After an initially sluggish build to this year’s WrestleMania, the WWE have really upped their pace in recent weeks—and we now find ourselves with a pretty stacked 10-match card to look forward.
Though it may not be perfect, with blockbuster names dominating the main event scene and a number of high-profile stars packing out a solid mid-card, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic heading into the biggest professional wrestling show of the year.
But in hindsight, it all could have gone down very differently indeed.
Though weeks of tinkering and tweaking have seen numerous rivalries emerge and evolve, such choices from the Creative Team have also seen a number of potential feuds simply fall by the wayside.
This article takes a look at five of the more prominent WWE rivalries that really seemed to be heading somewhere, only to be forgotten or cut short in the frantic environment that is the road to WrestleMania.
After his surprise return as the No. 2 entrant in the 2013 Royal Rumble match, Chris Jericho immediately found his former foe Dolph Ziggler firmly fixed in his sights.
The old adversaries kicked off the Rumble match itself before once again encountering each other after the event backstage, where Y2J warned Ziggler that he would be on his case “day in, day out”.
It all suggested that the two would carry on from where they had left off and feud right through until WrestleMania—a possibility that was only fortified by their subsequent dysfunction in a “Strange Bedfellows” match the following night on Raw.
But for whatever reason, the WWE nipped this idea in the bud pretty soon after.
Perhaps they were already planning the current Jericho versus Fandango rivalry, or perhaps they just didn’t want yet another rematch on the ‘Mania card.
Either way, it was probably the right call from the WWE. Sure, it robbed us of what would undoubtedly be top-quality match, but now it seems we could see two rising stars put over in Fandango and Big E Langston as opposed to just Ziggler himself.
Entering the Royal Rumble as the Intercontinental Champion, Wade Barrett lasted a solid 17 minutes before suffering the humiliation of being eliminated by NXT star Bo Dallas.
Dallas was then promoted to the main roster and picked up a huge win over Barrett the following night on Raw, while the two then brawled backstage on SmackDown later that week.
This succession of exchanges led many, myself included, to assume that the two were on a collision destined for MetLife stadium—but Barrett’s backstage assault on Dallas seemed to be all the closure we got with this one.
The feud was most likely dropped in order to accommodate Barrett’s promotion of his new film Dead Man Down, as he proceeded to appear on television rather fleetingly in the following weeks.
And though it could easily have been resurrected upon Barrett’s return, it may not have been the best option for the WWE to have pursued anyway.
Barrett still isn’t fully over as a dominant heel yet and thus could do with a big win at ‘Mania—the likes of which a match with a newcomer would not necessarily provide.
Also, it may have been difficult for many viewers to buy into the idea that Dallas could shoot from developmental territory to a title match in just a few short weeks. On the whole, perhaps it wasn’t such a bad thing that this one faded out of our attention.
Okay, so the New Age Outlaws aren’t a full-time tag team in the WWE—but nonetheless, they still seemed to have something pretty significant going on with the Rhodes Scholars.
The two teams faced off on Raw, but saw their match end as a no contest after interference from Brock Lesnar, and that was the last we saw of this short-lived rivalry.
However what is particularly noteworthy is the amount of publicity their match received.
WWE promoted the bout heavily on Tout and their website, and though this may simply to have ensured people were watching when Brock came out it seemed that the Outlaws versus the Scholars could have definitely been heading somewhere.
The teams’ vastly contrasting gimmicks would have made for the perfect feud, and though it would have meant another part-time act on the ‘Mania card, at least in this case, it would result in putting over a duo with huge promise and potential.
I'm fairly confident that the NAO versus Rhodes Scholars would have been better than the eight-person inter-gender tag match that we are getting instead; but looking on the bright side, the rivalry could very easily be revisited at a later date.
Decades in the making, this rivalry could easily have developed into a huge selling point for WrestleMania—despite both men's lack of wrestling aptitude.
The two were, of course ,scheduled to fight on Monday Night Raw a few weeks back, but the subsequent involvement of Triple H and Brock Lesnar interrupted proceedings, and the match has since been largely forgotten about.
Granted a ‘Mania match between the two would have been pretty darn terrible, but if they had been given greater prominence in the Triple H versus Lesnar storyline, then it would have surely made for some hugely interesting television.
Perhaps a situation similar to the McMahon versusTrump conflict leading up to WrestleMania 23 would have been a success?
But alas, we will most likely never find out.
McMahon has since pretty much withdrawn his involvement in the contest, and even if he features in The Game’s corner at WrestleMania, without sufficient prior build such an appearance will have minimal effect.
In my eyes, this represents a missed opportunity from the WWE.
Goldust may not full-time member of the WWE roster, but I’m sure a temporary return for WrestleMania could have been negotiated for the "Bizarre One."
His unexpected appearance at the Royal Rumble seemed to lay the foundations for an extended programme between the two, which, needless to say, would have made for gripping viewing due to their family ties.
However the WWE chose not to capitalise on this chance and Goldust has not been seen in a WWE ring since his brief Rumble cameo.
Whether they are saving this one for a bigger stage, such as WrestleMania XXX, remains to be seen. But either way I feel Goludst versus Cody could have been an even better use of Rhodes than my earlier suggestion of having him team with Damien Sandow to face the New Age Outlaws.
Family feuds are always exciting contests. Though it may not have been as big as Bret versus Owen or Matt versus Jeff, this one certainly had the potential to add something unique to this year’s WrestleMania card.
While some of these rivalries may well have augmented the eventual WrestleMania card, in the majority of cases, the matches with which we now find ourselves are perfectly acceptable substitutes.
But nonetheless, it begs the question as to why many of these feuds were often unceremoniously dumped by Creative in favor of rather differing alternatives.
It may well have been accidental, and merely a case of viewers jumping to conclusions. On the other hand, it could well have been a conscious ploy from the WWE to keep us guessing and add some valuable intrigue to the situation.
But what do you think?
Was it intentional or inadvertent?
Were the eventual match choices better or worse?
And which feuds would you have most liked to have seen on the WrestleMania card?
Comment below with your thoughts on these matters, and let me know any further opinions you may have had on any of the issues discussed in the article.