Wrestlemania is but a few short days away, which means I can postpone my predictions no longer. NAIpod this week will be a quick-fire predictions show, so rather than take up valuable airtime that could go to YOU, I’ll stick with the written word to get my guesses for Mania down.
Just to make things interesting, I’ll be selecting who I wish would win and who I predict will win, which are often two separate things.
As has been the case for the last few “What If Wednesdays”, today’s exploration into the ‘what-if world’ is taking an unusual bent. Rather than focus on something that a promotion could have done, or a wrestler, this week I’d like to focus on the fans at large, and something they could do in the days leading up to Wrestlemania.
What If the fans stopped complaining and just enjoyed the ride?
In the middle of 1990’s Great American Bash (or honestly it might have been a Clash of the Champions, this journey to get through all the NWA / WCW PPV’s makes everything blend together), there was an entire segment of the show devoted to revealing the “updated” top 10 rankings for the World Heavyweight Title and the World Tag Team Titles. Back in the day, professional wrestling was not quite sports entertainment, especially when it came to the NWA – There was still an underlying sense of legitimacy when it came to contending for a championship.
25 years and a whole lot of breaking kayfabe later, there’s nothing quite resembling a ranking system in WWE. Sure, there’s the “Top 25”, or whatever they have up there on WWE.com, but that doesn’t count. Storylines have trumped competition (along with everything else), and the titles are really just a means to an end.
I miss the old days. I miss where wrestlers fought to move up the ranking ladder, where a guy like Stan Hansen could become enraged at being ranked sixth and immediately set his sights on the talents above him; that’s all the storyline you needed. I also miss the days where you could actually have a TOP TEN rankings for tag teams. When was the last time you could confidently say WWE had ten tag teams that all qualified as contenders for the Giant Pennies of Fame?
So, having this soapbox as I do, I decided to craft my own rankings. Rather than my NXT top ten, which ranks potential for WWE success, this is actually done in terms of vying for the World Heavyweight Championship and Tag Titles. There will be elements of kayfabe in here, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?
There can be no surer sign that Daniel Bryan is truly considered a B+ player than his treatment since his return from injury. Although his return to the ring was announced and advertised, the match was scheduled for Smackdown. This begs the question; why would the return of Daniel Bryan, the former World Heavyweight Champion, the champion that never lost his title, the champion that won that honor after beating Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton all in one night at Wrestlemania XXX – why would the return of the crowd favorite be relegated to the B-show?
I’ll be the first to admit that I lack any and all practical experience within the sports entertainment industry. Perhaps then, taking my business acumen into account, it is not a surprise that I find myself baffled by the current state of the WWE. I’m speaking, of course, regarding the creative decisions that resulted in the booking for the 2015 Royal Rumble match. The Road to Wrestlemania is before us, and the main event seems set; Brock Lesnar will defend his WWE World Heavyweight championship against the destined face of the WWE, Roman Reigns.
I probably didn’t need to tell you that. Hasn’t always been the case – in fact, for a lot of recent WWE PPV’s, the overwhelming emotion has been apathy above all else. But not this time.
For the first time in forever (Sorry, but I’m an elementary school teacher; there are times I’m going to quote Frozen), it feels like the writing, the booking and the performances have been clicking on all cylinders, resulting in the most exciting PPV since I’ve been back in the WWE fold.
Nobody is quite sure who is going to win the Rumble and nobody is quite sure who is going to win the World Heavyweight Championship. This makes Wrestlemania 31 practically impossible to predict. . .
But that didn’t stop me from trying.
Looking at the most likely Rumble winners and their most likely Mania opponents, I went ahead and booked some prospective cards for March 29’s Grandaddy Of Them All! Am I wrong? Almost certainly! Does it matter? Not in the least!
Summer Slam is less than 24 hours away, and the Number Two Contenders have you covered. Doc Manson and The Teacher are here to discuss matches, angles, predictions and more!
The Teacher: Doc, does it feel to you like this PPV has taken forever to get here? It seems like these feuds have been building (or in some cases, not building) for months!
Doc Manson: Yeah, the build has been pretty slow for almost the entire card. I’m starting to feel like a broken record, always talking about the same stories and wrestlers. Although, a few of those wrestlers I talk about aren’t even on the SummerSlam card.
The Teacher: Alright, Doc, before we go into great detail, give me your overall thoughts on Battleground in ten words or less.
Doc Manson: Solid matches, with few surprises. I want Ambrose v. Rollins.
T: I think the vast majority of WWE fans echo your sentiments completely. Continuing to tease the Ambrose and Rollins match is causing us to salivate with anticipation. Their sequences throughout the night had a very “Attitude Era” feel to them, especially Rollins searching for Dean in the parking lot only to have him emerge from the trunk. Good stuff.