So a lot of wrestling nerds are really upset because instead of doing what basically every wrestling fan alive wants – up to and including Mick Foley – and simply putting Daniel Bryan in the main event, last night’s RAW was used to try and sell the idea of D-Bry going up against Triple H at WrestleMania instead. Which is stupid, because nobody thinks Triple H is a main-event level match any more except Triple H; that was part of the reason CM Punk walked out in the first place, and the Twitter reaction was decidely skewed towards “no, we don’t want this.”
However, now we are at the point where, to book a satisfying main event for WrestleMania, you have to satisfy the following conditions:
1. Daniel Bryan wins the title
2. Batista is involved (because his contract stipulates that he main-events WrestleMania this year)
3. Randy Orton is involved (because Orton needs to get his comeuppance)
4. Triple H is involved somehow (because whatever)
5. It is a good match
The problem here is obvious: right now you have one babyface (Bryan) and three heels. Batista is a heel no matter what awful promo he gives about respecting the fans, because absolutely nobody wants him around – I know, it’s hard to fathom that wrestling fans wouldn’t be enthusiastic about a 45-year-old wrestler who can barely go for five minutes without collapsing in heaving gasps, returning to the ring after almost four years, during which time he pursued a failed MMA career and a mostly-failed acting career1, and during which time he took every opportunity to mock wrestling and wrestling fans. I mean, who wouldn’t want to cheer for that guy, really? And of course that ties into the second problem, which is that Batista can barely wrestle any more; his recent matches against Alberto Del Rio were embarrassing, with Alberto doing his absolute best to wrestle for two and cover Batista’s inability to do anything at all capably.2
Because it seems unlikely that Bryan and Orton, both excellent wrestlers, can cover Batista’s flaws entirely during this match – he’s that bad now – and because the face/heel imbalance is problematic, we can’t simply have an Orton/Batista/Bryan three-way dance for the title, because you’ll have all sorts of problems: when Orton and Batista are in the ring together for an extended sequence without Bryan, which has to happen in three-way matches, the crowd will be dead or chanting DAN-IEL BRY-AN, which isn’t the reaction you want particularly.
The answer, however, is very simple indeed: put in another face.
Next week in Chicago, redirect the HHH/Bryan challenge to HHH refusing Bryan’s challenge and then pivot it to D-Bry demanding he get a title shot – and then HHH says “fine, if you want to be in the title match at WrestleMania? At WrestleMania, you’ll first have to beat me – AND Kane.” And then up the stakes (always up the stakes) by saying if Bryan loses, he has to retire (“I’m tired of your little career and your chants, it’s time for you to go away and be irrelevant forever”). So now we have the most unfair, stacked-against-the-babyface situation possible: Daniel Bryan has to beat two guys in a handicap match and risk his career ending in order to get a second chance to beat two guys for the title.
But THEN what you do is you have HHH or Kane get cocky and say something like “nobody in the locker room REALLY supports you” and say that if Bryan can find a partner, then it can be a tag match against HHH and Kane at WrestleMania, but the same stipulations apply: Bryan’s partner is putting HIS career on the line too, but will also get a title shot. And that’s how you get either CM Punk (the obvious choice, but one that may not be available) or Dolph Ziggler (the perfectly acceptable alternate and a major crowd favorite) into the main event at WrestleMania.3 And of course Bryan goes over, because duh.
That’s how I’d book WrestleMania at this point. You know, if I wanted it to be good.
(Also, here is a freebie: introduce a fourth Wyatt Family member, and then you have an eight-man tag at WrestleMania: the Wyatts against the Shield and John Cena. You get a second match out of the insanely hot Shield/Wyatts feud, you get all the dramatic tension of bitter enemies teaming together to defeat a greater evil, you can use it to further the Shield breakup angle because Dean Ambrose doesn’t want to team up with Cena but Rollins and Reigns want to be practical and beat the Wyatts, and the superteam of Cena/Shield can credibly beat the Wyatts at WrestleMania without the Wyatts losing any heat in the process.)
- Guardians of the Galaxy was a Hail Mary pass for Batista, assuming it succeeds. Incidentally, don’t be surprised if the marketing for it drops off, because Disney originally decided to do Guardians because they wanted a Marvel answer to Star Wars – and then they bought Star Wars, so Guardians is now the lame duck of the Marvel Cineverse. [↩]
- He came close, because Del Rio is a damn good wrestler – but only close. [↩]
- If Punk doesn’t want to wrestle – which may well be the case – I would use Ziggler and then STILL offer Punk money just to show up and interfere on Bryan/Ziggler’s behalf at WrestleMania in the main event, have him give Kane and HHH a half dozen chairshots to the back so the crowd can go atomic. [↩]