WrestleMania is the ‘grandaddy’ of them all – the annual spring event that has excited wrestling fans for the past 30 years. From the famous body slam of Andre The Giant by Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, to unforgettable moments by stars like ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker, The Rock, and many, many more.
It’s the one card of the year that many wrestling fans start to think about months in advance. While the January Royal Rumble is supposed to set the stage for the WrestleMania main event, things can quickly change based on fans' reaction and booking plans.
Last year Batista won the Royal Rumble, setting up what was supposed to be a match between he and Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Fan reaction was harsh to say the least, and after weeks of clamoring, the company added fan favorite Daniel Bryan to the match via a special stipulation.
There’s also the magic of returning stars of WWE as well as celebrities that find their way a lot of times into WrestleMania. Fans shell out big money with the hopes of being able to relive the glory days of the past, hoping to see one of their all-time fan favorites either find their way into a match, or even just to come out and speak in an interview.
With so many wrestlers and so many possible combinations, there’s already talk of what matches fans will see with four and a half months before WrestleMania XXXI, which will take place at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Fans love to start rumors and try to guess just what the big matches at the next event will be.
Then there’s matches that fans can only dream of seeing, again hoping their stars of the past will come back to fight that magical ‘one more match’ against one of today’s mat warriors. With all that, today we take a look at “Top Early 20 Matches We Want To See At WrestleMania XXXI.”
20 Bray Wyatt vs The Undertaker
Following last year’s loss to Brock Lesnar, many think that the Undertaker will give it one more go-around at the biggest event of the year, going out on top. Wyatt is ready to make a major main event push, and with his ‘mind games’ he likes to play, a great lead up with Taker would be a match that could steal the show. It could mark the end for the Undertaker, who looks like he only has very few matches left in him. Wyatt last year lost to John Cena, but proved in the loss that he’s got what it takes to be at the main event level of a wrestler like the veteran Undertaker.
19 John Cena vs Rusev
This is a match that is being talked about, a battle that would push Rusev to the next level as a main eventer. He’s been pushed against guys like Mark Henry and Big Show, and a win over Cena, who usually gets a major match at Mania, would be a major boost to his career. It could be a great opponent for Cena, and like most Mania matches, could lead to a solid spring feud between two big name stars in the company. The company has liked what they have seen so far from Rusev and the heat he brings with him, so it’s a safe bet he will see a big match at the spring event.
18 AJ Lee vs Lita
Two of the best female wrestlers in the last 20 years. Lita is a Hall of Famer, and a match with the equally talented AJ Lee for the Divas Title would be a great way to take away from the usual filler women’s match. The Maina card's offerings with women has often included bad celebrity appearances or matches with women focused more on their Playboy covers than in-ring ability. Lee and Lita could be a match that could push the ladies division of the WWE to a totally new level. While Paige has come on the scene and had a strong year as a worthy contender for Lee this last year, she’s still the best Diva on the roster, and should have the biggest Diva match on the roster.
17 The Rock vs John Cena
These two went back and forth for two main events in WrestleMania XXVIII and XXIX, with both taking home a pinfall victory. Rock was injured in the second match early in the contest, and the match seemed to fall well short of the battle the two had in Miami the year before. Setting up one more match between the two stars for the right to be called ‘the best’ would be a great draw for Mania. The big debate – who wins? It would seem logical to give the nod to Cena who will be with the company as an active competitor for years to come, but it’s WrestleMania, so anything can happen.
16 Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns
Most think that the return of Reigns from his recent hernia surgery will see him win the Royal Rumble and then fight Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Mania. Things change though, and if the company goes in another direction, a Reigns match with Rollins could be a huge match for the two former ‘Shield’ teammates. Rollins has been fantastic as of late, and Reigns wanting revenge for breaking up the Shield is an obvious storyline. Putting Rollins’ ‘Money in the Bank’ briefcase on the line could add to the storyline as well if the company wanted to go in that direction.
15 Dolph Ziggler vs Sami Zayn
If you're unaware of who Sami Zayn is, don’t worry, you will see him at the WWE main roster level soon enough. For now Zayn is one of the top stars in NXT, and at 6’1, 205 pounds, his high-flying style would be an excellent fit with Ziggler, the one WWE star who could match the same style and put on a match that could be talked about as a ‘show stealer.’ If Ziggler can get the Intercontinental Title back and you have that on the line, it could be a match that has the crowd giving a standing ovation. The fans love Ziggler, and while he was starting to get a big run as the IC champ before they took it off him, it would be nice to see the company give him a match with some type of meaning at the biggest show of the year, with or without the companies secondary belt.
14 Randy Orton vs Triple H
These two already headlined one WrestleMania, with HHH taking home the win over Orton in WrestleMania XXV. With the latest face turn by Orton and the fans behind him, a match with his former mentor in HHH would be a fitting bout. Orton going up against the evil ‘Authority’ and the company CEO in HHH would be a match that would have plenty of time to have a proper build for the biggest show of the year. Would the fans buy into this match? It’s got a fresh look to it with Orton as the face, and an older even more seasoned Triple H, so likely fans would be able to get into it rooting for the ‘Viper’ in a WrestleMania bout.
13 Triple H vs The Rock
These two have gone head-to-head a number of times over the years, but have never gone one-on-one at WrestleMania. They were involved in a four-way match at WrestleMania 2000 (16), but a one-on-one now 16 years later would be great for nostalgia and could build with a great storyline like Rock fighting for Vince McMahon against Triple H for ‘control of the company.’ Both men for sure have plenty of gas in the tank, and there’s no doubt they could give a solid 20-25 minute match that would keep the huge Bay Area crowd engaged. This is exactly the ‘attraction’ type of match that’s made for a card like WrestleMania.
12 Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns
This trio was a dominant force when they came into WWE, winning a pair of WrestleMania matches, once as a heel faction and another as a face. Now that the faction is over, a triple-threat with a stipulation of maybe having Rollins’ ‘Money in the Bank’ briefcase on the line would be a great match to watch. These three spent lots of time together, and based on the recent feud of Rollins and Ambrose, and throw in a returning Reigns, this would be a match fans would target as a ‘can’t miss’ on the card. Give these three a solid 15-20 minutes, and it won’t be a letdown if all three guys click like they use to when they were members of “The Shield.”
11 John Cena & Hulk Hogan vs Triple H & Mr. McMahon
If Hulk Hogan is going to get back into the ring, more than likely it’s going to have to be as part of a tag team, and there’s no better partner than John Cena. Hogan has praised Cena as much as any wrestler he’s ever talked about, giving him props for basically carrying the company for the last 10 plus years. A match with Vince McMahon and Triple H would make sense, and it would be a fitting end for the 61-year-old Hogan to go out against McMahon and by the side of his friend in Cena. Hogan has said in interviews he’s been training to get back in the ring, and there’s no better place to make that return than Mania, in a match that would be a solid ‘special attraction.’
10 Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar
As the momentum for Ambrose continues to rise, a match with Lesnar at Mania for the WWE World Heavyweight Title could be a crowning moment for the former Shield member. The storyline for an Ambrose-Lesnar match would be rather simple. Ambrose gets a surprise win at the Royal Rumble, and then it is billed as a battle of “David vs Goliath” with the smaller Ambrose having to overcome the much bigger stronger Lesnar, a beast who has rolled though the competition. If Roman Reigns doesn’t get the type of fan reaction the company wants upon his return, it seems logical that Ambrose could be the ‘next man up’ for a major push for a main event role with Lesnar.
9 John Cena vs The Undertaker
With the luster of the undefeated streak over, a match between Cena and Taker maybe wouldn’t be as intriguing as last year, but still would hold plenty of value for two major stars of the company. The two have never fought at a WrestleMania, and as a top guy it would be a new challenge for Cena, who has gone through just about every other challenger in the company during his tenure. For the Undertaker, it’s a fresh opponent he hasn’t faced in years, and a chance to prove maybe in a final match he still has what it takes. If it’s the last go-around for Taker, would he go out on top? Or would Cena get the nod as the man who beat Taker in what could be his final match in his Hall of Fame career?
8 ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vs Hulk Hogan
When Hogan and The Rock went at it at WrestleMania X-8 in Toronto, many say that based on crowd reaction was one of the most memorable bouts in Mania history. A match between Hogan and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin has been a dream for years, and could co-headline a card that many would salivate over, based on the fans and the two stars' history. The key would be could Hogan at 61 carry a match, and can a returning Austin have a good match after a 12-year absence. They are the two biggest drawing stars in the history of the company, and while both guys would probably only be able to go 10-12 minutes, it would be a match that would be tough to beat in fan interest and nostalgia sake.
7 Daniel Bryan vs Shawn Michaels
This is truly a dream match, but one that would be a huge draw as it would mark the return of ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels, who hasn’t stepped foot into the ring as a competitor since losing to the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Why would a match against Bryan make sense? He was Bryan’s mentor when the star attended Michaels's wrestling school. There’s little doubt that if Michaels comes back for a huge match at WrestleMania he would be as good as ever, and a match versus Bryan would be historic. Fans were so supportive of Bryan when he was forced to walk away to have surgery, he deserves a shot at a main event type match at Mania if he’s healthy and ready.
6 Kurt Angle vs Rusev
Keeping with the theme of a returning star, many WWE fans have been pushing hard to see former Olympic medalist Kurt Angle return for one more run with the company that made him a star. Coming in there’s no question he would be a face, and a match with the hated Rusev could potentially be a very good match. The classic ‘USA vs Russia’ angle is for sure a money maker, and one that would draw plenty of attention for the biggest show of the year for WWE. Plus both guys are great pure mat warriors, making for a great match. Angle has already said he has one more run left in him, and there’s no better place to do it than where he got his start in sports entertainment.
5 Hulk Hogan vs John Cena
It’s easy to dismiss how a 61-year-old Hogan could match up with the 37-year-old Cena, but remember, it’s about the illusion that for ‘one last match’ Hogan could rise up and go toe-to-toe with the younger, stronger Cena. Hogan has been training, and many feel it’s for one last battle at Mania against one of the biggest modern day icons in the company. Can the two pull it off? That’s the big question, and a question that can only be answered if the two get into a ring. While it might be safer to ‘hide’ Hogan in a tag match of some sort, seeing him one-on-one for one last time is what many of the 1980’s fans of the Hall of Famer want to see. If given enough time to work together, these two should be able to make a match that would be a solid co-headliner for the Mania card.
4 CM Punk vs ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
Want to get a buzz for WrestleMania on a national level? Put these two together, and the build could be downright legendary. If there’s one WWE star that ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin would want to get in the ring with according to reports, it’s C.M. Punk. Problem is the WWE and Punk are not on the best of terms these days, and it would have to take a magical match and a lot of mending of fences to get him back in the ring. A match with the biggest draw in the history of the company in Austin on the biggest stage of the year could be a great way to draw the “Best in the World” back into the company he left last year after the Royal Rumble.
3 Sting vs The Undertaker
The buzz around Sting, the longtime NWA and WCE legend coming into the WWE for one match has been going around since last year’s WrestleMania, and there’s only one logical opponent that would make sense for him, that being the Undertaker. Sure the match is probably about 7-10 years too late, but that’s not going to take away from the build as well as the debate as to who is going to walk out of Santa Clara with their hand raised in victory. Undertaker took the loss last year to end “The Streak,” but that would not take away from a dream match with a wrestler in Sting, who WWE fans have wanted to see wrestle for their company for years.
2 Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar
If you are playing the odds, many have this already penciled in as the main event for the April event, with the WWE World Heavyweight Title at stake. The match could be very good with the right build, and with the fact Vince McMahon is such a huge fan of the two big men, it would be hard to not see this as the main event for WrestleMania. As long as Reigns gets over on his return, he should win the Royal Rumble and challenge Lesnar for the strap. Much like the rise of Daniel Bryan last year to win the belt at Mania, fans seem to have anointed Reigns as their next star, and the company usually in the end gives the fans what they want. One thing that could make this pretty much anticlimactic is if Lesnar doesn’t sign a new deal and Mania marks his last match with the WWE.
1 CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan
The rumor is this was the early call to be the main event of WrestleMania XXX, but then a number of circumstances ruined what would have been a mat classic between two great stars of the company. Putting Punk in the main event of the biggest show of the year against maybe the best pure wrestler in the company could be an easy way to draw him back in after the messy divorce that took place last January when he walked out of the company the night after the Royal Rumble. These two could easily go 30-40 minutes and keep the crowd engaged, and it’s a match that could go down as one of the best ever if given the build and the time.