Sunday Sermon: The Build-up to Wrestlemania 31

Craig Wilson, Brian Damage, Jamie Lithgow & Russ Morgan

It’s just weeks until the WWE’s biggest show of the year. Yet, the build-up seems to be lacking something and feeling a bit flat this year. In this Sunday Sermon the team discuss that and the card.

Craig: I really don’t have much of a buzz about this year’s Wrestlemania. Even now with it being on the Network and a fraction of the price that it once was, I still can’t get myself worked up about it.

It’s not just the main event either, I’m a bit “meh” about the whole card. I think the ladder match will be a fun spotfest but I doubt it’s going to be the sort of match that stands the test of time.

It all feels quite flat. When you consider that the WWE basically build everything up to this point and have hours of programming a week to do it, there’s really not all that much to show for it. Is there?

Am I just being particularly glass half empty here? What’s your thoughts on the card, the build-up and your expectations of Wrestlemania 31?

Brian: I’m not either to be perfectly honest. That might actually be a good thing. I have found the lower the expectations to a show…the better the show actually becomes. The card looks okay…but what usually saves an average show…is the typical Wrestlemania crowd. It is much more effective if they were in a dome to seal in the noise as opposed to an open air stadium and have the crowd chants and cheers…fade out.

Craig: For me there are far too many unknowns going into Wrestlemania. Can Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have a good match together? What condition are Sting and The Undertaker in? If they need carried, are Triple H and Bray Wyatt, respectively, the best bets to do that?

It’s a standard show card but with The Undertaker thrown into the mix. It just doesn’t stand out for me.

Brian: The answer to your first question is no…I don’t think Brock can carry Roman or vice versa…it’ll be sloppy and I expect crowd indifference or a strong “Pro Brock Lesnar” crowd. Can Triple H and Bray Wyatt carry Sting and the Undertaker respectively…Yes I think both can do just that. The ladder match just may steal the whole damn show. The Andre Battle Royal….is nothing more than a battle royal…they should make it mean something. Maybe become a number 1 contender for a title.

Craig: I think having the participants in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal be competing for a number 1 title shot makes sense, gives it purpose and can avoid the mistake last year of not cashing in on Cesaro’s success.

What about Daniel Bryan’s fall from grace in a year? From topping and tailing the show last year to being featured as one of a number of superstars vying for the Intercontinental title this year. It’s not King Kong Bundy proportions, but it’s quite the drop isn’t it?

One thing I hope from ‘mania is that Tyson Kidd and Cesaro keep the tag titles in whatever match-up is set up that features them defending them. This is a tandem of two really good workers that are both long overdue a run with the company. There’s no point killing their momentum already.

Jamie: To your point about the Tag Titles, I totally agree. I would however suggest that a Tag Title bout is the one most in danger of being bumped into the pre-show, or off the card entirely. Even if this match does make it onto the card, I doubt they’ll be out there very long. At the very least I would hope the new champions go over…

Regarding Daniel Bryan, and the card in general, I feel like I’m back in the early 90’s. A couple of months out from the show we all thought Wrestlemania 8 was going to be one thing, but circumstances occurred turning the card into something entirely different. All the right people are booked on the show, but not against the opponents fans expected. I don’t just mean Roman Reigns being rushed into a spot that Daniel Bryan would have excelled in. Where’s Miz v Mizdow? What happened with Goldust and Stardust? I was happy thinking Barrett would just defend his title against Ambrose again, maybe in a gimmick match. Sheamus is getting a big build for his return, but reports suggest WWE are just going to throw him into one of the multi-person matches. What a waste of time and effort, especially if there is no meaningful prize in the battle royal.

Brian: I agree that Daniel Bryan is somewhat taking a step down…but in all fairness…isn’t John Cena as well? At least with this ladder match, Bryan can really excel and shine more so than Cena and Rusev ever could. The tag team title match will most definitely be on the pre show. It could be a show stealer if you put in both Los Matadores and the Usos. The only way Sheamus will make an impact is if he turns heel and wins the battle royal.

Craig: At least John Cena’s feud seems meaningful but, ultimately, you are right.

It’ll be pretty grim if the tag match is bumped to the pre show but I’ve now got a horrible feeling it will.

Seth Rollins versus Randy Orton should be good based on booking so far. Part of me worries though because the WWE have two weeks to make a hash of it…

Brian: Seth Rollins vs Randy Orton should be pretty solid quality wise. The Bellas vs Page and AJ Lee tag team match seems meaningless and seems better suited for a Raw or Smackdown…not Wrestlemania.

Craig: Interesting chat on today’s Wade Keller hotline about a Superstar winning the title at Wrestlemania and being showered in confetti one year and being involved in a multi-man ladder match the following year. However, he was talking about Chris Benoit rather than Daniel Bryan…

I agree with you on the divas match. If the WWE is true to form it’ll probably be fairly short and the buffer match before the main event to let the fans get their breath back, the hope of WWE anyway. What a rubbish position to be in.

I really wanted Stardust v Goldust or Miz v Mizdow on the show. I don’t understand why neither are…

Jamie: I just read a report that suggested we won’t be seeing Goldust vs. Stardust because officials didn’t feel the angle was getting over, and have thus canned it. Fair enough I guess, but that didn’t stop them booking the main event…

There is no heat between the guys in the main event. Despite Paul Heyman’s best efforts, there is no story to speak of. Reigns has won the right to face Lesnar, that is STILL the only reason for this match. Last year Bryan had beef with The Authority, before that Rock and Cena had something to prove. Reigns vs. Lesnar is happening because…. well…. just because. This is when the absent champion routine just doesn’t work. Instead of face-to-face confrontations, angles, promos and scuffles between the two; Brock Lesnar has not been on TV and Roman Reigns has been killing time by revisiting old rivalries. What the hell are they gonna show in the video package before the match… a Paul Heyman promo?

Away from that Bray Wyatt has been talking to himself, and will continue to do so. Also, I still don’t really understand what Sting and Triple H are fighting over. Actually, I think I do… I just don’t care. I honestly am more interested in the Divas match than this match at the moment. Seeing The Bella twins get their comeuppance means more to me than WCW going out of business 14 years ago… or something…

Russ: For me, Orton v Rollings would be the show stealer. I’m really interested to see what shape Sting is in. It has been over a year since he has been in the ring and at 55, that can’t be a good thing… I have no doubts that Sting can still do a job, but this match is at least 10 years too late, fighting over WCW going out of business is kind of passe now…

Brock v Reigns…. I’m really not excited about the match. It will be sloppy with Lesnar doing his usual of something hard hitting, then standing around for 5 minutes catching his breath…

Wyatt v Undertaker for me is the match to fall back on. This could be really good, or really bad.

Side note -20 years ago The Undertaker took on IRS. This year The Undertaker will be taking on Bray Wyatt, son of IRS. Wrestling really is a small business.

Craig: Indeed it is a small world. He’s also faced other fathers and sons – Ted Dibiase Sr and Jr as well as Dusty Rhodes and Goldust.

I’d rather have seen Ambrose facing Seth Rollins but I imagine the WWE fear that Ambrose would have been too over for that and want to protect him. It’s incredible, though, that it’s Randy Orton that is getting revenge on Rollins and not Ambrose in that role.

I’ll say it again, Miz vs Mizdow should be on the card. It’s the perfect midcard feud. It’s one of the best the WWE have actually booked in years that could have had a big pay-off at Wrestlemania.

Brian: The first match between Goldust and Stardust at Fastlane was admittedly a dud…it was clunky and had no real heat from the fans. Dusty didn’t really help the situation…as he looked in real bad shape where his promo almost sounded unintelligible. I agree about Miz and Mizdow though….that match could have been used….but for whatever reason scrapped or put on hold.

All previous Sunday Sermons can be read here.


3 thoughts on “Sunday Sermon: The Build-up to Wrestlemania 31

  1. I agree that Rollins and Orton will be the show stealer as this is the only match on the card with an actual story and they are both two great technical wrestlers so it has all the makings of a awesome match.


  2. I’m not excited about this year’s WrestleMania either. In fact, I doubt I would watch it as I’m just at the point of indifference as I know it might not be any good.


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