The injuries keep piling up in the WWE. Now, what was supposed to be the biggest WrestleMania of them all is in jeopardy of having little to no star power. It’s quite the predicament, but many have seen this type of situation coming.
Often criticized for a lack of effort to elevate contemporary stars, the WWE has banked on bringing back big names from the past in order to promote the biggest show of the year. The positives – maybe you get a boost in promotion that you wouldn’t otherwise receive. The negatives – when those big names can’t physically compete, you’re stuck where we are today.
In the long run, this conundrum could end up creating a few new wrestling megastars (looking at you, Kevin Owens). For the past decade, it’s appeared as though Vince McMahon cares only about John Cena, and the rest of the card is a hodgepodge of talent not given enough of a chance to shine on their own.
So, how do you solve such a problem?
Earlier this week, a report surfaced claiming that the current plan was to have Roman Reigns wrestle Triple H in WrestleMania 32’s main event. Some may have groaned, desiring something more than the typical “rebel against authority” storyline. The fact is that this match works for several reasons:
1. It’s the only match that can have a ‘Mania type of story – Part of what makes WrestleMania so great is that it’s typically the blow off of an emotionally engaging storyline. No, that’s not always the case, but look at what made a lot of the all-time classic events so memorable.
You’ll undoubtedly think of the two Shawn Michaels/Undertaker matches, the Hulk Hogan/Andre The Giant showdown, the Yes! Movement of 2014, and the masterful job done at WrestleMania XIX in 2003 between Angle/Lesnar, Triple H/Booker T, Rock/Austin, Hogan/Vince McMahon, and Michaels/Chris Jericho.
Look at 2016’s programming – where is the opportunity to have that type of story? What can the WWE create between now and April 3rd that would be more of an emotional rollercoaster than Reigns battling Triple H? I don’t see one.
2. The Rock can’t wrestle – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was going to be WrestleMania’s biggest draw this year, but because of insurance issues related to a movie being filmed that he has a role in, won’t be able to get too physical. He’s off the books for a potential match with Triple H, but what would’ve really sent the wrestling world into a tailspin would have been to turn Reigns heel and have him align with The Authority, only to have The Rock return and challenge the young champion. Too bad that’s become a mere pipe dream at this point. So, who is left to play dance partners with Triple H?
3. Reigns needs to beat a Hall of Famer – If Reigns is indeed supposed to become the next incarnation of John Cena, then he should follow suit and take on The Cerebral Assassin for his first ‘Mania championship defense. Defeating Triple H at WrestleMania 22 provided validation to Cena’s first championship run – perhaps it could do the same for Reigns, albeit the dynamic has changed dramatically for Triple H since 2006. Regardless, defeating foes such as the Big Show, Bray Wyatt, and Sheamus has done little to make Reigns feel special.
4. Lack of options – Ultimately, Reigns vs. Triple H is the only ‘perfect storm’ type of match that provides a solid story building towards what should be a tremendous match. Other options simply aren’t there. A proposed rematch between Reigns and Brock Lesnar would be the best Option B, but if you’re trying to break the all-time attendance record, is that rematch going to sell those extra tickets? I don’t think so. Outside of Lesnar, the biggest heel on the active roster is Kevin Owens, and there’s no chance Reigns/Owens main events the show. Reigns has already had lengthy programs against Bray Wyatt and Sheamus, and a match against Rusev or Alberto Del Rio simply would not draw. Could they pull a real wild card and have Reigns take on Dean Ambrose in a title-for-title match? Sure, but that’s not realistic to expect at all from a staff that doesn’t seem to be too high on Ambrose as a main event talent.
In the end, the choice to proceed with Reigns vs. Triple H as the main event of WrestleMania 32 should be a no-brainer, but there’s still a lot of time between now and then and the fact that this year’s Royal Rumble is for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship makes this year’s Road to WrestleMania all the more interesting.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, is a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor for The SoBros Network. Follow on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley, @pfspot, and @SoBrosNetwork.