LOP on Facebook LOP on Twitter LOP on Google Plus LOP on Youtube LOP's RSS Feed

Home | Headlines | News | Results | Columns | Radio | Forums | Contact

Posted in: Fact or Fiction
FACT or FICTION: All-Star WrestleMania Special Edition w/Mr. Tito, The Doc, Samuel Plan and Steven Bell (Part Timers At Mania, Cena Headed For The Door?, Heel Reigns, More!)
By Steven Bell
Apr 1, 2017 - 8:00:00 AM

It’s WrestleMania weekend! Though opinions on the some aspects of the show are hotly debated, one thing that’s for sure is that this is the biggest weekend of the year for mainstream wrestling fans. I, for one, am ridiculously excited, ready to overlook any issues with the current product to just sit back and get sucked into this fictional world of awesome folks in their underpants pretending to fight. It’s a beautiful thing, my friends. A beautiful thing.

In case you didn’t catch the title upon clicking this doohickey, it’s time once again for…

 photo FOF Pulp Fiction Logo_1.png

Yes, indeed, we are back for another round. I’m the emcee and organizer of these proceedings, Steven Bell, host of The Late Shift every Monday night on Lords of Pain Radio and Admin of LOP Forums, among random other stuff. If you’ve never read one of these, it’s pretty straightforward. I came up with four statements and got some of my writer friends from Lords of Pain to tell me whether they feel that these statements are FACT or FICTION, elaborating on why they feel the way they do. Like I said, pretty straightforward, right? There is a little something special to the festivities this time around, though.

While we usually use Fact or Fiction as a way to help promote the wealth of writing talent currently residing in the LOP Columns Forum, we did things a little differently this time around. That’s not to slight the Columns Forum, of course, as the CF is the place to go if you want to write a column for Lords of Pain. You head there, write yourself a column, prove that you can write consistently and draw a decent audience and you very well may find yourself next in line when a spot opens up here on the LOP main page. See that bold "Columns Forum" a couple sentences back? You can click that to find your way there now. After you read this, of course. There's also a great big link waiting down at the bottom, if you prefer.

Anywho, this being WrestleMania weekend and all, I decided that we should do it up big. So this time around I figured that I should gather up a roster of arguably the three most high profile writers on Lords of Pain. We’ve got two published authors in the mix, as well as the man responsible for columns existing on this website, in the first place. They require no further superlatives, as all three of these guys are names that you should be very familiar with. I even took the opportunity to join in, myself.

Our participants for this WrestleMania special edition are...

Samuel Plan
@LoPPlan on Twitter

The Doc, Chad Matthews
@TheDocLOP on Twitter

Me, Steven Bell
@StevenFnBell on Twitter


Mr. Tito
@titowrestling on Twitter

You can click each of those gentlemen's names, there, to find their latest columns, all covering different aspects of WrestleMania. Tis the season, after all. Plan’s latest piece even received some love on Twitter from Seth Rollins, himself, which I’m sure will have our pal Samuel flying high for months. Also included is Doc’s ongoing WM weekend diary and Tito’s predictions for what he feels will go down at The Show of Shows. You pretty well know what to expect from these guys as it pertains to columns, so I’m sure you’re all well aware of the awesomeness that awaits when you click their links. As to mine, clicking that will lead you to Sunday night’s LOP Radio Aftershock: WrestleMania 33 show, airing live after the event.

Anywho, since these guys are so awesome, let’s put ‘em to work.

The arguments rage over whether WWE should still be relying upon so many part time talents at the biggest show of the year. One of the more persuasive arguments for this phenomenon is that the company currently has no huge stars to hang an event of this magnitude upon, thus requiring them to look outside the day in, day out roster for something to make the show feel bigger to the casual fan. Is it FACT or FICTION that the current, regularly active, week to week roster is not capable of drawing at the magnitude that an event like WrestleMania demands?

Plan - Fact, fiction or relevant, shouldn’t we ask? Certainly the issue of “drawing” has changed dramatically in the current age. It would be folly to pretend that the need to “sell shows” looks the same in the 2010s as it did in the 1980s. In the specific case of WrestleMania, I highly doubt it even matters. The ultimate frustration when it comes to the Grandest Stage of All and the lack of opportunity given to the full time contemporary generation is that the show sells itself regardless. It’s not like people wait to buy tickets until they know who’s featured, right? It’s WrestleMania! You’d go as much for the atmosphere and experience as you would anything else; or at least, that’s how I feel.

However, in the interest of not ducking the question here, I will still say FICTION anyway. I know it is a trendy thing, at least among some, to claim there are no major stars on the currently active main roster but I personally consider this a complete un-truth. The Shield alone, with their history and reputation together and as individuals, would be more than capable I’m sure. AJ Styles has proven to be the one talent the First Brand Extension needed all along: the man to truly compete with John Cena, being as good and as capable as a man whose “drawing power” would never be called into question. He’s full time and active right now…and wrestling Shane McMahon. You might have a tougher sell with less conventional talents like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, but there’s no denying their popular following either; followings not limited solely to the confines of the internet. Further, names like Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman could absolutely shine with more of a commitment from the company.

And there’s the rub. Commitment; WWE are purveyors of their own myths. They (apparently) feel these names cannot “draw” on their own so WWE deny them the chance to do so, essentially fulfilling their own prophecy. It’s a chicken and egg scenario, in that we must ask what has to come first: proof of “drawing power,” or the opportunity to demonstrate it? Most galling is the fact that, in a Network age, it’s not like they’ll lose much of anything if they took a risk.

Ultimately, though, regardless of the ins and outs of this one, we must recognize the empirical truth that has presented itself these last few years: far from being a temporary measure, the part-time blockbuster tier of talent is a new normality that’s going to be around for a long time to come, representing the final transition of a main event talent in the twilight years of their career. It’s not going away anytime soon, because when the current crop are all done and dusted (which is going to be soon, I feel) the next lot will simply take their place. In this sense, the contemporary generation will get to sell ‘Mania one day - when they’re old and, potentially, past their prime. It’s just how it goes now.

Steven - Man, this one is tough.

On the one hand, it could be very cogently argued that today’s roster WOULD be quite capable of carrying a show of this magnitude if they were just pushed to their respective fullest potentials. If they rolled with Reigns’ natural progression with the fans and had turned him heel months, if not a year, ago, then you wouldn’t even need to trot out someone like Taker to get in the ring with him. Hell, you could kill two birds with one stone and remove HHH from the equation as well. I can’t think of too many fans who wouldn’t be red hot for a match pitting heel Roman against babyface Rollins.

Furthermore, I think one of the most common complaints I’ve heard about this card, one that I agree with, is that Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho should be for the Universal Championship instead of the US Title. They took one of the few feuds that has almost a year of story behind it, a feud that has evolved organically and has the fans genuinely invested, and they lessened its value just to add extra cheese to the Brock vs Goldberg burger that was already loaded. That’s like taking a skinny kid’s dessert and giving it to a fat kid.

All of that having been said, I get it. Jericho/Owens is strong enough to survive without the Universal strap and putting that belt on the line in the Berg/Brock match adds that extra bit of value to the casual fan who may be tuning in just to see what their old school favorite is up to these days. I get it.

I also get that none of the things I just said, as nice as they would be, are a reflection of reality. One of my favorite bits of advice to give to folks is that they should judge things based on what they are, not what you wish they were. In this case, I can wish for all that stuff I just wrote all day and it won’t change a damn thing. The reality of the situation is that some key talents have been mismanaged to some degree or another and not a single one of them holds the same allure to a casual fan as does Undertaker, Goldberg or Brock Lesnar. It’s arguable that even if they were all pushed to their best potential that many casuals would still care more about Monday Night War guys and the like. That’s just the reality of the wrestling business as it currently stands in the public consciousness. That makes this one a FACT. You know it’s sad but true.

Doc - The day in, day out roster is largely responsible for WWE's record financial quarters these past two years. We are now well aware that they can help sustain about 1.4 million Network subscribers which, along with merchandise sales, are the two main sources of revenue for WWE that can actively be influenced (TV contracts, the third primary revenue stream, are locked in for multiple years).

Strategically, WWE has been using WrestleMania as the event that jumps the subscriber count and they have been heavily using part-timers to achieve it. Last year, 300,000 new subscribers started their accounts for WrestleMania 32, but only 100,000 of them stuck around afterward and most of those were free trials; so they had a lot of money going out and not as much came back in, prompting WWE to actually take a net loss for the second financial quarter.

So, I think the question underlying this question is: does their current formula, when you really look closely at it, actually work? And do we know what would happen if they went the old fashion way of building to the biggest possible matches using their current stars, creatively focusing the kind of attention necessary to get them over stronger, that they could not equal or better their numbers? No, we don’t know. The answer, therefore, is FICTION; but we really will not know until they try.

Tito - It is a FACT that the current WWE roster doesn't have personalities with strong drawing power. Simple statistics... RAW drew around 4 million viewers through Wrestlemania 31 and through Wrestlemania 33, we're around 3 million viewers. Houseshow numbers are down... In my opinion, the ratings could be much worse if Lesnar, Undertaker, and especially Bill Goldberg haven't appeared to heavily hype Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and Wrestlemania, classic staple Pay Per Views of the WWE. Sorry, but statistics don't lie with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Kevin Owens on top. Why? Because Rollins and Owens were champions as HEELS and Roman Reigns lacks charisma, mic skills, personality, and actual in-ring ability other than hitting Superman Punch/Spear. Aside from John Cena, the WWE has repeatedly failed to get Randy Orton and Roman Reigns as the #1 guys despite numerous attempts. But what I think hurts worse for Owens and Reigns is the FACT that WWE didn't push them hard as World Champions. Non-Title losses repeatedly for Owens & Rollins while Reigns is reliant on the overpush and cannot get naturally over. Years upon years of bad talent decisions by John Laurinaitis in charge while fewer athletes are joining the wrestling industry with just WWE on top. Concussions, years of a drug culture, and concussions hasn't helped... Harder to find the next Hogan, Austin, Rock, Cena, or Lesnar with fewer human beings interested in becoming pro wrestlers while also fewer wrestling fans watching than 2 years ago.

Whether you like it or whether you don't, Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker is going down this Sunday. Debate over who will win and why is raging, but what is not really up for much debate is the fact that Taker is and will be the overwhelming fan favorite. Is it FACT or FICTION that WWE should embrace this, to steer into the skid, and finally make that hard heel turn with Roman at WrestleMania?

Doc - From a creative standpoint, it is an absolute fact that WWE skipped a step in the pro wrestling process of getting Roman Reigns over. He was the hard-charging bad ass of The Shield, but when the faction split, he never established who he was without them; ever since, they have been pushing forward with his main-event career while never very clearly defining who he is. We know that heels are the characters in WWE that are allowed the better chance to develop, so the easy answer here would be to say, “Yes, of course he should turn heel.”

I think what we are starting to see is that it may not be necessary, however. Who is Roman Reigns? After two years, I have come to see him as the blue chip jock, not exactly the most likeable guy and someone who will rub a lot of people the wrong way, but who frankly will not have a hard time finding people who like him just because of the way he looks and how good he is. He’s the Kobe Bryant of WWE; you either love him or hate him.

Granted, WWE took a very inorganic route to start him down the above path, but low and behold he has reached that point where he is indeed John Cena 2.0, a top babyface to a key market that has allowed him to become WWE’s top merchandise seller, but not someone who relates very well to other demographics, rendering him by default one of the biggest heels in the company all the while. Like it or not, that formula has been hugely successful for WWE with Cena and it makes some sense that they would want to replicate it.

So, should they turn him heel? Yes, I think that they should for the consistent betterment of the product. Do they have to? No, they don’t. And since it’s not factual, it has to be FICTION.

Tito - To quote Jim Ross, you can't be "half pregnant". If the McMahons truly believe that Roman Reigns is the #1 babyface wrestler to replace John Cena, then let him drive a stake into the Undertaker's career. FICTION, Roman Reigns should definitively beat the Undertaker as a babyface and let Vince McMahon prove that he's the absolute best wrestling promoter in the history of the world by drawing money with Reigns on top. Not those half-assed like title reigns we saw during late 2015 and early 2016... Strong, convincing wins and a lengthy World Title reign as the #1 babyface. Prove us wrong, Vince. You are more successful than anybody reading this at pro wrestling, so let Roman smash the Undertaker and then let Roman destroy whomever wins Lesnar vs. Goldberg for the WWE Universal Title. What WWE should embrace is Roman Reigns as their #1 babyface if they truly believe it... Then, it's up to CEO and Board Chairman to prove us wrong that Vince was right all along on Roman. Then, after 1 year if this experiment fails, Vince McMahon should retire form the WWE for good and never come back. But if it doesn't fail, then Vince only validates his legend as the greatest wrestling promoter of all time. Meanwhile as Roman Reigns is pushed strong as the #1 babyface World Champion, the WWE has to strengthen its United States Champion division to have a "champion in the waiting" in case Roman fails.

Steven - Can I say double FACT? Is that a thing?

Hell yes, they should steer into the skid. Definitely. Beyond the shadow of a doubt. I can’t think of a single other guy who has been so blatantly set up for a hard, money making heel run as is Roman Reigns, and I’ve been watching this stuff for upwards of 34 years.

People want to hate Roman. Many already do. Everyone likes to compare this to the Cena scenario, but there’s a big difference. Cena was WAY more over than Roman when he reached “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” status. Roman still has plenty of fans in his corner, to be sure, and he’s still making money in terms of merch and all that. That having been said, he’s also not nearly as established as Cena was when he hit that wall. Roman is still lacking a clear identity. We know he’s a tough dude with lots of confidence, but that’s really about it.

Not turning Roman at this point, in the match where he will be the most blatantly positioned as a heel as he has ever been, would be a massively missed opportunity. Roman Reigns could be the next great heel in sports entertainment, the guy that people pay their money to see get the crap kicked out of him. The kind of heel that you could make babyfaces with just off of putting them in the ring with him. While he’s an exceptionally talented fellow, the upside with him as a babyface simply isn’t as high. No heel is going to be made by facing Reigns as this point, or at any point in the near future.

The old phrase says that one should strike while the iron is hot. The reason for this is that the longer you wait, the more it cools and the harder it is to shape it into your desired shape. As it pertains to a Reigns heel turn, the iron has never, and very well may never again, be as hot as it is right now. WWE should strike the hell out of it.

But they won’t. Within a week or two he’ll be back to facing Braun Strowman or Kevin Owens and being booed by 75% of the audience even though he’s supposed to be the beloved fighting hero. I believe it was Blade who said it best.

Some motherf***ers always trying to ice skate uphill.

Plan - Another one where I question the relevancy of the issue posed. If Roman Reigns turns heel, what changes? The answer is a great big whopping nothing. Fans will boo him, as they do now. Some will cheer him, as they do now. Perhaps the only benefit would be a fresh shine on the creative the Big Dog is involved with, but then it’s not as if Reigns struggles to perform effectively as a hero; more, WWE struggle to effectively write him as one. And as far as I can tell, there’s no evidence out there on our televisions quite yet to convince me that a villainous Reigns will jumpstart the company into providing the man with the character consistency he has lacked all along. So again, even in the one sphere where a difference could be made, I remain unconvinced the status quo would be disrupted to any noticeable degree.

I have said this many times, in my columns, on LOPR’s Friday night podcast The Right Side of the Pond and in my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die: the age of heels and babyfaces is behind us, and we need to kill off the practice. What matters now is character, and consistency of it. Fans will react however they see fit, not according to the morality cue cards the storylines provide them with. Steer into that skid toward change instead, and focus on solidifying character across the roster, using it as a means to inform story and character development. The creative, I think, would benefit massively, even coming to write itself mostly, and the fans would be happier for the freedom to react however they please without it always becoming a tug of war between promotion and consumer base.

So to answer the question directly, I’ll say FICTION, solely for the fact that I don’t think good guy or bad guy (or even The Guy) will hit at the real problem.

John Cena is taking on an obviously "lesser" role at this year's WrestleMania, sparking banter between fans that perhaps his days as the headliner of the event are over and done. While Cena has acquiesced as it pertains to his former vitriol for The Rock being a "part timer", he also still loudly proclaims that he has no intentions of leaving the company for any longer than a few months a year until he is no longer physically capable of performing. Is it FACT or FICTION that we have already seen the final WrestleMania main event featuring John Cena as anything more than a special "bonus" attraction?

Steven - You know, back in the day when Rock said he wouldn’t ever leave, I never believed him. While I’m sure he loved what he did and I’m almost positive that he genuinely loves his fans, I never got the real impression that he really ever wanted to be a pro wrestler. I guess maybe it’s because I read his book and all that stuff back in the day, but he struck me as a more talented Lex Luger. Basically, a guy who washed out in his real first love, football, and saw an avenue through which to still be a big star. That’s not to say that he didn’t work his ass off and that he wasn’t great at it, you dig? It just always seemed to me like Rock never REALLY loved pro wrestling as much as he did being in the spotlight in general, performing and all that.

John Cena, on the other hand, is many things, but fake isn’t one of them. That dude is and always has been a wrestler. He very likely will see his star ascend as the years go by and will very likely take longer sabbaticals from the ring as time marches forward. What he will not do, though, is disappear for the better part of a decade. When John Cena says that he intends to wrestle for as long as his body will allow him, when he says that he will always be a part of WWE… I believe him.

As long as that’s true, it can be considered as nothing but FICTION that he will never again appear in the Mania main event in anything more than a special attraction role. Barring some sort of serious injury, I foresee Cena main eventing at least two, maybe three more WMs before his time is up, upon which time I think he’ll still likely show up for special one off performances here and there. I see his eventual role as less like The Rock or Undertaker over the last few years and far more like Hulk Hogan in WCW. He’ll be far from regular, often missing long stretches of time, but as long as he’s capable of being an actively contributing part of the roster, he’ll never go the route of just showing up once or twice a year. And as long as he’s around for any significant length of time, he’ll always at least flirt with the main event even if he never wins another strap, similar to Shawn Michaels’ second run.

He’s winning more straps, though. Don’t kid yourself. And it’s gonna be awesome, whether you like to admit it or not. John Cena brings with him equity that no other single member of the active roster can even touch right now.

Tito - Just look since 2010... WWE always tries various wrestlers like Alberto Del Rio, Miz (talking 2010-2011 Miz, not current guy), and Sheamus but yet WWE has always gone back to their comfort blanket in John Cena. However, since the SummerSlam 2014 title loss to Lesnar, Cena has taken a step back from the spotlight and he's now on the Smackdown brand as well. The WWE hasn't immediately gone back to John Cena since 2014 as World Champion and they've let him have time off for various Hollywood roles. Couldn't we already argue that Cena is already a special "bonus" attraction? FACT. The many months of time off has put Cena in that part-time status class, in my opinion. As more Hollywood offers come in, then he'll have more of a foot out the door... Feels like the Rock from 2003.

Plan - John Cena hasn’t headlined WrestleMania since 2013, in the traditionalist’s sense. Even if he goes on to headline WrestleMania next year, that’d be an almost half-decade long gap. I think his transition into attraction has been happening for some time, and if there is anyone out there that feels that’s in doubt then it might be worth reassessing his programmes over the course of the last few years.

I guess the opposing side of the argument might posit that, if rumours are to be believed, Cena was in line to headline opposite The Undertaker last year, and was at least a semi-main event the two years before that. There’s also the whole debate over how we define headliners too, especially when it comes to ‘Mania.

I think I’ll have to go FICTION, then. As concrete as John Cena’s movement down the roster rankings is, so too is it an ongoing transition yet to be completed. So long as that transition is in play, I expect there remains a strong chance of seeing John Cena return to the show-closing spot at WrestleMania one year, especially with the current generation on the ascent. Whether it’s Cena vs. Reigns; Rollins; Ambrose; Owens; or any number of other NXT alumni, I would anticipate further exhibitions from him in the theoretically biggest match of the year, even if it becomes heavily outweighed by his appearances in attraction bouts like his match up this year.

Doc - FICTION. John Cena has a love for the business and a still rather uncanny, Wolverine-like healing ability that will allow him to stick around for another decade for an Undertaker-like career twilight, eventually leading him back to the WrestleMania main-event as the primary selling point of the show. He is going to break Ric Flair’s title record, for instance, of that I have no doubt; and it will be a story worthy of the grandest stage main attraction when he does it. If he does ever turn heel, he is going to be magnificent at it, so the story of the hero rising up against his tyranny will make for another likely WrestleMania main-event. The bottom line is that he has a lot left to give if his body can hold up.

We began by speaking about part timers and that seems a fitting place to end, as they feature heavily into this year's WrestleMania. That being said, we're coming up on the last full year of Brock Lesnar's current deal. Goldberg wasn't even supposed to stick around beyond November, let alone all the way to WrestleMania. It has been fairly well known for some time that Undertaker is in need of a hip replacement that will very likely end his in-ring career. Shane McMahon is pushing 50 and unlikely to participate in many more matches in general, if he even sticks around the company after the conclusion his current deal. Meanwhile, every other huge draw headliner from the boom periods of the business is getting progressively older, themselves. Outside of HHH and maybe some future one-off, special attraction deal with The Rock (which is unlikely due to the injuries he suffered the last few times he stepped into the ring in a competitive atmosphere), the roster of high profile part timers will essentially be nil within the next couple of years. Is it FACT or FICTION that this is the last contemporary WrestleMania upon which we will see more than two heavily hyped matches featuring a high profile part timer from glory days gone by?

Plan - Absolutely FICTION, for the reasons stated throughout my previous answers. What we have witnessed, I believe, is simply generation one of a newly established but entirely permanent tier of talent atop the roster. Generation two is fast approaching. Once The Undertaker bows out, Brock Lesnar departs and maybe even Triple H heads off into in-ring retirement, I will be looking at men like John Cena and Randy Orton to take their place in those same roles. In fact, in the cases of Cena and Orton, aren’t they both already in the early stages of this transition? Their schedules, to me, now seem to more closely reflect the schedules enjoyed by the likes of Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Triple H at around the turn of the decade, when part-time talent deployment was in its formative years. Give it another five more years still and it could be we’re seeing them only once a year.

And once generation two is gone, generation three will take their place, and so on and so forth. I am reminded of something The Doc suggested on a podcast we shared together, when he asked whether a permanent slot on the ‘Mania card was the new glass ceiling, replacing attainment of the World Championship. As part and parcel of that new status quo comes my blockbuster talent theory, where the main event is now followed by a final stage represented by a part-time schedule and an enshrined position atop WrestleMania regardless, that serves to extend main event careers much longer than they might otherwise be; especially because, if we’re being blunt about it, the whole issue is nothing to do with “drawing power” anyway, and all to do with the nostalgic reassurance that comes with falling comfortably back upon the tenured familiar.

Another topic for another time. To reiterate my answer, then, I say fiction, not because I believe we’ll be seeing many more years of the likes of Lesnar and Undertaker but because signs seem, to me, to indicate that the current part-timers will be replaced by a newly ascended crop of part-timers in the coming years as part of a new normality. Get used to it folks; I fear it’s here to stay.

Doc - Sadly, FICTION. To build off of my response to the earlier question, it is high time that the current roster was given the chance to be the featured attractions, paired up with each other instead of paired with part-timers, with perhaps a battle between legends in place to support them rather than it seeming like the current stars are there to play supporting roles to the legends. WWE has used these legends like a crutch and it has been to the creative detriment of the upper limits of their regular product’s potential; I genuinely believe that there is no longer a need to treat WrestleMania like the equivalent of a high school reunion, a destination built for living in the past instead of embracing the present and future and that the current roster is more than capable of equaling or bettering the numbers produced in recent years with consistent booking unconcerned with legendary returns and a little boost from one legends match or a big celebrity (Note – for which WrestleMania has John Cena ever drawn huge numbers without a little bit of legend or celebrity back-up? Zero).

That said, how can we think we are nearly through with that trend? Less than 30% of the top three WrestleMania match positions have gone to regular roster members since 2012 and, at present time, there has never been a WrestleMania in which one of the top three matches solely featured two wrestlers who debuted after 2002. Next year, it will be Lesnar, Angle, and Triple H at least if you ask me for a prediction. I say we hope for 50% of the top spots going to current stars before we start hoping for a complete reversal of the trend; at least that would be progress. This topic really grinds my gears…

Steven - I think this one is a FACT. While I feel that guys from the Ruthless Aggression Era, like Cena and Orton, will step into those “special attraction” roles over the next few years, I don’t believe that it will be anything like what we’ve seen over the last half decade or so.

As stated in the question, most of the guys they rely upon to fill those spots are close to retirement. If you eliminate Taker, Shane, Brock and Goldberg from the equation, that opens up three top spots right there. I figure that HHH will likely continue on in his current role, wrestling once a year at Mania, for the foreseeable future. At least the next three or four years, you know? Brock is almost definitely done when his deal expires after next year’s Mania. Goldberg is a massive longshot to even appear next month, let alone at any future WM. Shane could wrestle again, but I find that pretty unlikely. And Taker… well, I can’t give up on Taker. I hope he wrestles forever.

But he won’t. There is a better than good chance that this year is it.

So who’s supposed to fill those part time roles? We’ve already established that HHH likely will for a bit longer, but who beyond that? Orton likely isn’t going to be part time for at least another couple years, if he even chooses to stick around when his deal is up. We already discussed what I think Cena’s career will look like for the next few years. So who else is there?

The answer is nobody. Even if WWE did want to keep loading the top of the card with mainstream draws from days gone by, there simply aren’t going to be any left soon. I think that next year will see probably two or three on the card, with Brock wrapping up and the previously mentioned HHH doing something, maybe Jericho coming through to do something or Big Show having a special sendoff match as he stares down the end of his contract and likely retirement… but beyond that? I’m just not seeing it.

I think that by WrestleMania 35 we will be in the midst of a period very much like the New Generation Era, specifically around WrestleMania 9 or 10. You’ll still have your modern equivalents of guys like Hogan and Piper and Macho Man in the mix, but the heavy emphasis will be on the currently active roster. Not necessarily because WWE chooses to but because they will have no choice. We will never see an era in WWE where there won’t be special attraction matches at Mania featuring one or two part time talents from days gone by, but the bottom line is that sticking future part time Orton or Cena out there in three or four years isn’t the same as stacking the top third of the card with old dudes today.

Of course, there is always the potential for that big money CM Punk return long about 2020 or so…

Tito - No way... Those older stars and part-timers bring back the lost fans or drive in the casual fans for Wrestlemania. FICTION. We're going to transition into the "Class of 2002" Ohio Valley Wrestling guys becoming the next part-timers who come in to help Wrestlemania draw, if anything. Lesnar is already there and John Cena is transitioning into that part-time status. Consider Wrestlemania as the "Black Friday" for the WWE... Like the brief period of the year where retail numbers are off-the-charts for Christmas and helps the companies become profitable, the WWE can draw a tremendous gate selling out a football stadium and seeing actual Pay Per View buys. Also, consider those WWE Axxess and Hall of Fame events... Those are WWE legend based events. Wrestlemania is that one time of the year where older fans come back and where casual fans are curious as to what WWE could put on. Only way this ends is if and only if the WWE somehow finds their next babyface sensation to weaken the need for part-timers or legends of the past coming back.

And there we have it! One of the biggest Fact or Fiction columns ever put together is officially in the books! We’ll be back here on Lords of Pain with another round of FoF sometime in April, likely tackling the questions that arise from both tomorrow’s WrestleMania as well as the fallout from the always unpredictable Post-Mania Raw on Monday.

Feel free, as always, to leave your thoughts below in the Comments section. If you’re someone who REALLY likes commenting and would perhaps like to try your hand at one of these columns in the future, I invite you to make your way to the Columns Forum and take your shot at being LOP's next big thing. Even if you don't have the inclination to write, the Columns Forum is a fantastic place to find the best wrestling columns on the internet, hands down. The amount of talent and diversity of styles are unrivaled anywhere else, bar none. You can join in the fun by clicking the spiffy image below.

If you want to participate in one of these one day, this is your doorway.

I'd like to thank Plan, Doc and Tito for agreeing to join me for this. You can currently find both Doc and Plan's respective books for sale on Amazon or via the links that appear in their columns, along the side of the page here on Lords of Pain or in the brand new LOP Store. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should, as it's full of books and LOP Radio t-shirts and all sorts of awesomeness. You'd look great in a Late Shift shirt, you know. You'd be a regular sexy beast.

Further thanks to all of you for joining us for what we hope you will agree was one hell of a fun column. Enjoy tonight’s NXT Takeover and here’s to your WrestleMania Sunday being a blast! Be on the lookout after the show for immediate reactions from your favorite columnists, some of these guys likely among them, and for the always fun LOP Radio Aftershock show hosted by yours truly. Until then, take care of yourselves out there in the really real world and remember that nothing is trivial.

Much love, folks.