JAN MURPHY, in SAN JOSE, Calif. — For a wrestling fan, WrestleMania is the Super Bowl of the sport. There’s no bigger event.
In fact, from the time the calendar turns over each year, fans begin to keep an eye toward that date, which is usually in late March or early April.
Each episode of Monday Night Raw takes on more importance, each pay-per-view leading up to the big show helps lay the foundation for what will become the so-called Road to WrestleMania.
By the time it rolls around each year, there are 5-10 big matches, with two or three of the epic variety.
Last year, on the 30th anniversary of the spectacle that ushered in the pay-per-view platform, the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve were on hand, titles were won, and lost, and the wrestling world was stunned when the legendary Undertaker had his more than 20-year WrestleMania winning streak snapped at the hands of Brock Lesnar, the current WWE World Heavyweight champ.
This year’s Mania, here in the sunny south in San Francisco at Levi’s Stadium, doesn’t promise as many legend sightings, but the matches have some intrigue.
The one intriguing angle is that of the Money In The Bank briefcase currently held by Seth Rollins, who takes on Randy Orton in singles action. Holding that briefcase, which contains a contract for a WWE World Heavyweight championship contract that can be used at any time. So if the opportunity presents itself, expect a cash-in that could see Rollins leave WrestleMania as the champ.
Other key matches include WWE COO Triple H take off his suit and tie and take on longtime World Championship Wrestling icon Sting, who makes his first WrestleMania appearance.
The Undertaker returns a year after the unthinkable, having his immortal streak snapped. He’ll take on Bray Wyatt in what could either be a passing-of-the-torch match or an old dog re-establishing his territory.
John Cena, once the shoo-in main eventer, is relegated to the United States Championship match versus the unbeaten Russian Rusev. Can Cena be the first to pin the mighty giant?
The Intercontinental title is up for grabs in a seven-man ladder match featuring Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, champion Wade Barrett, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Stardust and R-Truth. This match, given its performers and the ladder stipulation, could steal the show.
The second annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal features a number of superstars battling it out for the massive trophy in the legend’s likeness.
In women’s action, AJ Lee and Paige take on the Bella Twins.
Brock Lesnar’s last-minute contract extension and subsequent retirement from UFC and MMA fighting adds more intrigue to the main event. With Lesnar sticking around, it creates all sorts of possible outcomes for the main event.
Buckle up, wrestling fans, it’s going to be a ride.
WrestleMania 31 is available on the WWE Network, which is now available across Canada on most cable and satellite providers, for $11.99.
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Over the past few years, betting on WWE matches has increased in popularity. Here are the odds for WrestleMania 31, courtesy of Bovada.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship match
Roman Reigns: -170 (10/17)
Brock Lesnar: +130 (13/10)
Sting: -700 (1/7)
Triple H: +400 (4/1)
Intercontinental Championship ladder match
Daniel Bryan: 3/2
Dean Ambrose: 9/4
Dolph Ziggler: 8/1
Bad News Barrett: 9/1
Luke Harper: 20/1
The Undertaker: -350 (2/7)
Bray Wyatt: +225 (9/4)
United States Championship match
John Cena: -450 (2/9)
Rusev: +275 (11/4)
Tag team match
A.J. Lee & Paige: -350 (2/7)
The Bella Twins: +225 (9/4)
Seth Rollins: -140 (5/7)
Randy Orton: EVEN (1/1)
2nd annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Damien Mizdow: 5/4
Mark Henry: 8/1
Big Show: 12/1
Curtis Axel 18/1
Erick Rowan 18/1
The Miz 18/1
Titus O’Neil 25/1
Heath Slater 40/1
Jack Swagger 40/1
Sin Cara 40/1
Zack Ryder 50/1
Adam Rose 50/1
Darren Young 50/1
WRESTLEMANIA 31- Fatal 4-Way Match
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro 7/4
The New Day 11/4
Los Matadores 5/1
The Usos 6/1
— http://www.Bovada.lv, http://www.twitter.com/BovadaLV