This Sunday WWE will rely on The Rock, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, The Undertaker, Triple H and CM Punk to try and draw a recording-setting 1.3 million buys worldwide with Wrestlemania 29. However, there is a story within the story and that is the story of the undercard.
Below are seven workers I’ll be watching closely at Sunday’s pay-per-view:
A revamped Jack Swagger was strapped with the rocket pack at February’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, winning the match and earning a shot against Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. Swagger was arrested less than 48 hours later for DWI, speeding and possession of marijuana. Many speculated Swagger would never make it to Wrestlemania. Vince McMahon was willing to hold off for the sake of the new gimmick, telling Swagger to push his court date back. WWE had little to say about Swagger’s arrest and I was told they were booking him as “innocent until proven guilty.”
While a misdemeanor charge, Swagger must answer to the DWI charge in court next Tuesday. Does the outcome even matter? Vince has reportedly soured on the Tea Party gimmick and more praise has been given to Zeb Colter. Swagger has still been booked prominently but is it because WWE is handcuffed to the Wrestlemania match? I’m interested to see how Swagger is booked at Wrestlemania and whether or not his push continues after.
Armed with the Money in the Bank briefcase for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, the WWE creative team holds a wildcard for Wrestlemania. Dolph Ziggler has had the briefcase for over seven months. Given the fact he’s already booked in a title match for the WWE Tag Team Championship, some are speculating Ziggler comes out with two titles. Does Del Rio beat Swagger clean only for Ziggler to “cash in” and walk out champion? This is something I’m going to be watching closely. Ziggler has been booked weak since winning the contract but what a better stage than to elevate him to the main event?
I would be pleased with Ziggler leaving Wrestlemania with two titles for a couple of reasons. One, multiple titles changes are in order. The overwhelming majority feels like John Cena will avenge his loss from last year and walk out WWE Champion. Title changes are supposed to feature an element of surprise. Given the fact if Cena wins the WWE title the element of surprise is already gone, other title changes are needed. The second reason I would be pleased with Ziggler walking out with two titles is because I feel the company is in desperate need of some new main event talent. WWE is going to be in a situation where they’re going to need star power after Wrestlemania. If Punk requires time off, WWE is going to be seriously lacking talent at the top of the card. Ziggler has the three tools we look for (look, mic and in-ring) so why not give him a chance? Even if Swagger’s push continues, there will be another spot at the top of the card.
I don’t think there are many people reading that are not high up on these guys. Everything we’ve seen, especially in their two pay-per-view bouts, has been near flawless. However, they can’t keep this up forever. Do they go under at Wrestlemania and begin the process of disbanding or do they add more to the group? All three are extremely talented but no one expects the faction to last forever. Both Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins came in with nearly unattainable expectations and exceeded them but so has Roman Reigns. Reigns, by some accounts, has actually been better on the main roster than he was in developmental. You can’t hold good talent down and these guys are bound to be jacked up for a top level match at Wrestlemania. This should be a good one and could fill the void left by the Money in the Bank ladder match not taking place.
Big E Langston
There is no doubt that Big E Langston has an impressive look with phenomenal size but he steps into a difficult situation at Wrestlemania. A developmental stud, he’s been in the shadow of Dolph Ziggler. The shadow isn’t a bad thing, especially for a greener worker, but how will he handle a title match at Wrestlemania? He couldn’t have better opponents in a very consistent big guy in Kane and the best in-ring worker in the company in Daniel Bryan but this is a high-pressure situation. I’m not a worker but as a member of the media and critic, my advice would be not to do too much. Trying to “overwork” in attempt to make an impression can often backfire.
As I type this Fandango just got the dreaded “you can’t wrestle” chants at WWE Raw in D.C. This is another guy coming into a high pressure situation and what makes it worse than Big E Langston is he’s all alone. The good news is he’s working Chris Jericho, who hasn’t had a bad match since returning to WWE at Royal Rumble in January. Jericho is on top of his game and provides Fandango with an extraordinary opportunity.
We often talk about it being easier to make people hate you but I’m worried fans have already bailed on this gimmick. This could be bad news for Fandango and if he has a bad match against Jericho, he’s in a big trouble. However, if he’s able to impress against Jericho, he could put himself in a nice position going forward. Fandango has been in WWE’s developmental system since 2006 so he’s a guy where there is clearly potential. Like Langston, it’s essential he not “overwork,” but there will be more pressure because it is a singles bout.
Putting Fandango over would be huge but could also be a disaster if he bombs. This is a rare opportunity and one that would benefit both him and WWE if he is able to pull it off.