The Main Event(s) of the 2020 NFL Regular Season
It should to as little to no surprise that football and professional wrestling tend to go hand-in-hand. You may wonder how this is even possible, especially since one of the two is completely scripted. Then again, many fans will argue that the NFL itself is just as, if not, more scripted than anything we’d see on WWE television. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, nor do I believe that the NFL will ensure that they get the matchup they feel will deliver the most revenue. Then again, as an operational meteorologist by trade, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before.
Regardless, and back to the point at hand, let’s examine a few names here. Brock Lesnar, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ron Simmons, Bill Goldberg, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Leon White (Big Van Vader), Tito Santana. Other than the fact that I’ve listed current and future WWE Hall of Famers, each and everyone one of them has another fact in common: they each played at least college football. Add in others like Roman Reigns, Titus O’Neil, Dean Muhtadi (Mojo Rawley), and Ettore Ewen (Big E Langston), and you can see how the two are so easy to mix and match.
WrestleMania is considered to be the “Super Bowl” of professional wrestling, as young talent all dream of the day that they get to perform on the grandest stage of them all in front of tens of thousands of people, sometimes more! Just as young wrestling fans imagine winning the title at WrestleMania, young football players all dream of playing in the NFL. If it does in fact occur, the 2020 NFL regular season does present some matchups that are WrestleMania worthy. Here, I’ll look at my top-5 anticipated games for this upcoming season, and match them with a WrestleMania main event, or main event level match, that I feel best represents it.
Week 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
WrestleMania Comparison: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor, WrestleMania XI
Every now and then, a celebrity or athlete will find their way into a WWE ring. Sometimes it’s for a promotion, maybe to capitalize on a real friendship or feud, or to boost some ratings. Regardless, WWE finds a way to get them in the ring. Back in 1995, that person was former Giants LB and future NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. Add in the fact that Taylor was also accompanied to the ring by other NFL players, like Reggie White, Ken Norton Jr., and Chris Spielman. While some suggest that Bigelow deserves all of the credit for this match for being able to “carry” LT through it, I would disagree. I found it entertaining, and have to credit LT for his ability to work through the match, seeing how it was his first time ever in a wrestling ring.
Love him or hate him, Tom Brady is one of the all-time greats to every play the game of football. Sure, the stigma of Deflategate and Spygate may linger over the Patriots’ accomplishments over the years, and potentially Brady’s career. It’s still considerably ignorant for anyone to overlook his success solely on those measures. Now, Brady is out of New England and into uncharted territory for the first time in his career; a brand new team with the Bucs. What better way to kick it off than by taking a trip to New Orleans, a multiple time host of WrestleMania, to begin his journey through the NFC South? And similar to how “LT” was accompanied by fellow NFL players, the icing on the cake goes to Brady being able to bring formerly retired TE Rob Gronkowski with him in this journey as well.
Week 1: Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers
WrestleMania Comparison: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan, WrestleMania XXX
From time to time, WWE does something extraordinary. What happened here? They listened to their fans. Rather than drive someone who wasn’t popular with the crowds, or go with a top “heel” to get a victory, WWE chose to take the underdog and definition of the term ‘crowd favorite.’ Up against two tried and true names in Randy Orton and Batista, and after wrestling against another all-time great in Triple-H to open the show, Bryan walked out of New Orleans that night with the title. For the 30th installment of Wrestlemania, and the only one that I’ve ever attended, it was one, if not the best, ending to the event in history.
Coming off of a Super Bowl loss against the Chiefs, the 49ers are more than ready to get the past behind them and focus on the future. They have the tools to find their way back to the Super Bowl, but it would serve them best if they didn’t look past what was coming in Week 1. The Cardinals may be the underdog, but let’s recall that this is a team who nearly beat them twice last season. Now, add in the retooling that the Cardinals have accomplished this offseason, and it would be unwise for anyone to consider that this game will be one-sided. Just like Daniel Bryan, never doubt the underdog.
Week 2: Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
WrestleMania Comparison: The Rock vs. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, WrestleMania XV
In 1999, the wrestling world revolved around The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. With the “Monday Night Wars” nearing an end, and rival WCW slowly beginning to unfold, the WWE (then the WWF) was back on top. The Rock and Austin were both so over with the fans that it was one of the few moments where the wrestling world began to pour out into everyday life. It didn’t matter if you followed wrestling or not, because everyone knew who both The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ were. It was only a matter of time until the WWE gave them both the top nod for the company, and while we all knew what they were capable of, we were still unsure of what they would do in their first WrestleMania match together. Before you knew it, we had a classic on our hands.
In this scenario, our eyes are on Bengals QB Joe Burrow. We’ve seen what he could do last season by taking LSU to a national championship, but will this translate to the NFL? Add Browns QB Baker Mayfield into the mix, and now we have a recipe for two young QBs who are looking to add their names to the list of elite NFL QBs. Both have the tools around them for success, but how well will it translate into this season? Mayfield had elite tools last year, but now the Browns have a competent coach, as well as a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. Add in a Bengals team with Joe Mixon, A.J. Green (if healthy), Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, and this could end up being the first of many high scoring affairs for both teams.
Week 3: Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens
WrestleMania Comparison: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XII
This match could easily be classified as something that we didn’t know that we wanted it, nor did we think it would even work, but looking back, were we ever wrong. Wrestling fans love to come up with dream matches, but the caveat to a dream match is that both performers have to be in their prime. One of the best parts of this match was that both Hart and Michaels were in their ‘prime,’ though an argument could be made for Michaels after his return from injury. Fans griped and complained at the thought of watching the same wrestling match for 60 minutes straight. Experts weren’t sure how they could pull it off, but we all forgot one aspect prior to this match. Both Hart and Michaels are easily considered to be some of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Their match reflected just that.
At one point in time, there were some who thought that the Chiefs reached by trading up to draft Mahomes at 10th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. With Deshaun Watson still on the board, it seemed like the logical pick for Kansas City was the former Clemson QB. Then, the worry and frustration could be felt when the Chiefs traded away then starting QB Alex Smith to the Redskins, thus giving the role to Mahomes. Now a Chiefs fan’s favorite clip, even Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock said the Chiefs would regret this move. As for Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, do I really need to dive into the past for him? I mean, “for a RB,” he’s done pretty well for himself thus far. Icing on the cake goes to both having won league MVP awards over the past two seasons.
Week 15: San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
WrestleMania Comparison: The Rock vs. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania X8
Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that this was NOT the main event at Wrestlemania X8, but remember that I said I’d use “main event level” matches as well. Say what you will, but this match was main event worthy in my eyes, and one that was entertaining from start to finish. This was a match that wasn’t supposed to happen, yet it did. Not a wrestling fan? Willing to bet that you know who The Rock and Hulk Hogan are, though. If one was going to build a monument to professional wrestling, but could only pick two icons to place on it, both Hogan and ‘The Rock’ would be mentioned, easily.
The Cowboys/49ers feud needs no introduction. Back in the late 80’s and into the 90’s, these were the elite teams of the NFL. Even today, those who don’t fully follow the NFL know who the Dallas Cowboys are, and an argument could be made that most would recognize the 49ers logo as well. Today’s difference, though, lies in success. Since their last Super Bowl appearance in 1995, the Cowboys have seven division titles and zero Super Bowl appearances. On the flip side, the 49ers have six division titles, but have made the trip to the Super twice since 1994. Yes, they ended in losses on both occasions, but I’d still consider it a better success than Dallas at this moment. They both have the talent, and now with a new coaching staff, Dallas may finally find their way back to the ‘promised land.’
Comments? Gripes? Praises? Complaints? What other matches should’ve been considered? Let me know on Twitter! @ThatBankaiLife