In August of 2016, Conor McGregor caused quite the stir in the wrestling community when he had some choice words to say about the business and those that work in it, apart from Ric Flair. McGregor has a lot of love for the Nature Boy. His comments and the headlines they created proved just how big of a star the MMA fighter was. Fast forward to today and rumours have sparked that the Irishman could be in talks for a potential appearance at WrestleMania 34. Funny how that works out, isn’t it?
Following his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather (another athlete who has worked at WrestleMania) there is arguably no bigger star in the fighting world right now than the UFC megastar. The world is truly his for the taking and that’s what he is going to do, but someone with that much charisma and ability on the microphone would be a natural fit to create a big money match in New Orleans next year.
If he should come to WWE for a special one-off match, who on the WWE roster should he face? This list looks at eight potential WrestleMania 34 opponents for McGregor and seven who he should avoid.
15. Should Face: Bobby Roode
The Glorious one has been one of the most enjoyable things about WWE in 2017. While the majority of work has taken place in NXT, that doesn’t take away from just how good Bobby Roode is. His entrance and gimmick mixed with his fantastic old school wrestling ability makes him the real deal and would make him a great opponent for Conor McGregor.
Nothing would show how WWE feels about Roode better than to put him in a match this big. With his vast experience in the business, he would know exactly what he needs to do in order to make this match a success. Brilliant on the microphone and able to work heel or babyface depending on the situation, Roode could be a glorious opponent for Conor McGregor’s WrestleMania moment.
14. Should Avoid: Shinsuke Nakamura
The King of Strong Style has struggled to adjust to life on the main roster and a big part of that is his inability to cut promos at an elite level. Of course, this is due to a language barrier, but when you are facing off against a trash talker of McGregor’s level it is essential that you can hang with him in order to build the match. Sadly, Nakamura cannot do that.
Nakamura’s big selling point is his strong style, hard-hitting wrestling. While McGregor is used to taking real punches and kicks to the face, this would be an incredibly difficult style for him to adjust to in his first ever match and could potentially show him up for his inexperience, which neither WWE or McGregor will want to happen.
13. Should Face: Randy Orton
Whether you love Randy Orton or if you are in the growing group of haters who think he has become lazy the one thing that you can’t deny is that he still draws a response from audiences as he has major star power after years at the elite level. A major match like this could be one of the last Orton gets, certainly at WrestleMania. The responsibility of being in this moment could bring the very best back out of the Viper and when he’s at his best he is hard to top.
Orton is one of the smoothest and technically gifted wrestlers of all time and there is no doubt that he could make this a great match. While McGregor has many fans he also has haters to match; who wouldn’t want to see him hit with an RKO?
12. Should Avoid: Bray Wyatt
Just imagine seeing the Eater of Worlds squaring off against Conor McGregor in UFC ring gear? It doesn’t quite create the right image, does it? Bray Wyatt has lost so much momentum since WrestleMania 33 that it’s scary to think exactly where he will be when it comes to next years show, but it certainly won’t be in a match this big.
WWE will be hoping to create a mega match and Wyatt simply doesn’t fit the bill for that anymore. Fans have given up on his promos because he still has yet to back them up with his actions. That isn’t something that will change between now and ‘Mania and therefore he shouldn’t be the man to face McGregor.
11. Should Face: Enzo Amore
Two real-life trash talkers going head to head would be an excellent decision for WrestleMania with both men having the gift of gab that could easily sell this match. Sure, Enzo Amore isn’t the biggest star in the company, but if you put him in this match his stock would be sure to rise immediately and he does already have a connection with the audience.
Both men are of a similar size which would make the match have a more realistic feel, something that would support McGregor. Even though the quality wouldn’t be that high, the build could be brilliant. Both men love to brag about money and their status, so it could be time to find out who is the true top dog.
10. Should Avoid: John Cena
This might seem like a smart idea on paper as a big money match. The face of UFC against the face of WWE. With both men arguably ready to move on to bigger things in the celebrity culture that we now inhabit, they have the star power to not only bring in fans of their sports but people who aren’t interested in either because of their wide reach. Cena, now a part-timer, has no reason to be in a championship match at WrestleMania and given that a dream match with The Undertaker is looking out of the question, this would be a perfect way to fit him into what will be a stacked card in a prominent role to sell the PPV. However, it is because of those reasons that this is a match that WWE should, and will avoid doing if McGregor signs with the company. There is no way that Dana White or Vince McMahon would be prepared to let their poster boys lose a match of this scale, and not against each other for sure.
9. Should Face: AJ Styles
AJ Styles is the best wrestler in WWE right now, and potentially the world. His last two WrestleMania matches have both been terrific and he has proven time after time that he can rise to the occasion, no matter what the circumstance or who the opponent is. Styles is a good speaker and has the ability to play a heel or a baby face and do them both well. This is a good thing as the WWE Universe could react to McGregor in WWE one of two ways: one as a megastar or two, as a guy who trash talked wrestling and doesn’t belong. Styles can fit the bill as an opponent to either of those and deserves to be in a match of this magnitude, something he has never had the chance to do in his career. Both McGregor and Styles look to steal the show no matter what, and a WrestleMania collision could showcase the best of both the wrestling and MMA world colliding.
8. Should Avoid: Braun Strowman
WWE is going to load this match with star power because if it does happen they will be able to sell the entire show based off of it. Braun Strowman is one of the biggest names in WWE right now and is likely to be in a marquee match in New Orleans next year, but this is not the right one for him. When WWE brings in celebrities for matches, whether they are athletes or movie stars, the outcome is nearly always the same where the celebrity wins. The reason the Monster amongst Men is so over with the WWE Universe right now is because of how dominant he has been, cleaning house of the entire roster (unless your name is Brock Lesnar). This is something that is going to continue as that is how WWE is selling Strowman, so can you imagine if his first major ‘Mania match ends in a defeat to a man half his size?
7. Should Face: CM Punk
If WWE and CM Punk were both prepared to put the past behind them this could be the perfect way to bring back one of wrestling’s very best, marking a true best in the world against best in the world of two different sports. CM Punk has tried his hand at MMA, and let’s be fair, it’s been far from a success for the former WWE Champion. This would be McGregor’s turn to try his hand at the sport Punk helped make great.
Wrestling fans would love every second of Punk’s return while all the MMA fans would be pulled in, potentially providing Punk the WrestleMania main event match he desperately wanted to cap off his career. Punk and McGregor are of a similar build and both have built their careers on being incredibly outspoken, with loyal fans and the talent to back it up, if WWE could pull it off this could be a historic moment.
6. Should Avoid: Roman Reigns
The Big Dog of the WWE has main-evented WrestleMania for the last three years and is the man that the company is building to be the face when John Cena eventually retires. Despite this he should not face Conor McGregor as the fan response to this match could be a complete and utter disaster.
It isn’t a guarantee that WWE will welcome McGregor with open arms. In fact, they could certainly end up booing him out of every arena he walks into, a feeling that Roman Reigns is all too familiar with. Think back to the infamous Goldberg-Brock Lesnar match from WrestleMania 20 and how the crowd simply dumped on the entire thing. Avoid this match at all costs.
5. Should Face: The Miz
This might seem like a strange entry, but hear me out. McGregor has lots of fans around the world that will follow him into wrestling and his ability on the microphone could win any diehard wrestling fans over if he wanted to, meaning you need to pair him up with one of WWE’s best heels, The Miz. The Miz is an excellent talker and likes to get real when he cuts a promo. This is going to be a necessity as McGregor will likely be going for shoot promos to make the match appear as real as possible, which Miz can fire back with. There are few people the WWE Universe would love to see get punched in the face more than The Miz (which is a compliment). Plus, after all these years of excellent work, he really does deserve a main event level moment at WrestleMania and this could be just that.
4. Should Avoid: Finn Balor
A battle between the two Irishmen wouldn’t be a sensible decision as the build simply wouldn’t work. Balor’s microphone skills are not the strongest part of his character and WWE will likely want to match someone who can also trash talk with McGregor in order to gain the most buzz for the match. Having McGregor run rings around Balor on the microphone wouldn’t be the best selling point of one of WWE’s hottest prospects.
On top of that, having McGregor compete at ‘Mania makes that a special attraction match, no matter who he faces. He could compete against a total jobber and people would be interested because of his star power. Balor’s WrestleMania debut will also likely be a special attraction match. Seeing the Demon King across the ring from a legitimate fighter just isn’t an image that works.
3. Should Face: Kevin Owens
Arguably the top heel in WWE right now, Kevin Owens would be an ideal opponent for Conor McGregor in so many ways. Owens’ character simply does not care about anybody else other than himself and his family. Seeing McGregor as someone taking top money away from his family could be the straw that breaks the camels back with Owens, starting the feud. As an excellent worker in the ring, KO would be more than capable of turning this into a WrestleMania worthy spectacle.
Both men would have excellent chemistry on the microphone and KO has shown he has no problem going to any length to win a match, which could lead to a fun spot to finish the match, whether it’s in his favour or not.
2. Should Avoid: Brock Lesnar
Two of UFC’s biggest ever stars colliding in a WrestleMania match would be the perfect way for Vince McMahon to show that WWE is still the biggest game in town, and the match would print money. Brock Lesnar’s sheer size and power against Conor McGregor’s trash talking, imagine the promo battles he and Paul Heyman could have? But the size difference alone just would not work in this match, and of course, it can be argued that WWE did Mayweather vs Big Show so why does size matter, but when you have two legitimate UFC fighters in the ring; it matters. This match would also be too much of an advertisement for the UFC and is something that Vince McMahon is unlikely to do.
1. Should Face: Seth Rollins
Who remembers just how hot Seth Rollins was heading out of WrestleMania 31? The man was on top of the wrestling world and it feels like we are very close to getting him back to that level with his current tag team run with Dean Ambrose.
Rollins would have the ability to hang with McGregor on the microphone as that is a skill he has improved tremendously at. In the ring, his style could work well with McGregor’s MMA style. Rollins is quick to state on podcasts and interviews that he is sick of seeing old timers get the big opportunities and WrestleMania 34 will struggle to create a bigger match than one against Conor McGregor, therefore it could be an ideal time for him to prove himself at the very highest level.
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