As WrestleMania XXIX draws closer, time is running out on the WWE when it comes to putting together the official card. As of right now, the only matches that we know for sure are The Rock vs. John Cena and Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger, but several more will be added in the coming weeks, and unfortunately, there are some superstars who will be passed over.
WrestleMania is obviously the biggest show of the year, and it is also the longest, as it lasts for four hours rather than the usual three. That does allow for a few more matches than usual, but much of that time is allocated to the main-event bouts, so it doesn't make a huge difference. The WWE roster is so large that a lot of talented guys will inevitably be left without a storyline of any consequence.
Which superstar most deserves to be part of WrestleMania's main card?
Aside from the matches that have already been determined, we can safely assume that Triple H will face Brock Lesnar, and CM Punk will likely face The Undertaker, provided he returns as expected. That takes care of WrestleMania's main-event scene, but there is still a lot of top talent that has to be booked between now and the big night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Any time that isn't dedicated to the major feuds on Raw and SmackDown will go directly to the likes of The Shield, Team Hell No, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Ryback, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho and other comparable wrestlers. That leaves very little space for the mid-to-low-card superstars who aren't yet engaged in something.
There is certainly a lot that can happen over the next five weeks, but I'm fairly confident that I know how the remainder of the card will play out. Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz, Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett, Jericho vs. Ziggler, Henry vs. Ryback, Big Show vs. Booker T and The Shield vs. Orton and Team Hell No, in addition to the aforementioned contests, would bring everything together nicely and make for a fantastic show.
The only problem is that it still leaves a sizable number of deserving superstars out of the picture. Among them are Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio. All of them would make the main card most years, but the current roster has so much depth, and there are so many strong part-time wrestlers involved, that it is absolutely impossible for the WWE to make everyone happy.
While it may not be proper consolation for a fan whose favorite superstar will be left off the show, there is a way to ensure that everyone of note is involved in the festivities in some way. My suggestion would be a tag-team battle royal on the pre-show to determine the No. 1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships. The winning team would then face whomever is in possession of the tag titles at Extreme Rules the following month.
With the exception of last year, the WWE usually has a pre-show battle royal anyway, so why not give it some implications? If the goal is only to involve legitimate tag teams, then I would make the match Brodus Clay and Tensai vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Team Rhodes Scholars vs. The Prime Time Players vs. two members of 3MB vs. Primo and Epico vs. The Usos vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth vs. The Great Khali and Hornswoggle vs. Zack Ryder and Santino Marella.
That makes 10 teams that have actually tagged together at some point in the recent past, and it gets most of the notable mid-carders involved to some degree. If the WWE decides that it wants to get some low-card guys on the show as well, then it can piece together some makeshift teams and expand it to 15 or 20 tandems. It isn't the same as actually being on the WrestleMania pay-per-view, but it's better than nothing.
It's unfortunate that so many high-quality superstars are going to be snubbed, but that's the nature of the beast. There is only so much room on a single card, and a lot of it comes down to luck. Some guys are lucky enough to be involved in an angle of some kind, so they'll ultimately be on the main card, while others are lost in the shuffle and running low on time when it comes to having a match of importance.
It wasn't long ago that it looked like Team Rhodes Scholars would challenge Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania and win, but Rhodes and Sandow parted ways amicably and are no longer a regular team. Also, Mysterio is a guy who has had several big WrestleMania matches and is generally looked at as a workhorse, but a mix of injuries and personal problems has slowed him down.
The same can be said for Kingston in terms of being an in-ring workhorse, but he has essentially been a jobber to the stars since dropping the Intercontinental Championship. He has all the talent in the world as a wrestler, but his face shtick has run its course, and his character is not nearly compelling enough to justify putting him on the main card.
Some great superstars with bright futures simply won't make a big impact at WrestleMania this year, but there are creative ways to get them involved to some degree, and I'm hopeful that the WWE exhausts all of its options.