It’s not by chance that WrestleMania 30 coincides with such an important moment in the history of WWE, and therefore in the business of professional wrestling. From A(mbrose) to Z(iggler), here’s the Top 10 reasons WrestleMania 30 is worth watching. And yes, we know it’s technically WrestleMania XXX, but if WWE can switch to Roman numerals only when it’s convenient, so can we.
1. Make or break: Think it’s hyperbole to call this year’s show a make-or-break event for WWE? Well, it is. But this is as important a show the company has put on in years. Stocks recently hit an all-time high of $30.39, and with so much of the company’s anticipated revenue going forward being tied up in the WWE Network, there is tremendous pressure for the Network’s first live pay-per-view to be a home run.
2. CM Punk’d: Whether you see him as a maverick or the kid who won’t play pick-up if he isn’t picked first—he’s probably a combination of the two—CM Punk elicits more emotion from the 18+ crowd than anyone. There’s no doubt he took his ball and went home when he wasn’t happy with his spot at WrestleMania, but would anyone be surprised to see both the company and Punk cash in on a situation that so blurs the lines between fact and fiction? Punk aligning with HHH and denying Daniel Bryan a shot at the title would keep that storyline fresh throughout the summer.
3. You’re it!: The six-man tag match between the Shield and the Wyatt Family at February’s Elimination Chamber was probably the apex of the company’s renewed focus on tag team wrestling, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to stick around for a while. While the Tag Team Title match gets relegated to the dreaded pre-show, the bout still features real tag talent, with the possibility of a turn by one of the Rhodes brothers. Meanwhile, though it’s a little disappointing that the Shield is stuck in a six-man match even more meaningless than last year’s Orton-Sheamus-Big Show pu-pu platter, it’s nice to see the trio gearing up for what should be a solid face run.
4. Splintered Shield: But let’s assume the Shield’s impressive run comes to a close this weekend. Not that there isn’t room for three stars to emerge from the group, but it’s been expected that Roman Reigns will be the supernova. While a split has been teased on and off since the team’s feud with CM Punk, Seth Rollins has noticeably upped his game, and Dean Ambrose hasn’t strayed from his subtly fascinating self. There is likely only one future world champion in this group, but that doesn’t spell doom for the other two.
5. He’s here: When asking on social media what everyone was most excited for this year, the answer was resounding: Bray Wyatt. The son of a tax collector has the highest ceiling of any superstar in recent memory, with a captivatingly original gimmick that fits him like a glove and a more than capable supporting cast. He hasn’t disappointed since an awkward ring debut against Kane, and he’s become believable enough to go over on anyone in the company. WWE has a history of peeing its pants when it takes hold of a strong angle (most recently, Nexus and CM Punk’s first exodus), but this has a chance to be something special.
6. The neutering of Brock Lesnar: This is as anti-climactic an Undertaker match at WrestleMania since he stuffed Mark Henry into a Casual Male XL-designed casket at the 22d edition of the event. Lesnar has been used well since his WWE return, but why they are wasting the Beast as a sacrificial lamb/placeholder for Sting is all the more confusing when considering the physical limitations Undertaker has and Lesnar’s tendency to break the limitations of psychics.
7. The final cut?: We have no reason to believe the Big Show is going to hang it up anytime soon, but at 42 and with his last main event opportunity soundly rejected by the fans (including an all-time dud at Survivor Series at TD Garden), could WrestleMania be the beginning of the end for the big guy? Winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal sounds like a fitting end for an incredible career. The winner of the match, whether it’s a giant or someone in need of a creative boost like Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, or Alberto Del Rio, should be set up for a strong summer run.
8. Girl power: Not that we’ve watched every single episode of Total Divas Sunday nights on the E! Network at 9/8c or anything, but the company has done a respectable job of intertwining the show’s storylines within the diva division while getting some girls (Naomi) over and some girls (Eva) on a hit list. This Sunday’s 14-diva, one-fall-to-a-finish match for AJ’s title is probably going to lack a bit of grace, but it’ll be interesting to see if the butterfly belt ends up on one of the show’s stars.
9. Setting the scene: The Grandaddy of Them All is when the whole company rises to the occasion, including the always stellar production team. From the classic Austin/Rock promo packages to the underrated Miz/Cena one to the soul-tingling Michaels/Undertaker one, some of the best adrenaline rushes in the show can be found in the minutes leading up the match. This year’s best bet to be remembered: Cena/Wyatt.
10. YES!: Through what has been a successful year for new faces and veteran stars, Daniel Bryan has been the company’s hottest ticket since Summerslam. Having a superstar the fan base could uniformly get behind, not to mention someone the company could trust (See: Punk, CM), was instrumental in getting top heels Randy Orton, the Authority, the Wyatt Family, and even Batista as over as they are. The hidden key to wrestling today is having a face the crowd will support no matter what; Daniel Bryan leaving WrestleMania 30 as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion is best for business.