The WWE has turned the page on 2016 with the Royal Rumble looming, the official launching point on the road to WrestleMania. A rarity in the modern era of professional wrestling, RAW is in the midst of a six-week build towards the Rumble, while the SmackDown Live brand will have had eight weeks worth of storytelling to produce by the time they touch down on San Antonio’s Alamodome.
Just as the WWE revs up on that proverbial road, the rumor mills and hot stoves heat up in terms of what matches will eventually fill out the WrestleMania card in April. The company had to go back to the drawing board on more than one occasion for WrestleMania 32 in Dallas this past April, thanks in large part to a rash of injuries that swarmed the locker room.
Plans and storylines for John Cena, Sting, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, and Seth Rollins all had to be scrapped because of serious ailments, leaving Vince McMahon with a somewhat depleted roster tasked with selling out AT&T Stadium for the biggest WrestleMania in company history. He managed to turn his hand into the highest-grossing WWE event of all time despite largely poor reviews.
Vince has made it a priority to ensure history does not repeat itself in just over four months at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. Which is why it’s all the more interesting that, according to the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Uproxx), there are only three matches set in stone for the WrestleMania card this coming April.
As noted, plans had to be modified on several occasions for WrestleMania 32 in which the marquee matches included Triple H vs Roman Reigns, Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose. As far as we know as of this moment, the only alteration made to the original blueprint for WrestleMania 33 has been scrapping a proposed bout between Shane McMahon and Brock Lesnar in favor of Lesnar and Goldberg.
As the Inquisitr has reported in the past, Vince originally booked Brock and Goldberg for Survivor Series in what would have been a one-off deal resulting in a Lesnar victory, avenging his loss to Goldberg at WrestleMania XX. The Chairman felt that Shane and Brock would have made the WWE more money, but then the reaction to Goldberg surpassed all expectations and his deal was extended at least through WrestleMania 33.
So Goldberg vs. Lesnar is a lock for Orlando, along with two others that have all but been confirmed on WWE television. Barring injury or some unforeseen development, WrestleMania 33 will also definitely feature Triple H going up against Seth Rollins, as well as The Big Show tangling with Shaquille O’Neal. What’s interesting is that Vince has been reluctant to sign off 100 percent on the Undertaker’s opponent for the event.
All signs have been pointing toward a showdown between the Undertaker and John Cena, and while that still may happen, it’s not completely etched in stone. Vince feels that a match between the two does nothing for the future of the WWE in what certainly could be the Undertaker’s final match. For several years, Vince has felt that the Deadman’s last match should benefit a less-established star, one who would assume the role as the face of the company.
The other opponent being considered for the Undertaker at WrestleMania 33 is Roman Reigns because Vince still feels like he is the future of the business. McMahon has been pushing for Reigns to face the Undertaker for some time, and this might be the last chance to make it happen. By that same logic, it could be the last chance for Cena as well.
Either way, it appears the Undertaker has emerged backstage as one of the favorites to win the Royal Rumble. He then would be able to challenge either brand’s world champion, and it’s entirely possible that both Cena and Reigns will leave San Antonio with the belts. Entering the Rumble match could tie-in to his storyline that he doesn’t want WrestleMania to define his career any longer.
The other favorite at the moment is Braun Strowman, and winning the Royal Rumble would certainly lead to him challenging Reigns should the latter be victorious over Kevin Owens. That would still allow for the Undertaker and Cena to get paired up, whereas if the Phenom won the Rumble match and challenged Reigns, things would be a little more uncertain as far as a direction at WrestleMania for Cena, or even AJ Styles should he retain.
[Featured Image by WWE]