Wrestlemania XXXI Preview – Orton vs. Rollins

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

As one of the only Wrestlemania matches between two active wrestlers, Orton and Rollins have received a great deal of TV time in the last month. They have told a story of revenge, as Orton has acted out a vendetta against Rollins for his role in exiling him from The Authority. The narrative will culminate in a match that is the odds-on favorite to be the best singles match on the entire Wrestlemania card.

Although Orton and Rollins both have the skill and the pedigree to work main event matches, this program is a great example of how to create an exciting mid-card feud. Orton disappeared shortly after an Authority beatdown that followed on the heels of the Hell in a Cell PPV. It seemed like he was in the wind for ages when he finally resurfaced at Fastlane. Although he went after The Authority his first night back, he fell in with Stephanie McMahon’s instrcutions to be a team player who could see the big picture. It eventually became clear that his cooperation was a ruse, and he gave Rollins a brutal beating when he finally got him alone.

Orton has been on fire as a tweener since his return. He has always been boring as a vanilla babyface, but when he turns his heel tendencies on other heel wrestlers, fans rally behind him. If there is any criticism of this program, it would be that he has too frequently beaten Rollins in the last month, leaving less comeuppance for the PPV. On the other hand, Rollins built up so much bad will over his exceptional 2014 that no one is tired of seeing him get whooped.

Most importantly, this match looks like the most likely match on the card to become a classic. The Intercontinental Title Ladder Match should be highly entertaining, but it is so difficult to tell a story in a multi-wrestler match that it might not stand the test of time. Although Orton has some disappointing Wrestlemania matches on his resume, he and Rollins are such good complements both athletically and in this story that they should excel. For his part, Rollins is still on his way up and has plenty of incentive to steal the show in his first singles match at Wrestlemania.

Prediction: Rollins steals a victory after taking a hellacious beating. It makes sense for this feud to last beyond Wrestlemania. It also makes sense to preserve Rollins’s unblemished Wrestlemania record. If Rollins loses, I think it becomes more likely that he leaves Wrestlemania as the champion.