The magic of WrestleMania cannot be replicated. The excitement and bombast of The Grandest Stage of Them All is the most singularly unique and impressive spectacles the world of sports has to offer, and each and every year, WWE goes out of its way to up the ante, thrilling millions of viewers with elaborate entrances, occasionally tolerable musical performances, and, most importantly, dream matches that even the most casual of viewers can marvel at in amazement. With WrestleMania 32 just around the corner, things aren’t shaping up the way WrestleMania tends to do. WWE’s handpicked future face of the company Roman Reigns is getting booed in every arena he enters, nearly every top star the company had going into last year’s exceptional WrestleMania 31 has been injured, and the main event, generally one of the most anticipated matches of the year, has been met with general apathy and indifference. Still, this year’s Showcase of the Immortals is packing a card with matches that have the potential to fundamentally radicalize the landscape of World Wrestling Entertainment going into the summer months, including a highly-anticipated Hell in a Cell match between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker for control of Monday Night Raw, as well as contests that are sure to steal the show, such as the assuredly-brutal Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar No Holds Barred Street Fight. Will WrestleMania 32 live up to standards of its past and send the possibly-record-breaking crowd in Dallas, Texas home satisfied? That much is still very much uncertain. But the landscape of WWE in the post-Mania months is sure to be much-improved.
Since the forced departures of the likes of Seth Rollins, John Cena, and Cesaro, and arguably even before that, WWE has been in a bit of a rut. The Authority storyline has long-dominated Monday Night Raw and taken up nearly every opening and closing segment, the supposed greatest prize in wrestling has flip-flopped between two equally despised wrestlers, the mid-card has been essentially lost in an endless string of rematches and meaningless rivalries, and some of the best and brightest WWE has to offer are being wasted (Y2AJ, Stardust/Cody Rhodes). WrestleMania 32 could just be the driving force in a major shift in WWE programming for the foreseeable future.
Let’s start with the main event. Roman Reigns defeating the evil corporate head Triple H and holding the title high above his head seems like the most likely scenario at the moment. Despite all of the fan hatred that has been directed towards (sigh) The Big Dog, WWE seems dead set on pushing Roman to the very top of the company. But they’re not stupid. It is certainly easy to assume that WWE Creative is just a blathering bunch of idiots overseen by an out of touch Vince McMahon, but the company always seems to know where the fanbase is at any period of time. It’s clear they are innately familiar with the current attitude towards Roman Reigns, as he has been off TV for weeks to avoid getting showered in boos in top markets leading into WrestleMania. And since Dean Ambrose’s title opportunity comes at Road Block, a victory for the fan-favorite makes little to no difference come WrestleMania, as it’ll just be Ambrose losing to Reigns rather than HHH. But all of that is totally fine, because it could lead to the Roman Reigns heel turn that we’ve been practically begging for since his rise to dominance in early 2015. Envision this: Roman Reigns finally fells the crooked Authority leader and holds the title above his head in triumph as his brother Dean rushes to congratulate him and confetti pours from the stands. With a twinkle in his eye, Roman spears Ambrose, smirks, and walks away to close the show. Or, in some insane twist of fate, Dean Ambrose beats HHH at Road Block this Saturday, and is forced to defend his title against Roman after a grueling Street Fight against Brock Lesnar in which he barely makes it out with the title. Ambrose puts up a fight, but is eventually speared for the three count. And as confetti rains down (it’s going to in every scenario), HHH arrives, and after a charged moment, shakes the hand of the new corporate champion. The fact that WWE knows exactly what a disaster a face Reigns win would be makes it almost inconceivable that they would actually do it, leaving their only options as giving the title to a heel Reigns or leaving it on HHH/Dean Ambrose. And since the biggest show of the year would come to a close remarkably anti-climatically if the 46-year-old corporate head walked away with the title, it’s fairly safe to assume WWE will do the right thing.
Now, onto the most anticipated match of the night: a high-stakes Hell in a Cell showdown between The Deadman and Shane-O-Mac. Despite spending the past seven years away from the business, Shane has proved himself to be an incredibly valuable hand for the WWE as of late and his storyline with his father has proved one of the more gripping the company has produced in years. The Undertaker is… well… The Undertaker, and he does it better than anyone in the world. The match is guaranteed to be absolutely insane, featuring some of the more impressive bumps of the night, but the way it will change the landscape of World Wrestling Entertainment is its true drawing factor. Given the current build, it seems incredibly likely that Shane McMahon wins. Maybe with an assist from someone new and exciting, perhaps even a whole Club of new and exciting people… I digress. If Shane wins and takes control of Monday Night Raw, that would set the stage for the long-awaited return of the brand split to WWE TV. Beyond making SmackDown actually worth watching again, a brand split would force Raw to evolve beyond its current repetitive storytelling and actually try new things with a more limited roster. The Authority would be removed from power and relegated to SmackDown, and Shane would either preside over Raw himself or delegate to a new GM, or something of that manner. No matter the situation, WWE TV is in desperate need of a shake-up, and a Shane McMahon win at WrestleMania 32 is sure to do just that.
As of this writing, WrestleMania is a mere 26 days away and from that date onwards, WWE is shaping up to be a remarkably different place. From a newly minted heel champion who takes the ire of the fanbase at large and uses it to further his own success to a company split into two thanks to the meddling machinations of the boss’s son, WWE is looking to be a much better place in the months after WrestleMania 32. I, for one, am thrilled to witness it.