It is the biggest spectacle of them all in the world of North American professional wrestling, the biggest event World Wrestling Entertainment puts on each and every year. The company has, over the years, referred to WrestleMania as “the showcase of the immortals,” and the greatest performers to ever work for the WWE have had opportunities to wow fans at WrestleMania shows over the years. Hulk Hogan. Ric Flair. Andre the Giant. Shawn Michaels. Triple. H. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Bret Hart. More recently the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. All have had their own versions of “WrestleMania moments,” memories that will live on long after they retire as active performers.
The weeks and months that make up what is called “WrestleMania Season,” a time of the wrestling calendar that begins with the Royal Rumble in January, are supposed to represent the best booking and best in-ring action that the WWE has to offer. All of that wraps up on that mammoth April night at what is, these days, a five-hour long show, the conclusion of multiple storylines and also the beginning of new feuds and new possibilities. Stars are meant to be born, while other wrestlers fade off into the sunset after WrestleMania.
The excitement and buzz that usually precedes a WrestleMania just isn’t there this time around. WrestleMania 31 feels more and more like a standard ho-hum pay-per-view for the casual fan who doesn’t watch every piece of WWE programming with each week that passes by. In fairness, WWE has, as of the posting of this piece, several weeks to somehow turn things around and make this year’s WrestleMania be the big-time show that is supposed to be every year. Right now, though, you really wouldn’t be missing all that much if you chose to pass on WrestleMania this time around.
10. Daniel Bryan
One would have thought that the WWE would have learned from past mistakes and not slide Daniel Bryan down to the midcard for a WrestleMania card a year after he worked double-duty AND won the title at the event. That was not the case, however, and Bryan will now likely be involved in the cluster ladder match that would be more exciting if it was for the Money in the Bank briefcase. Instead, it is the Intercontinental Championship on the line, a title that has, along with the United States Championship, been buried time after time. If Bryan versus Lesnar is the plan at some point down the road, the WWE really dropped the ball as it pertains to the main event of this show.
9. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
One day the WWE will realize that wrestling fans detest battle royals other than the Royal Rumble, which is tolerated because we can all remember back to being kids and watching the earlier Rumbles when it “wasn’t fair to Flair.” A match that is often a bathroom break for those in attendance was advertised to be a big deal a year ago, and it seemingly was when Cesaro won the battle royal en route to starting his push to the top of the card. That push lasted about as long as it will take for you to read this paragraph, and Cesaro is now stuck in tag team programs.
8. The Divas
Rumor is that the WWE is going to push the Divas division more seriously, but that will not be occurring until after WrestleMania when several performers will be called up from NXT to the Raw and SmackDown programs. A match involving the recently returned A.J. Lee and Paige teaming up to take on the Bella twins should not, for anybody’s sake, go longer than a few minutes before it is put out of its misery. Perhaps WWE has a big surprise in mind, and UFC Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey will come from behind the curtain and tap out all four women to get one of the biggest pops of WrestleMania 31. Oh, to dream.
7. Cena vs. Rusev
This match could – could – have been something unique and even special had it been saved for WrestleMania; Super Cena taking on the unbeatable monster heel who hates America. WWE writers and those in charge of the company just could not help themselves, though, and thus Cena and Rusev battled at the Fastlane pay-per-view in February. The outcome now will be that Cena either gets his win back and the feud continues, or Rusev is victorious for a second straight time before maybe going into a championship feud that he won’t win. Yawn.
6. The ‘Dusts
It is the breakup that is far too late and far too little at this point, and that was even before Goldust and Stardust, the latter possibly transitioning back to his Cody Rhodes persona, met at Fastlane in February. A match involving these two, which will likely be during the ladder match. just as with the feud involving Cena and Rusev, has no outcome that would do any real favors to either guy. Rather than allow Cody Rhodes to showcase himself with Dean Ambrose and Bad News Barrett, he’ll likely be trying to take out his brother during the match. The right time to break these two up was a year ago, and what could have been an entertaining conclusion to the story will now be wasted in the middle of a ladder match.
5. The Biggest Feud of the Night is…
Damien Mizdow versus The Miz. It is the one storyline that has been written properly, the one that has been allowed to breathe and run its course, and the one that should logically conclude at WrestleMania. Putting this feud on the list is not meant to be disrespectful to the two performers who have done their best with what was put in front of them. It is, however, a sign of the times at WWE when this battle of midcard guys, neither of whom are likely moving up in the company anytime soon, is the best of the lot heading into a WrestleMania. It’s even possible they aren’t given their own match and are forced to settle this in the Andre the Giant Memorial match, which would be a real waste.
4. Waste of Sting
This one was so easy that the WWE had to go out of the way to screw it up. All the company had to do was debut Sting at some point after the Royal Rumble and have him point at the WrestleMania sign at a Raw show, only to then be met in the middle of the ring by The Undertaker. The “supernatural” promos that would have followed would have provided all of the hype needed for what has, for years, been a dream match. Instead, WWE will be pairing Undertaker up with Bray Wyatt and Sting with…Triple H? Sting will get a solid pop at WrestleMania, sure, but the match shouldn’t go more than a few minutes before the World Championship Wrestling icon finishes the leader of The Authority off.
3. Babyface Brock
To anybody from WWE who may have stumbled upon this for one reason or another: Brock Lesnar is the babyface going into his World Heavyweight Championship defense versus Roman Reigns, and there is nothing you can do to change things. Lesnar is already a fan-favorite among crowds that attend pay-per-view events, and he is going to be a conquering hero in front of thousands and thousands of individuals who are going to revolt against the idea of Reigns winning the contest. Accept that reality, WWE, or prepare for an ugly ending to WrestleMania.
2. Reigns Isn’t Over
The best case scenario WWE could have hoped for would have been that fans upset that Daniel Bryan wasn’t placed in the main event this time around would completely turn on Reigns, making for the “Let’s Go Reigns/Reigns Sucks” treatment that John Cena has received for a decade. That is not happening at live events, however, as Reigns is failing to get reactions one would expect, considering how he has been catapulted to the top of the card since separating from The Shield. It appears that journalists and observers who claimed that Reigns would not be ready to take the torch by WrestleMania will be proven right.
1. The Main Event
The only way, as things stand right now, that WrestleMania 31 has a happy ending for the fans in attendance is for Brock Lesnar to pin Roman Reigns, or for Seth Rollins to cash in his Money of the Bank briefcase and steal the title from Reigns at the eleventh hour after Reigns beats Lesnar. Either way, the push of Reigns will have been a massive waste of time for those who followed it. John Cena versus The Miz was even a better WrestleMania pay-per-view conclusion because it at least had The Rock, and everybody knew that Rock would play a role in the finish of the contest.
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