WWE WrestleMania 29: How It Can Top WrestleMania 28
The road to WWE WrestleMania 29 has commenced, and while the magic of WrestleMania 28 remains engrossed in fans worldwide, April's spectacular could yet surpass the grandeur of last year's event.
WrestleMania 28 featured the "Once in a Lifetime" bout between The Rock and John Cena, while Triple H and The Undertaker battled inside Hell in a Cell, being widely regarded as WWE's match of the year.
With the reported main-event matches of Rock vs. Cena and Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar touted for April, WWE can yet turn these confrontations into battles for the ages despite both clashes occurring in 2012.
Here, I'll analyse five necessities that should either occur in either the build-up to WrestleMania, or at the event itself to ensure that this year's "Showcase of the Immortals" lives up to its name.
1. Triple H Puts His Career on the Line
Triple H appears set to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, in a rematch of their main event encounter from SummerSlam 2012.
The wheels were seemingly set in motion on the Jan. 28 edition of WWE Raw, where Lesnar returned to deliver a stunning F5 to Vince McMahon, moments before the WWE chairman was set to fire his longtime associate Paul Heyman.
While the build from here seems relatively straight forward (Triple H will return to avenge his father-in-law's attack), WWE needs to ensure a gripping element of drama is associated with this feud.
Given both men's part-time in-ring status, the haphazard build for their SummerSlam match felt shoddy to say the least, and arguably, the match failed to produce the classic that many were expecting.
Triple H's time in the spotlight is justifiably limited these days, and while few would begrudge him one more WrestleMania outing, the fact his in-ring career is coming to an end definitely needs to be emphasised.
One of the great dynamics of the Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker match at WrestleMania 26 was that the career of "HBK" was on the line, as it was for Ric Flair when he fought Michaels at WrestleMania 24.
These two affairs were Pro Wrestling Illustrated's respective Matches of the Year, according to wikipedia.com, and while the prospect of Triple H vs. Lesnar Part 2 isn't thrilling, having the career of "The Game" at stake would certainly create tension going into the match.
Predicting a winner of this contest is tricky business, but with Triple H fighting for his career, rest assured the drama of every pinfall would turn this into an instant classic.
2. The Rock vs. John Cena Becomes a Stipulation Match
After The Rock won the WWE Championship from CM Punk at WWE Royal Rumble 2012, John Cena's triumph in the Royal Rumble indicates that the reported rematch from WrestleMania 28 will indeed come to fruition at WrestleMania 29.
It is hard not to feel underwhelmed by this scheduled main event, firstly because we already saw it in 2012, and secondly because due to Rock's victory last year, the event of Cena losing three WrestleMania matches on the trot seems unlikely.
However, while the WWE title may change the dynamic of this feud, adding a stipulation to their second collision could theoretically draw back any disillusioned fans, ensuring that people still have a reason to fork out money for the PPV.
Given that this will surely be the WrestleMania main event, as it was last year, the options for said stipulation are relatively slim, as WWE will not want a gimmick match to overshadow the grandeur of the contest.
The only options that are applicable in likelihood would either by No Disqualification, No Holds Barred or Two out of Three falls, but either of these options opens up all sorts of possibilities.
In a match where anything goes, certain weapons could be utilised, as they were during the classic Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock match at WrestleMania 17, or outside interference could play a key role in creating intrigue, perhaps if superstars such as The Shield are involved in the build-up.
Regardless, WWE must ensure that the second clash between the two icons is distinctly different to 2012's battle, and a stipulation would go some way to achieving that.
3. Paul Heyman Works with Both CM Punk and Brock Lesnar
As demonstrated by his sensational performance on the Jan. 28 edition of Raw, Paul Heyman is arguably one of the finest actors WWE has ever seen.
Being faced with termination of his contract, Heyman and Vince McMahon delivered a vocal exchange for the ages, with Heyman displaying his all-round acting prowess as his emotions scaled the glorious highs of confidence to the lows of despair.
Heyman is currently the manager of CM Punk, who appears scheduled to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania, while his associate Brock Lesnar is set to tangle with Triple H.
Having managed Lesnar for much of his WWE career, Heyman's presence as McMahon was attacked by "The Beast" suggests he will play a part in the feud approaching WrestleMania.
With the additional variable of Heyman being responsible for the actions of Brad Maddox and The Shield, the power he seems to possess will be a crucial dynamic of Lesnar and Punk's prospective feuds.
The days when managers employed more than one superstar seem to have come to an end in WWE, aside from Vickie Guerrero's ill-fated employment of Jack Swagger alongside Dolph Ziggler, but to make WrestleMania great, Heyman must be involved with both Punk and Lesnar.
Should Heyman play a truly devious, antagonising role in both feuds, the satisfaction should Undertaker and Triple H beat Lesnar and Punk respectively would be immensely fulfilling, especially if The Shield receive their comeuppance as well.
Heyman is one of truly great commodities WWE possesses, and should he be a focal point heading into WrestleMania, the results can only be positive.
4. A Shock Twist Occurs
Over the years, WWE has restricted the amount of shock twists occurring at WrestleMania, despite two successive main events at WrestleMania 16 and 17 featuring heel turns respectively for Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
While many have clamoured for a John Cena heel turn, the chance of this happening anytime soon is perhaps as likely as this writer suddenly developing a six-pack watching repeats of The Walking Dead while eating a chicken burger.
Regardless, there is scope for a hugely subversive moment at WrestleMania, especially with The Shield entangling themselves in numerous rivalries at the moment.
It has since been announced that Paul Heyman employed Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to save CM Punk's WWE title, but that implies that the trio are there to be hired by essentially anybody with interest.
Should someone take on The Shield to perform their bidding at WrestleMania, a heel turn could naturally follow for a superstar, with perhaps the most likely option here being Sheamus' reported match with Randy Orton.
It is hard not to be completely enthralled by the idea of a Cena heel turn on the grandest stage of them all, and should The Shield cost The Rock the title, with Cena the mastermind, that moment would instantly become an essential part of pro wrestling history.
Alas, while that is a long shot, a heel turn, face turn or genuinely shocking moment would be monumental at WWE's biggest PPV, and ensure WrestleMania 29 is talked about for years to come.
5. Long-Term Rivalries Conclude
WWE's success with long-term storylines used to be a thing of beauty, but recently the company appears to be struggling to keep rivalries interesting over a long period of time.
The days of seven-month feuds such as Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho are rarely repeated these days, with the company's often irrational, lazy booking derailing many developing feuds (Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio, for example).
John Cena vs. Kane and Cena vs. Big Show were examples of recently prolonged feuds that fizzled out prematurely, but amongst the wreckage from 2012, some intriguing angles were created.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Jericho, despite only lasting for one month of summer, was a highlight of last year, and it appears that after Jericho's Royal Rumble return, this feud has been resurrected.
Should this rivalry last until WrestleMania, and remain exciting, fans' interest will be high if the two finally end their feud at the "Showcase of the Immortals," and a gimmick match would only intensify the spectacle.
A similar situation may also arise between Daniel Bryan and Kane.
Having begrudgingly merged together in 2012, the duo have become one of the most adored tag teams in recent history, despite beginning their relationship as bitter rivals.
With cracks now emerging between the two, losing the Tag Team Championships and renewing their rivalry could pave the way for a hugely anticipated encounter at WrestleMania.
Should Kane turn heel, a triumphant victory for Bryan also would go some way towards redeeming WWE's failure to showcase him properly at WrestleMania 28.
WWE has begin steadily on the road to WrestleMania, but here's hoping they go the extra mile this year and not just give us what we have seen before.
As always, thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. Follow me on Twitter @JWoodfield365.