2016 has only just began and we already have a ton of news in the wrestling world. As the road to Wrestlemania begins at the Royal Rumble, it appears there will be some travelers on this road that we hadn’t anticipated and common travelers who will not be marching to Wrestlemania.
First, who will not be at the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania? There will most likely be no John Cena and no Daniel Bryan. There will definitely be no Randy Orton, no Sting, no Seth Rollins, and no Cesaro. These are 6 huge names to lose for what is shaping up to be a gigantic Wrestlemania. So what can WWE do in the absence of these stars? The simple is answer is that they have to go with the talent they have now and move forward with the desire to make NUMEROUS stars. The following is an imagined Wtestlemania card with the talent available.
Andre the Giant Battle Royal
Participants: Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Adam Rose, Big Show, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Fandango, Jack Swagger, The Miz, R-Truth, Ryback, Zack Ryder, Kane, Damien Sandow, David Otunga, Sin Cara, Konnor, Viktor, Diego, Fernando & El Torito
It’s a shame that the Andre the Giant Battle Royal isn’t a more celebrated match. Right now it is simply a match to ensure all the talent get on the Wrestlemania card. The names involved are a mix of guys who have been around for a while, guys who the company hasn’t committed to moving up the card and guys that have been slotted as comedic, losing figures. On the Solomonster Sounds Off podcast it was proposed that Mark Henry may and should win this match given he will most likely retire and it would be fitting to have his last match be in his home state of Texas with a win.
United States Championship Ladder Match
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kalisto vs. Rusev vs. Neville vs. Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Stardust*
Last year there was a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship which was an entertaining opening match. This year I suggest the same for the United States Championship. Several of these names could have been thrown in the Battle Royal but I think that for new guys like Neville, Rusev, Kalisto and Breeze there is still time to move these guys up the card. Guys like Jericho, Ziggler and Stardust deserve to be showcased and not simply thrown in a meaningless Battle Royal. I have asterisked Stardust because I’d place him in another match if an injured superstar remains unavailable. I would have Kalisto go over in this match giving him a crowning Wrestlemania moment.
**What was written above was written prior to RAW where Kalisto has won the United States Championship. The same match can take place, with Kalisto retaining.
WWE Tag Team Championship Gauntlet Match
New Day (c) vs. The Usos vs. The Primetime Players vs. Sheamus/Barrett vs. The Dudleys vs. ???
The Gauntlet style match is another way to get more teams on the card. I would start with the Dudleys versus Sheamus and Wade Barrett, the last remnants of the League of Nations. League of Nations would win after a Bubba Ray turn on D-Von so that the Bully Ray character can debut the night after Wrestlemania. Next up the Primetime Players with the League of Nations pinning Young. The New Day enter next and capitalize on the exhausted League of Nations and defeat them. With the Usos coming out next, the New Day wisely sub out one team member for another so as to not feel the effects of the Gauntlet. New Day defeat the Usos and out comes the surprise team, the debuting Enzo Amore and Big Cass. I think with the amount of fans who are making the trip to watch Wrestlemania that these are fans who know NXT talent. With their amazing entrance they could organically get fans to start chanting “NEW DAYS SAWFT!” to the rhythmic clap of “New Day Rocks”. Enzo and Big Cass capitalize on the surprise nature and defeat the New Day to win the titles, which would make up for not putting the belts on this team at NXT Brooklyn.
Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks
This is a safe bet for a predicted match on the Wrestlemania card. Sasha Banks has been relatively protected on television and fans have been clamoring for Sasha to be the face of the women’s division. Charlotte is transitioning well to her villainous character and once her feud with Becky Lynch is over look for the big program to begin with Sasha getting her crowning moment at Wrestlemania.
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn
This is a feud that although both guys have had countless matches that fans love to see them clash on new stages each time. Whether it’s from Ring of Honour to NXT or NXT to WWE programming and by extension to Wrestlemania. Once again on the Soundoff Podcast, it was suggested Zayn return at the Rumble and eliminate Owens as retribution for all that Owens cost Zayn. Owens should regain the IC title and this leads to a feud between bitter rivals and for a prestigious title. This would certainly be match of the night.
The Undertaker vs. Dean Ambrose
Given that John Cena is injured and will miss Wrestlemania there are now even fewer opponents for the Undertaker. Undertaker will not square off against Brock Lesnar as they had their final match. The Undertaker and Sting will not clash in the dream match as Sting may have wrestled his last match and as of this writing it has been announced that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Therefore who can step in the ring with the Undertaker? There are a few names that are being tossed around but one name I haven’t heard suggested is Dean Ambrose. Ambrose and the Undertaker squared off before in a singles match that had a no decision. I think you could build this match around the fact that for the first time the Undertaker is choosing his opponent. The Undertaker could say he saw something in Dean when he was a part of the Shield and he sees something in him now and that at the end of the night on Wrestlemania we’ll see if Dean Ambrose has earned the respect of the Undertaker.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock
I’m not convinced that the Rock is wrestling at Wrestlemania due to his outside commitments but if he does his opponent has to be a big deal and it has to be a big match. Similarly, the expectation for Brock Lesnar is to face a big name at Wrestlemania in a big match and a Rock return match certainly fits that bill.
Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns
The seeds for this match have been planted and despite the injuries to the roster, this feud has not been affected. I never thought I’d suggest putting the title on Triple H but for the success of a Wrestlemania Main Event, you need a hero to triumph and regain the prize rather than just successfully defend it. In order for Triple H to win the title, he will have to win it at the Royal Rumble. I’m not a fan of Triple H winning the Rumble in 2016 or being in the Wrestlemania main event, but for the sake of the story the WWE has started it almost has to go this way. Reigns will hopefully be cheered as he closes the chapter on his feud with the dreaded Authority.
Wyatt Family vs. Balor Club
This is not the main event of Wrestlemania but I’ve saved it for last because it involves a lot of new talent that has been rumoured to join the WWE from New Japan. Firstly I agree that Shinsuke Nakamura should have vignettes to hype his arrival. On a lead up episode of RAW in February I’d have Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson debut as the Balor Club. They would simply soak in the adoration of the crowd as fans stood in awe of what they were seeing. Prior to anyone saying a word, I’d have the Wyatt Family interrupt and confront the Balor Club. I’d anticipate a “This is Awesome” chant for the stare down. Bray would say he knew these guys were coming and so he knew his family had to grow. Out would come Nakamura who would tease if he was joining either faction. Nakamura would join the Wyatts as they assault the Balor Club 5-on-4.
Now let me say, I’m not suggesting Nakamura change his attire or grow a beard. I think you can have Bray explain that he knew he had to get one of these new guys to hold the advantage in dominating the WWE knowing full well another group was invading his space. For the time being, Bray could be the mouthpiece so that Nakamura could maintain a mysteriousness about him. This would also hopefully eliminate a stereotypical portrayal of a Japanese superstar. I think Nakamura’s in-ring charisma fits well for a short-run as a member of the Wyatt Family
Leading up the Wrestlemania, the Balor Club would delay the announcement of their final member for the 5-on-5 match. Perhaps two weeks out of Wrestlemania, the Balor Club would finally reveal their fifth member. From a pure fantasy booking scenario, I would have the Balor Club reveal Daniel Bryan has returned to join them. Bryan could be protected in a 10-man tag and there would be limited risk. I’d anticipate a huge eruption and tremendous interest for this match. If Bryan isn’t cleared to wrestle, I’d give Cody Rhodes a chance here. Balor Club would be attributed to helping Rhodes get rid of the Stardust character and hopefully ignite something new in Rhodes. This would hopefully set up an exciting 10-man tag similar to the excitement surrounding the Wyatts and the Shield.
I know that I’ve suggested bringing up A LOT of new talent from NXT and abroad but I think this Wrestlemania demands the best the WWE has to offer. Guys and girls coming out of this night with big victories would be Kalisto, Sami Zayn, Enzo & Big Cass, Sasha Banks, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, AJ Styles and the rest of the Balor Club. Ambrose although probably losing would still look like he belonged in the ring with the likes of the Undertaker. Nakamura, would be on the losing team but this would set up a turn of the Wyatts on Nakamura, which could lead to Nakamura just tearing through all the Wyatt Family monsters to build momentum to moving up to the main event scene. This is purely fantasy booking but I’m excited to see what the WWE pulls off for Wrestlemania 32 this year!