Wrestlemania season is upon us. The final WWE PPV, Fastlane, has come and gone and New York beckons as the grandest show of them all arrives on Sunday April 7th and is looking like it could be a memorable night. WWE has laid solid foundations for WrestleMania and though there will always be some last minute matches added to the card, the main body has been penciled in for some time. WWE have planned some good matches and the feuds leading to the payoffs have been interesting and enjoyable to watch unfold. I want to touch on three matches and the different ways that the writers and wrestlers have made the fans excited for what lies ahead.
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair vs Ronda Rousey (C) – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
THE Main Event for Wrestlemania? I hope so. This match was on the horizon months ago as every WWE fan saw it as a foregone conclusion that the unstoppable force (Becky) would inevitably meet the immovable object (Ronda) at the biggest show of them all. Personally, I’m not bothered that Charlotte Flair has been added as I think she can bring another dimension to it. She’s probably the best talker of the three and her move set can be more high-flying and dramatic than the technical and ground and pound we usually expect from Becky and Ronda.
Becky has been super-over in recent months and has a strong crowd behind her. Is she as popular as the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in their heyday? No, but let’s not kid ourselves that she’s not the most popular woman in WWE right now. My only gripe of late is that the feud seems to have lost some steam. Becky continually using a crutch and hardly speaking during a promo this past week hurts the feud in my opinion. The weeks leading to WrestleMania should be very promo-heavy and though Ronda Rousey tries hard, she does need Lynch and Charlotte to be the voices of the feud inside the ring.
Another potential pot-hole on the road has been Ronda’s breaking of the fourth wall. Though we all know Paul Heyman has been heavily involved in the story behind the scenes, and his contributions are noticeable, I think WWE has scored an own goal with Rousey damning the business as ‘fake’ and her couldn’t-care-less attitude about WWE. It doesn’t rile me in an ‘it’s still real to me, dammit’ kind of way, but it begs the question; if Rousey doesn’t care about WWE, why’s she still here? If it’s fake, why is she selling for her competitors? Look, I get it that WWE wants us to boo her and cheer Becky, but the change in Rousey’s attitude is confusing more than anything. I hope it’s not confusing enough for WWE to interpret some reactions as a sign that the match shouldn’t be the true main event. Put the ladies on last. They deserve it.
Batista vs Triple H – No Holds Barred
Batista got what he wanted and now it’s been confirmed that the long-time friends (and sometimes foes) will have one final battle. This type of match has become a staple of Wrestlemania, the part-timer or former talent returning to the company for one final fight. I love the build-up to this and the verbal jousting that’s gone with it. Fans will know that Batista will see this as the curtain call for his in-ring career and his time as a professional wrestler. He won’t be joining AEW, nor will he venture elsewhere as a wrestler because he has a movie career to keep him busy. This is it for him and it’s fitting he should have his last match with a good friend on the biggest stage.
Who wins? Who cares? Neither man needs the victory, but perhaps Batista will do the job to Triple H, although I recently read that Triple H has lost the most Wrestlemania matches in history, so you never know. The build for this has been good and WWE has employed yet another tactic by not letting them have any physical interaction, instead keeping them apart like rabid dogs straining at the leash to tear into one another. I like this build and it can be done well if it’s only done with one match on the card. It gives it a certain gravitas and intrigue. Nobody has seen Batista wrestle in nearly five years. Will he still be as good as he was at 50 years of age? Has Hollywood softened the animal? How will Triple H deal with an opponent who has bested him on more than one occasion? I think this could be the sleeper on the card and be a real highlight.
Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan (C) – WWE Heavyweight Championship
Though not official as yet, WWE would be stupid to allow this opportunity to pass them by. The other contenders for the title on Smackdown; Randy Orton, AJ Styles, The Miz, and Samoa Joe are all in their own matches come mania, so the door is wide open for a new challenger. Step forward Kofi Kingston. This has been my favorite, if unexpected, story going into Wrestlemania this year. I’m a sucker for the old ‘underdog tale’ and this is certainly that and more.
What I really like about this feud is that it mirrors Daniel Bryan’s own Wrestlemania story from five years ago at Wrestlemania 30 (or XXX, if you’re a purist and into your Roman numerals). There, as we all know, he defeated Triple H to be entered into the title match with Randy Orton and Batista, with Bryan overcoming the odds to become WWE Champion in an unforgettable match. Now the tables have turned and it’s Bryan who sits at the pinnacle of Smackdown and his character has done a complete 180 since that night. He looks down on the contender who doesn’t deserve his opportunity at the gold. What B+ player does, in his eyes?
Kofi, for his part, has been nothing short of excellent. His dogged determination and never-say-die attitude has been incredible. A nice touch is that he’s done all the hard work on his own. It would’ve been easy to have his New Day partners help out and steal the wins, but the booking has been smart in keeping them out of the limelight and instead playing a supporting role in Kofi’s quest for glory. Do I think Kingston will be a long-time, iconic champion? No, but a big part of me wants to see this story play out to a feel-good conclusion. Kofi doesn’t have to hold the belt for months on end, but a good run would be a welcome change. I think he’ll win the WWE Title at WrestleMania, and that he’ll drop it within 48 hours. Hopefully not, but this is WWE we’re talking about, so nothing would surprise me.
What do you think? Do you like the different stories going into Wrestlemania? What would you do differently? Will the women’s match be last on the night? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading. I’m on Twitter @MikeSanchez1878