Ever since it's inception over thirty years ago, WrestleMania has been a staple of Sports, Entertainment and Sports-Entertainment. Every year, the world (even non wrestling fans) tune into the marquee event because of it's sheer appeal. Even if the WWE has produced questionable televison programming up until then, 9.5 times out of 10, they always deliver with WrestleMania. This year's event seemed to be no different...until now. With today's shocking announcement that John Cena has suffered a shoulder injury and will miss WrestleMania 32, WWE have found themselves in an awkward situation. There had been rumors that Cena was set to face WWE Legend, The Undertaker in a highly anticipated match. The current face of the company vs the Greatest Legend of all time surely would have sold the event, but alas, that will not happen...this year at least. Even if those rumors weren't true, Cena's absence from the show will be felt, unless WWE can come up with a strong match card based on strong feuds and storytelling. Although in recent years, John Cena is not necessarily the WWE Universe's favourite athlete, there's no denying that he still draws a lot of WWE's fans, specifically the younger generation. Moreover, WWE has been attempting to push this year's event as the Biggest WrestleMania EVER! Cena is the latest to join a growing list of WWE's top performers who have found themselves on the injury sidelines. Cena joins "co-face of the company" Randy Orton, the ultra-talented former Champion Seth Rollins, highly popular fan favourite Cesaro and the legendary icon Sting on the injured list. Cena's untimely injury just months before the event has left the company in an undesirable situation. So, in order for the event to be carried off as the success it's hoped to be, here are some things that WWE NEEDS to do:
Bring Back Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan has thrived at WrestleMania the past two years. At both 30 and 31, he won prestigious championships. The only problem is that in eerily similar circumstances: both years, he had to relinquish his championship due to injury and subsequently missed the rest of each year. Now, having fully recuperated, Bryan has been cleared by his own doctor but claims that WWE's doctor is reluctant to clear him. This could perhaps be down to WWE being fearful that Bryan's intense acrobatic wrestling style could cause him further injury but also down to the fact that their afraid he could suffer further concussions as well. With his future uncertain there have been rumours he may eventually leave WWE and move on to another promotion. But with WWE's undesirable situation around their big event, it's time to bring Daniel Bryan back. He had his surgery, he recuperated and even his own doctor cleared him. Thus, if WWE still want to stand any chance of making this the "Biggest WrestleMania Ever", then they need to bring Bryan back. In recent years, Bryan has proven himself to be an even greater "draw" than Cena and he was set to become the next face of the company before his injuries hindered that. His "Yes Movement" was a constant top trend on social media, the "Yes Chants" continue in WWE even without Bryan's presence and his championship win at WrestleMania XXX was one of the greatest moments in recent memory.
Last year when he returned, WWE had Bryan performing literally all the time: weekly on RAW, on SmackDown, at Live Events and Pay-Per-Views. He resumed his five star match routine. This eventually turned out to be a mistake as it resulted in another injury. Now this time, I'm not saying that they have to throw him in at the deep end like they did last year. Ease him back in or put him in a tag team match. Heck, even reunite Team Hell No (Bryan and Kane) and send them after the Tag Team titles. I guarantee you that Bryan's presence on the card will increase interest in a time when WWE is in dire need of it.
Bring Back as Many Big Names as Possible!
The good news is that we all know that The Undertaker, The Rock and Brock Lesnar will be at WrestleMania. While Undertaker and Lesnar will be wrestling, it's expected that The Rock will just be making an appearance. Either way, those three names will draw thousands. Triple H's return to the ring will do the same. Chris Jericho's recent return is a positive sign that he will also be wrestling at WrestleMania. However, now that they are down on star power with many of their big names missing the event, it is vital that WWE bring back as many other big names as possible. His last run may not have been his best with the company, but Batista would be a great addition to WrestleMania. Thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy and Spectre, he has become a household name to non-wrestling fans. He is still in fantastic shape and has always been a good storyteller in the ring. Furthermore, WCW legend Goldberg has stated on a number of occassions that he would like "one more match" and he has worked with WWE before. Could WWE make the call in order to save their big event? Another name that would give the card a big boost is Stone Cold Steve Austin. For years, many have hoped for the "rattlesnake" to come out of retirement. Although unlikely, he could still make an appearance. In fact, he could get involved in a storyline and act as a Special Guest Referee in one of the big matches. Austin may not have wrestled in 12 years, but even after all these years, he is still a huge draw...and that's the Bottom Line, because Stone Cold said so! Shawn Michaels has been known to make surprise appearances at Mania. Why not advertise him this year? Again, highly unlikely that he will come out of retirement and why should he? That last match he had with the Undertaker was an incredible way to go out -- there's no way to top that. But an advertised appearance could surely help! Same goes for Ric Flair, who will probably appear anyway in his daughter Charlotte's corner. There have also been rumours that Matt and Jeff Hardy awanted to return to WWE. If there was any truth in that, NOW is the time to do this. They always create show-stealing moments and WWE is in need of them right now.
As I said earlier, Sting isn't likely to compete at Mania, however, an appearance isn't out of the question. Advertising the Vigilante's presence would surely increase the buys, especially if fans had originally given up hope.
And as for the four wrestling stars WWE is rumored to have signed...now is the time to debut them! Especially AJ Styles!
Feature the Undertaker Prominently on the Card
Seasons have changed, years have passed, eras have come and gone...but The Undertaker remains. For over 25 years, the Phenom has dominated WWE. No matter what happens, the Undertaker will be at WrestleMania 32...this is a given! 2015 was a great year for him and WWE will likely capitalise of his success and feature him in a main event storyline at WrestleMania in April. After his 21-0 Undefeated Streak at the event was broken by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX in 2014, many believed that the Deadman's career was over. After consistently putting on a "Match of the Year" contender for around 6-7 straight years at WrestleMania, a haggard exhausted Undertaker suffered a concussion the same night his streak was snapped. However, last year Undertaker put to rest rumors of his demise when he returned to his annual event and defeated Bray Wyatt. Despite an impressive performance, many were still convinced that it was not the same Undertaker. But not one to disappoint, Undertaker shocked the world when he returned in the Summer (for the first time outside of 'Mania since 2010) to get revenge on the man who broke his streak - Brock Lesnar. It was followed by a fantastic physical clash between the two at Summerslam and an absolute war at Hell in A Cell inside the demonic cell. And guess what...the Hell in A Cell match won "Match of the Year"! So in short...YES!! The Undertaker has still got it! Now that we've established that the Undertaker can still go, he needs to be featured in one of the biggest matches/feuds on the card. His match with Bray Wyatt last year had virtually no build up because they were keeping his return for the show itself...this year, he must return before 'Mania and be featured in a strong, well told story with someone who can put on a great show. NOBODY can tell a story in the ring like the Phenom, so it is vital that WWE make his opponent someone he can gel with well in the ring. Although rumors suggested Cena, we know now that won't be the case. Other suggestions could be: Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Braun Strowman or even fellow veteran Chris Jericho! We all know what everybody REALLY wants to see...and even though recent events made it quite unlikely...the chances of it have now been increased somewhat....and we'll discuss that later....
Undertaker is everything WrestleMania is about. He can "draw", he is loyal and he proved last year beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can still put on one hell of a show! He has been loyal to the WWE for over 25 years and when he makes his return for WrestleMania 32...the company will need their veteran Phenom...now more than ever!
Reigns vs Triple H
This looks set to be the direction WWE are going in anyways. But I included it because it's important that they stick with it. Rarely in WWE these days, do we ever see aggressive and personal fueds. Last year's Undertaker/Lesnar rivalry was a breath of fresh air because it's rare to see anything so physical and personal from the product anymore. This has the potential to be one of thise fueds. Triple H is a legend...but he barely wrestles anymore, always saving his best performance for WrestleMania. And he always delivers. Roman Reigns is the current WWE champion and is on fire at the moment. He will carry the new generation of performers and the company into the future. Reigns is also a pariah as far as the Authority are concerned. They will stop at nothing to remove that title from Reigns...including having the COO take it for himself. After Reigns' attack on Triple H last month, his recent winning of the championship and the involvement of Vince and Stephanie McMahon in the rivalry...Triple H is destined to make a comeback to the ring and these two will clash over the championship. Reigns and Triple H in the ring will not be pretty but it could be a classic!
Strongly Build Up Mid Carders
One of the biggest criticisms of the WWE product as of late has been their reliance on veterans and part-timers and their lack of focus on young and upcoming mid carders. While one might say that now is the perfect opportunity to give those guys the spotlight...part of me agrees, but part of me strongly disagrees. WWE have only two and a half months to build their biggest event ever. It would be ridiculous for them not to rely on the money names like Undertaker and Lesnar. However...that doesn't mean that they could not strongly build their mid-carders at the same time. Dean Ambrose, the current Intercontinental Champion, is a great choice. The fans adore Ambrose but up until recently, his character suffered from a lack of direction. However, ever since he won Intercontinental Championship gold, he has been on fire. As has the former champion, Kevin Owens. WWE needs to tell more stories like this and focus on their talent more. Talented athletes like Dolph Ziggler, Rusev, Bray Wyatt and Stardust have all suffered from lack of storytelling, exposure or development. Now the same thing is also starting to happen to the very talented Tyler Breeze. If WWE wants their fans to be invested in the characters...then those characters need to be protected, stories should be told better and talent should receive the pushes they deserve.
A Multi-Man Ladder Match
Last Year's ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship was an unexpected gem. Before that, WrestleMania had sorely missed the annual Money In The Bank Ladder Match that it used to feature. Ever since they created the Money In The Bank Pay-Per-View, they had removed the ladder match from their grandest event. It was really an unnecessary move because the match always added so many shocking and memorable moments. Who could forget Jeff Hardy's leg drop to Edge through the ladder at WrestleMania 23 or Edge's spear to Hardy off the ladder at WrestleMania X-Seven?!
WWE need to have another ladder match this year. Imagine a ring full of talents like Dean Ambrose, Neville, Luke Harper and Kevin Owens. And then throw someone like Kane into the mix - Kane always excels in Ladder Matches! A visual spectacle like this match always gets the crowd entertained. If WWE wants to make this the biggest one ever, then it would be a mistake to not feature a ladder match for a prestigious championship on the card.
A Special Attraction Match
Everybody loves a special attraction match. You know, a match made just because two individuals are so unique and it's finally time for them to square off. This match does not have to be pretty, nor does it have to be long. It just needs a gimmick and some people will be interested in seeing it. It is being billed as the Biggest WrestleMania EVER...so why not use that to sell this match by having two of the BIGGEST EVER (size wise) superstars square off. Braun Strowman has never really been tested in singles competition. WrestleMania 32 could finally be that time. There were rumors that he would be the Undertaker's opponent this year. However, the early days of Undertaker's streak was spent fighting giants and those matches weren't received very well. Nowadays, Undertaker's matches are expected to be at least 4-5 star clashes. So with that in mind, WWE should book a seperate special attraction type of match for Strowman. Have him be tested in the ring by a veteran monster like Kane or the Big Show. Although Big Show vs Strowman would be a visual spectacle...Strowman vs Kane would make for a better match as Kane is more versatile and agile in the ring. These two have faced off before, most memorably when Undertaker and Kane put Strowman through the announce table. They have also briefly continued the feud. Why not have it culminate in one-on-one action one the Grandest Stage of them All.
The Money Making Match
Austin vs Rock, Undertaker vs Michaels, Hogan vs Andre. The "Once In A Lifetime" match that unfolds on the Grandest Stage of Them All right before our very eyes. If everything...and I mean EVERYTHING worked in WWE's favor between now and April, perhaps they could pull this off and give us the biggest dream match of all time: UNDERTAKER VS STING.
Now like I said, I'm well aware of the fact that Sting suffered a neck injury in his last match, but that was in September and last we heard, he was getting surgery to fix it. If he makes a speedy recovery, there's a chance we might get this "Once In A Lifetime" match this year. According to numerous sources, Vince has been reluctant to make this match happen. However, with their marquee event in dire straits, it would make total sense for Vince and company to swing the momentum back around to their side by announcing the match that has been in the making for over two decades. If this match closed WrestleMania 32 in Texas, there's a chance it could close out both men's careers and it would be a fitting tribute to the two biggest legends in the history of the wrestling business. Nothing would sell more tickets than a Main Event with a story like that behind it. WCW's Icon would finally meet WWE's Phenom in a battle between two legends whose careers have paralleled for over twenty years. It would be amazing! And could quite possibly save WrestleMania!
So, they are just some of the ways WWE could market their marquee event this year in order to make up for missing headliners. I'm pretty sure there are hundreds more ways they could save it. Other suggestions for the Money match could be: The Rock vs The Undertaker or The Rock vs Brock Lesnar...and although unlikely, Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker IIII.
I would like to wish John Cena a speedy recovery! Like him or not, he gives his all to the company and deserves the time off to heal.
No matter what happens, One thing is for certain: The Road to WrestleMania is going to be an interesting journey!