(Photo from WWE.com)
Wrestlemania XXXI is this Sunday. I own a Macho Man Randy Savage ski cap and multiple wrestling shirts, so I was going to watch it no matter what. Generally, the WWE hits a bit of a dead spot around September-December — although Survivor Series this past November ended up being an entertaining show — then things pick up at the Royal Rumble in January as the ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA begins.
This year, WWE has stumbled to the finish line.
Trouble started at the Royal Rumble, when the WWE, for the second straight time, completely mishandled Daniel Bryan’s role in the show. Last year, they responded to the audience, and Wrestlemania XXX ended up being a pretty great event that concluded with Bryan as champion. For Wrestlemania XXXI, they’ve stuck with the original plan, which pits Royal Rumble winner Roman Reigns against World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar.
One of the issues is Lesnar: He’s terrifying. Over the past year, Lesnar was part of the most shocking finish in WWE history (when he ended the Undertaker’s 21-0 streak at Wrestlemania), and he then completely demolished John Cena, the face of the company for what seems like forever, at Summerslam to become champion. They’ve built Lesnar into a seemingly unstoppable monster, and he both looks and acts the part. And he’s represented by Paul Heyman, arguably the greatest manager of all time.
The main issue is Reigns: He’s not ready. When he was in the Shield, he was great. When he’s spearing people or punching them in the face, he’s pretty great (and such a wonderful head of hair). When he has to say anything more than “Believe that,” he is not so great.
As a result, the most intriguing part of the main event of Wrestlemania isn’t the matchup, it’s, “Is there any way the end of the biggest show of the year isn’t terrible?”
Now, that doesn’t mean the show is going to be terrible. I’ve very much enjoyed the build up for HHH vs. Sting. Bray Wyatt (the Eater of Worlds) has tried very, very hard to hype his match with the Undertaker (who has not been seen since last year’s Wrestlemania), and it will, at the very least, include two amazing entrances.
Rusev (CRUSH) is taking on Cena in a match that has me rooting against USA (well, it’s more a pro-Rusev thing, but the guy does consult with Vladimir Putin and did kick a “soldier” in the face). Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins has a chance to steal the show. And while the Intercontinental title feud has been incredibly dopey, it is ending in a ladder match featuring the most talented guy (Bryan) in the company and six other solid-to-good guys (Dean Ambrose, Bad News Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, Stardust and R-Truth). Naked Mideon could show up!*
And, hey, maybe Lesnar will win. Maybe Reigns will prove he is, in fact, ready. Maybe, in this case, it’s the destination, not the journey.