So this year (in case you don’t know, as I’ve been banging on about it loads), I’m ticking off two things off my bucket list. The first of which is in March where myself (along with Shane and Owen) are off to Wrestlemania. And there was much pointing at signs.
This year’s Wrestlemania has taken on a huge amount of significance for me, as it is a focal point of a holiday for me. I imagine it’s like those who book Glastonbury before any act is announced. You know you’ll enjoy yourself, and it’ll be fun, but you’re not quite sure exactly how good.
The last two Wrestlemanias are considered to be two of the better ones, 31 saw them save the main event with a cash in by popular-bad-guy Seth Rollins on unpopular-good-guy Roman Reigns to win the WWE Heavyweight Championship. The 30th edition saw the main event culminate with underdog Daniel Bryan beating hand-picked stars Batista & Randy Orton to win the main event. In recent years, there is a feeling that Wrestlemania has become a favourite to “smarks” – a hardcore set of fans who will spend small fortunes to attend the event, giving memorable moments to appeal to cater to those in attendance.
Interestingly, both years have seen drastic changes from what is seen as the start of the road to Wrestlemania: The Royal Rumble.
In both years Rumbles, those who were seen as popular choices (read Daniel Bryan) didn’t win. Both caused massive backlashes that did force rewriting of the main events – especially in Rollins’ case – who wasn’t expected to win until during the event itself.
This year however sees something a bit difficult when it comes to the focal point of the Royal Rumble – a 30 man over-the-top rope Battle Royal (seriously, watch them, they’re good fun). Traditionally the winner are awarded a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania as a prize. However this time the winner will go into that event in all likelihood as champion, as the current champion (the more-popular-than-last-year-but-still-not-very-popular-good-guy Roman Reigns) is defending the title in the match itself.
The second point is something fascinating (if a little frustrating): there are a lot of injuries at the moment. Every single person who left last year’s Wrestlemania as a champion is currently injured, along with other mid carders, meaning that it’s a little thin for this year’s Mania already.
The WWE therefore have been booked into a bit of a corner and have a golden opportunity to do something: create a brand new star. They had this opportunity a few months ago leading into Survivor Series but they returned to the status quo, I feel though – this time could be different, and that is because of Wrestlemania.
Wrestlemania is in the 100,000 seater AT&T Stadium in Dallas Texas and it needs to sell out most of those seats – as well as put on a show for those 100,000 people that doesn’t disappoint. As such, it needs either a star studded cast, or a culmination of a storyline. The cast is present with Rock and Austin at the show but alas none of them will be in matches. So it is left for the storyline to pick up the slack.
At the moment, the logical thing is for Reigns to lose the championship and make the chase again for the title, winning it back at Wrestlemania – likely against Triple H. It isn’t exactly the most desirable main event match considering the wealth of options currently on the roster, but that makes the most sense.
But what if they do something different, and actually have a surprise winner of the Rumble? Of course, there are names like Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in the match, but what happens if they take each other out leading to somebody else standing tall after 29 other men have been eliminated? I’m not sure it will draw massive buys, but then again I’m not sure if Reigns vs Triple H will draw massive buys either. So why not experiment a bit?
In all likelihood the stale, safe option will be taken, and when the dust settles early Monday morning, we’re set for a fairly safe option for Wrestlemania. But this year feels like the most unpredictable Royal Rumble ever, and just for that, it makes it one worth watching.
In a few days I’ll be posting my Royal Rumble Predictions on Wrestling Betting. This is probably the hardest post to write in recent memory!
Also published on Medium.