WrestleMania 31 – Looking at the 'Bigger Picture'
Wrestlemania 31 hangs around the corner, and here is a look at the bigger picture associated with some of the mouth-watering match-ups that WWE looks most likely to throw up. Wrestlemania 31 is looking likely to be the fixture to usher in a new era for the WWE, “The Roman Empire”, as some euphemize. Roman Reigns looks set to be the new pin up boy for the WWE, carrying on from the polarizing John Cena.
Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar
I see this match playing out only one way: Roman Reigns gets the win over Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar, for good or for worse, seems to be on his way out of WWE, and a recent reported bust up with Vince McMahon behind the scenes at Monday Night Raw, or his appearance at UFC 184 does nothing to allay the speculation that currently surrounds his future with the company. Also, Roman Reigns, is being so extensively, and ridiculously plugged by people like Daniel Bryan and Paul Heyman, that it seems a forgone conclusion that WWE is indeed grooming him to be the next top baby-face of the company.
While Roman Reign’s microphone skills still leave something to be desired, I do find that he does have potential on the mic. It is just the question of giving him time to find his niche on it. Even The Rock, or Rocky Maivia, as he was known then, did not start off being a success with the mic. He grew into it as his character developed greater dimensionality, and ultimately went on to be, arguably, the best talker the business has ever seen. Though it would be unfair to expect the same degree of success on the mic, Roman Reigns is not without skill, and I believe it is just a matter of time before the writers come up with a more workable model for his promos.
Whether he is “ready” for it, is a secondary question. Roman Reigns has a great look, the type WWE always looks for in its top star, and he has proven that he can wrestle a good, solid match by beating Daniel Bryan at Fastlane.
In all probability, it looks like fans have to get accustomed to the fact that Roman Reigns is here to stay, and is probably going to be the next face of the company. Of course, if Brock Lesnar decides to stay in WWE after Wrestlemania 31, there could be a surprise result of Lesnar retaining the title, but I think that highly unlikely given then that all of the effort spent in recent weeks to put over Reigns would all be rendered redundant.
Triple H vs Sting
Triple H versus Sting, is a dream match for many ardent followers of wrestling dating back to the Monday Night Wars. Ask anyone. If one superstar in all of the wrestling industry signifies WCW, it is Sting. I am personally delighted that Sting finally decided to come to WWE, that too given his initial reluctance because he wasn’t sure how the WWE would handle his character. In a nutshell, Sting the character had way too much integrity to it, for him to come into WWE and “job” to the WWE superstars as many of the other WCW legends did during and after the invasion angle. So finally when he did show up at Survivor Series this year, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
This match has been built up by the WWE, as a WCW versus WWE match. I don’t have a problem with this per se, except the fact that WWE has never been known to put over WCW. That being said however, this time, it would not make sense for Sting to lose the first match he wrestles in the WWE. It would have been an ideal scenario had Undertaker’s streak not been broken last Wrestlemania, to have Sting face him this time round. That would have also given form to perhaps the greatest Icon versus Icon dream match that fans have been clamouring for.
However, if not the Undertaker, the only other current wrestler who has the credibility to step into the ring with Sting is probably Triple H. This match is going to be highly emotionally charged, and I fully expect the fans to be completely invested into it. If Sting stays in WWE after WM31, as reports suggest he would, I do expect him to pick up the win against Triple H.
Questions like “ In how good a ring shape is Sting in? “, seem to have melted from peoples’ minds as the mere thought of him challenging in a WWE setup excites. However, being veterans that they are, I fully expect a roller coaster emotional ride to accompany what would be an epic showdown at Wrestlemania 31.
Bray Wyatt, arriving in the coffin, with Undertaker’s music was a really good segment on Monday Night Raw. However I feel the WWE has missed a step with the Undertaker. Until last year, The Undertaker was all about the streak. He was only wrestling once a year during Wrestlemania and this added great importance and impetus to the streak. But after Lesnar broke the streak at Wrestlemania 30, having Undertaker come back and wrestle at Wrestlemania 31 seems to be rather pointless. If he is not defending the streak, then why is he fighting? It would be interesting to see how The Undertaker replies to Wyatt’s challenge, and the eventual angle the WWE settle on for this match.
Another potential match at Wrestlemania 31, is the six man ladder match for the Intercontinental Title. This match, for me, could be huge for the credibility associated with the Intercontinental Title. After WWE’s U-turn with Daniel Bryan, making him return at but not win the Royal Rumble, moving him into the IC title picture lends a lot of attention and coverage to the title again. Daniel Bryan is probably the most “over” superstar with the fans right now. Added to that, Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, both of whom have picked up non- title victories against Wade Barrett recently, would make a nice mix. R-Truth is also in the picture, but in all honesty, I really do not think the WWE will put the IC title on him, and he is rather there to fill up the numbers.
This match promises to be very entertaining and fast paced. The inclusion of Bryan, Ziggler and Ambrose, all of whom are over with the fans, will inevitably mean that the audience will be invested in the match, and like all Ladder matches, it’s probably going to be a high-risk match that elicits chants of “holy s**t” from the audience. Heading into Wrestlemania 31, it would be intriguing to see who the WWE put the IC title on.
Another match that looks pretty much set to happen is John Cena taking on Rusev. This match has been built up on the lines of nationalistic sentiments, which probably means that John Cena will pick up the victory. There is a very low chance that the WWE would allow Russia to get one over the USA in Wrestlemania, and hence this worryingly points to a future mid card spot devoid of any real spotlight or momentum for the impressive Rusev.
I have to digress and discuss the phenomenon that is John Cena here. WWE is undergoing transition. Like Stone Cold, The Rock, and Triple H before him, Cena’s time as the top babyface of the company seems to be dwindling. The WWE has clearly underlined the transition by making him challenge for the US title instead of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship as we are used to seeing Cena do. However, it would be too radical, and even perhaps counter-productive to have Cena lose to Rusev, as he still is the company’s biggest merchandise and business draw. So I only see this going one way, all the more because of Rusev’s victory and the manner of it, at Fastlane. Cena should cleanly pick up the win against Rusev at Wrestlemania 31, and become the new US champion in the process.
Seth Rollins and the returning Randy Orton seem to be gearing toward a potential match at Wrestlemania 31. Personally, if it does happen, this is the match I am most looking forward to. Rollins has loads of in-ring potential and Randy Orton is one of the smoothest in-ring performers the WWE has. It’s a little more tricky predicting the outcome of this match, because Orton has just been turned baby-face, and making him lose at Wrestlemania would probably damage his momentum. However, having said that, if I had to stick my neck out and predict a winner, it would make more sense for Seth Rollins to win, so that he could be built up as the top heel in the company for a potential encounter with Roman Reigns, who WWE is building as the top baby-face.
Ryback has been going over with the fans recently, and credit to him for that, as I feel his in-ring work has improved. A classic “Big Guy”, making him win the Andre the Giant’s Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 31 would be prudent. I fully expect the WWE to thrust Corporate Kane and the Big Show into this match, which would make Ryback look even better were he to win. I feel, letting Ryback get a couple of credible victories under his belt would serve the WWE well in future, as he could be utilized as either a face or a heel, as per their requirement.
Overall, I feel Wrestlemania 31 has the potential to be a pretty good event card, but ultimately it comes down to the quality of the matches on the day. A surprise return for The Rock to advance the Roman Reigns storyline may also be on the cards. Whichever way it finally pans out, we can all agree that the countdown to Wrestlemania 31 has well and truly begun.