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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Piledriver Report 2.06.14: The Ever-Changing Plans of WrestleMania
Posted by Ronny Sarnecky on 02.06.2014

It's time for a change! That seems to be the rallying cry from most of the fans of the WWE. They are tired of the seeing John Cena vs. Randy Orton. After two weeks, we are already tired of seeing Batista being pushed into the WWE World title picture after a four year absence. The fans are tired of seeing Daniel Bryan not get a fair run with the WWE World title. We are sick of the status quo, and demand to be heard.

Last week, CM Punk left the WWE due to a combination of reasons. Aside from being tired and being rundown, apparently Punk was unhappy with his status in the WWE and the creative direction that the WWE has thrust upon him. Over two years ago, CM Punk delivered the "pipebomb heard around the world" as he demanded change in the WWE product. Fast forward to January 27th, 2014, and CM Punk laid a real life pipebomb that has turned the WWE on its ear when he told Vince McMahon that he is done with the company.

Normally, when a wrestler leaves the company, the machine that is the WWE keeps rolling. Hulk Hogan left. Shawn Michaels lost his smile, and later suffered a career-threatening back injury. Steve Austin took his ball, and went home. The Rock went Hollywood. The point being is that the WWE has lost bigger stars than CM Punk, and have survived. A WWE without CM Punk will survive as well. However, the loss of Punk feels different.

The reason why Punk's departure feels different than when the other stars left is because the fans have recently been turning on the product. On more than one occasion, the fans have hijacked the show. Whether it be the RAW from Spokane, WA or during the WWE World title match and the final minutes of the Royal Rumble a few weeks ago, the fans have strongly voiced their opinions.


Some of the best laid plans are plans that have been made months in advance. Take a look at some of the best built WrestleMania matches over the years. When Hulk Hogan dropped his first WWF championship to Andre the Giant in February 1988, the plan was for Hulk Hogan to go without the belt until regaining the strap at WrestleMania V from his former tag team partner Randy Savage (after plans for a Ted DiBiase title run fell through). It was a year-long build that featured many small teases until the Mega Powers finally exploded.

In 2011, The Rock made his return to the WWE. Unlike the subtle teases that the WWF used more than twenty years earlier with Hogan and Savage, the WWE was more "in your face" in regards to The Rock's interactions with John Cena leading up to Cena's match with The Miz at WrestleMania XXVII. The day after WrestleMania XXVII, the match was made official, John Cena vs. The Rock in the main event at WrestleMania XXVIII a year later in Miami, FL. Though The Rock showed up sparingly on WWE television throughout the year, each time the tease to his upcoming showdown with John Cena became stronger until they finally clashed at the 28th WrestleMania.

After their WrestleMania encounter, the WWE already had The Rock vs. John Cena penciled in for WrestleMania XXIX. However, this time, it was going to be for the WWE World championship.

As The Rock and John Cena were preparing for their WrestleMania rematch, the WWE already put plans in motion for The Rock to take on Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX. The year-long build was supposed to take place the next night on RAW. Unfortunately, The Rock suffered two huge tears in his WWE title match with John Cena. This cause the WWE to send The Rock home, instead of putting him in the ring for a Brock Lesnar beatdown to set up their match at the 2014 WrestleMania.

With The Rock seemingly out of the picture, the WWE had a back-up plan. It's a plan they put in motion in 2010. Vince McMahon wanted to have a match with the UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar (with UFC President Dana White in his corner) going up against the Undertaker (with Vince in the "deadman's" corner). This was to be the headline match of WrestleMania XXVII. Unfortunately, Dana White put the kibosh on a match featuring the baddest man in the UFC against the king of WrestleMania. With Dana White out of the picture, the WWE has nothing standing in the way of pitting the Undertaker against Brock Lesnar. If the WWE couldn't pit The Rock against Brock Lesnar, they were perfectly content with Plan B.

At SummerSlam 2013, Randy Orton took the title away from newly crowned champion Daniel Bryan. Many expected that Bryan's lose would eventually lead to him winning the 2014 Royal Rumble, followed by a WrestleMania XXX WWE World title victory over Randy Orton. However, as time wore on, it appeared that the WWE had no interest in putting Daniel Bryan in the WWE title match at the 30th WrestleMania extravaganza. Instead, it appeared that CM Punk would be facing Randy Orton for the title. After all, the WWE was very careful of keeping CM Punk away from the Authority storyline, until very recently. After being out of the title picture for over a year, CM Punk would regain the WWE World title on the grandest stage of them all.

Speaking of the Authority, it was reported shortly after WrestleMania XXIX that the WWE was going to put together a long storyline that would lead to a Vince McMahon vs. Triple H clash at WrestleMania XXX. While Vince would not be wrestling Triple H, it was reported that either both would be corner men where each picked a wrestler to represent them for control of the company, or Triple H would wrestle Vince's representative for control of the WWE. At one point, Vince's handpicked representative was rumored to be Steve Austin. However, that wasn't confirmed. Although, one thing was certain, the Authority storyline would conclude at WrestleMania XXX.

You had three top matches in set for WrestleMania XXX, Brock vs. The Rock or the Undertaker, WWE World Champion Randy Orton defending the title against CM Punk, and the conclusion of the Authority angle. The top matches seemed pretty clear. However, like I said earlier, plans change.


Instead of Daniel Bryan winning the WWE title at WrestleMania, he was taken away from the title scene, and inserted into a storyline with the Wyatt family. As part of the storyline, Daniel Bryan joined the group. According to rumors, this would have led to either Bryan turning back to a face before WrestleMania in order to set up a John Cena and Daniel Bryan against the Wyatt Family match at WrestleMania. The other rumor had John Cena and a partner taking on Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan, where Bryan turns face after the match.

CM Punk finally started to get inserted into the Authority storyline. However, instead of being earmarked for the WWE World title match, he was now being inputted into a WrestleMania match against Triple H. One thing was unclear, would Punk be defending Vince McMahon, or would this be a solo mission? Vince McMahon has been scheduled to appear on a few different episodes of RAW to spark the Triple H-Vince storyline. However, it never materialized, and Mr. McMahon has yet to make an appearance.

With John Cena, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Triple H, the Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar all penciled in for matches, that left the WWE World title match to be decided. The WWE announced that Batista was returning to the company. They hyped up his return to RAW, and his appearance in the Royal Rumble. It was pretty obvious that Batista would be facing Randy Orton for the championship at WrestleMania XXX.


On Tuesday, January 7th, something unexpected happened. Less than two weeks after the WWE turned Daniel Bryan heel, the Michigan State University Spartans hosted the Ohio State Buckeyes in a college basketball game. During halftime of the game, the Spartans' football team was honored for their Rose Bowl-winning season. During the ceremony, center Travis Jackson led the entire crowd in a "Yes!" chant. The chant later carried over into the second half, as crowd continued to chant "YES!" while Ohio State was shooting free throws. ESPN, who covered the game, and websites like cbssportsline.com, not only acknowledged the chants, but referenced the WWE and more specifically Daniel Bryan as the original source of where the "YES!" chants came from. Apparently, this caused major embarrassment within the WWE, as their most popular wrestler was now a heel and no longer doing the "YES!" chant.

This caused the WWE to immediately change plans, and turn Bryan back to a babyface. With his return as a face, many fans hoped that the WWE was finally listening, and he would win the Royal Rumble. Instead, the fans were about to get disappointed yet again.

The Royal Rumble was held in Pittsburgh, PA, not exactly a "smark" type of territory. However, on this night, the fans were more than happy to voice their true feelings. This is when they decided to take over the show. They turned on the Randy Orton/John Cena title match, and once they realized that Daniel Bryan wasn't going to be in the Royal Rumbble, they booed Rey Mysterio out of the building. Then followed this up by booing the Rumble winner Batista. Only Roman Reigns received cheers in the closing moments in the match.

The next night on RAW, the fans continued to boo Batista. It was becoming painfully obvious that the fans were going to crap all over a Randy Orton/Batista WWE WrestleMania title match. Nothing short of Daniel Bryan winning the title would suffice.

Instead of getting Bryan in the title match, or even in a match against Sheamus at WrestleMania that was rumored, the WWE shifted gears. Earlier in the day, CM Punk told Vince that he was done, and going home. This caused several re-writes to the show. One of the main points was to insert Daniel Bryan into the CM Punk role as the man who would face Triple H at WrestleMania. As the week went on, the WWE has realized that putting Bryan in a match that wasn't for the WWE World title at WrestleMania was just asking for trouble.

Apparently, by the end of the week, the WWE was completely changing their WrestleMania plans. Every match was rumored to be possibly changed, except for the John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt match. On Monday Night RAW, it appears that the WWE is working on putting Daniel Bryan into the WWE World title bout at WrestleMania. The big question is what will the WrestleMania card going to look like.

Let's assume that John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt is locked in, and Daniel Bryan is put into the title match for Randy Orton's championship? With CM Punk no longer in the WWE, and Bryan probably earning a shot at the title, who will fight Triple H? Will the WWE even conclude the Authority angle with a match given that the two biggest face stars in the Authority angle to feud with are either gone from the company or being positioned in a different match? What will the WWE do with Batista if Bryan gets the title shot? Will the WWE title match be a three-way match, or will Batista fight someone like Brock Lesnar instead? If he does fight Lesnar, who will the Undertaker fight instead?

Unlike in previous years, this year's WrestleMania plans are in a complete upheaval. It will be interesting to see where the chips fall. Regardless of what the match listing becomes, it is safe to say that the line-up will be vastly different then what was originally projected. For that, you can look back on three factors; the Michigan State crowd putting the "YES!" catchphrase onto the national non-wrestling landscape, the WWE Universe letting the management know that they aren't going to accept the status quo anymore and will hijack any show that doesn't give them what they want, and finally, CM Punk leaving the company, which forced the WWE to change the direction of a major WrestleMania match causing a domino effect for the card. Years from now, you may look back at this time as the point in the company where the WWE was forced to change their game plan, and truly do "what's best for business."


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