I have been writing about wrestling for over a decade and the question most asked is "how would you book this?" In other words, people want my fantasy booking opinions. I'll be honest and say I don't like fantasy booking that much or reading it. However, when it comes to WrestleMania season it's fun to try to come up with things.
This column is about what my lineup would look like for WrestleMania 29. Will the lineup look exactly like this on April 7? I highly doubt it. I just want to give you an idea of what I'm thinking WWE could do.
Before I begin, it's important to know that I think the three matches that have been heavily rumored for WrestleMania are likely to happen. I'm listing them first. The rest are matches that I would do and I'll give my setup for each as well as the winner.
Up first are the three biggest matches, which are very likely as long as everybody is healthy.
The Three Matches That Are Very Likely
WWE Title: The Rock vs. John Cena
The Rock won the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble. John Cena won the Royal Rumble match and then said he would go after the WWE Champion at WrestleMania 29. Unless one of them gets hurt it's going to happen. I fully expect Cena to leave WrestleMania 29 as the WWE Champion as I've written many times in the last year.
The match goes 20 minutes. Cena wins the WWE Title after hitting the Attitude Adjustment two times. After it's over, Rock grabs the WWE Title and hands it to Cena. Then he hugs Cena and raises his hand. It's a scene similar to the end of the Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior except it's for a different generation. Rock came back to put Cena over. That's what we'll see here.
CM Punk vs. The Undertaker
This is another heavily rumored match that I hope happens. There have been reports/rumors that Undertaker may not compete at WrestleMania because he has a lot of injuries to deal with. If CM Punk can't be in the WWE Title match then this is the next best thing because Undertaker's match at WrestleMania is always a big deal. I hope it happens. Who wins? The Undertaker, of course.
If Undertaker can't compete at WrestleMania then I think Punk will face Ryback and lose to him since that's a story that needs a clean finish on a big stage like WrestleMania. I don't think they would add CM Punk to the WWE Title match although that's certainly possible too.
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
This is pretty much a sure thing at this point. The angle started on Raw two weeks ago when Brock Lesnar returned to give Vince McMahon a F5 in the middle of the ring to end Raw. Who will get revenge for Vince? His son in law Triple H. This has been rumored since last year after Summerslam when Brock Lesnar beat Triple H in the main event show.
The most likely scenario is Triple H getting the win for his family although if it was me I'd have Lesnar win because he's the one that is going to be wrestling more matches in the future since he signed that two year contract extension.
My Ideas for the rest of the WrestleMania 29 lineup
Those are the three matches that I think are very likely. The rest of them are basically my suggestions and thoughts on what *should* happen if I had a say in it.
World Heavyweight Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Randy Orton
At Elimination Chamber there's a Number One Contender match where the winner gets a World Title shot at WrestleMania. I would have Randy Orton win that. In the build up to this match with Del Rio they can hype it up as a battle between two babyfaces. Orton can give promos about how it's been too long since he has been World Champion and he will do anything to get the title back.
How would I book it? Give them 15 minutes or so. I would have Del Rio counter the RKO and use a surprising pinfall to win it. No tap out loss for Orton. It would be more of a smart counter wrestling move by Del Rio to put over his craftiness. After the match Orton freaks out, punts Del Rio in the head turning Orton heel. Then with Del Rio out on the mat the music of Dolph Ziggler starts up and he cashes in the briefcase to win the World Title. This scenario sets up a Del Rio vs. Orton feud and also sets up a scenario with Ziggler defending the title against the winner of the match I have right below this. You get two feuds out of it plus a WrestleMania moment for Ziggler because he would be the first person to cash in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania.
World Title #1 Contender Match: Ryback vs. Mark Henry vs. Sheamus vs. Big Show
I have nothing else for them. I've liked the various matches over the years between that Henry/Sheamus/Show trio, so why not add Ryback to the mix? Perhaps you can make this some kind of Number One Contender Match for the World Title or something along those lines. For the finish I would say that Ryback hits Shellshocked on all three guys at various points in the match. You could even do it elimination style and have Ryback pin all three guys in the match to make him really dominant. Let's say the last one is on Big Show for the win. That would be a big WrestleMania moment.
My ideal match for Ryback would have been a showdown with Brock Lesnar that Ryback won. But I'm not married to Vince McMahon's daughter. So that's not going to happen.
Ryback would then move on to feud with Dolph Ziggler for his World Title. Fresh feud.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan
If I was booking Ziggler would have won the World Title and Bryan would be the challenger that leaves with the World Title he lost at the same event a year earlier. However, that's not going to happen heading into this match.
The fact that AJ Lee is with Ziggler only adds to that story. Since that isn't going to happen I'd like to see this match as the opening match on the card. It could rival Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at WrestleMania X as the best opener in WrestleMania history. Give them 15 minutes, let them do their thing and have Ziggler win a close matchup.
Do I think this match will happen at WrestleMania? No. I'm just saying what I would do if given the chance to pick the lineup. As you saw above, Ziggler would leave with the World Title too.
Tag Titles: The Shield vs. Primetime Players
Follow along with me on this one. I'd put the titles on The Shield on an episode of Raw soon. It's time to move the titles off Kane & Bryan. I would do something where Bryan & Kane are supposed to defend the titles vs. The Primetime Players. However, just as Darren Young & Titus O'Neil are about to enter the arena, The Shield attacks and injures them. They're out of the match. Kane & Bryan then say they came there for a match, so they want to face The Shield for the titles. I would have Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose compete for The Shield with Roman Reigns outside the ring. During the match on Raw, The Shield wins the tag titles.
A few weeks later, O'Neil and Young come back as babyfaces. I think they have potential as babyfaces, so I think it would work. During the WrestleMania match, The Shield retains with Ambrose & Rollins in the match and Reigns interfering outside the ring. I would invoke the "Freebird Rule" for the tag titles as well meaning any of The Shield members can defend the tag titles.
I think it's very possible that Kane & Bryan face The Shield at WrestleMania for the tag titles, but I like my match for Bryan better than that. You'll see that later in the column.
IC Title 8 Man Ladder Match: Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow vs. Kane vs. Bo Dallas vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Christian vs. The Miz
I like ladder matches. I also think the IC Title needs to be defended in a prominent match at WrestleMania. The other thing is that you need some kind of match involving more than six guys just because there are so many deserving talents that should be on a WrestleMania card. I don't think they'll do Money in the Bank at WrestleMania again because the summer MITB PPV is successful. Having a ladder match for the IC Title would be fun. As for the competitors in the match, you have some former IC champs in there and Bo Dallas makes his WrestleMania debut since he's feuding with Barrett right now. I wouldn't mind seeing Jack Swagger in the match too, but I'm only sticking with eight names for it.
My winner of this match? Damien Sandow. He's already a great performer with an interesting character. Putting a title on him will make him even better.
US Title: Antonio Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho
This makes sense for a few reasons: 1) Cesaro has said no American can beat him for the US Title. Chris Jericho is a Canadian (although he was born in America and lives there now.) After all, Jericho is from Winnipeg, you idiots! 2) Jericho has won every title he can win except the US Title. I would give them between 12-15 minutes. It would be an awesome matchup. I'd have Cesaro retain the title.
I know there's a Jericho vs. Ryback rumor with Jericho going heel to set it up. I don't love that idea. Keep him in the face role because he's a WWE Legend that fans want to cheer. You can book him against either Cesaro or Barrett (there's history there from NXT season one) because that's a better way to utilize Jericho's skills.
Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara
I want to see it at least once. I realize that some people don't like either guy, but I like both of them with the right opponents. Considering how many injuries Mysterio has had in recent years and how inconsistent Sin Cara has been, I think WrestleMania 29 would be the right time to do it. Give them ten minutes, let them work Lucha style and I think it could be fun. Plus, WWE could encourage people to wear masks and set some kind of world record for people wearing masks that they've talked about for a few years.
Divas Title: Kaitlyn vs. Natalya
My favorite diva Natalya would turn heel because she's so frustrated that she was told to walk Khali & Hornswoggle to the ring. She could turn heel in late February and cut a promo about how she's the most experienced woman on the roster that wants to get her Divas Title back. In the weeks leading up to the match she could defeat the other women on the roster to earn the title shot.
I'd have Kaitlyn retain the title in a competitive match. Natalya could win the title down the road. Once again I'm all about giving somebody a WrestleMania moment, so that's Kaitlyn in this instance.
Pre-Show: Battle Royal
I think everybody on the roster needs to be in this. This is likely going to be the biggest WrestleMania ever in terms of the gate and the PPV audience. I hope WWE gets as many people as possible in the battle royal so they can all get some of the purse. Who wins the battle royal? It doesn't matter that much. Let's go with Jack Swagger.
I have eleven matches on the card plus the battle royal on the pre-show. It allows for a lot of people to appear on the show and I've set up a lot of scenarios to create memorable moments for people up and down the card.
Does that look good to you? Once again I'm not saying any of the matches I suggested after the top three are a lock for WrestleMania. I'm just saying that's what I would do if I had any say in the matter. I don't expect everybody to agree. I'd love to see your scenarios too, so don't be shy about telling me what you thought.
Please feel free to contact me via email, Twitter or Facebook if you would like. All the info is below.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org