With Wrestlemania a few weeks away WWE has now laid out the top matches for the card such as Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker, and the inevitable Triple H-Sheamus bout. The top two title matches on the card have been set for a while now and have begun to evolve from mere matches to stories played out on TV. As these two matches have developed, one has become the focal point of the organization, intersecting other storylines and crossing brands, while the other has suffered and become nothing more than the ?other title match? on the Wrestlemania card.
A couple of months ago the rumored matches for WM had Sheamus and Triple H fighting for the WWE title while Cena and Batista was more of an afterthought. The proposed battle between the two was reminiscent of WM XXIV when Batista went up against Umaga in a Raw vs. SmackDown! match that felt thrown together to get the two combatants on the card rather than a natural build. Things changed when Batista became Vince McMahon’s hired gun in his feud with Bret Hart. The night Batista attacked Hart the match at WM now became Cena with Hart in his corner against Batista with Vince in his corner. Another rumor tossed out was a tag match so Hart and Vince would have limited ring time while Batista and Cena did the heavy lifting. Still, WWE knew better. They had a gold mine and they knew it. The Batista-Cena match at Wrestlemania XXVI that has taken shape will be one of the more epic matches in recent memory. WWE is doing well by acknowledging that these two men came up at the same time. They were the final two in the 2005 Royal Rumble, they both won gold at WM 21, and they both became the faces of WWE post-Attitude. Batista’s promo last Monday explained it best. Even thought these two came up at the same time, WWE chose Cena as its face instead of Batista. The Animal was bumped to SmackDown! while Cena was moved up to Raw. As the faces of their respective brands a WM main event was a dream match between these two. The day when these two would finally meet one on one would be one of the biggest nights in recent WWE history. That all fell apart when Mike Adamle announce one summer night in 2008 that Batista and Cena would have their first singles encounter against each other since their WW main event ascension in just a few short weeks at SummerSlam. With no title on the line, nor any real animosity, the match felt underwhelming. Both men still went out and put on a good show. With Cena suffering an injury, WWE built it up that Batista had broken Cena’s neck. That, along with a tame first encounter, promised a future match that would come when the time was right.
It is official: The time is right. WWE has created a beautiful storyline between these two and garnered interest in actually seeing the match. You have Batista who is acting like he did back in 2005 where he was a big guy who didn?t lose it, he kept it together. As a big muscle man with intelligence directing him, he is more than a big dumb monster for Cena to conquer. Meanwhile you have Cena who has finally been shut up. Batista has called him on his actions as a man of catchphrases, but with all his glory on the mic he is simply not as good as Batista. When these two meet at WM, one of the most intriguing factors will be crowd reaction. Wrestlemania crowds tend to surprise every now and then by whom they cheer for and boo. Phoenix may very well be behind Batista on this night. The match itself will be quality backed built by a fascinating story.
Surprisingly the most unspectacular build so far has been the main event of Edge challenging Chris Jericho for the World title. The story writes itself as Edge returns from an injury to avenge redeem himself by defeating his former tag team partner after making a surprise return and winning the Royal Rumble. It has all the makings of a great story. It also has the best man on the roster carrying the belt into Mania. The simple mention of these two in the ring invokes a Wrestlemania main event dream match, yet it all feels kind of blah. This is not the fault of Jericho, who has been the crown jewel of WWE for the past two years. Creative has done a very good job of putting this together also. Edge is a good wrestler. He is very entertaining, but after a mere few weeks of being back on TV he already feels stale. Even with a face turn he is in need of a change in character to keep himself interesting. Competitors like Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Batista have done this in the past and done so well. Edge even did so back in late 2004. A similar change in character is needed for him now. Another worry is his Achilles. Is he really healed? Hearts go out to him as he did not want to miss another Mania, but at the risk of his career? Perhaps the best option would be for Christian to win Money in the Bank at Mania and cash it in to make this a triple threat match. This would allow Edge to lose the match without getting pinned so he could take some more time off to fully recover while a new feud ignites between Jericho and Christian. During this time the Edge character can be re-imagined to make him more compelling when he is truly ready for his return.
If we look at these as movies we have one story that has two great performers but a pretty standard storyline that has a predictable outcome unless a turn is written in a natural and intriguing way to make it interesting. The other match is storytelling at its best. It is a match truly worthy of the Wrestlemania name. This is not to say Edge and Jericho do not deserve their spots on the show, especially Jericho. However, a boost is needed. Can WWE do it? We have a few weeks to find out.