by BROCK KOLLER
It is here.
For wrestling fans, this Sunday is Christmas times the Super Bowl .
It happens once a year and it is known as WrestleMania.
This year it is WrestleMania 31.
Before we get into it, let's remember where we were 20 years ago and some similarities.
It was WrestleMania XI. The main event was Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor. Yes, that Lawrence Taylor.
Bam Bam's nickname was the Beast from the East. In 1995, he'd already been around for a while and you knew what you were getting from Bam Bam. LT was a different character.
He started feuding with Bam Bam at the Royal Rumble a few months prior. With LT being an NFL star, this led to mainstream media attention and the inevitable match between wrestling's beast and the underdog. Onlookers didn't give Lawrence Taylor a chance, because he was green, he didn't belong in the main event of WrestleMania, and, oh yeah, he wasn't a wrestler.
In the end, with an impressive shoulder tackle and an even more impressive TLC entrance, Taylor walked away the victor. However, to many WrestleMania critics, the 11th variation lands near the bottom of any best of lists.
Flash forward to 2015. It's WrestleMania 31. The main event is Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. Yes, that Roman Reigns.
Reigns has been targeted for super-stardom since notable showings at 2013's Survivor Series and 2014's Royal Rumble. On top that, while out with an injury, Reigns was named 2014 Superstar of the Year and subsequently returned to win the 2015 Royal Rumble. This made him the number one contender to Brock Lesnar's championship.
Brock Lesnar's nickname is The Beast, like Bam Bam's. He had his first WWE run between 2002 and 2004 before returning in 2012. But by now, WWE fans know what we're getting from Lesnar - brute force, power, and authenticity.
With Lesnar being a former UFC champion, this led to mainstream media picking up the story, including a recent segment on SportsCenter where Lesnar revealed he is staying with WWE.
With all that said, onlookers are not giving Roman Reigns a chance. Just like with LT, they say he's too green and he doesn't belong in the main event of WrestleMania.
However, unlike LT, Roman Reigns is a wrestler.
Truth be told, because Reigns is a wrestler there is a little more intrigue to this match than its WM11 counterpart. With Taylor, while some said he could not win against a veteran like Bam Bam, many knew WWE would not let the special guest good guy lose in that scenario. It was the 'New Generation' of WWE back then, so different rules applied.
Today, all bets are off. Because Reigns is an active wrestler, he doesn't necessarily have to win the title tonight. He can win it next month or at SummerSlam in August or not at all.
But he should not be discounted because he is too green or not ready for the main event. He is in the main event. He's ready.
Reigns could be the next guy - the next John Cena - if he wins the title tonight. This could be his moment. But with Lesnar's new contract, the Beast at this WrestleMania could emerge victorious. If we knew Lesnar was definitely leaving after Mania, it would've been simple. The good guy is winning.
But now this is not as easy a main event to predict as WrestleMania XI was.
The bigger question - with these similarities, will Mania 31 stand the test of time better than Mania XI?
On paper, it's very likely.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP - BROCK LESNAR vs. ROMAN REIGNS
So after all that writing I did, what am I thinking the outcome will be? I still don't know for sure, but I'm going with a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion tonight. There has been too much build on Reigns for it to lead to nothing at the biggest stage of them all. Yes, there might be a Seth Rollins' cash-in (most likely at Raw the next night), but I picture a shocked Paul Heyman staring at a victorious Roman Reigns standing on the turnbuckle, holding the championship above his head.
WINNER - ROMAN REIGNS
TRIPLE H vs. STING
Sorry Triple H, but you are losing another WrestleMania match. Sting's first match ever in WWE cannot be a loss. It just can't. The build got a whole lot better once Sting started talking and making a point to say this was not WCW vs. WWE. This is about Sting trying to stop Triple H's reign of terror. Simple enough. And just as simple - Sting will win.
WINNER - STING
BRAY WYATT vs. UNDERTAKER
We haven't seen the Undertaker since WrestleMania 30 when he lost for the first time ever at that event. Bray has single-handedly had to make this match interesting and he has done that. Sometimes Bray's speeches get wordy and seem to just ramble, but his past few sermons have been on point and made this match one worthy to be excited about. Of course, just seeing what the Undertaker looks like is enough to make this match one to watch. Will the Undertaker lose again, though, is the question. My answer - no. Unless they have him lose and do a big build towards WrestleMania 32 where someone like John Cena says that he can still be the Undertaker we knew one more time and challenges him to one last match. But I can't see the Undertaker losing again. They did it once, no need to do it again.
WINNER - UNDERTAKER
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP - RUSEV vs. JOHN CENA
So, John Cena is not in the WrestleMania main event again this year, but he will still walk away champion. Not WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but United States Champion. Rusev needs to lose this undefeated streak and the US Championship needs to gain some credibility. Cena can do both.
WINNER - JOHN CENA
THE BELLAS vs. AJ & PAIGE
I think this is will be a very good Divas match. Their past few matches on Raw & Smackdown have been enjoyable and really shown that the female wrestlers can, well, wrestle a match longer than 30 seconds. I want to root for AJ & Paige, but I think the work the Bellas have done over the past year makes them deserved of a win at WrestleMania.
WINNER - The Bellas
RANDY ORTON vs. SETH ROLLINS
Bigger things are ahead for young Seth Rollins. Perhaps even as soon as Monday Night Raw - or perhaps the end of WrestleMania. So with a WWE Championship in his future, I think he can take the loss in this one. Plus, a recently returned Randy Orton can add another milestone to his Hall of Fame bound career.
WINNER - RANDY ORTON
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH - BAD NEWS BARRETT vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. STARDUST vs. DEAN AMBROSE vs. R-TRUTH vs. LUKE HARPER vs. DANIEL BRYAN
This match has more loony in it than a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I can't see them not giving Daniel Bryan a feel good moment at this year's Mania. I just can't. They, of course, can have Bryan almost get the title and have Stardust push him off the ladder at the last moment, definitely getting a crowd reaction, but with this match most likely starting the actual event and with the crowd so behind Bryan and with him not being in the main event, this could alleviate some pains felt by the WWE Universe. While I'm more of a fan of one on one matches with a true backstory to them at WrestleMania, this match has the ability to steal the show.
WINNER - DANIEL BRYAN
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL
Hmmm..., let's go with The Big Show....or Sheamus. But definitely The Big Show.
WINNER - THE BIG SHOW
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS FATAL 4-WAY
I really like the tandem of Kidd & Cesaro and hope they retain their titles. With other titles most likely changing hands and this match being on the kickoff show, there's no need to mess up a good thing. FACT!
WINNERS - KIDD & CESARO
In conclusion, while some matches may feel like they are certainties, it seems like every match could possibly go in any direction. That leads me to believe WrestleMania 31 will be better remembered than WrestleMania XI.
As Roman Reigns would say - Believe that!