As WrestleMania XXX draws toward us, I felt it important to take a moment or two in this weekly space to discuss some of the things I'm most hoping to occur at this year's big dance. WrestleMania is always a seminal event for pro wrestling fans, a chance to celebrate the combination of physicality and pageantry that is the sport we know and love. It's also a beginning and ending of sorts, a chance to witness the final moments of some feuds and the early auspices of others. And it's most certainly a very big opportunity for many on the roster, a chance to impress in front of the most fans possible on the biggest stage of all. This weekend's event packs a particularly strong punch, as it's the debut PPV on the fledging WWE Network that so many in the company clearly have their success (or failure) riding on, both personally and professionally. So what needs to happen? Let's discuss.
Predictably, the most important moment of this Sunday needs to be the establishment of Triple H as WWE Champion. Randy Orton has been a swell placeholder and all, ready and willing to engage whatever the latest hurdle that's thrown at him might be, but it's been far too long since we had the opportunity to properly salute the on-screen COO as the multi-talented athlete that he is. Trips has allowed for the Daniel Bryan storyline to take center stage in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, and rightly so, but at the end of the day there's simply no reason to not use this as a springboard to get the strap back around his waist. Ratings have been iffy since Triple H headed back into the boardroom, so it's time to advance him as a wrestler and have him dominate the ranks once more. Bonus points if he retains his current power structure, enabling him to both make matches and wrestle in them.
Regardless of the plans for The Shield post-WrestleMania, this remains the perfect place and time to have them lose to Corporate Kane and the New Age Outlaws. Nothing about Road Dogg and Billy Gunn reeks of past glories, and their shtick remains as compelling as it's always been in the face of an ever-changing array of talent. As for Kane, having him appear in an on-screen advisory capacity has had the unfortunate side effect of not allowing him to participate physically most weeks. That error has been corrected of late, and the Big Red Machine has been back in action and adding to his legend. The Shield dominated most of last year as the top stable in the company, but while things get sorted out between rising star Roman Reigns and compatriots Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, it's the right time for the Evil Authority to notch a big win. For an extra injection of energy, include former DX member Sean Waltman into the fray. Given his history with the heel side, nothing would enthuse me more than to have him break out a Bronco Buster for old time's sake.
Ideally, the proper scenario for John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt will be the cult leader of the wacky Wyatts having his shoulders pinned to the mat. For all of Cena's accomplishments, his WM record remains a bit spotty, and having him overcome the odds against Bray and his cornermen, Harper and Rowan, makes complete sense. John needs to remain in the title scene, and it's extremely important to show his resilience and tenacity in the face of near-untenable catastrophe and triumph. Wyatt's Jim Morrison-esque sing-song poetry delivery and Brooklyn Lantern usage is suitably spooky, but it's not the kind of thing that's going to capture the minds of wrestling fans long term. What will capture and enchant them beyond all else are, in order: hustling, loyalty, and respect. What sort of message does it send to have the standard bearer of this generation slapped around and stuffed into a sheep mask? Not anything I'd like to hear. The Wyatts have been interesting and all, but it's time to turn the page and get back to what made the WWE great. Just because the story's been told before doesn't make the tale any less compelling. Super Cena rallies, and for good measure, hits all three members of the Family with the same FU and pins everyone. Make it work.
Luckily for us, WrestleMania is assured to be nothing but entertaining due to the inclusion of host Hulk Hogan. Hogan's always been a bit of a media wallflower and it's high time we got him front and center where he belongs. His presence makes his ubiquitous theme all the more enchanting, and ensures plenty of effective patter, most likely with an assist from Mean Gene Okerlund. There's no need for modesty and understatement. This is WrestleMania, after all! Hogan should veto any existing doctor's orders and give the fanbase what they've been raging for, that being another opportunity to watch the Hulkster unleash his varied arsenal into any evildoer that happens by. Tear the shirt, ditch the feather boa, and go all Thunder In Paradise on Damien Sandow. Hell, clear the Andre Memorial battle royal with eye rakes, tests of strength, punches to the forehead, and vigorous head shakes. How can anyone but HH win a battle royal named after a guy that's only famous because Hogan slammed him to the mat way back when? Done correctly, this would set up a perfect HHH vs. HH battle that could carry us all the way into NEXT year's WM weekend. Imagine the legendary promos that will be accompanying that feud!
For all intents and purposes, this year's Hall of Fame inductees are a bit of a mixed bag. It's certainly to their credit that the WWE saw fit to add guys like Ultimate Warrior and Jake Roberts to ranks that include Koko B. Ware, but there is a glaring missed opportunity staring them right in the face. In a year that is seeing Mr. T enshrined, why not harken back to another big talent that had a colossal impact thirty short years ago? Why not celebrate the life and times of another moment maker who is synonymous with WrestleMania I? I speak, naturally, of The Executioner. The man who took the fall to current Hall of Famer Tito Santana is a natural fit to join the celebrated roster of greats, past and present. He may have disappeared from the game as quickly as he appeared, but he was in the peak of physical condition and one hell of a hand. There are certain moments in wrestling history that define a generation, and this was very clearly one. Still time to right the wrong, WWE.
Of all the matches on the card, the most anticipated is perhaps Brock Lesnar attempting to end the Undertaker's streak. And end it he should. Taker has had a most impressive run, but it's important to book Brock logically while you've got him. It might be shocking to some that I'd campaign for the Deadman to lose, but it's been steadily downhill since the disturbingly odd American Badass days. Listening to Limp Bizkit could be harmful to anyone. It's no knock on the WWE's ring and locker room general, but Lesnar presents the most credible threat to end the streak since Giant Gonzales and Harvey Wippleman discovered chloroform. Between his UFC background and his impressive run so far, The Beast has all the tools necessary to hand the Undertaker a decisive loss that allows him to ride off into the sunset. If I had my druthers, I'd up the ante further by making it as quick a contest as possible. Five minutes of devastating offense, a brief Taker recovery, and then F5's to oblivion. Literally. After the match, Paul Heyman can assist with loading Undertaker into a casket and then Lesnar can F5 that also. Tell me that doesn't make for a Kodak moment.
Only time will tell who wins the Vickie Guerrero Invitational, but it's painfully evident that AJ Lee's days with the gold are nearing their end. Lee has been a marginally effective champion, but it's been far too long since the Divas division had an injection of juice. Just about every woman on the roster will be appearing in this match, which means there are ample ways for it to end. By far the best decision would be to allow the creator of the event, Vickie Guerrero, to walk away with the gold. Comic champions have a lengthy and storied history in wrestling, from David Arquette pretending to be a world champion (actually better than most of his acting) to McMahon stooges Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson donning women's clothes and makeup to battle over the Hardcore Title (or, as it's known in the business, a typical Patterson weekend). Vickie would transcend all of that by heading into the ring to score the decisive pin and send AJ back to the minors. We've neither seen nor heard enough of the Guerrero Family matriarch of late, and this would allow for her to resume her rightful place as the woman getting most of the screen time week in and week out. For an added twist, why not give her a love interest? Perhaps the battle could come down to Vickie and Tamina, with the fatal blow being dealt to Snuka's dreams by her father Superfly's hand. And you thought the upcoming Legends House couldn't get any more interesting.
Looking over the combatants for the Tag Team Title match, I'm struck by the fact that 3MB didn't get the same offer that RybAxel did to thumb their nose at the battle royal in order to attempt an attainment of glory. It's simply high time that one of the more criminally underrated acts in the WWE get a chance to strut their stuff with the gold, but I suppose I am limited to actual participants in the match. I'm not sure what to make of whether or not the Real Americans will explode, but I'm going to go with yes. It's high time, since Jack Swagger needs to dump the dead weight and get back into the main event picture he's been wrongly excluded from since his all-too-brief run those many moons ago. It's like the powers that be are refusing to give the big guy a chance. That allows for (Don't Call Me Antonio) Cesaro to swing manager Zeb Colter around for an hour or two by his whiskers in an ongoing feud. With them out of the picture, the time seems right to put the belts on the deserving and massively entertaining Los Matadores. In addition to names straight out of an ABBA song (what could be better?), it means more screen time for El Torito. Nothing does a better service to the "reality era" than two guys in Eyes Wide Shut gear and their mini Mantaur. Ole, indeed.
Strangely enough, WWE has not announced many celebrities at this year's event. That's odd, since WrestleMania is normally the place to find some of the biggest names on the planet. I have a feeling things will change by the time we get to Sunday, and there's plenty of excellent candidates to make an appearance and add to the luster of the signature PPV on the calendar. I accept that it's impossible to get Vladimir Putin through customs and TSA in time to do battle with the Immortal Hogan, but I'll settle for some appearances by the Duck Dynasty cast, Tonya Harding, and/or Justin Bieber. If you're going to expect me to watch four to seven hours of wrestling programming, I better damn well get some celebrity cachet. It's essential that we find out exactly how excellent the mainstream media thinks WrestleMania is, so this would create the perfect way to get prime time attention and coverage while not sacrificing the legitimacy of the proceedings. Maybe we'll reach the rarified air of an impromptu concert. I shudder to think if Biebs can hit the highs of past performances of Kid Rock and Saliva, but that's likely up to his parole officer. Keep the eggs at home, ladies and gentlemen.