Busted Open Radio’s Dave LaGreca and Doug Mortman were kind enough to let me, the one affectionately known on air as “Social Media Guy” or “The Guy Built Like Daniel Bryan,” pen a preview for WrestleMania 30.
As this is my first foray into the world of pro wrestling writing, I think it’s appropriate to offer some background. I’m no Doug, no Dave, no Mike Riker and no Mary Grater when it comes to pro wrestling acumen. The height of my wrestling fandom came in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when I loved Mankind and DX, and hated The Rock and Kurt Angle (whom I now love).
I returned to the wrestling scene the last few years, watching the occasional Raw, investing in most pay-per-views, buying the WWE Network, spending hours watching classic matches from all different promotions on YouTube and even attending Ring of Honor: Final Battle this last year at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
I get most of my news from Busted Open and Wreddit, I can’t resist spoilers, and promos – unless they come from CM Punk or Paul Heyman – usually bore the hell out of me.
Oh, and I’ve had enough of this iteration of Daniel Bryan.
I’m a heel wrestling fan. The only faces I like are the faces that everybody likes to hate – read: John Cena – because it’s more fun when a crowd loathes a guy. I’m the guy who, while watching the Royal Rumble with a fellow Attitude-Era wrestling fan, cracked up at the shocked crowd when Batista took out Roman Reigns to win the Rumble.
I asked an old friend of mine the other day why I hate every face in the WWE. And what he said made it click for a relative wrestling noob like myself: Faces are boring. For somebody who has a relatively short attention span when it comes to pro wrestling, I don’t have the energy to be bored by the same guy night in and night out. Sure, the “YES” chants are fun, Bryan’s turn on The Wyatt Family a few months ago was stupendous, and when he’s not “Daniel Bryan, Face of the WWE,” Bryan is really enjoyable. But unfortunately (and ironically), Bryan is a face, he’s being pushed to the moon, and so I’m sick of him.
In what scenario can I see myself returning to Bryan’s corner? It’s outlined below, in my fantasy booking. A booking that I think accomplishes what every WrestleMania is intended to accomplish – gives a few superstars a “WrestleMania” moment, furthers the Undertaker’s undefeated streak, and makes for HUGE ratings on the following night’s Raw. Plus, it accomplishes what I want accomplished – leaves every other wrestling fan in the world seething and on the brink of a breakdown.
Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs. Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans vs. Rybaxel
Right off the bat, you have to eliminate Los Matadores and Rybaxel from the discussion. As a comedy act, Los Matadores can’t hold the tag team belts – particularly via win at WrestleMania – and as much as I love Ryback the Bully, I still don’t get the Ryback-Curtis Axel duo.
That leaves the crowd-favorite Usos, and the half-heel-half-face Real Americans. As a heel (Jack Swagger) and face (Cesaro) unit, The Real Americans’ days are numbered. Cesaro is on the brink of a push into the WWE World Heavyweight Title picture, while Swagger is on the brink of a program where he’ll be squashed by Cesaro.
As Cesaro about to get a big push, the final stand for The Real Americans has to happen at the WWE’s premier pay-per-view. So look for Cesaro and Swagger to turn on one another, and with Cesaro turning full face, his actions will lead to The Usos pinning Swagger to retain the tag belts.
The Usos retain.
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H: Winner entered into Triple Threat main event
Daniel Bryan deserves a WrestleMania moment, and he’ll get a WrestleMania moment. That WrestleMania moment will come in this match.
Triple H showed Monday on Raw that he is prepared to sell like a champion, and he is committed to making this match memorable. So Bryan and Triple H will beat the hell out of each other for 30 minutes, and in the end, Bryan will make the boss tap out to the YES Lock.
Imagine how the arena reacts: Triple H begging for Bryan to let him go by slamming his hand on the mat, the bad guy throughout this slow burn effectively quitting, giving the good guy, who’s been held down for eight months, a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight title. A shot that, by all predictions, he’ll cash in on, finally grabbing a hold of the WWE World Heavyweight Title.
So after this ends, Triple H is going to grab the mic and insert himself into the main event, right? Wrong. The main event will be a triple threat, as promised, with Bryan, Randy Orton and Batista.
Bryan wins via submission.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
I’m not a huge fan of Battle Royals. It’s tough to have a really memorable match when a couple dozen 250-pounders are squeezed into a wrestling ring. They’re also gimmicky, and you have to suspend disbelief even more than usual when a guy like The Big Show is able to fend off 10 guys at once.
The Big Show makes the most sense as the winner, and it’d be a pretty cool spot if Hulk Hogan enters himself as a surprise participant, and the pair are the last wrestlers standing in the ring. But what makes more sense is to finally unleash Alexander Rusev. We’re all sick of the Smackdown promos, but we also all know Rusev can hack it in the ring. Enter him in the Battle Royal, make him look like a monster, give him the trophy, and prepare for a nice win streak on Raw.
Rusev wins by eliminating Big Show
The Streak: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
Yeah, this match is going to be really exciting. After all, we have The Undertaker at WrestleMania, matched up against a guy that can sell like a champ, and can manhandle a guy The Undertaker’s size like a champ. But I can’t get super amped for a match that has no remotely possible outcome other than an Undertaker victory via tombstone.
There were points during last year’s Undertaker-CM Punk match where I actually thought, “Maybe The Streak does end this year.” There won’t be a millisecond of that this year. It might be worth it if we get Sting-Undertaker set up the following night on Raw, but this will be a match of really cool spots and very little drama.
The Undertaker continues The Streak.
Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational
Tamina Snuka is the only diva on the current roster that I can stand much right now. It’s more likely Tamina costs AJ the title than pins AJ for the title, but this is my fantasy booking, peeps.
Tamina wins the Divas title
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
If there’s one person currently on the card I like to end The Undertaker’s streak, he’s in this match. And it’s not John Cena.
Bray Wyatt has the look, the creepiness and the in-ring ability to be the next Undertaker-type character. So if The Undertaker’s streak ever comes to an end – which I’ve always felt like it should at some point – it ought to come at the hands of a guy like Wyatt.
And if The Undertaker loses his streak, it should come to somebody else who is undefeated at WrestleMania. So when it happens – say, at Wrestlemania 32 or 33 – Bray should still be undefeated. Which means he needs to win his first WrestleMania match against Cena Sunday night.
I have no idea how this match will go down. I find it hard to believe Luke Harper and Erick Rowan won’t play a role, because The Wyatt Family is a family, as Doug and Dave pointed out on air on Wednesday. What’s compelling, though, is that between Wyatt’s performance at the Royal Rumble against Daniel Bryan and his evisceration of opponents in singles matches on recent Raws and Smackdowns, he doesn’t necessarily need outside interference to beat the true “Face of the WWE.”
The WWE needs to give Bray a clean win over Cena, similar to the type of win we saw at The Rumble. Let these two go at it for 45 minutes. Let Cena continue to show the crazy wrestling ability he’s displayed lately. (I wasn’t a fan of Cena before his program with Randy Orton, but as much as people hated seeing them two duke it out over the WWE WHC belts, Cena and Orton were machines in the ring.) Let Wyatt continue to display his athleticism and move set. And in the end, after several near falls, just as the crowd thinks Cena will overcome (as he tends to do), Wyatt needs to deliver the Sister Abigail, get the 1-2-3, and continue his incredible meteoric rise toward the top of the roster.
Wyatt wins clean via pin
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
Like I said earlier: No Triple H here. You won’t see him or hear from him.
Is that a good thing? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t know if Orton, Batista and Bryan have the animosity necessary to pull off an incredible main event.
But think about it. At this point in the card, we’ve already seen Bryan force Triple H to tap out, we’ve already seen Undertaker continue The Streak, and we’ve already seen the match of the night in Wyatt-Cena. We don’t need a Hall of Fame match … what we need is a swerve.
Orton can work and Bryan can work, and the two of them will go at it. Batista can’t keep up with them in the ring, but the beauty of the triple threat in this scenario is that Batista can hang in the corner holding on to his ribs writhing in pain for five minutes, come back, deliver a couple power moves, then go back to the corner.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Bryan and Orton are going at it outside of the ring, and Bryan delivers a crushing blow to Orton – a running knee that somehow involves the displacement of metal stairs, for example. Orton is badly injured, and the refs comes over to quickly check on him. With the ref’s head turned, CM Punk appears – not sure if he’s coming from the stands, running down the ramp, or what – and delivers a GTS to Bryan, knocking him out.
With Bryan incapacitated and Orton hurting, Batista recovers, drags Orton into the ring, delivers a Batista Bomb, and gets the 1-2-3.
Your new champion: Dave Mother Freakin’ Bautista.
So what on earth did we accomplish by putting the belt on a guy who, instead of returning to a hero’s welcome, has slid into the role of boring heel?
Where does Batista go from here?
Batista is no longer a boring heel – hes now a super heel. He’s going to get HUGE heat for denying Bryan his “moment.”
(A quick aside here: Why does Bryan’s “moment” have to be winning the strap? We’re all assuming Bryan is going to get the strap at the end of the night. Will that deliver the type of crowd response he got when he turned on Bray? No. We’ll get a big “YES!” chant, but you’re missing the unpredictability factor. What will be the real moment is getting the guy who has held him down for months, Triple H, to tap out.
Bryan’s journey hasn’t been to win the belt. It’s been to persevere over Triple H. He did that in the grandest way possible to open the card. That is his moment, and that is what people will remember most.)
Batista now heads into a title program with either Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns or Cesaro. Three younger guys, all face-ish, all who can take a big step by taking out a part-time heel. (The worst kind.) Let’s face it: Batista needs the belt more than Bryan needs the belt to stay relevant. Otherwise, what the heck is Batista going to do? Plus, Wyatt, Reigns or Cesaro can benefit big time from getting the strap this early in their WWE careers. Make this the title program, and all of the sudden, you have the versatility to open up several other programs.
Where does Triple H go from here?
The reason I don’t inject Triple H into the title match is because he doesn’t need another match to draw more heat. Fans are going to blame The Authority for putting Batista over, and thus, the greatest heel of our generation, Triple H, finds himself even more heat. While I love heel Orton, fans are growing tired of him, meaning it makes sense to turn him face. Enter Orton and Triple H into a program based on the months of disrespect The Authority showed their chosen champion.
Where does Cena go from here?
I think Cena enters a program with Lesnar after WrestleMania. Paul Heyman hinted at bringing on a new “Paul Heyman Guy” recently, and with Lesnar being disposed of by Taker at WrestleMania, he’ll likely be disposed of by Heyman after the loss. Lesnar is a top heel, Cena is a top face, and the WWE will want a classic headline opportunity for the next pay-per-view or two. Let these two guys begin the build for Extreme Rules, and eventually, one of the two will emerge as the No. 1 contender for a program with whomever takes the belt from Batista.
Where does Bryan go from here?
I have three primary reasons for keeping the belt off Bryan. The first is outlined above – his moment should be getting Triple H to tap, not winning the strap. The second is that he doesn’t need the belt on him, as a caller pointed out on Busted Open on Wednesday. In fact, if you put the strap on Bryan, what is his next program? He’s big enough and over enough that the strap can wait. The third reason is that Bryan should take the strap from a more imposing power. My dream scenario: A one-on-one win over Cena, where one of the two turns heel, and Cena loses by tapping out. That would be more memorable than winning a triple threat match against two guys that, let’s face it, nobody cares all that much about.
And that’s why Punk makes so much sense. We have to guess he’s coming back at some point. Bring him back at WrestleMania, turn him into one of the WWE’s three monster heels, and enter him into an IWC program against Bryan. The angle: Punk left because Bryan stole his spot atop the card. (In fact, Bryan mentioned this in an interview at the WrestleMania 30 press conference.) The two would put on phenomenal matches, we wouldn’t have to deal with the same Bryan vs. The Authority story line over and over again and again, and maybe – just maybe – we’re looking at a Heyman-Punk reunion.