Since 1985, this pro wrestling event has created larger-than-life moments, which has produced numerous highlight reels over the past three decades. Matches such as Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin vs. The Rock have all set the standard regarding matches that have a marquee feel, and main event matches at WrestleMania are expected to meet this standard.
In addition to these larger-than-life matches, there are also matches where the actual in-ring competition is highlighted, creating memorable moments as well. Perhaps one of the best matches in WrestleMania history occurred at WrestleMania 3. The Intercontinental Championship feud peaked on March 29, 1987, when Randy Savage defended his title against Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
After a series of vicious attacks, Steamboat was able to triumph over Savage for his first and only reign as IC champ.
Over the years, there have been show-stealing matches at WrestleMania from two people who are known for being technically sound in the ring. Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel in a Blindfold Match at WrestleMania VII, Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at WrestleMania X, and Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII are just a few matches that defy the expectations from a colossal showdown to a technical clinic, successfully producing memorable matches as well.
At MetLife Stadium on April 7, WWE has another opportunity to produce a memorable technical match. Currently, Daniel Bryan is continuing his heel run on WWE SmackDown Live, feuding with AJ Styles after he was able to end Styles’ 371-day title reign through dastardly tactics. While the two have produced impressive matches, Styles is in need for a change, as he has been improperly booked on SmackDown Live.
At this point, it would be best for Styles to move over to Raw to refreshen his character. Therefore, Bryan will be in need of an opponent for the title.
Following his win against Randy Orton at TLC, Rey Mysterio is a fitting contender for the WWE Championship, and should compete against Bryan at the Royal Rumble. Bryan ideally would win this match, waiting for an opponent for WrestleMania 35. So, who should this opponent be?
The answer: Seth Rollins.
Throughout 2018, Seth Rollins has revitalized the Intercontinental Championship. Following his win in a triple threat match against then-champion The Miz and Finn Balor, Rollins has been a part of some of the best matches of the year. From his feud against Dolph Ziggler to successful title defense matches against Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, and The Miz, and a brand supremacy victory against Shinsuke Nakamura at Survivor Series, Rollins has been one of the biggest workhorses in the company.
When Dean Ambrose executed his highly-expected heel turn following their WWE Raw Tag Team Championship victory, many expected their feud and scheduled Intercontinental Championship match to be compelling. Weeks of remaining in silence, coupled with the wrestling ability of both Rollins and Ambrose, the positive expectation unfortunately turned sour when Ambrose started portraying a gimmick of an arrogant villain who shows disdain for every city he steps in. As a result of the failed expectation, their match at TLC was one of the worst of the night.
At this point, Rollins has exceeded his expectations regarding his contribution on the Raw brand, and is also in need of a refresher. The best option for Rollins would be to keep this momentum from 2018, which unfortunately has been slightly cooled, and regain some steam by winning his first Royal Rumble match. This could allow Rollins to defect over to SmackDown Live, which is something much needed to bring a fresher feel to his character. A feud with Daniel Bryan heading into WrestleMania would automatically shot put Rollins back into main-event status and give the fans a sense of fulfillment regarding the current void of appealing babyface stars.
The match alone at WrestleMania could certainly steal the show, and if the storyline was built correctly, it could even sit on par with Steamboat vs. Savage. Heading into their move over to FOX starting in October 2019, Rollins could fill the role as the top babyface star of the brand during such a pivotal time for the company. Rollins against Bryan, interestingly, is one of the only matchups that has not been overdone, as they have not competed against each other in a singles match since the February 2, 2015 episode of Raw. Before that, you would have to go back about a year and a half to the September 3, 2013 episode of SmackDown.
Currently, the rumor is that Rollins will be facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 35. However, this match would be similar to Lesnar’s match against Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series: a very good wrestler who looks grossly outmatched, getting suplexed throughout most of the bout before getting some offense, but then getting suplexed again for another series of times.
This, unfortunately, does not have a marquee, big-fight feel that fits the WrestleMania standard.
Instead, Rollins competing against Bryan would be a much more memorable match, and Lesnar should compete against another massive character who actually looks like he can slay The Beast.