Wrestlemania 30: Stars Under the Most Pressure at PPV
At WrestleMania, every performer feels pressure in one fashion or another.
Some face pressure to deliver the performance of their career to justify a major push of some sort. Others will feel the pressure of a high-profile match. Still others will feel pressure to not disappoint in a major match against an iconic figure in the industry.
WrestleMania XXX features four Superstars facing tremendous pressure for a variety of reasons.
One has risen to heights no one could have ever imagined and now finds himself the centerpiece of the build to the event.
Another recently made his return to professional wrestling after a long layoff and has yet to deliver a performance that indicates to his co-workers, his fans and management that he still has "it."
One is in the middle of a meteoric rise up the card less than a year into his career on the main roster and will face the biggest star the industry has to offer.
The last? He has the unenviable task of facing wrestling's most respected legend in the most anticipated match of the year.
The performances these four deliver on April 6 will either make or break them for both their foreseeable and long-term futures, forever effecting their reputations.
If everything plays out the way most expect it to, WrestleMania XXX will be the crowning achievement in the accomplished career of Daniel Bryan.
Early in the night, he will compete against COO Triple H in a match that has been building since last August's SummerSlam pay-per-view. Fans will have waited nearly eight months to see the leader of the Yes Movement get his hands on The Game in an officially sanctioned match. With such a lengthy build, there will undoubtedly be a great deal of pressure on both men to deliver a match with a suitable conclusion to the story.
If that was not enough for Bryan to face heading into what could be the biggest night of his career, there is the possibility that he will also compete against Randy Orton and Batista in a Triple Threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Orton and Batista have both struggled mightily to connect with the audience to this point on the road to WrestleMania, and the involvement of Bryan would both help add heat to the match and give fans someone to root for in the biggest title match of the year.
The centerpiece of two of the most hyped matches on the card, Bryan faces the type of pressure typically reserved for only the very top stars in the industry. He has proven himself to consistently be one of the greatest in-ring workers of his generation and is as over as any other Superstar on the roster at this point in time.
But the spotlight shines brightest at WrestleMania.
Can Bryan pay off the fans' support and the faith management is proving to have in him come April 6?
If he can, he will forever be a made man in Vince McMahon's promotion.
If he cannot, the entire eight-month journey to the Showcase of the Immortals will have proved to be for naught.
The Reaper of Souls has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the card since debuting on the main roster last July.
He has been an outstanding promo guy for his entire stay. Recently, his in-ring work has improved to the point that he is regularly having great matches against Superstars of a variety of sizes and styles.
His match against Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble in January proved he could thrive in a singles match while working against one of the best wrestlers in the business, and the wild and chaotic brawl against The Shield at Elimination Chamber is the front-runner for 2014 Match of the Year.
Now, Wyatt will enter the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans for the biggest match of his career. On Sunday, April 6, he will stand across the squared circle from the top star the industry has to offer when he faces John Cena.
Cena is a big-match performer, the type of Superstar who understands the magnitude of the moment and rises to the occasion, delivering his finest performances when they count the most. Fans, no matter their love or disdain for the leader of the Cenation, understand that he will do everything in his power to deliver a match that leaves the audience satisfied.
Wyatt has carried the load of the rivalry to this point, delivering classic promo after classic promo as he talks fans into investing themselves in the match. Once the bell rings, however, it will be up to the third-generation Superstar to channel all of his energy, both physically and creatively, into delivering the greatest performance of his young career.
A major post-WrestleMania push will depend on it.
The Animal's return to WWE has not quite gone as well as the former World Heavyweight and WWE champion had wished.
It is apparent on television that the fans have responded very negatively to Batista's reintroduction to the WWE Universe. His victory in the Royal Rumble match completely turned them against him, and the tweets, promos and mannerisms that he displayed in the days and weeks that followed did not help his case.
The fan response ultimately forced the company's hand as creative turned Batista heel ahead of schedule.
While that would seem like a big deal heading into one of the biggest matches on the biggest show of the year, it is but secondary to the fact that the No. 1 contender has been downright awful between the ropes since his return nearly two months ago.
He has been slow, appears to be out of ring shape and has been blown up far too often while trying to keep up with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio. With a WrestleMania date against WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton and (likely) Bryan, he will face great pressure to show up in New Orleans in better ring shape than he has been in thus far.
A bad performance on Raw or SmackDown, or even on a B-level pay-per-view such as Elimination Chamber, can be swept under the carpet and forgotten for the most part.
Delivering a subpar showing on the biggest stage professional wrestling has to offer can earn one infamy for the rest of his or her career.
Batista once exceeded expectations by delivering a Match of the Year candidate against Undertaker back at WrestleMania 23. If he is to shake the monkey off his back, he will have to reach deep down within himself and channel the Batista of old.
Taking to the ring for a WrestleMania main event anything but 100-percent prepared is a major indictment on the performer and his or her devotion to the sport.
No one has ever doubted Batista's love for wrestling. If he does not want fans to start, he will have to provide them with a performance that indicates otherwise.
There is already indescribable pressure that comes along with wrestling in any match at WrestleMania. With the eyes of the wrestling and entertainment worlds focused solely on WWE for that one night, each Superstar is expected to give everything he or she has in an attempt to deliver the best match possible.
When one is part of the most anticipated match of the year against the most respected Superstar of the last 25 years, that pressure increases exponentially.
At Wrestlemania, Brock Lesnar will face the most pressure of his career when he challenges the Undertaker's legendary undefeated streak.
Since debuting in 1991, the Phenom has defeated every one of the 21 Superstars to oppose him on WrestleMania Sunday. With every win, the legitimacy and significance of the streak has grown to the point that it is now considered to be more important than the WWE title bout.
Every year, The Deadman returns for one reason: to defend the streak and deliver another memorable WrestleMania performance.
In recent years, matches with Edge, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and CM Punk have cemented Undertaker's legacy as the greatest icon in the history of the Showcase of the Immortals.
Now it will be Brock Lesnar's turn to take center stage.
If he can live up to expectations and match the performances of so many other talented Undertaker opponents, then every dollar he is paid to compete at the big show will be worth it. If not, he will not only disappoint the fans and management, but he will disappoint the one Superstar more respected than any other in the locker room.
While Daniel Bryan may be the centerpiece of this year's WrestleMania, there may be no other Superstar facing as much pressure not to disappoint as Lesnar.