With Sunday’s Royal Rumble event now well and truly behind us, it’s time to start looking forwards. Sure, we could dwell on the fact that Randy Orton winning the Royal Rumble is a tired and boring approach to the next four months, but instead of that I’d rather think about the implications for the future. So, bearing that in mind, let’s take an opportunity to think about some scenarios that might happen going forward towards The Showcase of the Immortals.
- WWE Stays the Course
Traditionally in the leadup to WrestleMania we don’t typically see a lot of title changes. Rather than shaking things up just before the biggest event of the year, the WWE often uses this opportunity to build meaningful storylines so that each match has some weight behind it come season finale time. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that everything will remain as-is for the next three months. The main implication here is that our marquee match at WrestleMania 33 would be John Cena versus Randy Orton. For anyone who doesn’t watch wrestling regularly, this would be a nightmare. The reason being that John Cena versus Randy Orton is a match that, for a couple years, dominated the airwaves. I’m talking these two would face each other at least once or twice a month for years. Literal years. This match is so overdone that the prospect of seeing it again sounds absolutely grueling.
Furthermore, if we stay the course that means that Randy’s current feud with the Wyatt Family will need to be resolved in hilariously short order, or else there will be no time to build up a thing between Randy and John. This would be a shame, both because this feud has enough momentum that it deserves a proper blow-off and because if this were to happen the WWE would be screwing Bray Wyatt over for at least the third WrestleMania in a row. That would leave Wyatt likely facing Luke Harper going into ‘Mania which is, frankly, a match nobody really cares about. Unfortunately, the alternatives are equally not great.
- Bray Wyatt Wins the Title at Elimination Chamber
This scenario is better, but still not great. See, with Bray winning the WWE Championship on February 12 it would give Randy and Bray an opportunity to continue their feud into WrestleMania while still allowing Randy’s contractually-mandated WrestleMania championship match.
The problems here are twofold, and both have to do with John Cena. Problem the first, John Cena will immediately slot into a feud with Bray Wyatt if he loses at Elimination Chamber. This is fine, the two men work well together and I have no problem from a writing standpoint with that feud. The problem is that every episode spent making Bray and John fight is an episode where Randy and Bray aren’t fighting. It’s wasting time that the WWE doesn’t necessarily have. There are, effectively, only eight episodes of SmackDown between now and WrestleMania and only one pay-per-view which is in ten days. If Bray’s going to win the championship with enough time to be credible and the Randy/Bray feud is going to boil to a fever pitch of WrestleMania quality we really don’t have much time to get John Cena out of the way. Plus John’s going to need time to build his own feud. We’re running on a dangerously tight schedule.
The second problem has to do with John Cena’s current storyline. See, John Cena, after winning the WWE Championship on Sunday, has now tied Ric Flair for the most world championship reigns by a single person at 16. Almost anyone will tell you that John’s on track to surpass Mr. Flair and become a 17-time champion. This obviously requires John to lose. But in order to make him seem viable and deserving during his coronation as the new “Greatest of All Time” (In quotes in case anybody wants to scoff) it would stand to reason that his championship reigns should seem meaningful. So if John loses the belt in ten days then he’s going to have held it for two weeks. His sixteenth title reign will have been two weeks long. That’s pretty shitty!
Furthermore, if he does lose the belt it’ll be to Bray Wyatt, and Bray will hold it til WrestleMania, where decent writing dictates that Randy will take it off of Bray. This leaves John Cena’s crowning moment as, wait for it, John Cena versus Randy Orton. I refer you to scenario number one.
This of course leaves…
- Something Hella Fucking Balls-to-the-Wall Insane Happens
Alright, hear me out:
The Miz wins at Elimination Chamber.
He does something nefarious to Bray Wyatt and John Cena in order to secure the win. Bray and John show up on SmackDown that Tuesday to complain that The Miz is a cheater and they both want a rematch, but The Miz isn’t having it. The only person who’s going to get even close to that belt is Randy Orton, who he’s obligated to defend it against at WrestleMania. Bray tells Randy that he needs to forfeit his WrestleMania spot so that Bray can kick the shit out of The Miz. Bray tries to set up a one-on-one match between himself and Randy so that Randy can lay down and hand over his spot, but commissioner Daniel Bryan says that the only way that’d be fair is if John Cena is in the match as well.
So the match is a triple threat but it’s basically a handicap match where Bray and Randy kick the shit out of John Cena. John eats RKOs and Sister Abigails left and right until he’s basically dead and he gets unceremoniously thrown out of the ring. Then Bray and Randy stand in the middle of the ring and Randy offers himself to Bray, who sets him up for Sister Abigail, but right before Bray connects with the move Randy tries to counter it into an RKO. Bray slips out, looks betrayed, and the two brawl like fucking crazy. Then, just as Randy hits the RKO and tries to go for a pin, John Cena gets back into the ring and hits the Attitude Adjustment for the 3-count.
This way our WrestleMania main event becomes John Cena versus The Miz and we still have a decent set-up for Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton at ‘Mania. Bonkers, I know.
But damn if that wouldn’t make for some compelling television.