WrestleMania 33 is finally here. Over weeks and months of action on Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, 205 Live and a variety of pay-per-views, we've reached the pinnacle of the year in the world of professional wrestling.
For those casual viewers who need to get caught up ahead of diving back into the WWE ahead of WrestleMania, or those just seeking a refresher because of the sheer volume of programming it took to get here, we have everything you need to know leading into some of the biggest matches on the card. We'll be dropping them throughout the week, and our next step on this journey takes a look at one of the main events for the evening -- the WWE championship match between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton.
For a look at the full WrestleMania card, click here.
Six months ago, after a loss at No Mercy, Orton became fed up with the wizardry of Wyatt and decided the path of least frustration was to betray his ally Kane and join the demonic Wyatt family. It was a surprising twist. Although he's done his best work as a singles performer, Orton has had multiple stints aligning himself with other top personalities, most notably as part of stables like Evolution and Legacy and half of a tag team with Edge as Rated RKO. But something seemed incongruous, with the rugged, detached version of Orton standing in unison with a faction that made even Kane appear as if he had all his marbles in order.
Fast-forward to the Royal Rumble match in January when Orton was left as the last man standing -- earning himself a free pass to WrestleMania's main event, no matter who held the WWE championship. Well, lo and behold, two weeks later Wyatt won his first title, at Elimination Chamber, setting up an intrafamily feud on the grandest stage of them all. But Orton told Wyatt he wouldn't challenge him for the title as long as he was a servant to him as a master. Luke Harper and AJ Styles were thrust into the main-event spotlight following a battle royal with a controversial end and a one-on-one match the following week, won by Styles. Orton finally let the figurative ax drop and re-emerged as the No. 1 contender after double-crossing Wyatt in a satanic fire-burning, soul-crushing promo and defeating Styles. Now, all the lunacy and divergent plotlines aside, we have the match most worthy of the WWE Championship.
With 12 world titles and a surefire Hall of Fame career already in the bag, Orton has had many a day as the WWE gatekeeper, and a loss at WrestleMania would not hurt his cachet as a top performer. For Wyatt, one of the most common criticisms of the company has been its decision not to push him as a top player, when he has done everything conceivable to earn his place in the inner sanctum. All things considered, this match deserves the true main-event spot at WrestleMania, although it likely won't be there. We heard how charged the fans were when Wyatt finally won his first world title at Elimination Chamber, defeating both Styles and John Cena down the stretch. The Wyatt era has finally begun, and what better way to validate this period than by beating Orton on the biggest stage possible.
Wyatt deserves a long run as the champ. The problem for him will be finding new, exciting conflicts. Styles, of course, always merits main-event status, but after him, there's a significant drop-off in prestige level -- especially if Cena is out of the picture post-Mania. It's hard to imagine the likes of Dolph Ziggler or Dean Ambrose immediately filling that void, which leaves The Miz as the most likely to leap back into the fray. Personally, I'd like to see Harper get a push, but the manner in which they built him up, only to completely forget him, is disconcerting.
As for Orton, he had great chemistry with Styles in a No. 1-contenders match on SmackDown live a few weeks ago, and that rivalry would certainly have some legs for a few months. Other than that, Orton, almost as much as anyone, would benefit from a trade to Raw, where he could easily play the role of face or heel as needed. How about another Orton-Seth Rollins feud? Or better yet, maybe Orton and Brock Lesnar can spend some time in the ring together and make up for the debacle of a scene at last year's SummerSlam.