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WrestleMania 31 match card preview: Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton

Singles Match

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

It's one of the matches with the most history, yet it still feels kind of like an afterthought. Which of these two men who've each been dubbed "The Future" and "The Face of the Company" in their careers will emerge from WrestleMania with a win?

The Road To WrestleMania 31

The story WWE is selling on these two men goes back to November, when Orton had finally had enough of being brushed aside by Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and their cronies. His rebellion lead to him not only being sent packing by The Authority, but to a brutal beatdown that wrote him off of television for what ended up being four months.

In reality, The Viper was off for a gig with WWE Studios, starring in the sequel to Steve Austin's The Condemned. Then, some nagging injuries were dealt with, and the powers that be waiting for a suitable lull in the hectic late Winter build to WrestleMania to spring a Randall Keith Orton return from out of nowhere.

That time off, which ended up being four months give or take a few house show appearances, would be reason enough to a match. But if we take a wide enough angle on the WWE story, you could go back to last year, when Orton was fresh off of losing his WWE Championship despite never being pinned or submitted in a one-on-one title bout. While waiting for a rematch that never came, Randy joined back up with his old gang Evolution, who were humiliated in losing an elimination match 3 - Seth Rollins' old outfit, The Shield.

When Hunter's next ploy was to lure Rollins away from Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose with the promise of an Anuthority-backed move up the card, the Apex Predator was suddenly second fiddle in his own faction.

But if we peak back even farther, and put out 'smart' fan glasses on, we can also see a lot of real life similarities between the two men - ones that make this showdown an interesting marker on the highway of their careers. Like Orton was in the mid-aughts, Rollins is seen as young man with a great look, strong wrestling skills and above average yet not unparalleled microphone skills.

Unlike, the man once known as The Legend Killer, Seth has been handled very carefully - not necessarily in terms of wins and losses, but with how he's been positioned as a character. Mr. Money in the Bank has absorbed numerous losses, especially over the last few months. But he was never rushed into a spot where he had to fend for himself as a performer, and certainly not as a lone babyface placed up against one of the most dominant heel champions in wrestling history like Orton was at 24 years of age.

Could the angry assaults we've seen from The Viper over the last few weeks be rooted in professional jealousy that goes back a decade? Did Orton pretend that his comeback at Fastlane was to stand by Seth's side, just so he could betray Triple H's newest golden boy just like The Game once betrayed him?

Or have I just been watching too much Wrestling Isn't Wrestling?

What's at stake?

For, as we've already mentioned, dudes who get subtitles after their name like "The Future" and "The Face of the Company", the immediate stakes don't seem that high.

Rollins will still have the briefcase containing a WWE title shot at the time and place of his choosing. And as Sunday night in Santa Clara will be one of those elusive times where the WWE World Heavyweight Champion is actually in the building, more eyes will be focused on what Seth does during and after the main event than they are on what he does here.

In fact, a lot of the interest in this match will be from fans trying to read the tea leaves to divine Vince McMahon's intentions for later on in the evening.

With Orton, who is playing the role of the hero here without acting particularly heroic, his post-WrestleMania path is even more up in the air. Can he keep this tweener character going (certainly his vote, as The Viper is long on record as not being a fan of playing the babyface), and where does that take him once his issues with The Authority are put to bed? Will he remain a prominent figure in the main event scene, or does he start to drift back down to where he was before the Summer of 2013 when he himself won the Money in the Bank briefcase to end months of serving as enhancement talent for young heels?

And what kind of match will they deliver from the middle of the show, where they'll almost certainly work from? Rollins is cementing a reputation as one of the best wrestlers in the industry, and Orton is known to either bring the house down with the right partner or stink up the joint when he's disinterested. In Levi's Stadium, anything short of stealing the show might result in this should-be feud ender being an afterthought. Failing to deliver, on the other hand, would also stick out, and probably not help either man's quest for an increased profile at next year's show.

Can these Faces of the Company stand out and keep the crowd from looking to the Future while they're in the ring?

Either way, the place that you'll want to hang out and discuss it after WrestleMania is right here on Cageside Seats!

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