A look at each character's motives going into WrestleMania 31

In fiction writing, they say to give a character a want or need and thwart them in getting to it, and that’s where your story comes from. It got me asking myself what each of the players in the Wrestlemania storylines wants/needs.

What do you think? Did I get the motivations right? Are these stories interesting/boring to you for these or other reasons?

Roman Reigns – He wants to provide everyone who said he couldn’t – both characters in the storyline and fans – that he’s good enough. He wants the gold because he believes it’s his time. He wants to honor his Samoan heritage.

Brock Lesnar – He likes beating people up for the sheer enjoyment of it. He wants to keep his belt to demonstrate to everyone that he’s the toughest guy there is.

I think a big part of why I can’t get into this fight is that Roman’s motive is to angrily prove to everyone that he’s strong and great. I guess that’s a starting point, but I just don’t relate to it. He was mega-successful in the Shield, so I don’t see him as an underdog. It feels like he’s just fighting for himself – maybe symbolically for his family a bit – but I don’t see an entry point as a fan to hook into that character. If he had been cheated out of something he deserved, then I would feel for him; I was very much on his side during the Shield face run, when he was being oppressed by the boss and standing up against those who hurt his brothers. But right now, I can’t see him standing up for anything except his perception of how good he is, and that’s hard to get excited about.

I don’t think Brock is supposed to be relatable. His pleasure in hurting people and his iron-clad belief that he’s the greatest make him a good villain but not someone who I can relate to and get emotionally invested in. I appreciate him as a storytelling device, but I can’t really feel for him.

Randy Orton – It sounds like he wants to end Seth’s career – that "stopping the future" thing. Or maybe he wants to humiliate him to the point that the Authority drums him out. It just seems like he wants to have a permanent impact on what Seth is able to do.

Seth Rollins – I think he just wants to avenge himself for the way that Randy Orton beat him up a recent Raw and for how Orton tricked him and hurt his feelings. If he wants or expects something else, I’m not sure what it is.

I think vengeance stories can be among the most compelling. The details are critical, though – Orton has already beaten up Rollins and said it was satisfying, so unless he’s trying to carry it further, it’s not clear why he needs this. As far as Rollins, he mostly avenged himself on this past Raw by fooling Orton. Perhaps he’s going into this match feeling like he needs to fully defeat and embarrass Orton in order to make things even? I think this character could do with a little more clear reason for what he’s doing.

Triple H – He wants revenge on Sting for interfering with his interests in WWE.

Sting – He wants to humble Triple H or possibly remove him from power; he sees him as corrupt.

I like the motives here – a powerful man who has been humiliated and wants control and respect back. A strong loner who is less concerned about who he’s fighting alongside and more concerned about his principles. I think what’s a bit of a letdown here is that it’s not clear how winning a fight will get either of them what they want. If they raised the stakes to "Sting’s career v. Triple H’s power within WWE," it would be a nail-biter, because there would be real stakes.

Bray Wyatt – He doesn’t respect the Undertaker anymore because he lost last year and is no longer striking utter fear into everyone. He wants to end his career and move into his place, in terms of reputation and respect.

Undertaker – Motives unknown

I could be more into this if I had a better idea of why the Undertaker is fighting. (I guess this could be speculated upon based on previous Undertaker characterization over the years, but I’m going on just one year of experience with WWE shows.) Does he believe he needs redemption from last year? Is he threatened by the rise of another dark/supernatural figure? On Bray’s side, I could use a bit more definition on how he will be able to change things by winning this match. Is he trying to kill the Undertaker? Does he think he can make him retire? Clearer stakes would help.

Paige – She wants revenge on the Bellas for teaming up on her.

AJ Lee – She dislikes the Bellas because of their arrogance and wants to humble them.

Nikki Bella – She wants to beat people up to demonstrate that she’s superior.

Brie Bella – She wants to beat people up to demonstrate that she’s superior.

I really did try to find the depth and motivation here, but I just don’t know what it is. I need there to be a reason – on both sides – for a grudge here. Paige has the closest to a believable motive here, having been attacked and spray painted and such by the Bellas. But it’s not clear why they did it to begin with. AJ feels a bit more complicated as a character, since she’s chosen to team up with an enemy to go after other enemies. I’m not sure what’s supposed to come out of this match – I don’t believe the Bellas will stop acting superior if they lose, and I don’t know what they want from Paige and AJ, except for them to get hurt and look defeated.

Dean Ambrose – Believes BNB is a poor representative of the IC title history. Wants the belt off of him.

Luke Harper – Motives unknown

Dolph Ziggler - Believes he is the best person to hold the title/represent the fans.

Bad News Barrett – Wants to keep the belt as evidence that he’s tougher and stronger than everyone else in the fight.

Stardust – Because cray-cray.

Daniel Bryan – Wants to hold a title again after losing the WWE belt to show that he’s still a champion.

R Truth – Motives unknown, possibly a little crazy.

I’m interested in this match because I enjoy big matches, and I like a lot of the players. I’d like to be more into it, though, and I think the problem is that it’s not clear why this is absolutely necessary for anyone, except maybe BNB, who is being disrespected by everyone and seems like he needs to prove his worthiness as current champ. If Dean’s motive is just to have the title respected, then it shouldn’t matter to him who wins, as long as the belt is defended and respected.

Luke Harper hasn’t talked about why he wants the gold. It’s really not clear why he does anything that he does. Maybe I’m supposed to read "another crazy guy" here, but he doesn’t come across as out of touch with reality, so it would be nice to know who he is as a character. Dolph was easy to get behind when the title was being cheated away from him, but he seemed to forget about it for a while, so his need for it right now is less compelling. Stardust doesn’t appear to have a rational need or desire, though it’s possible that he thinks the belt is something magical from space. If we had a better idea of what he thinks its power is and what he expects to get from it, that would help.

Daniel Bryan clearly needed to defeat his unfair, oppressive bosses last year, and the WWE title was symbolic of that moral victory. It’s not completely clear what this title symbolizes for him. If he’s looking for redemption, let’s hear more about that. And as for R Truth, I feel like he is less interested in the title and more interested in chaos, which he can continue to cause no matter who has the belt. I just don’t see how to get squarely behind any character’s cause – perhaps Bryan or Ziggler, but no one seems to have a strong reason for wanting or needing this.

John Cena – He wants to stop Rusev from insulting America.

Rusev – He granted this fight because John Cena let him read his "I Hate America" speech on the last Raw without interference. I’m not sure why he actually wants this fight.

I’m struggling with this one because I’m not very entertained by either competitor. As far as motive, I feel like Cena wants a symbolic victory, since he’s not doing anything that will stop Rusev from his America-hating ways. I mean, Rusev was insulting America before he got the belt, and he could keep doing so after. I don’t have a clear idea of why Rusev wants this fight. There just doesn’t seem to be an upside for him here. I guess the power of Cena compels him.

Andre The Giant Participants – I’m not very clear on why any of them are after this statue or what it means to them/their careers. Big Show apparently wants to prove himself better than Andre the Giant, but I don’t really see how winning this match would do that for him. Zack Ryder has mentioned believing that winning this match could jumpstart his career, and he and Adam Rose have gone after each other on Twitter, so perhaps each feels he can decisively win that fight and shut up his opponent if he has the trophy. Beyond that, no one stands out in my mind as having a clear character motive in this match.

That’s how I see the characters shaping up so far. I’m interested in watching the show because it’s the biggest of the year and because I enjoy some of the performers, but I don’t see many of them having clear, compelling reasons to fight and high stakes attached to the outcome. I hope WWE tightens up the storytelling and the characters in these last few shows before WM31.

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