Forget Attitude Era nostalgia, you need to watch WrestleMania 39 for the incredible main event story
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WrestleMania 39 will conclude one of the most compelling stories in WWE’s history, with two matches bringing the end of two feuds a year in the making.
When Roman Reigns defends his WWE Universal Heavyweight titles at the SoFi Stadium on Sunday night, it’ll be the first time in WrestleMania history anyone has defended the world titles for three years in-a-row at the event.
The champion has become so dominant in the company, taking on all comers in his near 1000 day reign.
At times it has felt like no one would beat him, but it has all inevitably come down to his match with Cody Rhodes.
A year ago, at Mania 38, the son of the son of a plumber returned to WWE to great acclaim, defeating Seth Rollins as a mystery opponent.
At that point you’d have assumed that Dusty Rhodes’ kin was to get his title shot a year later on the Grandest Stage of them All.
However, it has been far from plain sailing for the inevitable match to come about, with the former AEW man’s injury keeping him out for some very important months of story and momentum building.
Instead though, the absence of the American Nightmare allowed some of the greatest long term storytelling the WWE has ever purposely told.
Sure, Daniel Bryan’s victory at WrestleMania 30 was near perfection, but it was forced by the fans, almost by accident, to be as good as it was, this year, Sami Zayn’s performances nearly forced the Canadian into a similar position to Bryan, but instead it has been handled perfectly.
A year ago, Zayn’s Mania saw him take on Jonny Knoxville in a ridiculous yet entertaining match, but the former Intercontinental champion has spent the following 52 weeks showing just how brilliantly he is in any scenario.
He forced himself into Reigns’ faction, the Bloodline, back in August, initially only interacting with tag team, the Usos, in particular Jey Uso.
Eventually his dalliances led him to be part of the team, becoming an ‘honorary Uce,’ despite reservations from Jey.
At every turn, every possible backstab, each potential conflict, the story became ever more intriguing, it started to feel like only Zayn could dethrone the champion.
The introduction of Zayn’s oldest friend Kevin Owens into the mix only added intrigue, as Zayn chose his new family over KO, helping them at Survivor Series War Games.
However, everything changed at the Royal Rumble, which many believed that was perfect for the Underdog from the Underground to win.
Instead the WWE risked the ire of the fans, and a repeat of Bryan’s no show in the match nine years ago, by not having the former NXT champion enter, instead Rhodes came in at 30, avoiding the boos that came for Rey Mysterio nearly a decade ago.
Instead Zayn was involved in the main event, as Owens lost to Reigns, and an epic last five minutes that was as good as any segment on television in the past year.
The downtrodden former ‘heart and soul of NXT’ hit the champion with a chair, rather than attack Owens, who’d been handcuffed to the ring.
It led to the now former member of the Bloodline taking on the ‘Head of the Table’ at Elimination Chamber, for the title.
Once the former Shield member retained it allowed the two most interesting matches of this year’s Showcase of the Immortals to form.
First, Zayn and Owens will fight the Usos for the tag team titles, on what is expected to be night one.
After months long build up it should be main eventing the Saturday, which would be the first time since WrestleMania was main evented by a tag team since the first edition.
However, it is likely to be usurped by the Smackdown Women’s title match, between Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley, a good match which would normally be an automatic pick to go on last, but the four men deserve that position.
It could lead to the first real cracks in the Bloodline and may set the precedent for the ending of Reigns time as champ, in the main event of night two.
Rhodes, the champion and his manager, Paul Heyman, have done an incredible job to stop people wishing it was Zayn in the title match.
Promos about former NXT trainer Dusty, and his mentorship of The Tribal Chief and talk of him being ‘the son Dusty wished he’d had’ soon made everyone excited to see a Rhodes become WWE champion.
The former ‘Dashing’ wrestler defeated the final member of the Bloodline, Solo Sikoa, and ended his undefeated streak since moving to the main roster on Raw, only adding to the hype.
WWE has invested so much in the entire chronicle you can watch a near two hour video on YouTube, or the Network, explaining it all, not because it’s too complicated, but because it is worth investing in.
This year’s Mania, despite being in LA, is short of the Hollywood names of old, with no expectation that The Rock, Batista, Triple H, The Undertaker or other staple huge names will be appearing.
However, the ending of the book of Reigns’ time as champion, with Rhodes, Zayn and Owens set to bring about the downfall of the Bloodline is as good a story as any of those legends have ever told.
The grandest story is set for the grandest stage, it promises to be epic.