Sometime late last year I fantasy booked Wrestlemania XXX. And gauging on how it’s actually shaping up, it really would have behooved someone in corporate to read my column. I thought it might be interesting to go back to my column and imagine “what if” and “why not.” Oh, and I’m James A. Sawyer and I’m @todaysjimsawyer. Also, feel free to stop by here http://www.gofundme.com/66dpok. I’ll stop plugging it when it works, I swear.
And wish me a happy birthday. It’s this Wednesday. If anyone wants to get me a PWG or ROH DVD, or an action figure that I can carry around and take pictures of in different places (I love those), go nuts here: http://amzn.com/w/FP2Y2EXHYAZ7
Main Event: CM Punk vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
This is probably the last dream match they have, and I think it’d be worth it to give Austin whatever he wants and give Punk the last match on the card, title or no. Austin’s hinted that if they paid him enough (probably both in money and compliments) that he’d lace up the boots one more time, and there’s no doubt that Punk would be the perfect opponent, not to mention their real-life mutual admiration society. I think after The Rock’s underwhelming Wrestlemania returns, that Austin and his sense of pride would know his limits, know just how to get ready, and worse comes to worse Punk is a good enough vet now to carry Austin a whole lot better than Cena could carry Rock. Hogan versus the Rock is seen as a modern classic, despite the in-ring action being less than stellar. The force of their two personalities and the promos alone would make this worth it.
This… this could have solved so many problems. As well all know by now, Punk has quit the WWE largely believed due to burnout and a feeling of being overlooked. Also, Austin reportedly had stated he’d have been interested in participating in Mania, but now that there’s not a lot of time for promotion and buildup, it doesn’t seem likely to happen. Had someone just made a simple phone call late last year, they could’ve planned this out and we could have had another moneymaking match and a happier A-level star.
Retirement Match: Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan
Everyone, including me, would rather see Bryan versus HBK as that would both make more sense dramatically and be a better match, but Shawn seems like one of the few guys who would stick to his guns and stay retired. Sad to say, but I think that Bryan locking HBK in the Yes Lock was the blow off to their disagreement.
So what’s the next best thing? Daniel Bryan being the one to retire Triple H from in-ring competition. Hunter, regardless of your opinion of him, is a big enough star to warrant a serious “final match,” and the Undertaker is the only old guy left to be worthy of doing it. Unfortunately, they already had two recent Wrestlemania matches, so what does that leave? His best friend’s protege and recent arch-enemy Daniel Bryan. It makes so much sense on paper that they’ll never do it. Bryan can continue to beat all the guys Triple H throws his way, Triple H can still consider Bryan a “B level guy,” not to mention harbor resentment for his attack on HBK. Triple H vows to rid the WWE of Bryan and puts his own in-ring career on the line to do it. Triple H gets to make a guy on his way out, and Bryan gets to say that he retired Triple H, who can continue to mess with him as an authority figure. Plus, I bet the match could be a surprisingly good one.
Apparently backstage rumors were of there being a Punk vs Triple H match. For reasons that would make perfect sense, I’m sure. Now, they’re saying it might be this match, the one that makes the most sense. C’mon, it’s easy: Triple H gives up on Orton, declares himself champion, gloats, infuriates smarks and marks and gets his ass handed to him by Bryan. Everyone’s happy. Except Triple H, but who cares?
Blood Feud: Dolph Ziggler vs. Brock Lesnar
A lot of people are expecting Punk to face Brock at Wrestlemania, but no way would they have that match if Austin is willing to come back. Not to mention it’s not realistic to keep those two away from each other from Summerslam in August to Wrestlemania in April. Paul Heyman can only manage so many guys.
Dolph Ziggler is a guy that could be main eventing right now. Why he isn’t is anyone’s guess, although smartass live RAW tweets probably don’t help (except for readers who see them). Ziggler also loses a lot of matches, and although he holds victories over guys like Cena, Punk, and Del Rio, they’re so far apart it’s hard for fans to keep up. Whenver you see a Ziggler match, you know that a) you won’t be bored and b) he’ll probably lose. He needs a big victory on a big PPV.
Brock Lesnar, despite losing his first match back against John Cena in something that I’m sure made sense at the time, is still seen as a threat. A Beast that breaks people. And he’s still great when he has a good opponent. In college, both Lesnar and Ziggler were amateur wrestlers. The feud wouldn’t take anything that intricate to get started. Maybe they’re both in the Rumble, leading Ziggler to eliminate Lesnar causing him to look like a badass and Lesnar to hold a grudge. In the interim between the Rumble and Wrestlemania Heyman can screw with Ziggler, sending Axel and Ryback or whoever he’s repping now, until Lesnar’s ready and demands to see him at the big show. Ziggler’s also underrated on the mic, so Heyman will have someone quick-thinking to spar with. And after taking a hellacious beating, possibly in a pinfalls anywhere-no holds barred situation, when Ziggler gets the clean pin he’ll finally have some momentum regained from his MITB cash-in last year, and can go forward as a firm A lister.
Plus, I bet the Zig-Zag would look pretty sweet as a counter to the F5.
So picture this… instead of Lesnar having a five-minute match against the Big Show at the Royal Rumble, how’s about Lesnar and the Big Show being IN the Royal Rumble? Heyman can come down and throw Lesnar a chair, Lesnar beats Big Show to a pulp and throws him over the top rope. Lesnar roars, turns around only to have Ziggler grab the chair, smack him around and toss him over the rope. Ziggler looks like the man, the audience is thrilled as they were chanting his name, and you set up this feud for Wrestlemania, which rockets Ziggler up to the main event level, finally.
Money In The Bank: Kofi Kingston vs. Evan Bourne vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Antonio Cesaro
Yeah, I understand that they’ve switched this up to its own PPV now, but it really worked better as a Wrestlemania match. It used to be a big deal when someone cashed this in, and it functioned as a sort of King of the Ring successor where you knew that whoever won would be a big deal coming out of it.
Now? Ehhhh not so much.
But hey, at least that made Cena look like a superhero, right? I bought 30 of those pink shirts so it must have been effective.
The Money In The Bank match at Wrestlemania serves three purposes. One, it gets a lot of guys on the card. A happy, well-paid and active locker room is a motivated and satisfied locker room. Two, it’s almost always a worthwhile match full of insane and innovative spots. And three, it elevates someone who’s (supposedly) ready for that next big step.
With this match I propose all the best high flyers of the WWE face off and try to compete to have the crazy spot of the night. Every single one of these guys is capable of excellence if given the opportunity. But who would I have to win? The next big thing, Antonio Cesaro. This is another guy that’s insanely over with the crowd, awesome in the ring and underrated on the mic and as a personality. He could definitely hold his own as either a WWE or World Heavyweight champ.
As far as I know, none of these guys have any plans going in, so this is a way to make a lot of midcarders happy as well as give a boost to Cesaro. Hell, he’s already getting a push by being in the Chamber, why not use this to test him out? This could open the card to a white-hot spotfest and set the tone to a hopefully exciting PPV.
John Cena vs. The Undertaker
John Cena is probably the last big opponent for the Undertaker they have left, and the last one that could theoretically end the streak. Lord knows he can take the loss and still be the number one guy. They wouldn’t even have to turn him full heel for this, as really HBK and Triple H weren’t heels when they faced Taker. But to make things interesting, they could have him return to a tweener-type status, make surprise attacks and battle raps against Undertaker and return to Thuganomics-type underhanded tactics in the actual match, and then the next night just have him shrug and say “well, I just really wanted to win” and go back to being the Face of Faces. Or they could really change it up and have him turn heel and ally himself with The Corporation or something and be a smug, disingenuous smarmy sellout. Either or.
Love him or not, Cena’s been a big name for the WWE for the past decade. He should probably have a match that’s a little higher profile than Bray Wyatt. No offense, Bray, but you’re still new. Undertaker doesn’t bury Daniel Bryan, or get crippled by an overeager Lesnar, and the fans get to see him finally take on Cena. Which hasn’t happened in years, if I remember correctly.
Sibling Rivalry: Goldust vs. Cody Rhodes
This one seems like a no-brainer, and it seems like they were tiptoeing around this one year when Cody was “Dashing” and Goldust was a road agent. It might even be more effective now, though, because they’ve seemingly done the impossible and made Cody into a big deal. That’s not a slight against Cody, mind you, just an acknowledgement that the WWE has a lot of well-sculpted short-haired dudes at the moment and they all kind of blur together. I actually always had a soft spot for Cody, liking his moonsault, Beautiful Disaster kick and CrossRhodes finisher, as well as his commitment to both acting classes to improve his character and the game Legend of Zelda.
This time I’d have Goldust be the heel betraying a face Cody. Maybe Goldust sells out and joins the new Corporation. Maybe he just snaps because his character’s always been kind of a loose cannon. Either way, he looks to be in the best shape of his career (even more impressive now that he’s old enough to have a grown daughter) and he’s always had a unique character with interesting promos. This could be a fun match. Of course, the younger, full-time face Cody would win. Afterwards they could hug it out or keep feuding.
This one they couldn’t really do, or do justice to, as things are now. Goldust apparently found the Fountain of Youth and he’s been outworking guys half his age lately, and the fans love him. Older fans recognize him from their youth, and younger fans just see what a Tweeter called “golden Sith Lord.” So I would either make this a forced match made by the Authority to mess with the Rhodes again, or have a battle of respect that begins and ends with a handshake.
Divas Match: Brie Bella & Natalya vs. Nikki Bella & AJ Lee
They always have one of these matches, and in the Lita and Stratus days it could even be entertaining. However, these are not those days. However, both AJ Lee and Natalya are, in my opinion, not bad at all and could be even better if given more opportunity to work as well as being mentored by someone like William Regal or a rehired Fit Finlay. And thanks to that E! show and real-life relationships, the Bella twins are probably the most recognizable divas on the roster. So you split them up, have the snobby Nikki (girlfriend of Cena) go against the more crunchy, granola Brie (fiancee of Daniel) and team them with the respective best heel/face divas wrestlers. Boom, done.
They could absolutely still do this. There’s not really any stories going on in the Divas division, except AJ is the uber-petite, unpopular high school girl that’s a heel for some reason and Emma and Summer Rae are having dance contests. So yeah, this all still works.
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Clan
Just like Austin going into Wrestlemania 13, The Shield are, while heels, incredibly talented and cool. This could be the match that turns them into tough, no-nonsense faces. At least until Dean wigs out and becomes a mega-star heel. The crowd seemed to go nuts at The Shield and Wyatts fighting on that RAW. It really wouldn’t take much effort to get these guys at each other’s throats, too. Maybe The Wyatts replace The Shield in the Corporation. Maybe The Shield just get fed up with their weirdness and attacks them. Or just keep it heel vs heel.
And I actually still maintain The Wyatts to be one of the most original gimmicks in years. Now, according to Wikipedia Erick Rowan used to compete in Pro Wrestling NOAH and Luke Harper in Chikara, Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate USA. Those companies aren’t really known for taking in crumb bums. I think, given the force of the two faction’s personalities and the unrealized potential of at least 67% of the Wyatts and the certified awesomeness of The Shield that this could be the sleeper match of the show.
They’re already doing this, so I obviously had good foresight, they’re just doing it a PPV early. So I had the right idea. They could do the rematch wherein the Wyatts win due to Ambrose screwing up and Reigns finally spears him and leaves, turning face.
Tag Team Turmoil: The Usos vs. The Real Americans vs. Sheamus & Kane vs. The Big Show & Santino
Yeah, this is just a way to not only have a match for the WWE Tag Team Titles on there, but also to give Randy Orton, Kane, Big Show and Santino something to do. Obviously there’s almost so much time on the show and you can’t showcase everyone, but you do what you can. Orton’s been the focus from Summerslam on, he can take a break by April. Same with Big Show, and Kane who has to be nearing retirement now. And Santino always gets a laugh, so why not put him with Big Show and minimize their exposure? This version of The Real Americans being The Miz and Jack Swagger, of course. And The Usos win because they’re awesome.
I switched out Orton for Sheamus since Batista and Sheamus came back. If he’s a face, he can be forced to tag with Kane, only to Brogue kick him allowing the Usos to pin him. If he’s a heel, then yeah, no angle needed.
Fandango vs. Alberto Del Rio
Fandango is practically a face already. I don’t know why he’s still heel. His dancing and theme became a meme for a bit, and I think Johnny Curtis is actually really talented and deserves to be on the roster. Also, Del Rio is too good to not be on Wrestlemania, so why not pair them against each other? Fandango gets another match and chance to perform, Del Rio gets a victory, everyone wins.
Since Summer Rae will be on Total Divas season two, Fandango will probably be getting more attention. Also, he remains something of a cult figure, but one with a lot more heat than Mark Henry, Ryback, etc. Might as well push the younger, more popular guy in a match against Del Rio.
Pre-Show: Big E Langston vs. Ryback vs. Curtis Axel
This can be the Intercontinental championship match. Ryback’s been buried to all Hell recently, Axel is underwhelming and Big E is still pretty new, so I think the pre-show is a good place for them. They can all do whatever until Big E pins one or both to retain, as he’s the most promising one.
They’ve had somewhat important matches on pre-shows, and I still maintain that since Big E is inside of his first year in the WWE, it’s not a demotion at all to have him successfully defend his title on YouTube. Hell, more people might see that than the actual PPV anyway.
Somewhere Out There: Randy Orton vs. Batista
Sometime after first writing this they brought back Batista, which I didn’t see coming. I don’t really see what’s in it for the guy. He’s 45, was in a kung-fu movie with Russell Crowe and RZA last year and is in a huge Marvel movie this year.
And look, I know the guy is about as popular as an STD right now, but he’s not bad. He did great as the McMahon-endorsed Cena Killer in early 2011 before his break. It’s just bad timing that he’s coming back when there’s a lot of turmoil regarding Punk and Bryan, and the rising of Reigns and Cesaro. As for Randy, I’m still a little confused by his booking. So he’s a shitty wrestler only saved by the grace of The Authority? But they don’t even like him anymore? So where’s he gonna go? If he turns against The Authority, wouldn’t that make him face again? If he still sides with them, isn’t he an idiot? I’m not even a huge Orton guy but they are really screwing up his character.
TBD: Chris Jericho, The Rock, Brodus Clay, Tensai, Christian, Booker T
You can’t put everyone on the card. I feel like The Rock’s been in enough matches recently to sit out competing physically, at least. Maybe he can be a special guest referee or manage Austin or something. He’s big enough that he should be on the show, but I think his competition days are over.
Jericho, although a big fan of him, I don’t really know what to do with him. I’d absolutely have him on, but maybe in a non-wrestling capacity. He can still get it done, but I think there’s too much going on in this card and he deserves better than to just be shoehorned in against someone. The next run he has should be his last and should be important.
Brodus, Tensai… backstage skits? That’s where I’d put Zack Ryder, Great Khali and David Otunga, etc. I like Booker T, I just don’t know what he’s doing now. Announcing? Managing? Being one of the thousand authority figures they have now? And Christian seems to go between semi-retired and chronically injured, but I think he’s got enough of a personality to be a future manager or backstage figure if he wanted.
Eagle’s Nest commentary- Primetime Players and Damian Sandow
I forget what the exact term is for that new thing they do where inactive guys are set up as on air talent, but I don’t hate it. It gives the unused part of the roster something to do, and I know better than anyone that everybody likes to feel useful. The Primetime Players are fun guys who got some mainstream media attention this year, and Damian Sandow’s biggest strength is his mic work, so why not let them host the pre- or post-show or whatever it is that thing does?
Well they screwed this one up for me. Throw out Titus I guess, keep Darren and add in the new gimmick of “Bad News” Wade Barrett.
Your Wrestlemania Host: No one or anyone but Hogan
What exactly does a host do? Exactly. And even if they’re deadset on having one, why get the super-mainstream and relevant Rock three years ago and bring out the crippled, creepy, daughter-lookalike-lover Hulk Hogan? C’mon. He’s a TNA reject now. TNA reject. That’s like ruining a Britta party.
So there you have it, my own personal recommendations for Wrestlemania XXX. Which is worth, monetarily, little but hopefully at least the time you spent in reading this. If I may brag a little, I’m surprised at how quickly I came up with this card. Going into writing this I only had three matches planned, the rest really fell into place. I’m pretty proud of this card, as I think it’s both exciting, well-thought out and most importantly, doable. But don’t let me rest too much on my laurels. Commenters, care to give your opinions on this? Or share your own thoughts? Do your thing. Other columnists, think you can do better? By all means, put up or shut up.
Oh, and Mark Henry? Let’s just assume he’ll be injured.
There’s still time!
In my original column, someone noted the minor mistake I made of not having any world title matches. I came up with two, only to have them combine the belts. Great! Now it can only be one. The new unified WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H puts his career on the line against Daniel Bryan.
One of the neat things that I thought would be revealed in remixing this wremix is in seeing how they could maybe still do some of this, but admittedly some things seem too far gone. If they were to do Austin vs. Punk, they’d have to ideally start as of this article’s publication. Not likely. Also, any big Goldust/Cody match would probably have had them having tension already. As awesome as this card is (full modesty), some of it’s not doable now. Whatever they have planned… it better be good.
Although hell, what’s it gonna cost people, ten bucks? Eh they can procrastinate like a high school senior.
Tags: AJ, Antonio Cesaro, batista, Bella Twins, Big E, cm punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Fandango, john cena, kane, Natalya, randy orton, Rybaxel, sheamus, Stone Cold Steve Austin, triple h, undertaker, wrestlemania, WWE