By Chuck Carroll
With WrestleMania season in full swing, there is no shortage of news and rumors coming out of WWE. Major questions surround the main event of the company’s biggest pay-per-view of the year.
From the mainstream media standpoint, WWE stands to gain an inordinate amount of coverage from Ronda Rousey‘s appearance on the show. In fact, although she is not on the card, she will be essentially headlining The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on February 25, when she signs her contract in the ring. Once pen is put to paper at the final RAW-brand premium show before “the granddaddy of ‘em all,” the question then becomes who will she face and her first match. There is speculation that Vince McMahon is doubling down on a mainstream press grab by kicking around the idea of having Rousey team with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Any match featuring Johnson is sure to be mentioned in the Hollywood trade magazines, nightly news shows, entertainment reports, major newspapers, radio shows, etc. But adding the biggest name in UFC history into the mix with Hollywood’s biggest box office draw gets the type of major international press that money cannot buy. That is exactly the type of attention that McMahon craves.
There has been talk that the pair would face Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a mixed tag match, pitting two of the most recognizable names globally against WWE’s power couple. For reasons unknown, oddsmakers have become enamored with the idea of having Rousey team with Braun Strowman in her debut match. That plan seems to make little sense given a report in The Wrestling Observer that Strowman is penciled in to challenge The Miz for the Intercontinental Title in New Orleans. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated is reporting other possible suitors for Rousey include Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon and Seth Rollins.
Nevertheless, current odds of a Rousey-Strowman vs. McMahon-Triple H match stand at 3/1. If I’m a betting man, I’d feel comfortable plopping down a few dollars on that not happening.
Meanwhile, the annual Undertaker watch is underway. After hinting at retirement following his loss at last year‘s WrestleMania, The Dead Man taking on John Cena has been rumored to be another possible top match on this year’s card. Both are now semi-retired — one more so than the other — but the match would certainly entice even the most jaded hustle, loyalty, respect haters.
Cena even dropped a hint about the possible match on this past Monday’s RAW. However, it should be noted that Cena enjoys having a little fun at the expense of the internet wrestling community. When there was rapt speculation that a Cena heel turn was imminent a couple years ago, he physically turned his heel during an in-ring promo, which ratcheted up the rumor mill. So where will this one lead? There will be no answers for another couple weeks. Cena says his only road to WrestleMania is through a victory at Elimination Chamber. But don’t count on that. A Cena win there doesn’t seem to make much sense, even if he’s not facing Undertaker.
In another interesting note, the odds of Daniel Bryan having a match at WrestleMania have increased to 5/1, according to bookmakers. That is a significant change from the 25/1 odds given last summer. Bryan has made his intention to continue his wrestling career very clear. However, he’s also insisted the chances of an in-ring return occurring in WWE are minimal. But think for a second how great of a story it would be for Bryan to wrestle his return match at the site of his greatest in-ring triumph.
Big changes also appear to be on the horizon for WWE following WrestleMania. The company seems to be dropping the idea of brand-exclusive pay-per-views in favor of having both the RAW and SmackDown rosters compete on each show. Ticket holders for WWE Backlash on May 6 received an email from Ticketmaster informing them that there will be SmackDown matches on what was once a RAW-exclusive show.
WWE has not responded to a request for comment.
Chuck Carroll is a former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality who now interviews the biggest names in wrestling. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.