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Will WWE mortgage the future by pushing the past at WrestleMania 31?

Although The Rock and Triple H still have the chemistry to creditably main event WrestleMania 31 and that match will likely maximise revenue on the day, is it a wise long term strategy to build your biggest show of the year around Attitude Era nostalgia?

The Rock: Opting to play The Game again over working with new stars.
The Rock: Opting to play The Game again over working with new stars.
Michael N. Todaro

Last week on the 15th Anniversary episode of Smackdown, WWE heavily teased that The Rock vs. Triple H would be the main event of WrestleMania 31, which will take place on Sunday March 29th, 2015, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

In a backstage segment, Hunter and The Rock seamlessly transitioned back and forth from good natured jibes to simmering tension, as they argued over who would win should they ever headline another WrestleMania together, before Stephanie McMahon arrived to calm the two arrogant, hotheaded egomaniacs down. Clearly, they haven't lost the tremendous on camera chemistry they had during the Attitude Era, which is a positive sign for them being able to pull off a worthy match to fit the lofty billing they would inevitably get.

Nostalgia could rule the roost at WrestleMania 31, as Sting is still expected to sign with WWE and wrestle on the show, possibly against The Undertaker. This would be the fifth year in a row that The Undertaker has been either noncommittal or uncertain for WrestleMania in the early autumn, but his track record suggests that when push comes to shove, he'll lace up the boots again, maybe for the last time, if the money and program is right.

If Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle can somehow both pass WWE physicals, then they too could also be in heavily featured WrestleMania 31 bouts. I personally think that's nigh on impossible, but if that miracle happens, then we could be faced with the possibility that the WWE World Heavyweight Title match, likely between champion Brock Lesnar and challenger Roman Reigns, would turn out to be the fourth or fifth most anticipated battle on the card. Moreover, it wouldn't leave much room for any of the company's other rising young stars to get a chance to shine (and no, one high spot in a meaningless Battle Royal in memory of Andre The Giant does not count).

There's a clear problem with this strategy, even though it will maximise revenue on the day, as it sends the message to viewers that today's crop of WWE stars are, by and large, inferior to the past generation of wrestling legends. That casual fans only need to watch WWE in the first four months of the year, as nothing important happens outside of WrestleMania season. Why subscribe to the WWE Network for six months at a total price of almost 60 bucks, when the real stars skip all but one of the station's live specials anyway and you can pick up the one show that matters for just $12.99?

There's also the risk of putting all your eggs in one basket by making Roman Reigns the only fresh babyface character to be in one of the WrestleMania 31 main events. I remain to be convinced that he won't pan out like The Ultimate Warrior, the handpicked successor to the older company headliner, who struggled when the spotlight was put solely on him. A wiser strategy would be to hedge your bets by featuring Dean Ambrose or Daniel Bryan (if he's healthy by WrestleMania) in a feud of almost equal billing. However, at the moment that looks unlikely, as WWE doesn't seem all that interested in coming up for WrestleMania ideas for them. More's the pity!

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