Howdy wrestling fans, and welcome to a special series leading up to the biggest event on the yearly calendar, WrestleMania. It’s the 32nd iteration of WM this time around, and early forecasts are mixed to say the least. Creative has bounced some of the talent back and forth between heel and face positions, and as usual (and decried regularly by yours truly) the infamous “Names of Yesteryear” have been resurrected to add some star power and luster to a card that is missing several key components due to a remarkably unfortunate string of injuries that has decimated the upper tier of the roster.
That angle, in fact, is one of the most interesting options to consider about WrestleMania: what (if any) will be the roles of John Cena, Seth Rollins, and/or Randy Orton? Who isn’t scheduled to be there is perhaps more compelling than the outcome of who is. But I’ll do my best to overcome that with a breakdown of each scheduled match at the big dance. You’ll get the build, the positives and negatives of the contest itself, what should happen and what will happen. In this writer’s mind at least. It only happens once a year, so it’s time to get introspective on WWE’s best chance to recruit new eyeballs.
With all of that out of the way, we’ll get to our first head-to-head, The Usos facing off against The Dudley Boyz.
Matchup: The Usos vs. The Dudleys
Build: Well, about that build. There’s been little creatively for either of these teams to sink their teeth into thus far, and the match itself smacks of wanting to get some tag wrestling onto the card aside from the New Day/League of Nations tete-a-tete. The Usos had a good thing going before injury struck, and since their return they’ve accomplished little save being occasional running buddies for World challenger Roman Reigns. How the family ties have not been pushed front and center makes very little since to me. Every so often, The Usos are trotted out to bear the punishment of their familial obligations to the biggest threat to the Authority’s stranglehold, but quickly reduced to the sidelines just as rapidly. When champions, the brothers were booked solidly, and their feud with the Wyatt Family produced some of the better tag wrestling we’ve seen in the WWE in recent memory. Right now, though, they’re just another tandem queueing up behind the current champions.
As for the Dudleys, the comparisons are eerily similar. Bubba Ray made a splash in Philly when he returned for the Rumble, and the countdown began immediately on a DB reunion. They got off to a hot start and a table-centric feud with The New Day, but the hasty decision was made to flip them heel and it’s been steady treading of water ever since. The Dudleys haven’t really captured the moment with this attitude adjustment, as they’ve acted like jerks on the microphone but done little to merit the concern of your average fan. They also haven’t had much of a run at all since reuiniting in WWE, which makes you wonder why they were brought in in the first place. While the Dudleys have spent large amounts of their career as heels, and are more than capable of carrying that mail (Bubba did put the late Mae Young through plywood, after all, in one of the most unbelievably shocking moments in pro wrestling history), but in their current twilight they are likely best suited to be utilized like Chris Jericho, helping the younger guys get over and doing a damn good job of it. The fans have a lot of built-up affection for the Dudleys, though, and that places the WWE in a bit of a crisis. While Edge & Christian get plenty of Network time, we are reminded of just how special the Attitude Era was for tag team wrestling, and the decorated Dudleys were major players in that. How can anyone not draw the obvious comparison with the current addled division? The more Titan Tower places Bubba and D-Von front and center, the more they remind us how lacking things have been lately.
The Good: As mentioned before, both of these teams are equipped to deliver some solid wrestling, and both team very well together. That kind of synergy can be captivating on the grand scale, and WWE unquestionably wants their best wrestlers at the top of their game for their biggest date of the year. Both squads also need a bit of juice, and a win WrestleMania Sunday could very well provide that. This is true of the Dudleys in particular, who could use this opportunity and exposure to fully cement their heel turn and get the fanbase cantankerous about it for all the right reasons. Heels have to act like heels, and a despicably dominant thrashing of a couple of fan favorites would be just what the doctor ordered. Secondarily, The Usos could potentially have their bloodline connection to Roman Reigns (not to mention guest Hollywood A-lister The Rock) exploited for the good with some involvement in the World Title bout later in the evening.
The Bad: Who knows if this duel has the luster to even make the main card? WWE has had a tendency to place tag matches on their undercard pre-show, and with so much time and marketing devoted to the bigger bouts, this could easily slide off the pile completely and lose some steam from the get-go. The Usos are still fairly popular, particularly with the youngest elements of the Universe, but neither team has much momentum heading into this showdown. There’s nothing worse than a dead crowd for an early match, and this one runs the risk of exactly that. Lastly, but certainly not leastly, there’s no emotional investment in this affair. Creative has done a bad job of making this personal at all, and it’s badly needed here. What’s the hurdle either time is trying to overcome? Unlike Jericho/AJ Styles, opportunities to add depth fell by the wayside. Unfortunate.
What Should Happen: The Dudleys need to roll here, especially if the WWE has any desire to keep them relevant in the minds of their fanbase. Bringing them back would indicate some unfinished business, and we’ve not seen evidence of that to date. In short, they have way more to lose without a decisive victory. WWE lacks a solid heel tag entry minus the overstuffed and borderline irrelevant League of Nations and the 80/20 shortsold Wyatts, and the Dudleys are the best (and perhaps only) option to fill it. Doing it right could get the audience amped up for what’s to come.
What Will Happen: I’d like to think The Dudleys will deliver as indicated above, but the overarching theme of the show appears to be the ascendancy of Roman Reigns, and that net is wide enough to incorporate his blood relatives for a clean sweep of a night. If The Usos are to play a part in the bigger match later, one would think they’d need the shine of a win here. Call it a gut feeling, but WWE has tended to play the safe card lately. I’ll go with the Usos.
Cheap Plug Time! Please do me a favor and check out The Main Event Madness podcast! Last Wednesday’s episode featured yours truly joining Jon and Marc for a discussion of Raw, WM, WWE’s cruiserweight plans, and much more. If you’re a fan of a conversation that can go from Ted DiBiase’s seasonal residences to Drew Galloway’s TNA title win, this podcast is the one for you. I had an absolute blast doing it and think you’ll enjoy listening to it just as much. Check them out on Facebook and tune in to the madness! As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. I’ll be back with a rundown of the next match in a couple of days. See you soon!