WWE WrestleMania XXX: Booking Through Logic and Wishful Thinking

Anthony RizzutiSenior Analyst IIIDecember 30, 2013

WWE WrestleMania XXX: Booking Through Logic and Wishful Thinking

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    Welcome to WrestleMania season. And with every 'Mania season comes the anticipation and speculation. 

    So who are the big time superstars destined to match up with? Who will face off with "The Animal" Batista upon his return? Who will Brock Lesnar get his hands on this time around? Who will the current stars such as John Cena, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan take on? And who will be worthy enough to challenge Undertaker and his streak?

    Well, I'll try to give it a go. Here's how I would book WrestleMania XXX as we enter 2014.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton(c) v. John Cena v. Daniel Bryan

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    Sure, this one's been thrown out there quite a few times by our fellow IWCers over the past few weeks. And guess what? Many of them are spot on in proposing this as the main event for the April 6th extravaganza. 

    When booking the top match for this particular WrestleMania, there's a handful of factors to consider. For one, the heightened significance of the now-WWE World Heavyweight Championship is certainly worthy enough to close the show. The company has spent a considerable amount of television time and creative effort in uniting the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship. John Cena has been involved, Randy Orton has been involved, Triple H has been involved and the McMahon's have been involved. Time to get a payoff out of that investment. 

    Next, you look at what the potential match has already brought to the table. In this particular instance, the groundwork has been set for some time now. Orton has feuded with Bryan, Bryan has feuded with Cena and, most recently, Cena has feuded with Orton. And despite the clean finish at the TLC pay-per-view, none of the individual angles between the three look completely resolved. Just like the build up of the company's crown jewel, there should be a nice payoff for an investment that has been going on since August's SummerSlam.

    Finally, is this something we've seen before? No. WrestleMania main events, ideally, should have some freshness and mystery to them.

    Sure, Cena's been in the last four WrestleMania curtain closers as well as a few triple threats. But the reality is, Cena is still the top guy. You can do all the kicking and screaming you want, the WWE's failure to produce viable main event talent still has Cena as "that guy." So until we see otherwise, Cena goes in with the champ and the hottest thing going in professional wrestling right now-- Daniel Bryan. 

    Speaking of hot, you have to ride the hot hand and give Bryan the billing here. Again, the WWE is lacking a solid amount of top talent to throw alongside Cena, Orton and CM Punk. Although there are backstage rumblings of the higher brass "not trusting" Bryan as a main event superstar, this is worth a crack.

    Give Bryan an early spot in the Royal Rumble, say anywhere from No. 3 to No. 8, and have him rough it out for a hard-fought victory. So how does Cena find his way in? Well since "The Authority" believes Bryan is a "solid B+," Triple H and Stephanie book a #1 (or #1B) Contender's match at the Elimination Chamber event. From their standpoint, since Bryan isn't good enough to main event in a one-on-one, they'd have to add another challenger. This would feed into the storyline and continue to stack up the odds against Bryan. Cena, of course, wins and sets up the triple threat.

    Now, you throw Bryan the win. This creates a return on investment, a majestic WrestleMana moment and a big time star.

CM Punk v. Triple H (with Special Referee Shawn Michaels)

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    Here's another one that's been brought up already. In fact, this is the probable route for both Punk and Triple H according to numerous reports. If so, it's a great call. 

    Punk-Triple H already has all the makings for a top-of-the-card 'Mania match. You have the superstar statuses, the rebel vs. authority angle and even (something of my own doing) a nice little kick with Shawn Michaels as the special referee. 

    As far as booking this up to April 6th, a whole lot really doesn't have to be done. Perhaps Triple H tries to bury (yes, interesting word choice there) Punk in the Rumble by giving him the No. 1 entry or maybe even entering the match himself just to eliminate Punk. Given his "rage against the machine" attitude, Triple H would look to keep a superstar like Punk away from the WrestleMania event. 

    Even though a loss may be a difficult one for Triple H to swallow, we'll give Punk the win. Michaels, as the referee, could find his buddy to be a tad overwhelming and unruly at times during the match and nail him with a Sweet Chin Music. The shot from Michaels could then transition right into a GTS and win by Punk.

Undertaker v. The Shield (3-on-1 Gauntlet Match)

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    The Undertaker has bested some of the industry's top names over the past decade or so in padding up his streak. Since 2004, superstars such as Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Batista, Edge, Kane and CM Punk have all failed to chalk up Taker's first WrestleMania loss. So how about we ditch the traditional one-on-one conquest in favor of something a bit different this time around?

    The Shield has been a dominant force in the WWE for just over a year now. The trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns has run roughshod all over the company and really have yet to be neutralized. (With the exception of Punk's handicap victory at TLC.)

    So happens that the last WWE appearance Taker made was when he was getting driven through the commentator's table by The Shield's triple power bomb. We have groundwork.

    The feud could start with the three members of The Shield cutting a promo to "throw down the gauntlet" to Taker. Since they are the "Hounds of Justice," they could claim that no man (Taker) or his individual accomplishment (the streak) should hold such prevalence over the industry. Now that it's "their yard," The Shield is responsible to kick out the old dog for good.

    This also provides the three with an unparalleled push. Much is being made of Reigns' potential trek to the top of late. Reigns could be the last of the three under the gauntlet rules and push Taker to his absolute limit. Coupled with a prospective big time showing at the Rumble, a battle with The Undertaker at WrestleMania should add extra fuel to that rocket that may be strapped to Reign's back.

    The Shield's eventual loss could even lead into the stable's breakup. Ambrose and Rollins could blame Reigns for not finishing the job, Reigns turns and evolves into a top babyface.

    A three-on-one gauntlet match would give Taker a viable challenge, three future stars a nice rub and even put some doubt into the liveliness of the 21-0 streak.

     

Batista v. Brock Lesnar (No Holds Barred)

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    Since the announcement of his return, Batista and his WrestleMania status have been tried in a number of different scenarios. Some have him facing off for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Orton, some giving him another shot at Taker's streak and some even with Triple H, to take down "The Authority." 

    But the answer to the most intriguing match for Batista is quite simple–Brock Lesnar.

    "The Animal" vs. "The Beast" would be a slobber knocker if we've ever seen one. Although this may bring back some harsh memories of the WrestleMania XX bout between Lesnar and Goldberg, the WWE has an exciting opportunity they must consider exploring here. 

    Both are stars, both are former MMA fighters, both are absolute monsters and most importantly–both are huge draws. A clash between these two, especially in a no holds barred environment, has the capability of giving the show a unique element.

    Since the Lesnar-Goldberg feud was already referenced, let's grab a page out of that feud. Batista enters the Rumble and begins to dominate. Lesnar, who comes in as a surprise, enters a handful of spots after. The two face off, get a few shots in and Batista eventually powers him out. Disgruntled by the elimination, Lesnar goes back in the ring, attacks Batista and throws him over the top rope for his elimination. 

    Being that Batista will be sticking around more often, it makes sense to book him as the victor. A battle of the beasts, with some guaranteed promo gold from Paul Heyman, should make for one of the most anticipated matches in recent memory.

Sheamus v. Bray Wyatt

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    Did you hear the rumor about Bray Wyatt potentially headlining WrestleMania against John Cena? Sheesh. I mean, Wyatt is a promising talent with a fresh gimmick, but really?

    Whether it's just a small ploy from creative to throw us off or not, the company's rumored push for Wyatt into that spot is incredibly unwarranted at this point. So let's start him off a tad slower here with Sheamus. Sheamus, although not as big as Cena, would still serve the purpose of building Wyatt up. 

    Let's say Sheamus makes his return as a surprise entrant in the Rumble. The next night on Raw, he cuts a promo thanking the fans for their patience while he healed up and proclaiming his excitement for the return. The Wyatt Family's cryptic music hits and Bray speaks. Wyatt says Sister Abigail taught him that people like Sheamus are wrong. As he stated in a past promo, "a rattlesnake's skin is the same color as the leaves." Sheamus, whose face character has been trying to relate with the people, is that example of a rattlesnake. Even though he's trying to blend in with the WWE Universe, he's actually "bad" for them.

    If you want to push Wyatt, do it progressively. Give him a feud and a win over a Sheamus, not a Cena already.

     

Cody Rhodes v. Goldust

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    This brother vs. brother match has been on the horizon since Goldust's Twitter campaign a while back. And given the latest storyline between the two, as well as Cody's long-awaited push, it's time. 

    If the WWE decides to explore this route, the beginnings of the feud have already been set. Back at the TLC pay-per-view, Cody had to essentially carry the team to a victory over Rey Mysterio and Big Show. Goldust, for the better portion of the match, appeared winded and rather useless. Cody was left to fend for himself and pick up the win for the two. 

    The Rhodes brothers can eventually drop the straps, say to Mysterio and Show, in another match where Goldust comes up tired once again. This would then lead to a discussion backstage where Cody merely suggests he build up his stamina so they can regain the titles.

    In their rematch, Goldust turns on Cody and leaves him for dead. Goldust, disgusted and insulted by his little brother's suggestion, cuts a promo saying he doesn't need advice from a younger guy who has hasn't accomplished anything of note in his WWE career. 

    The two face off, set the match for 'Mania and that's that. Cody picks up the win, the two embrace and make up afterwards and we have ourselves a memorable moment.

Tag Team Championships: Four Corners Elimination Tag

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    The tag team division has been somewhat revived this year and is in a fairly decent state. To keep that going, the titles need to be contended for on the company's biggest stage. 

    As referenced in the last slide, Show and Mysterio go in as champions to defend against three of the more popular teams in a four corners elimination match. Since the Real Americans are gaining some traction as a result of Zeb Colter and the ever exciting Cesaro Swing, we'll throw them the win here. 

    Their win can then set up...

Hulk Hogan Appearance

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    Here it is. With WrestleMania season just about underway, the company has been trying it's best to reel in the icon, Hulk Hogan. In all reality, the Hulkster will probably not be in a state to wrestle an actual match. (Besides, I realize many of you don't want to see an old, injured man hit the ring anyway.)

    So instead, we give him something similar to his WrestleMania 21 appearance. After the Real Americans capture the tag gold, Colter cuts a promo. As usual, he'd trash the crowd and stress that his two comrades are "Real Americans." 

    But according to his entrance theme, Hogan is the real American. Hogan gets a standing ovation, tries to set the trio straight and is attacked by Swagger and Cesaro. Hogan does his hulk up, drops a leg drop or two and the red and yellow reign supreme again.

Divas Championship: AJ Lee (c) vs. Natalya

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    Whether you're opposed or in favor of the consequences Total Divas has had on the wrestling industry, we can all agree that the ladies' division is finally relevant again. Since we might need some payoff for a season finale, in comes a title shot for one of the reality show's stars. 

    It would most likely come down to Brie Bella or Natalya. Since very few probably want to see a Bella with the strap, we'll give the shot and the win to the latter. 

    WWE's effort in producing the E! television show does deserve some time at WrestleMania. Here it is.

Pre-Show: Six-Pack Challenge for the Intercontinental Championship

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    This may seem like I'm just throwing in the rest of the talent on a match. Well, I am. 

    The concept of the pre-show match is one of WWE's smarter decisions over the past couple of years. They're free matches that bring in eyes and potential buys for the pay-per-view. So why not feature as much talent as possible? If you're using this as a way to promote the purchase of the event, why not get as many eyeballs as you can? More superstars should equal more fans. 

    Big E. defends and successfully retains his Intercontinental strap in this six-pack challenge.

Final Card

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    *Matches in descending order from main event to curtain jerker:

    8) WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton (c) vs. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan

    7) Undertaker vs. The Shield (3-on-1 Gauntlet Match)

    6) Divas Championship: AJ Lee (c) vs. Natalya

    5) CM Punk vs. Triple H (Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee)

    4) Batista vs. Brock Lesnar (No Holds Barred)

    3) Tag Team Championships: Four Corners Elimination Tag + Hulk Hogan Appearance

    2) Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust

    1) Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt