In theory, finding unique ways to get as many wrestlers on the WrestleMania card each year is a good idea. More wrestlers get WrestleMania paydays, and on-screen time at the biggest event of the year. With the gradual decline in attention given to the midcard and undercard in WWE, this process has gotten increasingly difficult to pull off.
With the Money In The Bank match now a pay-per-view (PPV) exclusive event, the WWE Creative staff haven't had the safety net that match provided during WrestleMania season -- to give multiple wrestlers with no real character direction something to do at WrestleMania. It worked. You could even make the case that a few WrestleMania Money In The Bank matches were the best of the night. But this match is no longer available for The Showcase of the Immortals, and Creative hasn't been able to find a new kind of match to serve the purpose it once did.
WrestleMania 30 will be the fourth installment since the last Money In The Bank match at the biggest event on WWE's calendar. Since that time, Creative has tried a few things to replace the match. At WrestleMania 27, an eight-man tag match was booked that pitted the Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella and Kofi Kingston against The Corre. Creative elected to go this route again, just bigger, two years ago when Team Johnny took on Team Teddy in a 12-man tag match. Oddly enough, last year, Creative scaled back to just a six-man tag match that featured The Shield vs. Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus. If you don't remember the majority of these matches, you're probably not alone. That's a problem.
Sure, the average fan is probably only going to remember the big-time matches, so putting a lot of thought into the midcard and undercard matches isn't a big priority for Vince McMahon. Even if that's true, there is still value in putting together as well-rounded a PPV as possible from top to bottom. This Sunday's main event matches all have the potential to be quite sumptuous. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H followed by a triple threat with Batista and Orton, Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena and The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar all have been built (perhaps unexpectedly) well. After that, there is a significant drop off in quality.
Enter the 30-man, Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Instead of going the route of a convoluted tag match, Creative has opted to go even bigger with a battle royal. Hulk Hogan sold the match as a gigantic spectacle -- it's not. Royal Rumble has always been my favorite PPV of the year, but the Royal Rumble match and a standard battle royal are not one in the same. In a battle royal setting, all the competitors are in the ring once the match begins. One of the biggest complaints during the Royal Rumble match is the match getting too crowded for an extended period of time. People remember the beginning for the entrances, and the ending for the stare downs -- the surprise entrances too. A battle royal is a mess from beginning to end. Expect the same at WrestleMania 30.
The match will still get fans on their feet. Kids will still be in awe at all of their favorite Superstars battling in the squared circle. For those reasons, I get the idea behind having this match. The majority of the fans in attendance will probably love it. Different strokes for different folks. However, is this match really the best way to use Big E at WrestleMania this year? Same with Cody Rhodes and Goldust? If you asked all the wrestlers that'll be included in this match if they'd rather be in it than not on the card at all most would probably say the former. That's perfectly fine. But would using that time for a Rhodes vs. Goldust and/or Big E vs. Dean Ambrose Intercontinental/United States title unification not be a more attractive option? The battle royal is about quantity -- not quality.
It's also been rumored that this match might become an annual WrestleMania tradition. That seems a bit absurd, considering the first match hasn't even taken place yet. Even still, WWE obviously wants to get as many wrestlers on the card as possible. Perhaps it's to keep morale up and get as many performers as they can a nice payday. Kind of like a Christmas bonus in the wrestling world. That's commendable, but is it the best approach to building a great WrestleMania card? I lean towards "no". Quality over quantity is an old, tired cliche -- but it's applicable here. Sure, a lot of wrestlers would get left off the card if they focused more on building a quality midcard and undercard, but it would be the better alternative for the fans.
The match isn't going to be as fun as the Royal Rumble match, as much as WWE would like fans to believe -- but it won't be the worst thing on the card (I'm looking at you, Divas Invitational). There isn't a perfect solution to this ongoing WrestleMania problem, but it starts with planning long-term storylines with the lower-tier wrestlers.