This weekend, the WWE Universe descends on the Superdome in New Orleans for WrestleMania XXX
, the annual pay-per-view* that serves as the Super Bowl of professional wrestling.
The card features a panoply, nay, a plethora
The inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, wherein 30 wrestlers start in the ring and each is eliminated by being thrown over the top rope to the floor below. The last man in the ring wins a big trophy
that will almost certainly be broken over his head within a month, if not immediately. Battles royal have a long history of being filler matches for big events when you don't want to leave anyone off the card, but you can't add a dozen more matches to get everyone involved. Andre the Giant won many of these in the olden days, largely by being just too damn... well, gigantic for anyone to tip over the top rope. Look for a few long-term storylines to emerge from this one, including the winner receiving a push (wrestling terminology for increased visibility) and probably at least one team breaking up.
The Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational, featuring basically every female wrestler working for WWE at the moment in a one-fall match for the pink championship belt. It is unclear whether reigning champion A.J. Lee (the longest-reigning Divas Champion of all time at nearly 300 days**) will have to be pinned for the title to change hands, which probably means that she won't be pinned, will lose the belt, and will complain about it forever.
The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins) have made the transition from heels (bad guys) to faces (good guys) over the past few months, largely by defying Director of Operations Corporate Kane (the storyline enforcer for the Authority, the people who run WWE on-screen). Kane (who is allegedly post-ring political career
) will team up with the increasingly ironically named New Age Outlaws, stars of the fin de siècle Attitude Era
back for one last run. The Shield will likely break up because of this match, with Reigns in particular being cited as one of the top five stars the company plans to push
over the next year.
In a rare non-championship and non-main-event turn, 14-time world champion John Cena (Fruity Pebbles pitchman and granter of most Make A Wish wishes ever
) faces Bray Wyatt (a.k.a. third-generation wrestler Windham Rotunda), who has shot up the ranks of WWE by playing a backwoods cult figure fond of psychological tricks and turning out the lights in arenas. This will most likely be a "rub" match, with Wyatt beating Cena to elevate him to the top echelon.
The Streak faces what should
be one of its greatest challenges as legit former UFC Heavyweight Champion and NCAA Wrestling Champion Brock Lesnar takes on the Undertaker, who has won at the last 21 WrestleManias
. The last several years have seen the Undertaker (one of the most consistently popular stars in wrestling since the early '90s) facing an assortment of legends eager to end his WrestleMania streak. This one has been booked badly, with Lesnar looking rather less fearsome than he actually is, and will likely be the valedictory match for the 49-year-old Dead Man.
And then, there are the two matches that will likely define the next era for WWE (which some are dubbing the "Reality Era," since kayfabe
is all but impossible with the Internet revealing all): real-life Executive Vice President (Talent/Live Events/Creative) Paul Levesque, son-in-law of WWE majority owner Vince McMahon, in his professional capacity as WWE Chief Operating Officer Hunter Hearst Helmsley, a.k.a. Triple H, vs. Daniel Bryan, leader of the Yes Movement (which you may have heard leaking into other sporting events
). The winner of this match gets to join the WWE Heavyweight Championship match against current heel champion Randy Orton (a.k.a. the Viper, a.k.a. the Apex Predator) and just-returned and much-maligned
Batista (a.k.a. Drax the Destroyer
), after a straight-up Orton-Batista match failed to light the buyrates on fire. Bryan demanded the matches via the Occupy Raw
event, which saw hundreds of fans storming the ring to stop an episode of WWE Raw last month. Typically, the face wins the main event at WrestleMania to send everyone home happy, so the undersized, hard-working bearded vegan*** Bryan is seen by many as the only logical choice to win
* - And on the brand-spanking-new WWE Network, a web- and app-based broadcasting platform that gets its first big test with this event.
** -- Not counting previous incarnations of the WWF Women's Championship or the like. Wrestling is big on both recognizing history and discarding it entirely.
*** -- Bryan's character is vegan; the real-life Bryan Danielson has admitted that he can't always eat that way on the road.