Fantasy-Booking a Better WWE WrestleMania 2019 Match Card

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistMarch 30, 2019

Fantasy-Booking a Better WWE WrestleMania 2019 Match Card

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    Booking any professional wrestling show is difficult. Every event has limited time, and no one wants to be left out. WWE always has more talent than it has spots on a show, and this is especially clear around WrestleMania season.

    When booking an event at the level of The Show of Shows, WWE doesn't just have to think about the talent but also the mainstream appeal. What matches will get people to tune in and watch seven-plus hours of sports entertainment?

    For that reason, it is easy to get frustrated with how WWE has set the stage for this year's WrestleMania, loading up with far too many matches and overbooking easily sold contests, but it is harder to do that same job any better.

    The most difficult decision to make when booking WrestleMania is deciding which Superstars to feature. WWE seems to have chosen not to choose at all, putting everyone on the card and making the matches on display feel far less important than they should.

    Sacrifices have to be made in order to make the show stronger and not exhaust the crowd, which will leave some major stars working the Kickoff. This is the primary issue with having such a large roster. Not everyone is going to be happy.

    Still, it is a fun experiment to imagine what the WrestleMania 35 card could look like. What would happen if it were decided to give everyday performers the spotlight that Triple H vs. Batista is getting? What would be lost if Braun Strowman got a shot at 'Mania for once?

    While not everything on this year's card needs a full reset, such as Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston and Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins, while others only need minor tweaks like Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair, there are more than a few changes that could make this year's show feel truly special.

Kickoff Matches

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    The Kickoff at this year's WrestleMania will likely look identical on paper to this line-up unless WWE throws even more contests on the pre-show to try to manage the massive card.

    However, there are a few important distinctions between the matches we will be getting and those on this hypothetical card.

    Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal: This match would be loaded with talent because of how stacked WWE's main roster is. Everyone who does not get a major match on the main show would be in this battle royal.

    Moreover, the most important aspect would be the tangible benefit of victory. Rather than just handing over a trophy that is soon forgotten, the winner of this Battle Royal would earn a WWE Championship or Universal Championship match at Backlash.

    WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal: Similar to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, this would be a stacked field as so many stars have not made it into the three women's championship matches on the main card.

    There should also be a clear benefit for victory, with the winner getting a Raw or SmackDown Women's Championship match at Backlash.

    WWE Cruiserweight champion Buddy Murphy vs. Tony Nese: While it is a shame that even in this hypothetical situation the cruiserweights do not make the main card, Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese would close the Kickoff, warming up a packed crowd.

    Pitting these former friends against each other is still the best scenario, as they are longtime 205 Live stars who earned their opportunities to make it to The Grandest Stage of Them All for the first time.

SmackDown Tag Team Championships Ladder Match

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    SmackDown is overflowing with great tag teams, and most WrestleManias find some way to get a ladder match on the card to guarantee massive spots. This would the perfect opportunity to get most of the major tag teams available.

    The Usos are great tag team champions who have taken on every challenger. They have already faced The New Day and The Bar many times. There's no way WWE could build up The Hardy Boyz or Sanity enough to be true 'Mania rivals.

    Add in Ricochet and Aleister Black to the mix in a six-team ladder match, though, and you have a recipe for one of the most exciting contests on the card. These teams would start off the show with the bang and remind everyone why they should care about tag team wrestling.

    It's far better than having teams not even get a spot on the card, unless you count the entire division as being represented by Kofi Kingston in his fight against Daniel Bryan.

Shane McMahon vs. The Miz (Street Fight)

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    This story has been well told, especially since Shane McMahon and The Miz lost the SmackDown Tag Team Championships in February. Their falling-out was a great way to make this match feel relevant, and the two are putting their all into keeping this memorable.

    This feels like the blood feud that deserves a major stipulation on this card. The two should be allowed to forget about the wrestling and just fight, which is exactly the style needed for a street fight.

    Granted, being booked in a Falls Count Anywhere match also works, but this stipulation feels more appropriate for the level of animosity between the stars. They could still fight around the entirety of MetLife Stadium on April 7.

    Either way, the hope is that these two can do something special to make a lasting impact, as this contest could determine whether The A-Lister's babyface run will succeed.

WWE Women's Champion Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Beth Phoenix and Natalya

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    The women's tag team division is just starting to develop. In order to establish its importance, the women must be given the opportunity to have legitimate tag team contests at major shows.

    The real 'Mania match is an overbooked Fatal 4-Way match that likely will leave everyone looking worse. However, this contest could be far more relevant if the entire focus is on Beth Phoenix's return and her shot at the tag team titles.

    Bayley and Sasha Banks have made clear they want to fight the best, and 'Mania is a time for legends to come out and prove why they are worthy of that status. Natalya and Beth could help make this special on their own, and if The Glamazon is going to be limited, The Queen of Harts can do the heavy lifting.

    This would be a great way to establish how women's wrestling has grown while making clear how important the women who came before were. Given her 'Mania history, Beth deserves that chance.

Intercotinental Champion Finn Balor vs. Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley

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    Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley is hardly a relevant feud at this point. The two have not had a great match together since they started fighting toward the start of 2019, and their story has remained stagnant throughout. A spark is needed to make it work.

    Rather than throwing the title back and forth between the two, it would be far more interesting to let Balor run with the championship and have others emerge to contend. In particular, Braun Strowman deserves this type of shot.

    The Monster Among Men's history at The Show of Shows is shoddy at best, but he has proven chemistry with The Extraordinary Man. Add in The All Mighty as the antagonistic force, and this match not only makes sense but could also be a sleeper hit.

    This would lend more credence to Balor's need to bring back The Demon because he would be faced with two of the biggest powerhouses in the business at the same time and would require every trick in his book to stand tall.

United States Champion Samoa Joe vs. John Cena

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    It feels wrong to not have John Cena at WrestleMania. While he has other commitments, there is no way he would miss out on The Showcase of the Immortals, and he has a perfect feud set up for a dream match against a longtime friend.

    When Joe earned the United States Championship, he immediately talked down The Cenation Leader, who had one of the best runs with the U.S. title in WWE history in 2015 that many have since attempted to emulate.

    Cena and Joe got into the business around the same time, and a match between the two got The Champ signed by WWE. They have never fought one-on-one in the promotion, so it is about time that changed. This would be a huge match that Joe could carry up to the night.

    The multiple-time world champion would not even have to appear, with The Samoan Submission Specialist calling him out at every turn in the same way Cena called out The Undertaker last year. This would set up the idea that The Champ could not show up.

    This match would be huge in helping establish Joe as a champion, certainly in a much more decisive manner than a match with Rey Mysterio Jr. that still has no real development.

Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival vs. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose

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    When Roman Reigns returned to WWE, his first goal was to live his best life with his best friends. He reformed The Shield and convinced a broken Dean Ambrose on his way out of WWE to work with him one last time.

    It would be fascinating for WWE to keep that story going. While the company may be hesitant about giving a major 'Mania spotlight to a wrestler who's about to leave, it would a great bargaining chip if the promotion had any last ideas about re-signing him.

    This match would also be a way the Raw Tag Team Championships could be utilized in a relevant manner on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Reigns and Ambrose are the only pairing in The Shield to not hold the Raw Tag Team Championships, and that could change with this match.

    The Revival can have a great match with anyone, and they would bring the most out of their top-tier opponents. This would also help add more interesting context to the final days of The Lunatic Fringe's run in WWE.

    What would happen if they won and Ambrose left? Reigns would have to find a new partner or forfeit the titles the same way that Strowman did last year. What would happen if Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder won and Ambrose turned on Reigns? It could be a sign The Lunatic is back for good.

    While this would be a downgrade from The Big Dog's real match at 'Mania against Drew McIntyre, he would likely be happy getting to work with his friend one more time, especially if it might convince him to stay.

Kurt Angle vs. Drew McIntyre

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    Kurt Angle's final match in his WWE career should be a special moment. He should be looking to go out as big as possible. A match with Baron Corbin right at the end feels wrong, even if the Olympic gold medalist has a ready-made story with The Lone Wolf.

    It would be far more interesting if Angle wanted a second shot at the first man to make him feel like his time had passed. When Angle and McIntyre fought for the first time in a WWE ring, The Scottish Psychopath destroyed the WWE Hall of Famer.

    Why wouldn't Angle want to avenge that loss? WWE is seemingly gearing up for McIntyre to have a huge run straight to the top. He could be the man to put down one of the greatest of all time and get impressive heat for it without having an unremarkable match.

    Granted, the Olympic gold medalist does not have much left. He may not be able to put on much of a performance against anyone, but at least McIntyre would benefit more from the spotlight.

SmackDown Women's Champion Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair

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    This just makes too much sense. One of the biggest highlights of WrestleMania 34 was the match between Charlotte and Asuka, who were fighting for the first time. The two had the best women's wrestling match in 'Mania history.

    On that night, The Empress of Tomorrow fell short, and her streak was broken. One year later, the two are still the biggest names on SmackDown outside of Becky Lynch. This rematch would create huge buzz and be the perfect way to complete the dominant rebirth of Asuka if she finally defeated Charlotte

    This would be much better than these two having a fantastic match on Tuesday's SmackDown, during which The Queen made The Empress of Tomorrow tap out, sending her down to the women's Battle Royal while throwing both titles into a match that didn't even need one to be relevant.

    The women's division looks set to be scrambling for quality spots on April 7. Despite the first-ever women's WrestleMania main event, the rest of the division is sitting back, waiting for a real opportunity.

WWE Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston

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    While WWE stumbled into this feud, the company deserves credit for changing direction when it was necessary. This is the most organic story going into 'Mania, and that's thanks to the earned excitement surrounding Kofi Kingston's long-awaited shot.

    This WWE Championship match may not be the biggest contest in terms of mainstream relevance, but those engaged in the product are all excited for it. Two veterans of their craft who were told many times they would never make it are going to be one of the headlining acts on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

    While a few tweaks in the storytelling would have made this even better, what matters is that fans are going to get this match. Unlike past 'Manias when fans were forced to watch the company go a different direction than they wanted, Kofi will get his opportunity.

    If the veteran comes out on top, it will be one of the biggest moments in WrestleMania history—11 years to get his first one-on-one world title match, and Kofi walks out as a world champion.

Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins

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    Going far enough back, it would be great to just fantasy-book Lesnar out of WWE entirely, but there's only one match in which it makes sense for him to finally fall. Rollins must become The Beastslayer for the sake of a brand that has been held down for too long.

    When Roman Reigns had to step away from WWE in October, his Shield brother was elevated into the role of Raw's top babyface. It was obvious that fans were ready to fully embrace him. All he needed was his moment to shine.

    The first time that The Kingslayer fought The Beast Incarnate—at Battleground 2015—it was a mess, but that was when both men were in the wrong roles. Fans want to cheer Rollins and boo Lesnar because they represent opposite ends of the spectrum in WWE.

    This is a clash between the man who loves wrestling and the one who is in it for the money. It's the story of the wrestler who was never supposed to make it and the one who could do no wrong.

    It's a compelling setup no matter what the story is surrounding the match, and the two should have a fantastic confrontation that may be one of the last of Lesnar's WWE career.

Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch

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    From the moment WWE first announced Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch at Survivor Series, it was obvious the promotion had a true money match on its hands. An injury to Lynch delayed that contest, but obviously WWE would never waste that opportunity.

    The Baddest Woman on the Planet fighting The Irish Lass Kicker is a battle that shares many similarities to the biggest men's match on the card in Rollins vs. Lesnar. This is a woman who was always a star fighting one who was never supposed to be one.

    They both got to this point in their own way and became the two biggest female performers in the business. Rousey took the fast track to the top in WWE, but she has quickly acclimated to the business. The Man had to find her way, but she hasn't looked back since she found her confidence.

    It is only right that the first women's wrestling main event at The Showcase of the Immortals be between the two women who changed the game. Together, they have made the division relevant in a way that it never had been before.

    It's hard to imagine a situation wherein WWE would not go with this match. With Rousey potentially leaving after WrestleMania, this would be the only time it could take this opportunity.

    That's why Charlotte Flair's insertion in this match on April 7 is ridiculous.