Lutz's Blog: Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt close to proving they're ready for WrestleMania moments, so WWE should go for it
By Jeffrey Lutz
Of the multitude of WrestleMania scenarios presented by various wrestling-news outlets over the last month, two possible matches have most significantly captured my attention -- Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena and Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker.
My reaction to each match was starkly different, though I'm beginning to view both with equal favor; for the record, I don't believe either match will happen at WrestleMania 30, but they're worth examining since the possibilities were even raised in the first place.
When I first read that Wyatt could be facing Cena in New Orleans, I viewed it more as a demotion for Cena rather than a true elevation of Wyatt. A WrestleMania match with Cena puts any wrestler directly in the spotlight, and the hype for a match over the next two-plus months would be astronomical, immediately vaulting Wyatt -- probably permanently -- into the main-event picture and allowing him to begin forging a new reputation with fans.
Wyatt, though, is not ready. That is far from an indictment on his ability or his potential; he is the most interesting character in WWE and a throwback to the 1980s, when wrestling personas were more layered and complex and not straightforward in an attempt to cater to a younger audience. Wyatt has reached his current status mostly on his own, because his promo style and skills are just as unique as his character. Wyatt and minions Luke Harper and Erick Rowan toiled for months as an intriguing act that frustrated followers with a lack of personality development, but over the last few weeks they have progressed in that area with help of WWE's writers and a more stable spot at the top of the card.
A match with Cena would produce excellent microphone work between Cena and Wyatt and would force Cena to escape his comfort zone to find a connection and chemistry with an unorthodox character. The hype would sell the confrontation, which is really what WrestleMania season is all about -- the actual matches are usually relatively anticlimactic since the buildup lasts two months and includes numerous twists and turns and opportunities for analysis.
But what about the wrestling? Wyatt, for all his verbal talents, has yet to prove he can have a real "money" match -- not that he has had many opportunities. He has definitely found his voice as an actor, but in the ring he has yet to completely connect with his character. It's not an easy task -- how would a cult leader wrestle, anyway? -- and Wyatt probably needs more time, and better opponents, to establish and perfect his in-ring style. I am fully confident he will.
While those doubts regarding Wyatt are real, they've subsided as I've thought more about a possible match with Cena. Though Wyatt hasn't proven he can go 25 minutes in a main-event setting, Cena obviously has and could cater to Wyatt's strenghts in a WrestleMania contest. As real as those doubts are, the likelihood of a brilliant build-up is equally genuine. There is more excitement over anticipation of verbal confrontations between a fresh Wyatt and renewed Cena than there is apprehension over Wyatt's ability to carry his weight in such a match. It may not -- and possibly even should not -- happen this year, but a Wyatt-Cena match is coming, and that's a good thing.
The only match more important than one with Cena to the long-term direction of WWE is facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Those combatants have often been hand-picked by Undertaker himself, and if the trend is shifting from veterans to younger stars, there are several options. It has been reported by some wrestling news outlets that Undertaker has chosen Daniel Bryan for his annual "streak" match, and it's difficult to begrudge Undertaker that choice, which would likely the best match he's capable of at age 49, which he'll reach before WrestleMania 30.
Reigns has also been reported as a possible Undertaker opponent, and the two have a ready-made feud because of the Shield's attack on Undertaker last Spring. Unlike the hesitation over Wyatt, though, when I first heard Reigns mentioned as a candidate to participate in WrestleMania's most anticipated match, I was immediately sold. Such a bout may not have the aesthetic appeal of one against Bryan, C.M. Punk, Triple H or Shawn Michaels, but as Undertaker begins to transition toward likely retirement, it's important for him to give the "rub" to up-and-coming stars. For better or worse, WWE appears ready to hitch its wagon to Reigns in the near future.
Not that there aren't second thoughts about Reigns. Since he's been part of a faction without a true breakout performer, he hasn't been able to establish his character as successfully as Wyatt. At this point, Reigns is getting by on his look, which fits into the criteria of what WWE looks for in its top stars. Reigns, in fact, has probably always been the most main-event ready of the Shield members simply for his appearance. He doesn't have the mic skills of Dean Ambrose and can't wrestle in as versatile a fashion as Seth Rollins, but Reigns can be groomed as a future WWE champion simply because he looks like one.
Wyatt and Reigns both might not be heels for long. Wyatt has been wildly popular since he formulated his character in NXT, and the uniqueness of it has caught on with WWE fans who have found it difficult to avoid cheering him. If WWE goes with Reigns as a -- or the -- top guy, he'll have to turn babyface because WWE's top guys are always heroes, not villains. In whatever time Wyatt and Reigns have left as heels, it's important for them to continue to establish their characters and refine their skills, and to give them attractive matches that allow fans to view them as the future of the company.
The WrestleMania picture is constantly evolving; even top television storylines don't offer a clear glimpse of the direction the card could be taking. WWE seems less certain by the day as reputible reports suggest a frequently changing group of highlighted matches. But since Wyatt and Reigns have been floated as candidates for those matches, they've sounded increasingly appealing. Maybe Wyatt vs. Cena and Reigns vs. Undertaker won't happen, but the more I think about it, the more I think they should. Ready or not, why not?
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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