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Who Should Main Event WrestleMania 32?

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Usually, the brand of WrestleMania will sell itself and the name, along with the history of the event will be the draw for thousands of fans to purchase tickets months in advance before a card is announced. Within recent years, the biggest event of the year has moved almost exclusively to major stadium venues, which makes sense because the WWE can essentially triple the gate in the stadium setting than in a traditional 20,000 seat arena. However, while the event sells itself, when you get to the staggering 70,000-80,000 ticket range, the content booked on the card does make the difference between a sellout or thousands of unsold seats at show time. Granted, the WWE is going to make major money regardless, but with this year’s event set to take place at the 100,000 seat Cowboy stadium in Dallas, it wouldn’t exactly be good publicity if ticket sales are “struggling” prior to the show. Keep in mind, the most attended WrestleMania was over 93,000 at the Silver Dome, which took place with Andre The Giant on the card at the peak of the “Rock n Wrestling” era. Even if Seth Rollins, John Cena, etc. weren’t on the sidelines, it would still be tough to sell 100,000 tickets to a wrestling show in 2016.

That being said, the injuries have depleted the roster and many of the projected major matches were scrapped when Rollins, Cena, etc. were injured. That certainly doesn’t help the matter of drawing six figure attendance numbers to Cowboy stadium. The association of the mega venue and eccentric Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones is a media opportunity for the WWE, but if they want some type of attendance record, the content of the event matters. Seth Rollins, who cashed in to win the title in the main event last year, suffered an ACL injury a few months ago and will be out of action for several months. John Cena, a true work horse and one of the WWE’s top drawing acts for a decade tore his tricep, putting him on the shelf for an extended period of time. Roman Reigns finally seemed to turn the corner and get a good reaction from the crowd, but had to be booked very carefully at the Royal Rumble to avoid a repeat of last year.

So, how does the WWE plan to sell 100,000 tickets at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas at WrestleMania 32? When the chips are down and the roster is thin, Vince McMahon is going to trust his family and Triple H won the WWE championship to set up another Triple H main event at Wrestlemania. While Triple H is one of the best in ring performers in WWE history, does he really have enough star power to sell out Cowboy stadium? Don’t get me wrong, Triple H is a skilled and talented worker, but despite the WWE’s best efforts to continuously push the agenda over the years, he’s not on the same level as Steve Austin, The Rock, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan etc. In fact, when there was a more loaded roster with some of the previous names mentioned, Triple H was always someone working with the star that draws the money, not actually the top draw himself. Take nothing away from him and this isn’t some personal jab at Paul Levesque because he had a tremendous career, but would he really be going to main event Wrestlemania for an eighth time if he wasn’t married to the boss’s daughter? That’s not to say that it was some malicious plan to “bury” the younger talent either, but an indication the WWE lacks legitimate star power (some of which is because of their own booking decisions) and management booked the easy, predictable main event, even though there could be better options for the biggest show of the year.

Some might ask, if not Triple H then who should work with Roman for the title? Here’s where some of WWE’s booking decisions for years prior can come back to bite them so to speak, because how many times has a part timer showed up for Wrestlemania, worked the main event, and left a few months later? The Rock did a “once in a life time” match with John Cena…twice, and then Batista stopped at the WWE for a cup of coffee to promote the movie he was in a few years ago, and now Triple H has the spot. Yes, I know Brock Lesnar is technically a part-time talent, but he’s under contract so he can be there whenever they want to pay him to show up and there’s no concern for a scheduling conflict with movies, TV shows, etc. Further more, the last time two full-time competitors appeared in the main event at Wrestlemania was The Miz vs. Cena in 2011. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, bringing someone in for a short run just to boost WM doesn’t help establish any of the younger stars that appear on a regular basis. As a result of the part-timers getting the top spots, very few full-time talents have been solidified as legitimate main event stars. A win at WM was a stamp of credibility for a performer and it worked as recent as last year when Seth Rollins cashed in to win the belt. If you look at it from a historical stand point, the WM victory validates a competitor’s status and usually leads toward a money drawing run for the company. Steve Austin, John Cena, and Batista all began their main event runs after the WM win. The WWE hasn’t had many of those solidifying WM moments in recent years and as a result, there’s a lack of major draws for WM 32 in a few months. Granted, the talent is there and that’s the most frustrating aspect of the whole situation, there are several workers on the roster that could be legitimate top stars for the WWE, but they have to be given the platform to establish themselves.

So again, who else could be booked to work with Roman?

In my opinion, the money match for WM 32 would be Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a rematch from last year. Technically, the Roman/Lesnar feud wasn’t resolved because Rollins did the cash in to win the title so there’s something that could be used to build toward the rematch. As I mentioned in a column last week, the WWE had to be very careful how they booked Roman in the Rumble because an elimination could lead to the crowd booing him again, and the WWE was very smart to literally keep Roman away from the match when Lesnar was eliminated by the Wyatt family. Obviously, the WWE wants to make Roman the top baby face in the company. That’s what WWE brass wants to do, but is it what they SHOULD do? Just my two cents here, but a Roman Reign heel turn might be the only way to get him over for an eventual baby face run, considering that when he fired up at the end of the Rumble, there were still some booing from the crowd. What if the WWE was determined to continue to push Rocky Maivia as a baby face in 1997? Would The Rock have had the opportunity to become one of the biggest stars in the history of the business? A heel run can allow a performer to develop their character and improve mic skills. Roman Reigns as a heel vs. a fan favorite Brock Lesnar would also add a different dynamic to the rematch. The logistics and the background is already there to book the match, Roman sells out to the Authority to win the title and the Paul Heyman promos to defy the Authority stable could sell the WM 32 match.

The WWE has spent the past three years to build Brock Lesnar as a “special event” type of draw and after investing the TV time to promote him, including the ending of the streak, why not use Lesnar to sell tickets for Cowboy stadium? Again, this isn’t a jab at Triple H, but Brock Lesnar is a bigger star and Lesnar’s name on the marquee gives the WWE the best chance to sell out WM 32, especially considering the injuries. With John Cena and Rollins among those injured, Brock Lesnar is the biggest star on the roster and he should be used to cover the bases as the top draw for WM. But, the seeds were planted for a Lesnar/Bray Wyatt match, which will be an interesting feud, but again, all things considered, Lesnar should be used for a main event spot. Regardless, it should be interesting to see the ticket sales of the event and the crowd reaction to the Triple H/Roman Reigns feud.

-Jim LaMotta

@jimlamotta

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