleMania XXX Thoughts

Photo Credit: WWE

WrestleMania XXX is just around the corner. Theoretically, the 30th WrestleMania should be the biggest one ever. Not so much in terms of attendance (The Super Dome can’t hold over 93,000) and not in terms of Pay-Per-View buy rates (Due to the WWE Network, PPV buy rates won’t touch the ~1 million they’ve been averaging for the last decade). Rather, it should be the biggest WrestleMania in history simply due to the milestone. The 30th WrestleMania should be ridiculously loaded from start to finish. A new era should be ready to begin. Hulk Hogan dominated from WrestleMania I through WrestleMania IX. The New Generation/Attitude Era went from roughly WrestleMania X until WrestleMania XVII. The Invasion/Brock Lesnar Era lasted From WrestleMania XVIII to XX. The John Cena Era has endured since WrestleMania XXI.

By most accounts, the pieces are (were) there for the change to happen. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, AJ Lee, Paige, and other NXT talents should be the present and the future. Those names are just off the top of my head. Heading into WrestleMania XXX, I am slowly starting to realize that the actual event, as grand in scale as it may be, is going to be awful.

I am going to explore some of the main event-level matches and explain how I would do things differently and how the audience will likely respond to WWE’s version- starting with the WWE Championship.

1.  WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Dave Batista

This is the main event of the biggest (In terms of milestones) WrestleMania, ever. The first WrestleMania with the newly recognized WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE gives the audience THIS pile of BS. Before I get to the Batista debacle (and that is putting it nicely), let me discuss Randy Orton’s storylines and booking heading into the event. Last summer, Orton was booked to continue getting screwy wins over Daniel Bryan. In the short-term, people were furious. In the long-term, what kind of payoff would it be if Bryan triumphantly overcame it all when it mattered? Am I right? It would be tremendous.

Orton has not been generating a lot of crowd interest for the last few years. Speaking for myself, I think his shtick is stale and uninspired. I feel like he goes through the motions in many of his matches, not unlike John Cena. Like Cena, some wrestlers can bring out a good match with him. Unlike Cena, Orton’s list of wrestlers is short. Orton also has fairly boring and drawn out promos without much substance. Bottom line, Orton is not terribly ‘over’. To compound this issue, the whole Triple H/McMahon Authority angle has the audience confused. On one hand, the Authority is acting like heels by continuing to ridicule and beat down Daniel Bryan. On the other hand, they also emasculate Orton, another heel. The audience is confused on whether they are supposed to feel sympathy for Orton or not. In turn, the audience reacts with general indifference.

This past Monday on Raw, Orton was randomly brought out prior to Bryan vs. Batista for seemingly no purpose. He was treated like a placeholder champion, but the huge problem is that the person that is going to go over him at WrestleMania is not the one anyone has any interest in seeing do so, which leads into the challenger.

Batista was initially brought back to WWE to be the triumphant, unstoppable baby-face. He was going to return and run over Randy Orton and the Authority and win the title at WrestleMania. In hindsight, there was only one problem: Batista was never THAT popular to begin with. Sure, he was over for a while, but one of his only good matches was against the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Batista is not The Rock. He is not Brock Lesnar. He is not well known enough outside the world of wrestling to generate the buzz that people like that can and do. Batista also walked into another developing debacle: The audience realization that Daniel Bryan was being passed over (legitimately, not storyline) and Batista was getting THE spot at WrestleMania. What has happened since is nothing short of a debacle. First, the Royal Rumble crowd response for Batista was so widely talked about that it served as a precedent to future crowds. What should have been an isolated incident has completely blown up. When Number 30 came out at the Rumble and it was not Daniel Bryan (Poor Rey Mysterio), any crowd pop Batista was getting at the time was effectively over.

Batista reportedly responded by flipping off some fans and talking trash to some of them. Remember, this is supposed to be the ‘knight in shining armor’ baby-face coming to save the day from the evil Randy Orton. WWE thought that the Royal Rumble was an isolated incident, so they tried to stay the course and book Batista the same way. The crowd booed harder and louder by the week. Alberto Del Rio was brought in to try to get some heat and get the crowd behind Batista. Inexplicably, WWE had Batista pummel Del Rio, power bomb him through a table, and then was granted a PPV match so he could ‘get his hands on Del Rio’. What? You just did get your hands on him. As expected, the crowd completely turned on Batista at the Elimination Chamber as well as the following night on Raw.

At this stage of the game, WWE decided to embrace the hate and turn Batista heel after a scathing promo on SmackDown. Before we discuss that, I would like to explore why Batista was being booed. It was not that the audience disliked Batista. It was more a result of the audience not being happy with the direction the storyline seems to be taking. Turning Batista heel is not going to make any money because he is not really generating any heat. No one wants to pay money to watch Batista, a villain, beat up Randy Orton, another villain. Sure, Batista acts like a heel, carries out heel things, and is booed, but he is not what the audience wants to invest in – no one wants to see him get his comeuppance at the hands of Randy Orton.

WWE staying on course for a Heel vs. Heel main event, for the biggest title, at the biggest WrestleMania, is an absolute disaster. Not to mention, Batista has been back for a few months and still cannot work a 10-minute match without being completely blown up and fatigued. His match with Daniel Bryan started at 10:00PM Central and WWE went to commercial at 10:05PM. This was the show overrun and I do not believe I have ever seen a commercial break during the overrun. Back from commercial, Batista was working a rest hold. Batista could not even go for 10 minutes with Daniel Bryan. He cannot work a singles main event at WrestleMania for the WWE Championship.

You must be thinking to yourself that there is no way that the WWE is going to put those two out there and have the crowd completely bury them in possibly the biggest WrestleMania embarrassment in history. Incredibly, all the signs point to this still being the plan. Most likely, this match will follow the Undertaker/Lesnar or Triple H/Bryan match as a ‘comedown’ match. By doing that, WWE will hope the crowd will be more indifferent to the match as opposed to vocally hijacking it.

2.  Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan

I am of the opinion that this was supposed to be CM Punk’s spot against Triple H before he walked out on his contract. My problem with this match is that it seems like a consolation prize for Daniel Bryan. Daniel Bryan is making a lot of money and is going to make a lot more, so I am sure he is totally fine with the match. The issue is that this match solves nothing for me, the audience. The story that culminated at SummerSlam was Daniel Bryan’s struggle to win the WWE Championship only to have it taken from him immediately because of Triple H turning on him. Bryan was then continuously screwed out of the title for the next 2-3 months at every PPV. This is not Dolph Ziggler, either. Daniel Bryan is white hot. Today’s ‘Yes’ is close to ‘Austin 3:16’ in the 1990’s. Daniel Bryan is the most over wrestler in the WWE. Is he selling as much merchandise as Cena? No, but this is probably because he does not have as much merchandise as Cena. That is changing.

Triple H initially turned on Bryan because he did not want him as the ‘Face of the WWE’ (The Champion). Now the culmination will be Bryan defeating Triple H at WrestleMania. What does that accomplish? Bryan still is not the ‘Face of the WWE’, so the Authority wins. This match is 4 months too late and judging by the booing from the audience when Bryan challenged Triple H at WrestleMania, it is a match the audience does not want, either.

Here is my take on what probably happened from start to finish. John Cena was going to have surgery and Daniel Bryan was just starting to get hot. WWE looked at it as they did with Dolph Ziggler – that it was a passing phase. The decision was made to put the title on Bryan briefly to satisfy the Internet fans and then put the belt on Orton. As the WWE knew that they were going to bring Batista back to push the one feud that never happened between Evolution members, Orton continued to retain the title over Bryan. Bryan was then put into the Wyatt Family to try to cool him off so that the crowd would back off and Bryan could settle back into the mid-card. It did not work, so Bryan was quickly written out of the Wyatt Family and used to get Bray Wyatt over at the Rumble. The plan was to have CM Punk against Kane at Elimination Chamber and then against Triple H at WrestleMania. Since CM Punk walked out the next night, Bryan was elevated to that match instead. What was Bryan’s original WrestleMania plan? Your guess is as good as mine is, but it was not against Triple H or in the Championship match.

How would I have done this differently? I would have done it the same all the way until the Royal Rumble. Bryan should have declared his intention to enter the Rumble and Triple H would have denied him the opportunity. At this stage, a match at the Royal Rumble should have been set-up eventually with the stipulation being that if Bryan beats Triple H, he gets into the Rumble. If he loses, he would not only be out of the Rumble, but also be denied a title shot ever again. Bryan should have wrestled Triple H in the match right before the Rumble match and won. In response, Triple H makes him enter at #1 and the match starts now. Bryan goes on to win the Rumble. It would have proven two things: One, he can beat Triple H despite his size or look. Second, that he overcame incredible odds to win the Rumble (A match against Triple H and an hour in the Rumble).

From there, he could have feuded with Kane and beaten him at Elimination Chamber, which would be overcoming another obstacle and his former tag team partner that was with him when he started this whole journey. It would culminate in the main event of WrestleMania with Bryan pinning Orton clean for the WWE Championship. The whole thing comes full circle and the journey is complete. It is basic booking and a tried-and-true method.

Now, the only thing that can even remotely save the event is a Triple Threat with Orton vs. Batista vs. Bryan. That is looking more and more unlikely by the day.

3.  Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

I really have no problem with this match. I think the match will be a little underwhelming. Nothing will ever stand up against the Shawn Michaels matches at WrestleMania 25 and 26, so everything else always seems like a little bit of a letdown. I just hope that Lesnar does not accidentally kill the Undertaker. Lance Storm had a phenomenal idea for how he would book The Streak (http://www.stormwrestling.com/042313.html), but it is a little too late for that now.

4.  John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

This is another match I really do not have a problem with, but the set up has been pretty underwhelming so far. The Wyatt Family cost Cena the title at the Chamber PPV and then beat him up the following night. I just do not feel too excited for this match and almost wish the WWE had saved the Wyatt Family vs. Shield for WrestleMania, which could have culminated with the Shield breaking up post-match. Remember, WrestleMania is supposed to be akin to a season finale.

This begs the question: What would my ideal WrestleMania card be?

 

Pre-Show (WWE Network & Free TV)

NXT Women’s Championship: Paige vs. Emma vs. Summer Rae

NXT Tag Team Championship: The Ascension vs. ? (Open Challenge – Surprise us)

NXT Championship: Adrian Neville vs. Solomon Crowe

 

WrestleMania Main Card

Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro (If Zayn wins, he gets a spot on the main roster)

Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E vs. Dolph Ziggler (Turn Big E heel)

WWE Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

Sheamus vs. Batista

WWE US Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns

WWE Diva’s Championship: AJ Lee vs. Tamina Snuka

Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker

Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena (Number 1 Contender Match)

Triple H vs. CM Punk

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan

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