WWE has been in an interesting spot with the card for WrestleMania 31. Unlike most years, where the top matches seem to have been planned out months in advance, this card seems like Vince McMahon and Triple H threw some darts at a board to see what stuck.
Sometimes that can lead to a lot of things fans will want to see, like the seeming uncertainty around the Undertaker's return until a few weeks before the show. Yet it does take a toll on the storytelling and hopes to convince anyone on the fence about the show whether to drop the money necessary to buy it.
Yet even that may not be a big fear because of how much the WWE Network can carry the audience as well as the WrestleMania brand being enough to draw in casual fans who only buy one show each year.
Whatever the case, WWE will pull out all the stops to make sure this year's WrestleMania is one of the most talked-about shows in history. Let's join the conversation by offering predictions for the card as well as some analysis for key matches.
|WWE WrestleMania 31 Card and Predictions|
|WWE World Heavyweight Title: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns||Roman Reigns|
|Sting vs. Triple H||Sting|
|The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt||Bray Wyatt|
|Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal||Kane|
|Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Bad News Barrett (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan||Daniel Bryan|
|United States Title: Rusev (c) vs. John Cena||John Cena|
|Divas Tag Team Match: AJ Lee & Paige vs. The Bella Twins||The Bella Twins|
|Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins||Seth Rollins|
|Fatal Four Way Tag Team Titles: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) vs. Los Matadores vs. The New Day vs. The Usos||Tyson Kidd & Cesaro|
|Card via WWE.com, Picks by Adam Wells|
WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
The good news is Brock Lesnar didn't end up holding WWE and the WrestleMania main event hostage by agreeing to a new multiyear deal with the company. Yet it's still a main event that's lacking in something that will elevate it to a match worthy of headlining this particular show.
Roman Reigns has been the handpicked star WWE's creative team wants to get behind, having him win the Royal Rumble to great fan backlash in January. He's clearly improved on the microphone as the spotlight has grown, but being able to hold his own in the ring with Lesnar in the top match at WrestleMania is essential to taking that next step.
The way this match finishes will be fascinating to see play out. Lesnar's character has been used as a wrecking machine, destroying anything in his path before mercifully ending things. Having that kind of match layout against Reigns, even in a win, has the potential to backfire because it doesn't really elevate the challenger.
Reigns has to look strong if fans are ever going to buy him as "The Man" in WWE. Getting beat up for 20 minutes without being pinned, then getting a fluke pinfall to end the match doesn't do anything for his long-term prognosis.
It will also be fascinating to see if WWE decides to pull a last-second switch with Lesnar retaining here, since he did re-sign with the company. He doesn't really add much as champion because of his limited schedule, so it's doubtful. But if they don't see Reigns as ready for this moment, it wouldn't be a surprise.
There's also the chance, though, not one that I see making sense, of Seth Rollins cashing in his Money In the Bank contract against whomever wins this match. If Lesnar retains, it's a defensible move. If Reigns wins, having him lose right away is idiotic.
Expect Reigns to win, simply because WWE has spent so much time in building him up. And walking away without the title at WrestleMania would prove to be a waste of time.
Sting vs. Triple H
This is one of those matches that brings about conflicted feelings. On the one hand, seeing Sting in a WWE ring at WrestleMania will be a very cool sight. He used to be one of the sport's best performers and is a legend in the business.
However, this isn't the "dream" matchup people were hoping for against the Undertaker. That's not to say it should have happened, because of the respective ages and physical limitations of Sting and Undertaker, it could have died in a fashion that makes you sad for both.
Plus, even though he's not exactly a spring chicken, Triple H has proven to be great at laying out matches with stars like this in the past. A perfect example would be his WrestleMania 27 showdown with the Undertaker, which was specifically designed to be a slow-moving, punishing bout that worked masterfully.
As much as I want to be excited about this match, Sting is 56 years old and hasn't really been good at wrestling since feuding with Jeff Jarrett in TNA back in 2006. He may have one more great contest in him, not to mention having the right opponent to help, yet it's easy to see how this match falls apart.
Even though the outcome doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things and building future storylines, the spectacle of Sting wrestling in WWE and Triple H's ability to tell stories promises that the match will be good. Sting should win because there's nothing to gain by a Triple H victory, other than inflating his ego the way he likes to do.
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
Speaking of pure fan service, there's no other explanation to have Undertaker wrestling again than to simply look for a pop with one of WWE's biggest stars ever. He lost any inherent value to WrestleMania after losing to Lesnar last year.
Think about it, the one match everyone cared about each year was Undertaker's because the streak had been built into this unique anomaly. In a sport where wins and losses have never meant less to people in creative, there was this 21-0 streak that captivated the fans every year.
It was something no one ever expected to end. Even in a scripted event, there was no way WWE would end Undertaker's streak. He was going to retire someday with a perfect mark. Yet having him lose prompted legitimate shock from anyone watching.
Being 21-1 makes Undertaker wrestling at WrestleMania less vital. That's not to say he's useless in this spot, because his name still means something to fans.
It will also be a major coup for a rising star like Bray Wyatt, who deserved to be elevated more than Reigns, to have a great WrestleMania match with Undertaker. I'm just trying to figure out what a win for him would mean here.
Certainly, it will be something Wyatt can brag about on television. It could also be a set up for feuding with Lesnar later in the year, as the two would duel over which opponent to hold a WrestleMania win over Undertaker is better.
The only way an Undertaker win would feel satisfying is if it is his final match. There's no other reason for him to win now other than to walk away from WWE the way he should have: victorious at WrestleMania.