|Image Source: ProWrestling.com|
Written By: Mark Armstrong
After a lacklustre build-up and somewhat disappointing card for WrestleMania 31, the onus is on WWE to rebound when it comes to WrestleMania 32, especially given their hopes of breaking the all-time company attendance record at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. But what can WWE do to ensure that Mania 32 is a vast improvement on this year’s offering?
The first thing is to deliver a match that fans truly want to see and, right now, there is no bigger dream match which could realistically happen than The Undertaker vs. Sting. This is a bout that people have wanted to see for many years, and with Undertaker fast approaching retirement and with Sting on a part-time basis himself, not only is WM 32 the best chance to hold this match, it may be the last chance. Plus, it is in Taker’s home state, the Streak not being a factor means that the result could go either way, and it would be the perfect send-off for both, making what could be a double retirement match a massive potential draw.
A big criticism of this year’s WM is the poor build-up, so I think this should be nipped in the bud for Mania 32 by having a Sting promo on Raw the night after WM 31 be interrupted by The Undertaker, where the WM 32 challenge is made. Even if Sting doesn’t accept it immediately, there is then a year (like with John Cena vs. The Rock at WM 28) to build this epic encounter up, and accelerate the hype in the final few weeks before the dream match becomes a reality at WrestleMania 32.
The second potential “draw” is a bout which has already been teased for a “future WrestleMania”. Triple H vs. The Rock would be Rock’s first singles match since WM 29, and could even mark a send-off for both wrestlers here too. The story could be that HHH loses authority over the spring, so he decides to resume his in-ring career and becomes WWE Champion again at SummerSlam or Survivor Series. After losing the title (probably back to Roman Reigns), Triple H makes a vow to prove he’s the greatest of all-time by winning the Royal Rumble in 2016, and he looks strong … until he’s interrupted by The Rock who is a surprise entrant! Cue a Rock elimination of HHH, a subsequent HHH screwjob on Rock and a feud to determine who really is the greatest of all-time which culminates at WM 32.
As it’s in Texas, it is only right that an attempt is made to bring in Stone Cold Steve Austin, who could referee the HHH-Rock match. However, the more exciting prospect would be for Stone Cold to compete here in “one more match”, and as this show would be 13 years on from his last bout, this event would be the final chance where there is a glimmer of hope that Stone Cold might return. But who would he face?
The dream match would be Austin vs. Hulk Hogan, although their combined ages suggest that this ship has now passed. Stone Cold vs. John Cena would be big, very big in fact. But I think the perfect opponent for the Texas Rattlesnake would be Brock Lesnar. The Beast Incarnate would be guaranteed to get booed against Austin, the two have never met, and it could feed off the 2002 walk-out of Stone Cold before a scheduled match with Brock. A late summer/autumn confrontation could plant the seeds for what would ideally be an Anything Goes match, and what would undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated WrestleMania encounters of all-time.
Assuming that Austin doesn’t wrestle, and that Lesnar sticks around, there are a couple of great potential opponents for him. Randy Orton is the best candidate; still young enough to dominate for years to come, he could seek out Brock, a man he has never faced on PPV, with a vision to once again be The Legend Killer and to kill the legend of the man who ended The Streak.
Another worthy opponent for Brock would be Daniel Bryan. This was a match people wanted to see at WM this year, but of course it didn’t happen. However, if all the stars aligned, the perfect opponent for Bryan would be … Kurt Angle! Angle only signed a one-year contract at TNA and is adamant he will retire there, but it has surely crossed his mind that he could round off his career with one huge WrestleMania match. That could be at Mania 32, and the ideal opponent for a technical classic would be Daniel Bryan. It is even possible that Bryan will have turned heel by then and is bragging that he can beat anybody at WrestleMania, but maybe not Kurt Angle who after a shocking return could make the challenge. Admittedly, such a match is very unlikely, but it’s nice to dream.
Amongst the top stars, that leaves John Cena, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. I can see a Reigns vs. Cena match for the WWE Title at WM 32, where Cena chases the chance to equal Ric Flair’s all-time record. If Reigns does take off as the new face of WWE, Cena could even take the Stone-Cold-at-WM-X7 route and join the Authority mid-match to make that happen, executing that long-awaited heel turn in the process before what could be the company’s biggest crowd ever, which would be a Mania moment close in impact to the end of The Streak. Cena has almost run out of opponents; Reigns is the only option, at least for a fresh match, and the heel turn would create a ton of fresh options. Alternatively, assuming that Kurt Angle doesn’t return, Cena could face Daniel Bryan, where the heel turn could still happen, and Reigns could defend the WWE Title against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in a Triple Threat match which, of course, brings together the former members of The Shield.
Elsewhere, I don’t see that much changing in terms of personnel. I see the Money In The Bank Ladder match returning proper to WrestleMania, which could consist of Rollins and Ambrose if they’re not in the main event, and Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Adrian Neville (who could have arrived on Raw by then), Sami Zayn (ditto), Samoa Joe (if he comes to WWE) and Chris Jericho (in one final WM appearance). For those wondering about Dolph Ziggler, he could defend the Intercontinental Title against a new threat to WWE, the by-then former NXT Champion Kevin Owens. The card could be rounded off by the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal (anyone’s guess as to who would win), some sort of Divas Title bout (Charlotte could triumph in that, winning her first WWE Divas Title in the process) and a Tag Team Title match of some description (The Usos could win, but I don’t see them lasting as a team much longer after that).
The 2016 Hall Of Fame class could be headlined by anybody in theory. I would suggest that The Undertaker would be perfect given the location, but I would sooner see Sting go first as I would prefer Undertaker to be officially retired before going in; the magic of his character would be lost if he gave a teary-eyed speech 24 hours before a match. The secondary inductee could be Sting’s old friend Lex Luger (multi-time WCW Champ); the Diva inductee could be Sable (a big Attitude Era name and the wife of Brock Lesnar); the celebrity inductee could be Lawrence Taylor (since he actually won a WM main event); the tag team inductees could be Demolition (the longest-reigning Tag Champs in WWE history); and the class could be rounded off by The Fabulous Freebirds (given the Texas location) and maybe Christian (who apparently is retired).
As for the road to WM: Taker-Sting being announced the night after this year’s Mania would create an immediate buzz. The HHH-Rock feud could develop over the summer and into the autumn, as could Austin-Lesnar or Orton-Lesnar (by the way, Orton could face someone different like Bray Wyatt or Samoa Joe if he doesn’t fight Brock, and their MITB spot could go elsewhere). The Reigns experiment and continuous struggle for Daniel Bryan could set up their big matches in late 2015/early 2016, with a star-studded Royal Rumble being used to set up the aforementioned big matches and, if it happened, a February return for Kurt Angle would be an unbelievable moment and would increase anticipation for WM even more.
Whatever happens, WWE must realise that the build-up to WrestleMania 31 has been largely substandard, diluting interest in what was already a hit-and-miss line-up. And if WWE plans to set a new all-time company attendance record at WrestleMania 32, the build-up has to make it feel like the biggest show of all-time, and the card also has to reflect this. I think that the plan outlined above would be the perfect way for these goals to be achieved, and for WrestleMania 32 to go down as the biggest and maybe even the best show in WWE history.
What are your thoughts on what could or should happen regarding WrestleMania 32? Leave your comments below!