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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Crystal Ball: Looking Ahead to WWE WrestleMania 31
Posted by Greg De Marco on 08.31.2014

209 days.

If you're reading this on Sunday, that's how long we have until sports entertainment takes center stage. It's The Granddaddy Of Them All...it's WrestleMania!

209 days also means that we still have 57% of a year left to go until the biggest event of 2015! We're just a few short weeks away from Night of Champions, and we have Hell In A Cell, Survivor Series and WWE: TLC left to enjoy before the Road To WrestleMania officially begins when we build to the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia and march through Elimination Chamber and toward Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Common folklore tells us that the WWE builds to WrestleMania throughout the year, and usually starts planning the main event for next year's WrestleMania one year in advance.

Why let them have all the fun??? Anyone who followed my three-year tenure at the helm of The Wrestling 5&1 (remember that column?), you know that after SummerSlam I'd take a look ahead to WrestleMania at periodicrandom intervals.

This isn't exactly fantasy booking, but yet a special form of fantasy booking. Allow me to explain...

Fantasy Booking Based In Reality: FBBIR is all about booking a card that I like, but being realistic. You can't scrap the company's current direction and expect a complete change of course by March. Furthermore, you can't magically sign wrestlers that simply aren't coming to the promotion any time soon (sorry AJ Styles!). Furthermore, you can't book something that just isn't happening because you want it to, like Zack Ryder over The Rock for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

It's fantasy booking that could actually happen given the current structure of the WWE between now and March 29, 2015.

So with that out of the way, I give you a look into the future—the card for WrestleMania 31 (with alternative options, where applicable)...

Main Event: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. 2015 Royal Rumble Winner Roman Reigns

Predicting any other main event is simply irresponsible. Rumors have been flying about this main event for quite some time, including reports that it's been in the works since WrestleMania 30. It's happening, so get over it!

And why not? The WWE is hell-bent on making Roman Reigns the "next big thing," and the perfect man to make him a star is the former "next big thing" in Brock Lesnar. People may bitch about Reigns—and let's be honest here, the Internet Wrestling Community finds reasons to bitch about everyone and everything—but he has the look and charisma of a WWE leading man. His in-ring skills may only be .5 Ziggler and .25 Cesaro, but he has what he needs to have to work the WWE Main Event Style.

(Yes, that is a proper noun.)

So get ready for it, wrestling fans, because the Roman Reigns era is soon to be upon us. All it takes is a Superman Punch and Spear to The Beast Incarnate, and we're there.

Alternative Main Event: Barring injury, I don't see anything else headlining the card. But if there were a change, potential challengers for Brock Lesnar's WWE World Heavyweight Championship are Daniel Bryan, a returning CM Punk and Superman-turned-Rocky himself, John Cena. If Roman were to miraculously win the belt sooner I see him being challenged by John Cena or—if able—The Undertaker.

Triple H vs. John Cena
This match seems so obvious to me.

When The Authority took over for Vince McMahon, the boss himself didn't want either John Cena or Daniel Bryan to be WWE Champion. And once Daniel Bryan was gone, The Authority immediately worked to keep Cena from being champion. In fact, they want as far as bringing back Brock Lesnar, a man who previously broke Triple H's arm!

Well once John Cena is out of the title picture and doesn't win the Royal Rumble, it's time for him to redirect his energy towards the storyline-COO of the WWE, Triple H. The man who has main evented six WrestleManias (HHH) against a man who has main evented five (Cena). It's a marquee match-up that needs to titles to be important. It's a big seller for the casual fans and gives John Cena a predictable win, and I know that it will deliver between the ropes.

Alternative: For John Cena, I could see him facing The Undertaker, Randy Orton or maybe Chris Jericho (if he's around). For Triple H, the only other logical opponents are Daniel Bryan or a face-turned Randy Orton.

The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
With Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and John Cena doing other things, the most logical choice to face The Undertaker is none other than Randy Orton. And unless we actually saw it in New Orleans, I fully expect this to be The Undertaker's final match. In fact, it might be billed as such and happen the night after he's inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (provided they don't do it for WrestleMania 32's ceremony that could end up in Texas).

Randy Orton is one of the most under-appreciated performers in the WWE, and his slow, methodical style lends itself to allowing The Undertaker to have a good match on the way out. I can't see ‘Taker losing here, as the value of a WrestleMania loss is all but null and void after The Streak ended.

Alternatives for The Undertaker: John Cena, a returning CM Punk, and retirement.

Six Man Tag Team Match:
The Wyatt Family vs. The Usos and Sting

A few weeks ago I wrote about The Undertaker, Sting and Hulk Hogan having one more match, and as you probably read, I don't want any of them to compete again. Well I already have Undertaker wrestling above, and here's Sting now! (Spoiler alert: I am not booking Hogan!)

Remember, this is fantasy booking rooted in reality, and I fully expect Sting to wrestle (at least) one WrestleMania match. Actually, I can see him getting two.

This match serves multiple purposes: It gets six very talented men onto the card, and takes the place of WrestleMania 29 & 30's six-man tag team matches involving The Shield.

The Wyatt Family has been one of the most over acts in three company for the better part of a year, and with The Shield disbanded, they are in the lead stable role. On the flip side, I believe the WWE knows they have something special in The Usos, and pairing them with Sting (Brothers In Paint…anyone?) on such a big stage will just further elevate them.

Now don't get mad when Sting snag a pin on Bray Wyatt at Levi's Stadium. As I pondered in the article linked above, this is a two-match scenario that sees Bray Wyatt get his revenge by sending Sting into retirement at the 2015 edition of WWE SummerSlam.

Alternatives: You could put Sting in a singles match with Bray, or scrap this contest altogether. Possibly pair The Usos with someone else, maybe even Chris Jericho. You could also go the "mystery partner" route and use it for a big return.

Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro
Being forced out of action for most of 2014 with an injury right after the company puts you over Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton in the same night probably makes it hard for the WWE to launch you right into the main event. Same with publicly calling an angle between Vince McMahon's daughter and your own wife "stupid."

However, I feel there's an easy way out of it. That way is Cesaro.

This match basically occupies the spot that used to be held by the World Heavyweight Championship. If the card is kept to seven or eight matches (which I expect it to be), these two men can be given a good amount of time to put on a show that won't soon be forgotten.

My personal favorite match ever took place nearly ten years ago when Shawn Michaels fought Kurt Angle on the under-card at WrestleMania 21. That's the atmosphere and dynamic I see for Daniel Bryan versus Cesaro at WrestleMania 31.

Alternatives: Something that won't be nearly as good involving Sheamus, Big Show, Mark Henry and/or Bad News Barrett Not knocking Barrett, but Bryan vs. Cesaro is money! Either man against Chris Jericho could be a nice addition to the ‘Mania midcard as well.

Divas Championship: Paige vs. AJ Lee vs. Charlotte
I admit that it's hard to see Paige and AJ Lee continuing their feud through WrestleMania. And it doesn't necessarily have to happen that way. The feud can end early and the duo can reignite their passion foragainst each other in the months leading up to WrestleMania. Add in The Daughter Flair and there's no reason not to believe AJ, Paige and Charlotte can't entertain on the big stage.

Alternatives: I literally have no clue.

The Second Annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
While I'm not a huge fan of battle royals for the sake of battle royals in general, WrestleMania 30 featured The Inaugural Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Well you usually don't call something inaugural if you don't plan to have more.

And with an 8 match card, there is plenty of talent who doesn't get into a match, meaning there's plenty of talent to fill a battle royal. Add in the talent in NXT, and it makes perfect sense to have this be on the card. It can be used to promote someone from NXT to the TV roster (either with a win or a runner-up finish), push someone up the card or provide for a big return.

Looking at WWE booking today, and considering Roman Reigns will need some pay-per-view opponents during the post-Mania run, I could see the Lana led Rusev picking up the victory in the 2AATGMB.

Imagine that hashtag: #2AATGMB. (They'll probably just use #BattleRoyal.)

Alternatives: A multi-man or intergender match of some sort… I know, might as well stick with the battle royal, right?

For Some Secondary Championship And/Or The Money In The Bank Briefcase:
Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose

I've seen it written (and tweeted) that Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose could be a feud for the ages, one that seemingly never ends with the two men at odds at various points over a multi-year stretch. I think Ambrose and Rollins are wasted in a battle royal, and something's gotta give with Dolph Ziggler at some point.

So why not book this match? It could be for Dolph's Intercontinental Championship, but that Money In The Bank briefcase is far more valuable within the confines of the WWE.

Alternatives: Ambrose and Rollins in a triple threat or fatal four-way involving any assortment of midcarders, most notably Chris Jericho. This booking is really about Ambrose and Rollins—two of the company's top four future stars.

Greg DeMarco is a wrestling fan of over 30 years and has also worked on the independent circuit as a promoter, announcer, character and booker. Greg a weekly contributor at 411Mania.com, applying his opinionated style to the world of pro wrestling on Sundays and Thursdays.

He began writing for 411Mania in October 2010 and has been pissing readers off ever since!

Greg's latest series of must read articles at 411Mania.com:
Squandering A Mega Star: The WWE Blew It With Ryback
What If Brock Lesnar Never Left WWE?
Who Is The Best Manager: Bobby Heenan or Paul Heyman?
Bold Predictions for WWE SummerSlam 2014
I Just Don't Understand Why The WWE Won't Push Zack Ryder!
The Undertaker, Sting, and Hulk Hogan: One More Match
Go Ahead WWE, Put The World Title On Brock Lesnar—I DARE YOU!
One Man Could Have Saved TNA's TV Deal...And His Name Is Paul Heyman
My Open Letter To The WWE, Triple H And His Friend 'Mark'

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