We took care of the mostly meaningless matches last time. In this post I’m going to take a look at the all-important midcard, where titles will change hands and storylines will climax.
Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
Unfortunately, I’m not looking forward to this match. And it’s not Bray Wyatt’s fault. After a long string of excellent Wrestlemania matches, last year was a dud for the Undertaker. How much of that can be attributed to the concussion he sustained during the match, his age and conditioning, or his opponent, I don’t know. But I’m guessing it’s a bit of all the above. Taker is 50 years old going into this match. He hasn’t had a good match in two years. For the last several years he’s been in the ring with the best in the business. You have to back to 2008 to find a Wrestlemania match that wasn’t against a five star wrestler.
Bray Wyatt is not a five star wrestler. He’s not bad certainly, but he’s not a “ring general” or great technician or anything like that. His best match was against Daniel Bryan last year, but lots of wrestler’s best matches have been against Daniel Bryan. What Bray does do, maybe better then anyone on the roster, is tell stories in the ring. But can he back it up in the ring with an opponent who probably isn’t physically capable of going 100%? I don’t know.
Bray has done a good job so far of carrying this feud. He comes out every week and cuts a promo on the Undertaker. He is given nothing to work with, he never gets a response to counter. It’s almost like he was challenged to feud with an imaginary person, just to see if he could. Turns out, he can.
I’m more excited about the aftermath of this match then the match itself. What is Bray going to do after winning/losing? If he wins and becomes the new Evil in the WWE, who does he feud with? I miss Bray as the head of the Wyatt Family, so maybe he can lead another stable? Does a loss diminish him that much? I think a win over the Undertaker at Wrestlemania will do a lot more for Bray then a loss would, and after carrying this story by himself for two months, he deserves the win.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt.
Intercontinental Title Ladder Match
The two midcard belt matches are almost complete opposites. Whereas the U.S. Title as been a mostly serious affair, the IC belt picture has been a mishmash of comedy keep-a-way and jokes on commentary. Everyone wants the belt, no one seems to know why.
The talent in the match is undeniable. Four of my favorite wrestlers are in the match, so I have high expectations. Wrestlemania ladder matches have a lofty history, and these guys are going to be looking to one up everyone who has come before them. And that tempers my excitement a little bit. Maybe I’m old, maybe I just don’t need to see my favorite wrestlers flung off of ladders as much as I used to.
Or maybe I’m a little annoyed that the most talented guys on the roster are being thrown together because no one has any idea what to do them. Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler should all be doing something important. It’s going to be hard for any of these guys to “steal the show” when seven other people have to get their movez in. I’m worried that these guys are going to go out there and bust their asses to put on the best, most thrilling match possible, and it won’t even matter as they’re all going to wander around directionless in the abyss of the midcard no matter how popular they get or how hard they work.
Winner: Daniel Bryan. See the final paragraph for more.
United States Title Match – John Cena vs. Rusev
This might be the best built match on the card. I feel stupid saying that about a USA vs. Russia match in 2015, but at least it’s one story the WWE doesn’t know how to screw up. Rusev has been the most protected person on the roster for a year, and beating John Cena relatively cleanly was the best and right thing. Cena loses cleanly so rarely that when it happens, it’s still a big deal. Rusev was given an air of legitimacy that night that beating Jack Swagger for the 100th time doesn’t give.
Now though, it’s time for Cena to get his win back. This is also the best and right choice. Unlike the IC Title match, John Cena and Rusev have very clear reasons for wanting to be United States Champion. The title holder represents America, and as silly as it is, no one represents America in the WWE more then John Cena, the super-patriot/marine/rapper. Rusev wants the US title so he can mock and rage against the country, and Cena wants the title to defend the countries reputation. It makes sense these two would fight over the belt. Rusev losing here in a competitive match won’t hurt him, and their feud will undoubtedly continue in the coming months.
Prediction: John Cena
Before moving on to the Main Event preview, let’s chat briefly about the mid-card titles. The US and Intercontinental Titles are irrelevant jokes. The champions lose nearly every time they fight, because of the mistaken belief that because they are champ, they are over and don’t need the win. This makes no goddamn sense. Bad New Barrett is the perfect example. I don’t think he has won a single match since becoming champ. How does this make BNB over? It doesn’t, obviously. The latest rumors are that Bryan and Cena are winning the titles to give them some legitimacy, and to that I say ABOUT DAMN TIME! Give them the belts, let them defend them often, and the belts will be respected again. I plan to say a lot more about this after Wrestlemania, particularly if Cena and Bryan walk out with the straps.
On Saturday, Part Three of my Wrestlemania Preview: The Main Events.