Triple H vs The Rock at WrestleMania 31

Where it all began: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Rocky Maivia.

For a couple of months now, rumours have escalated around the WWE Universe of a potential match at next year’s WrestleMania, and these whispers have become even more apparent after SmackDown’s 15th anniversary show. Triple H vs The Rock at WrestleMania 31 is a match that screams, well, controversy.

 

On paper, this match seems brilliant (well to me anyway). It encompasses two stars that embodied the ‘Attitude Era’, arguably WWE’s greatest era in its existence in the professional wrestling industry. Not only that, but these two stars have had a tremendous rivalry for over a decade, stemming from their battles for the Intercontinental Championship in 1997, as well as faction-based rivalry as part of D-Generation X and the Nation of Domination respectively. ‘The Game’ and ‘The Brahma Bull’ also carried the company with their epic rivalry in 2000 and 2001 during Stone Cold Steve Austin’s absence, which made many forget about ‘The Rattlesnake’s’ temporary departure altogether. In essence, their rivalry was perfect; it was the ultimate heel vs the ultimate baby-face, and it was a rare rivalry where each Superstar was jeered/cheered by the audience as they were supposed to. It wasn’t anything like you see nowadays, with the heel generating most of the cheers and pops, and vice-versa for the face.

Their rivalry was at its peak in 2000/2001, carrying the company on its shoulders.

There is, however, a massive problem if this match were to take place on the ‘grandest stage of them all’. While it would momentarily excite the hearts of most 90s fans, it does nothing for WWE’s current talent – especially if the match is the main event like they hinted it would be. It would achieve a temporary bit of excitement and attract a wider audience, yes, but will do nothing in sustaining the future of the WWE roster. It doesn’t make sense, nor is it fair, for the Bryans, Ambroses, and Rollins’ of today to take a backseat on the show that they bust their asses on week-after-week, only to have a couple of in-ring part-timers secure their spots. I wouldn’t be surprised if the match encountered boos throughout its entirety by some of the more passionate fans. However, there are several ways in which WWE could capitalise on having both ‘The King of Kings’ and ‘The Great One’ present on the show, as well as boost their current/future roster at the same time.

Option 1

The obvious choice would be to have each competitor involve themselves in a singles match against a rising star. Why not have HHH take on Dean Ambrose, or even Seth Rollins, and have John Cena or Daniel Bryan take on the other ex Shield associate? Rocky could square-off against someone like Rusev, achieving a level of star-power that WrestleMania deserves – without hogging the spotlight. The main event could be the much hinted Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, allowing WWE to solidify their rising stars across the card. Of course, one or two competitors from each match could be switched around here or there, but you get the idea. What this results in is a series of matches where you have a veteran/well-known competitor – attracting a wider audience – going up against a rising star, making them more well-known and established as the faces of professional wrestling’s modern era.

Option 2

However, as mentioned in my previous article, this could get a little predictable. Having any one of the veterans go over wouldn’t make sense, unless WWE get really creative with an extremely clever storyline – but let’s not get our hopes up on that. Therefore, it would be fairly obvious as to who the victor of each contest will be. So maybe getting two veterans to go one-on-one could fit into a WrestleMania card. Let’s say WWE do go ahead and decide to have Triple H vs The Rock at WM31. Despite most of the crowd’s initial disputes over the match-up, they’re excitement will probably emerge as the event gets within an arms-reach of commencing. In addition, I’m sure the months of build-up prior to the event would’ve made the match-up that much more exciting. Everyone would want to know just who is the better man out of the Hunter-Maivia rivalry, and this match would be the climax of it all. However, how about having the match end in a Nexus-style fashion? The match could draw to a close, when all of a sudden, the lights go out. The lights reappear, and surrounding the ring could either be a group consisting of WWE’s undeserved mid-carders, or even NXT stars such as Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville. They’d get into the ring and pummel the hell out of Triple H and The Rock, claiming on RAW that their intentions for doing so was because they’re sick and tired of legends taking up spots and costing the current roster opportunity after opportunity. This would, again, achieve star-power that the event needs to attract a larger demographic, as well as do wonders for WWE’s current/future roster.

While it’s clear that having Triple H and The Rock compete at WrestleMania 31 is “best for business”, WWE need to be clever of how they incorporate the two so that it benefits the grand scheme of things: sustaining its Superstars’ longevity and relevancy.

Do you think that Triple H vs The Rock should happen at WrestleMania 31, or that WWE do something different in utilising these two mega-stars in the interest of their current crop? Leave a comment below and please don’t forget to share if you liked this!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

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Are old-timers cramping WWE’s style?

While a portion of both the performing talent and fans alike thoroughly welcome the return of WWE’s megastars that helped pave the way for the company’s current crop, others greatly frown upon the idea. In recent history, WWE have managed to majorly cash-in on returning big-name Superstars, such as The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and Batista. It’s a great idea, at first, but these returns also spell trouble for WWE’s current and future states.

Let’s first look at a good-use example of this strategy. In veteran Chris Jericho’s Jericho-Wyatt-SSrecent return, he feuded with Bray Wyatt. While it didn’t produce the greatest rivalry or series of segments of all time, it certainly did one thing; and that’s help solidify the ‘Eater of Worlds’’ status as a serious competitor who’s here to stay. From this example alone, it can be said that having returning veterans to help ‘pass the torch’ onto WWE’s current and future roster is a smart move, as it sets these stars up for glory and success in the future – but that’s if they actually do this and not bury these up-and-comers like they have done so many times in the past.

Put it this way; WrestleMania is an event that attracts even the most casual fans. More often than not, I’ve watched WrestleManias with casual fans who are only tuning-in due to a megastar like The Rock or The Undertaker being present on the card. For the remainder of the event, the growing mutters of “Who the hell is he?” or “Back in the day we had (so-and-so)” certainly frustrated me. Such audiences lack the desire to keep up with WWE and hence, lack the knowledge for new talents and recognising what they bring to the table. They’re only familiar with the stars who really made a name for themselves, and why’s that? Aside from these fans being into the product at the time, it’s also largely because the stars that have become household names were marketed and booked correctly in the first place.

Therefore, wouldn’t the logical strategy be to book competitors of the current/future WWE roster go over these returning legends, just like how Bray did with Y2J? These casual fans would then take notice of these stars, and perhaps feel encouraged to watch the show more often due to this ‘newbie’ defeating one of their old-time favourites. In addition to majorly pushing a rising star (and so raising his/her awareness to an extended audience), WWE would receive further benefits as they’d still receive higher ratings due to the megastar being present on the show, as well as the current/future roster still getting TV time due to being involved with the legend in the segment. It’s essentially killing two birds with one stone.

The Rock lays both the verbal and physical smack-down on Rusev.

Let’s now look into a bad-use (and much more recent) example. The Rock made a huge and unexpected return on Monday Night RAW (10th October – Brooklyn), except this time it wasn’t in a main event segment. He actually interrupted Rusev and Lana, who had called out The Big Show initially. This was brilliant, as it came to an enormous surprise for everyone watching around the world. The live Brooklyn crowd nearly blew the roof off the place! The Rock electrified as per usual, dropping his epic one-liners as only ‘The Great One’ could. What disappointed me though was having The Rock triumph in that segment. As you may or may not know, I’m a pretty avid Rock fan, but even I admit that the segment would have been that much more complete if Rusev had the last laugh. WWE would have achieved that level of star-power through The Rock, as well as having one of their rising talent make a huge statement. Maybe they could’ve had Lana distract The Rock during his and Rusev’s brawl, with Rusev then cheap-shotting him, leaving him helpless on the mat – similar to how The Shield did so last year. The Rock wouldn’t lose any star-power, and Rusev would benefit greatly – achieving the best of both worlds. The only downfall is that the live crowd wouldn’t have been sent home happy, but it’s all about longevity and sustaining the future right? On the other hand, it could be said that sticking to this rule of having the youngster go over would make the show a lot more predictable than it already is, leading to a stale and uninteresting product.

Batista wins the 2014 Royal Rumble, emphasising WWE’s reliance and priority on yesteryear talent.

I’m sure there are plenty more examples, but after this week’s RAW, it got me thinking of how WWE utilise their legends with their current stars. Let’s not even get into Batista’s win at this year’s Royal Rumble (I think I voiced my opinion in one of my earlier articles anyway). To be fair, they quickly rectified this by having The Shield go over Evolution. However, in most cases, it’s almost as if that WWE’s current roster isn’t their priority. It’s no wonder that the likes of CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler air their complaints, some more discrete than others. It’s even worse when WWE pair-off two legends to go one on one against each other in a pay-per-view, which shows that WWE still heavily rely on these ex-stars to generate viewing numbers. The sooner WWE start focusing more on their current and future stars, the sooner they won’t need the Steve Austins and Bret Harts of the company’s yesteryear to attract a wider audience. It’s a brave step, but is sure to solidify and sustain the longevity of their talent.

Do you agree that the WWE should try to adhere to the goal of ensuring that their current talent benefit in some way, shape, or form if they decide to bring back a legend/veteran/megastar, or do you think booking these old-timers in a way that appeals to the wider audience should be the priority? Comment below, and please share!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended.