Gleed's Blog: WrestleMania 32 - The short list of wrestlers who could provide a major boost the biggest show of the year
By Haydn Gleed
It's no secret that the last nine months have been horrendous for WWE in the injury department. It is also no secret that they are holding WrestleMania in a 100,000 stadium that they hope to fill. So far, we don't know the definitive lineup, but I feel safe in speculating that there will be a Triple H vs. Roman Reigns match. With all due respect to both men, that won't get the excitement level of AT&T Stadium beyond a tepid temperature.
Vince McMahon pulls out all the stops to make WrestleMania to live up to its billing as "The Showcase Of The Immortals". I'm sure they are hoping to pull out a surprise or two out from the proverbial hat. So who could come out of the cold to make 'Mania feel like the biggest show of all time?
The Rock: We already know for certain that he will be appear at the show, but the big question is whether he wrestle. Based on how nothing was kicked off in terms of a feud the night after the Rumble, even if he is placed in a match, it won't feel special and instead will feel more like a cameo nostalgic match.
Impact and Likelihood: It's the Rock for goodness sake, of course it will make an impact and be entertaining even if it doesn't make a long term impact. Rock will be at the show, in what capacity? We can only speculate at this time, but if he's not wrestling in a mid-show filler match, I can see him being involved in the main event, perhaps in Roman's corner, to boost the star power of the Championship match.
The Undertaker: It's not that it will be surprising if Undertaker wrestles at WrestleMania, it's just that I don't sense that anyone has a great grasp on who his opponent will be and whether that person will feel worthy of facing Taker at WrestleMania? Kane? The original plan was for Taker to face John Cena, but with Cena's injury it has left WWE in an awkward position.
Impact and Likelihood: With WrestleMania being in Texas and Taker being a proud man from the same state, his working the card will boost the excitement for the show, particularly if it turns out to be his final match. The key is what the company will do with Taker on the biggest show of the year.
Batista: Vince McMahon reportedly met with wrestler turned successful actor Dave Batista about a possible return. Was it a coincidence that WWE Network broadcast the Batista documentary prior to the Royal Rumble? Probably. Could it have been a reminder of the big man for something big down the line? Possibly.
Impact and Likelihood: There is no reason Batista couldn't come back to at least make an appearance, but his Hollywood commitments may prevent him wrestling actually wrestling. Should he return for WrestleMania, I feel it could be a massive draw for the WrestleMania card.
Goldberg: There has been a lot of fan speculation that Goldberg could be returning for a one-off match. He has said openly in interviews that he would like his son to watch him wrestle at least once. In other words, he's left the door open.
Impact and Likelihood: Unlike Batista, I get the sense that Goldberg wouldn't necessarily dwell on the disastrous end to his previous run where he was booed out of the building at WrestleMania 20. He has always given the impression that pay and respect are the most important factors. Also, the likelihood that this would only be a one time only deal, so the fans would enjoy seeing him for one last match. From an impact standpoint, it will cause a ripple, but one can only assume it would more or less be a brief squash match win, and thus it would be a nice treat on the card and not necessarily a big money drawing main event.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin: The biggest long shot of them all. Austin caused a bit of a stir while interviewing Paul Heyman on WWE Network when it seemed like he was challenging Brock Lesnar to a Texas Death Match when he was actually having fun while demonstrating how to cut an effective promo. Of course, the masses didn't take it that way and instead dreamt of one final WrestleMania moment. Austin has stated that he's 99 percent sure that his in-ring career is finished, but many fans continue to hope it's a smokescreen.
Impact and Likelihood: Austin working a match does not seem very likely. What people seem to forget when discussing whether Steve Austin could be working everyone is that he is incredibly proud of his body of work. He is in tremendous shape, but he has spoken in the past about needing several months to get in ring shape. Based on recent appearances for his podcast, it doesn't look like he's preparing for a match. Of course, that could be the reason his latest interviews have been pre-taped rather than occurring live on the network, but I doubt it. In terms of impact, you don't need to me to tell you that the return of the Rattlesnake, even for a one-off appearance, would probably fill the remaining parts of the stadium in his home state, but at this point I think it's too late even if WWE were to throw millions at him. Fans will likely need to be content with getting an Austin appearance at WrestleMania rather than an Austin match at WrestleMania.
What is worrisome is that there are no major names that come to mind who could make a major impact at WrestleMania. Of course, pie in the sky thinking might be that Shawn Michaels could be coaxed out of retirement, but at this stage of his life I believe it would take something special to come out retirement. If you really want to be optimistic, then an olive branch could be reached out to CM Punk, but I will say on record that I will be skiing in hell before this happens, especially considering that Punk is inching closer to his first UFC fight. Of course, there's no way of knowing how John Cena is doing given his seemingly magical healing powers, so perhaps he will be back in time for 'Mania.
The other obvious and alarming note that WWE needs to consider is that the so called potential "big returns" are men who are either late forties or early fifties. There are many wrestlers in NXT and on the independent scene who would make a big splash in WWE if given the opportunity, but I'm being realistic while taking the lack of time remaining before WrestleMania combined with Vince McMahon's booking style. If there is one positive that may come out of the scrambling for big names it may be going on within WWE right now, it's this may finally lead Vince McMahon to pushing the younger generation as being equal to if not greater (in presentation at least) than wrestlers from years gone by. Although the planning for this year's 'Mania may have been compromised by a very unlucky run with injuries, it is showing a huge spotlight on how thin WWE is in terms of star power.
As always, feel free to get in touch via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RECOMMEND THIS ARTICLE:
READ OUR INSIDER NEWS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE! BECOME A MEMBER FOR JUST $7.50 A MONTH (or less with a year-long sub) - GET THE FIRST LOOK AT EXCLUSIVE INSIDER DOT NET NEWS, TONS OF EXCLUSIVE AUDIO CONTENT, MEMBER MESSAGE BOARD ACCESS, START YOUR OWN BLOG, AND VIEW THE SITE WITHOUT ANY ADVERTISING: SIGN ME UP (or MORE INFO)
RELATED ARTICLES FROM MGID AFFILIATE SITES...
From Around the Web