One of the things we all tend to do when it comes to WrestleMania is map out what we would have done if we were given free reign over the company. I figured, what the hell, I might as well do the same. So the following is what I would have personally booked if I could go back several months ago (roughly around Survivor Series). Keep in mind, this is within the realms of reality. For instance, there will be no Rock vs Cena, Sting vs Taker, Austin vs Hogan, or outrageous pushes like David Hart Smith fighting for a world title despite not being on TV in a while. Here we go...
SEGMENT #1 - [United States Championship]: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Jack Swagger
Bryan would eliminate Jack Swagger during the Royal Rumble and Swagger would be furious about it. Swagger would say that Bryan keeps being called the best wrestler (yes, "wrestler", not "superstar") in the WWE, but Swagger is a two-time All American, so not only is he better, but judging by that moniker, HE should be the one with the United States title. Since you don't want the ppv to start off with something too big, and you want to build and balance the card, you start it off with a singles match so you can logically move upward instead of crashing down. Also, these two would put on a fantastic opening match with a lot of energy. Daniel Bryan would win the match for two reasons. First, you don't need every championship to change hands. Second, it would let the fans continue riding the momentum of the cheers that they started the ppv off with, since they can cheer for Bryan's victory.
SEGMENT #2 - [Tag Team Championship]: The Corre vs. The Nexus
Think back to when Barrett was booted and Punk was doing the initiations. Gabriel and Slater walked away and received a big pop. David Otunga's initiation was just to accept a beating by Big Show. Not too bad considering it would be just a normal match kind of. McGillicutty took their finishers. Big deal, you can do that in a normal match. But Husky Harris, he got whipped. That's humiliating, especially if Punk would have added in the phrase "we need to whip you into shape", referencing Husky's weight. I'd have made it so Harris is pissed that he got such a different treatment and he quits as well. The three (Slater, Gabriel, Harris) join up with Barrett and decide to take down Punk, turning babyface in the process or at least tweener. It would make no sense for Otunga to join Barrett as he was always conspiring against him before anyway. So Punk realizes he's outnumbered 4-3 and enlists the help of Mason Ryan. Now, you've got a balance of styles. Wade and Ryan match up. Harris and Otunga are the slower, clumsier brick kind of guys. Slater and McGillicutty match up. Gabriel and Punk sure as hell match up. For added measure, you make it so this feud involves the tag titles in a Freebird Rule kind of scenario. Consider it a bit like the black and white nWo against the red and black Wolfpac. Winners of the match? I'd say probably Punk's Nexus via Mason Ryan pinning Heath Slater to put over Ryan, as well as change things up and have the heels win since Daniel Bryan won the previous match.
SEGMENT #3 - [Big Man Brawl]: Big Show vs. Diesel vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Ezekiel Jackson vs. Khali vs. Brodus Clay vs. Sheamus
The first "bathroom break" option of the night. We had a singles match, then a tag match, now we've built up to a just chaotic multi-man scenario. Storyline? When Diesel makes his return, he says he was and will always be the best "big man" in wrestling. The others take offense to this and all have a reason to claim why they are instead. Mark Henry is the world's strongest man. Big Show is the world's largest athlete. Ezekiel Jackson is the future. Khali has the height advantage. Kane says he might not be as big as them but none of them are as brutal as him. Brodus would be coming off winning NXT. You might be asking, Sheamus?? Well Sheamus here plays the part of THE heel in the match. He's sort of the Joe Pesci in this, the smaller guy who wants to prove himself against the bigger guys and it just annoys you that he's so adamant that he's tougher. The others have all legitimate reasons to be there as super heavyweight kind of guys, but Sheamus just seems to be there for the sake of ego and inflated delusion of grandeur. Thus, people watching the match will not care as much about who wins, as long as Sheamus gets his ass whooped - and he would, in the match. Beforehand, you have Sheamus squashing people that aren't that big (like Primo, Trent, Yoshi) which just irks you even more. How can he claim he's better than those guys when he's just beating guys smaller than him? As for who actually would win this...like I said, it doesn't REALLY matter, but for argument's sake, I'd go with Big Show I guess.
SEGMENT #4 - Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio
Remember that the previous match was the result of building up to a breaking point (singles, tag team, chaos) and also functions as a bathroom break. That means right now, we need to tone it down and start fresh, but you can't give this spot to a segment that is extremely important. Thus, you go for a normal feud. As for why Orton and Del Rio are together, simple: Del Rio is a heel that gets a lot of boos and is looked at as one of the main guys in the future, but he's not quite ready for a world title yet in my mind. This gets him a match against an extremely popular face (which helps boost his credibility and status, and prevents the fans from getting behind his cool character and cheering him). I'd probably have Del Rio go over here, cheating in some way, so they can continue the feud the next month at Extreme Rules.
SEGMENT #5 - Hall of Fame
For anyone that didn't go to the bathroom during the previous two matches, this is your backup plan. Don't worry, it won't slow down the momentum too much. Rather, it would act sort of like half-time (but take place just a little before the half of the show point, considering how in between these matches, there would be video packages about the feuds as well as backstage interviews and such). If you didn't go to the bathroom before, you'd better go now, because the action is going to kick into gear in a few minutes once this is over.
SEGMENT #6: [Scramble Match]: John Morrison vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes vs. R-Truth vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Evan Bourne vs. (another midcard heel; Kidd? Ryder?)
As much as I love the Money in the Bank being at WrestleMania, now that they have a ppv devoted to it, it shouldn't be on the card anymore. However, there are just too many guys that would get ignored if there wasn't a multi-man match that included all the midcarders and upper midcarders like this. So my theory here to get a spotlight on these guys is to create a new match at WrestleMania that grants a title opportunity and includes roughly 10 guys...bring back the scramble. The rules function the same way - if you earn a pinfall or submission, you're the interim winner, and you have a set time limit that you have to maintain that win. No disqualifications, no count outs, and whomever is at the top of the food chain when the time limit expires is granted a future title opportunity - but not in MITB style where they can cash it in at any random time. This, instead, is something that has to be sanctioned ahead of time. Basically, it's like becoming the #1 contender. For this card, the Intercontinental champion would be amongst these 10 names. Being the IC champ gives you the ability to claim that you're in line for a world title opportunity, right? For argument's sake, let's just say the IC champ is Cody Rhodes. He doesn't need to win the match, as he's the IC champ, and he can be still feuding with Rey Mysterio with a similar storyline to what we have right now. The winner of this match would be John Morrison. Heel was the previous match, so a face wins this, and Morrison's been working his ass off so he's rewarded. He wins it by pinning Ziggler, who has been just killing it lately as well, and the two can start a mini-feud to keep Morrison busy until his title match (as well as give Ziggler the reward of being #2).
SEGMENT #7 - Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole
In the weeks leading up to Mania, Lawler would win a match against Alex Riley to gain the opportunity to face Cole at WrestleMania with the ban on hitting him lifted during that time frame. After the scramble match, the Raw GM noise would sound and an extra stipulation would be added: if Michael Cole attempts to run away and get counted out, he will be fired. This segment would be another bathroom break and would tone down the audience after that hectic scramble match, replacing it with a personal feud instead of a random spot fest. This would be very short, because as I've stated before, the longer you go, the more of a risk you run of exposing the flaws. We don't need another Hart v McMahon. Lawler would just destroy Cole and he'd be taken off the announce team for the rest of the ppv - to be replaced by Josh Mathews. This would mean Striker (I'm not a fan of Booker on the table) would be the color commentator, Mathews would be the play-by-play guy (and both of them are the future duo for Raw in my opinion) with King playing the transitional part between the two.
SEGMENT #8 - [World Heavyweight Championship]: Edge (c) vs. Christian
Christian comes back, turns heel against Edge, voila, you've got your feud. I'm not one of the people that thinks Christian needs to win a world title, but in the grand scheme of things, if he were in the WWE during his TNA tenure, he should've had at least one short title reign, and this would be a time that could accomplish that, if not merely for the sake of continuing the feud and stat-padding Christian's career. Christian would win the title by cheating, of course, because he'd be a heel, and something like a con-chair-to would be a good way to accomplish that.
SEGMENT #9 - [Divas Championship]: Natalya (c) vs. Awesome Kong
Natalya would have never lost the title to Eve, but instead, retained enough times against Layla and McCool that neither of them would be eligible for a title shot for a long time. To get back at Natalya for it, they'd bring Kong into the mix. There would be a #1 contender battle royal around the time of the Royal Rumble for the divas and Kong would win it, allowing her to have this title match. Naturally, Kong would beat Natalya here and start a year-long domination as the champ that would end at the NEXT year's WrestleMania, where Kong would drop the title to Beth Phoenix. Slightly reminiscent of Yokozuna winning the Royal Rumble, beating the face champ at WrestleMania, and dropping it the next year. The differences of course is that you don't drop it to the same person and you don't have Hogan win it in the process. This, of course, is the final bathroom break, and that's the only reason it's placed above the Edge/Christian match.
SEGMENT #10 - [The Streak]: Undertaker vs. HHH
Vengeance for HBK. Nuff said. No career on the line, no special stipulations, just the two guys trying to tell the story of a guy fighting for his friend's honor. Ideally, HBK would be the special guest referee, and there would be a story there that Michaels wants HHH to win to spite Taker, but at the same time, kind of doesn't want HHH to win seeing as how he couldn't do it. Leading up to the match, there would be something of an argument where HHH reassures HBK that he'll get the job done, and HBK would take offense. "Because you're so much better than me, right?" That sort of thing. HBK would call the match down the middle, but there would be a time where he'd superkick Taker (pro-HHH) and then be too hesitant to make the count (pro-Taker). Undertaker would win in the end, and HHH would apologize to HBK. It's harder than it seems. The next WrestleMania, btw, would be Taker against Cena, who would turn heel in the process, and one of the seeds to start that up would be the next segment.
SEGMENT #11 - [WWE Championship]: The Miz (c) vs. John Cena
It is my belief that, despite redundancy, WrestleMania should pretty much always end with a babyface winning the world title from a heel. This year, the Miz would be on a better winning streak (ie, not booked to be a complete loser) and the feud would basically consist of what we have now, where the Miz is saying that he's the new face of the company and Cena's days are numbered. Both of them talk a lot, both of them do a ton of promotional work for WWE, both aren't the best technical wrestlers but can tell a story, etc. There would be some seeds planted that Cena is getting frustrated with how he does so much work for WWE but fans still boo him. This would come to pass next year at WrestleMania 28, with him turning heel against Taker when everyone cheers him instead of Cena. But for now, Cena would still be the top babyface, and would defeat the Miz, winning the WWE championship and ending the night.
I think that card above is pretty evenly distributed all around. You have young guys getting some spotlight, but not ignoring the veterans. You're not resting on the laurels of your previous stars but you're not risking buy rates with just the young, unproven talent. There's a healthy mix of styles between the matches. You've got some standard singles matches, a little bit of tag team, two free-for-all matches, some no-dq, some personal feuds and some that aren't as complicated, some heels win and some faces win, not every title changes hands but most do (because after all, it's WrestleMania), etc. Also, despite having 11 big segments amidst the video packages, backstage segments, and entrances and all of the other things that take up time, it isn't cutting every match short like they did last year. The shortest segments would naturally be the HOF, Lawler/Cole, the divas, and then the Big Man Brawl. The scramble would have a set time limit, so you don't run over with that, and there's less time that has to be devoted to the streak match because I doubt HHH/Taker can pull as long of a match out as HBK/Taker did. Remember, that whole card was with the stipulation that I could go back in time to around Survivor Series and plan it all out. For what it's worth, if you were to ask me to write a card using the current storylines, they're pretty much doing what I would do - and why would this article need to exist if I'd just rewrite what they're currently doing?