By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Here on WrestleMania Recall, I will be ranking my top 31 favorite matches in WWE WrestleMania history. A new installment will be posted every day in the month of March, culminating with my No. 1 favorite match on Thursday, March 31st, mere days before WrestleMania 32. Each article will offer an in-depth look at each match and an analysis of why it is among my favorites.
Did WrestleMania 31 exceeded everyone's expectations or what? There's a reason why I have a tough time answering the ever-asked question, "What's your favorite WrestleMania of all-time?" because as much as I love WrestleMania 28, this event in particular was near-perfection in my mind, not to mention that I have zero clue it would be so incredible. Ten years from now, it will be remembered most for its brutal and breathtaking main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Initially, I was excited at the idea of Reigns being the one to dethrone Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 after Lesnar decimated John Cena to win the WWE title at SummerSlam 2014, the same show where Reigns slayed Randy Orton. It seemed to make the most sense storyline wise, that was until Reigns was sidelined with a hernia injury in the fall that caused him to miss three months of valuable in-ring time. Fans were happy to have him back in time for the Royal Rumble, but the timing was way off. The returning Daniel Bryan was the favorite to win the Rumble.
The backlash stemming from Reigns' Royal Rumble win is pretty well-documented, so I won't go into too much detail here, but it was apparent that WWE needed to switch up their original plans for the WrestleMania main event. Not even Reigns beating Bryan in clean fashion at WWE Fastlane and getting endorsed by him afterward was enough to win his detractors over. He continued to get booed out of buildings on the rocky road to WrestleMania.
While I loved the match they ultimately had at The Show of Shows (hence why it's so high up on this list), the feud was virtually nonexistent. Remember, this was before Lesnar signed his new deal with WWE, so he was still showing up every few weeks to promote the program despite being in possession of the title. WWE heavily relied on Reigns to hold fans' interest in the 'Mania match, and although Paul Heyman did his best to carry Reigns to a passable promo, Big Dawg failed miserably. He simply wasn't ready for that type of push.
Fans feared that Lesnar vs. Reigns would go down the same way Lesnar vs. Goldberg did 11 years earlier at WrestleMania, a total trainwreck, but the complexion of the contest changed drastically when it was announced days ahead of the event that Lesnar had re-signed with WWE for another three years, meaning there was a chance after all that he could retain the title. Still, everyone was expecting the most likely scenario with Roman reigning supreme and conquering The Beast Incarnate when no one else could.
Personally speaking, I prepared myself to be disappointed by this bout, but Lesnar and Reigns put together one of the most well-crafted WrestleMania main events in recent memory. Lesnar destructively dominated Reigns throughout the matchup, hitting suplex and suplex on the poor guy and even coining the now-popular phrase, "Welcome to Suplex City, bitch!" But Reigns refused to fall to the mastodon of mayhem. Three F5s weren't enough to put him away, and it was then that I was fully convinced he was winning.
Reigns battled back with a flurry of Superman punches, but the bloodied Lesnar never once left his feet. He reversed Reigns' third spear attempt into a fourth F5, but before he could capitalize, a familiar guitar riff hit Levi's Stadium and the crowd came unglued: it was Seth Rollins! Ask RJ, I marked out harder than I ever had before, and they got me hook, line and sinker thinking Lesnar or Reigns would win when they went for their finishers. But in the end, Rollins stood tall with the title tow. The heist of the century resulted in my favorite WrestleMania ending of all-time.
SEE ALSO: "WrestleMania Recall, Match #14: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk, WrestleMania 29"