The WWE has been going through a cold period, but the upcoming WrestleMania season will be one of the best of the modern era.
Those two points may seem separate, but they’re actually interrelated. Since SummerSlam the company’s product has taken a staggering nosedive in quality, primarily because there haven’t been any must-watch feuds.
There are a few reasons for that, but it’s mainly because the WWE is biding its time until WrestleMania season—that’s when it’ll let out the big guns.
The best way to encapsulate this point is in two of the biggest stars in the wrestling industry today—Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. The two indie kings headlined SummerSlam, and their respective matches could arguably be called the two best of the year, though things went south for them after that.
Since August, Punk has consistently been strategically underutilized. He continued his rivalry with Paul Heyman—the idea being that it would keep him out of the spotlight because at the time it was Bryan who needed the bright lights.
The problem was, no one believed for one second that any combination of Ryback or Curtis Axel could overcome Punk, so as a result the second-biggest program on the show was hard to be interested in.
Meanwhile, Bryan battled Randy Orton over the WWE Championship, and while their feud had many great matches, it was plagued by having too many pay-per-views to headline and by the bad booking used to stretch it out long enough to main event said PPVs.
Bryan was kicked out of the title picture by Shawn Michaels at Hell in a Cell and has since occupied space on the upper-midcard with Punk.
The underutilizing of both of these stars is a major reason the product has been lagging in interest recently, but again, it’s all strategy. It’s clear that WWE has big WrestleMania plans for both men.
Reports have circulated that officials want a Bryan vs. HBK match (PWInsider via WrestleZone.com). Even if Michaels decides he doesn’t want to wrestle, this still indicates that the company wants The Submission Specialist in a top match at the Show of Shows.
Similarly, Punk is reportedly in line for a big ‘Mania match against either the WWE champion (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com) or the tyrannical COO Triple H (PWInsider via WrestleZone.com); either way, something big.
We’ve seen Randy Orton vs. John Cena so many times, but Punk and Bryan will add a breath of fresh air as top stars in 2014’s WrestleMania season.
But Punk, Bryan and Triple H are just the beginning. It basically goes without saying that megastars like Brock Lesnar and Undertaker will be appearing for WrestleMania XXX. Add in the rumored return of Batista (PWInsider via WrestlingInc.com), and the possibility of off-again-on-again talents like RVD and Y2J showing up and you have a situation where ginormous stars John Cena and Randy Orton almost feel like afterthoughts.
The undercard will be stacked with greatness as well; Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust seems like a sure thing, as does the implosion of The Shield. It’s hard to predict where The Wyatts will be, but it’ll probably be somewhere interesting, too.
Consider all that and it becomes clear that the road to WrestleMania XXX was paved a long time ago, and the payoff for enduring the last few months of programming will be a spectacular WrestleMania season.
And hey, who knows? Maybe they’ll even unify the Intercontinental and U.S. Championships.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @dvanboom.