Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XXX promises to be a moving piece of theater.
No feud at the event will have gone on as long as theirs, none is as personal as Bryan and Triple H's, and no match on the card has the power to end with a more cathartic moment. Other matches may end up producing better wrestling, but they won't tug at the heart like Bryan vs. Triple H.
This match is not one man seeking revenge. It's a case of two foes who feel deeply wronged by one another.
As much as fans will focus on Bryan avenging himself in the Superdome, Triple H goes into battle enraged as well. His kingdom is unraveling thanks to Bryan. His pride is set to deflate on WWE's biggest stage.
Triple H has spent much of 2014 saying that facing Bryan is below him.
To step back into the ring, he has maintained, it would take a challenge from a megastar like Brock Lesnar or Undertaker. Bryan was on a lower tier than him, in his mind at least.
Triple H : "It's going to take a whole hell of a lot more to get a B+ player to get me to lace my boots up at WrestleMania."— Wade Keller (@thewadekeller) March 4, 2014
That element of the story itself makes a potential Bryan victory mean so much more. Not only would it be a career-defining win at WWE's premier event, but it would also force the braggart COO to suffer humiliation under the spotlight.
This battle is far more than one about words and name-calling, though.
The Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena feud is intense, and Undertaker vs. Lesnar has high stakes, but WrestleMania's emotional core centers around the personal nature of Bryan and Triple H's rivalry. What each man has put the other through is why.
To Triple H, Bryan has been a splinter in his hand.
From his perspective, keeping Bryan away from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is best for the company. That bearded warrior, though, has refused to accept the position Triple H has placed him in. He persists no matter how many times he's punished.
That frustration reached its peak on the March 10 edition of Raw.
Bryan not only refused to apologize to Triple H for putting his hands on him but also proceeded to fill the ring with his fans. He occupied Raw, seizing control from a man whose life is built around control. To fans, it was simply the persecuted standing up for himself, but for Triple H, it must have been like the general forced to squash a mutiny.
That hijacking coerced Triple H to accept a match he had been avoiding and give Bryan a championship opportunity that the COO doesn't believe he deserves.
When they meet at WrestleMania, it is a chance for Triple H to throttle his disobedient subject and prove his dominance over all things WWE.
The rage he showed in attacking Bryan on March 17 was just a preview of how merciless he is going to be in New Orleans. Wearing a suit and working a corporate job hasn't stifled the destroyer inside Triple H, something he will prove again on April 6.
Part of the beauty of this buildup has been how the upper hand has shifted back and forth.
Lesnar and Undertaker's narrative has been too one-sided in favor of "The Deadman." Triple H and Bryan, on the other hand, keep trading triumphs. Bryan attacking Triple H begot "The Game" sending Kane after him, which begot Bryan occupying Raw, which begot Triple H handcuffing and thrashing him.
Each week, the story of bad blood increases. Each week, each foe goes a little further.
On March 31, another explosion happened between them. Bryan leaped from the audience to attack his enemy.
That brawl was no mere fight. It was a spillage of emotion. That is exactly what their match at WrestleMania will be.
The intensity that is sure to come from their initial staredown will be the kind that has fans' hearts racing before the first blow is thrown.
On top of this being the climax of an incendiary feud that was born way back at SummerSlam, victory and defeat mean so much more here. So often, a championship and pride are at stake in a match, but who wins at WrestleMania is more significant than that.
Triple H winning proves him right.
It guts the joy from Bryan's chanting fanbase and prevents him from achieving what he's been striving for since last summer and why he's been wading through the muck Triple H has laid out. It caps off Bryan's journey with a hammer smashing his dreams.
If Bryan wins, he not only gets a title shot but also bests his tormentor and proves that he is a top-level player.
The victor makes his way into WrestleMania's main event, where another kind of glory awaits. Both Bryan and Triple H can crush their rival and became world champ all in a single night.
With that in mind, every near-fall is bound to force fans to hold their breath. Every time Triple H goes for the Pedigree, uneasiness will climb into the audience's mind.
Triple H beating Bryan would feel like WWE holding up a middle finger to all the fans who have griped about Bryan not getting his shot. It would be the fall of a hero who has endured more than his share of falls.
When who wins and who loses means that much, there is sure to be an electric feeling throughout the arena. Triple H vs. Bryan is sure to be WrestleMania XXX's most impassioned battle as the end of a fierce rivalry and the beginning of a new era.
Expect a violent, enthralling drama, one that will affect fans like few matches have.