WWE WrestleMania 2014: How to Best Book Top Feuds for PPV
WWE WrestleMania XXX is supposed to be the biggest event in the history of sports entertainment, and it needs to be treated with the respect it deserves.
A few mistakes here and there are to be expected, but WWE cannot afford to screw up too much or it will tarnish the legacy of the event.
Its success or failure rests on two factors: the performance of the wrestlers and the plans set in place by the creative team.
No matter how good a script is, a bad actor can ruin a film. The same applies in professional wrestling.
If we are to assume that all of the men on the card perform their duties well, the success of the card depends on how it is booked.
So what guidelines should WWE put in place for these matches? Who should win and how should these feuds advance leading up to the event?
It's time to merge fan fiction with fantasy writing as we break down how WrestleMania's top feuds should be booked.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
Over the years, "The Streak" has developed a formula to follow.
Undertaker's opponent must look strong going into the match but not completely humble "The Deadman."
By the time WrestleMania comes around, the audience should feel as though the challenger has a legitimate shot at winning—even if we all deep down know that will not happen.
It's a rare instance where predictability in itself is predictable, yet if plans were to stray from the norm it would cause much more of a ruckus.
Fans can complain left and right when the same old stuff is repeated throughout the year, but this is one instance where the WWE Universe as a collective wants to not be surprised.
WWE hinted on Monday night that Mark Henry would be used as a stepping stone for Lesnar, which is certainly a way to make him look strong.
If Lesnar can destroy the "World's Strongest Man" and perhaps a few others over the next few weeks it will boost his credibility as the one person who could actually end The Streak.
It's then smooth sailing until he ends up being the next victim of "The Phenom," losing at WrestleMania.
Randy Orton vs. Batista
There is almost no saving the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match from disaster at this point.
WWE booked itself into a corner by going against the wishes of the fans and having Batista win the Royal Rumble.
Now that the WWE's bed is made it has to sleep in it and deal with the consequences.
Turning Batista heel is not going to save the match from a chorus of boos, nor will adding a stipulation make this something that the fans are interested in seeing.
Nothing short of adding CM Punk or Daniel Bryan to the match will suffice.
Without that, it seems like a guarantee that this will be met with an angry crowd that belittles it and dampers the WrestleMania atmosphere.
This is not only going to hurt this match and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but it is also going to hinder the match that follows it since the fans will be in a bad mood.
WWE cannot make the mistake of putting this on last. What is supposed to be the biggest pay-per-view in the company's history simply cannot end with a disappointed crowd.
If WWE is unable to bring CM Punk back to add to this match or incorporate Bryan, the only way to book this is to place it in the middle of the card and try to write it off as a loss.
In that case, WWE's plans for Extreme Rules play a much bigger role in what happens here.
For Orton to retain the title as a heel, Batista needs to be given a new opponent for Extreme Rules and Orton needs to later drop the belt to Bryan.
If Batista as the champion is what WWE wants above everything else, he needs to win here with the backing of The Authority and be the new hurdle that Bryan must get past.
All of the booking of this match revolves around adding a third player to it, though, and almost anything else will result in a failure until that happens.
John Cena vs. the Wyatt Family
In a time period where the crowds are not willing to accept things that they've seen a million times before, WWE is playing with fire when it comes to John Cena facing off against The Wyatt Family.
As soon as Cena was injured, the writing appeared to be on the wall.
Bray Wyatt and his cronies have injured WWE's Superman, but he'll never give up, and he will fight back and come out on top at WrestleMania.
If that happens, it is not going to turn heads or be a memorable comeback or anything of the sort.
It is dangerous to test the patience of the fans and give them something that they have actively fought against for years on end.
Although it seems like a downer and WrestleMania is usually a happier event, the heels need to win this one.
Wyatt should continue his preaching about what Cena represents and how he is a fraud, but Cena should stand up for himself and try to prove Wyatt wrong.
However, Wyatt needs to win this match.
Cena winning will not fix his problems—it will only hurt Wyatt, who stands to gain absolutely nothing by losing and everything to gain by winning.
A rematch between the two at Extreme Rules should be kept in mind and built into the feud's outline.
This is where Cena can get his win back, overcoming the odds and evening things up between the two.
But WWE has to book Wyatt as the winner at WrestleMania and give him fuel for his promos. It cannot have him lose and look like a waste of a push that was given a boost just to be fed to the stars.
Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
The way these guys have been turning everything to gold lately means this is an almost infallible situation.
If you set up the three members of The Shield to face each other, the end result should be amazing provided you don't mettle too much.
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins no doubt know one another well enough after teaming for so long that they can build around that trust and craft a great match from start to finish.
They have also shown that they will go the extra mile and try to prove that they are the future of the company with the quality of their matches.
These matches are important to them and something like this will be a top priority.
Standing back and letting them do their thing is the best course of action, and the only choice to make on WWE's part is which person will come out on top.
Some would say that this should be an obvious call to have Reigns win the United States Championship, but WWE should try to milk this for at least one more match.
The United States title should be kept out of this, giving a rematch at Extreme Rules something of a bonus.
That is the match where Roman Reigns, the best choice for the next champion, should come out on top.
At WrestleMania, though, Ambrose should win to reward him for his upcoming loss of the title.
Whatever WWE wants to do, the biggest mistake it can make is to stand in the way of these three men instead of letting them dictate where this feud goes.
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
WrestleMania XXX needs to end with Daniel Bryan successfully defeating Triple H in a clean victory and absolutely nothing else.
This means he does not win with a cheap pin by holding Triple H's tights; he doesn't roll him up after getting decimated for the whole match to make it seem like it was a fluke; he doesn't win after someone interferes.
The one and only outcome must be a true win for Bryan to make up for everything that The Authority has done to the character.
Once Bryan does something to convince Triple H that he must accept this match, it's smooth sailing that writes itself.
Building up to WrestleMania, Bryan must face Kane and other members of The Authority that Triple H can put in his way to slow him down, slaying each one as he gets closer to the head beast.
This is the culmination of months of coming up short.
The fans have felt the same frustration as the character, so it's time for a resolution that can act as a breath of fresh air.
Revenge is sweet and Bryan needs to make sure Triple H gets his comeuppance.
What would you do with these matches? How would you book the WrestleMania card?
Tell us your ideas in the comments below!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.