The biggest event of the year for wrestling fans is finally here. WWE presents it’s annual signature supershow WrestleMania tomorrow afternoon at the AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) in Dallas, Texas.
To say that the buildup to this show has been underwhelming would be more than an understatement. It seems the main interest in the event revolves around it simply being WrestleMania. On this past episode of The A1 Podcast, neither myself, nor any of the other panelists could name a match they were chomping at the bit to see. Sure there are matches that will be fun, but there’s nothing that screams “Match Of The Year”, or even “Must See Material”.
Still, in the end, Mania winds up being an entertaining spectacle, even if it’s not a great “wrestling event”. So without further ado, let’s look at all the matches.
There is a pre-show that will air both on The WWE Network and USA. The following few matches will be part of that pre-show.
WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP: Kalisto© vs. Ryback – This is one of those matches that just seems strange. Ryback hasn’t really done much other than talk about self help books and being his own man. Since the unofficial breakup of The Lucha Dragons due to Sin Cara’s injury, Kalisto has had some singles success, twice capturing the US Title. The fact that The Dragons have not reunited full-time now that Sin Cara is back seems to imply WWE will continue to push Kalisto as a singles star.
PREDICTION – WWE may very well be trying to make Kalisto the next Rey Mysterio. The best way to do that is of course to keep the wins coming. Kalisto rolls up The Ryback with a counter and gets a surprise pinfall. The Ryback accepts his fate and leaves to go eat a pile of meat. Kalisto celebrates his win.
The Total Divas (Brie Bella, Natalya, Paige, Alicia Fox, & Eva Marie) vs. B.A.D. & Blonde (Lana, Naomi, Tamina, Emma, & Summer Rae) – It’s a little frustrating to see matches like this. Just a few weeks back Natalya had a barnburner of a match with Divas Champion Charlotte. Sure, we knew she wasn’t going to win. However, Natalya made us forget that for a few moments, and that’s one of the signs of great talent. They make you forget that what you’re watching is predetermined. Now she’s in a multi-woman tag team match that’s centered around the Total Divas reality show.
Rather than waste my energy pointing out that Summer Rae is also on the Total Divas show. Or that a few months back she and Lana were at odds over Rusev and Dolph Ziggler, and are now suddenly partners. OR that Eva Marie is a despised heel in NXT, and somehow the WWE Braintrust thought she’d be cheered making her Main Roster return. OR how Paige was a heel mere weeks ago…
Like I said, rather than waste energy bringing all that up, I’ll just link a video that shows off the overwhelmingly negative reaction the crowd gave Eva Marie.
PREDICTION – Multi “Diva” matches rarely go more than a few minutes, and even more rarely are they memorable. The Total Diva team gets the win, likely with Brie pinning Lana for a little revenge to close out their feud… And possibly Brie’s career. Also don’t be surprised to see Nikki make an appearance to support her sister, even if she’s still in a neckbrace.
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. The Dudley Boyz – The Dudleys make their first WrestleMania appearance in over 10 years in what could be a fun tag team brawl. The Uso brothers are arguably one of the best tag teams of the last few years, and The Dudleys are inarguably one of the greatest of all time. The two teams had actually been on the same page for a few weeks, until The Dudleys turned and resumed their roles as dastardly heels. To add a little more heat to their now rule-breaking personas, The Dudleys are no longer using their signature Tables, thus depriving the fans of what they want to see most.
PREDICTION – The Dudleys are the grizzled veterans that are now playing the role of “star makers”. In general terms, they lose to younger talent stepping into the spotlight. In this case, The Usos can claim they beat one of the greatest tag teams of all time. It’s as simple as that. Whether any Dudley goes through a table will remain to be seen, but my hunch is yes.
WRESTLEMANIA MAIN SHOW
Onto the main card.
4 On 3 HANDICAP MATCH: The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E, & Xavier Woods) vs. The League Of Nations (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev, & Wade Barrett) – Thankfully this is not being billed as a Tag Team Championship Match, as The New Day have already beaten multiple combinations of The League on several occasions. It just wouldn’t make sense for a team to get a title rematch when they’ve continually lost.
PREDICTION – I can’t help but think this match will be played more for comedy than anything. The New Day are incredibly charismatic and will likely get a few funny chants out of the crowd. With the not so secret news that Wade Barrett is likely leaving the company in the Summer, I predict he is the one to take the fall. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is where we get the advertised appearance of The Rock, if anything because The Rock would love to say “Booty-O’s”.
THE 3RD ANNUAL ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL – Also known as The Let’s Get Everybody On The Show So They Can At Least Get a Payday Battle Royal. The announced participants as of the day before the show are Adam Rose, Big Show, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Fandango, Goldust, Heath Slater, Kane, Jack Swagger, Konnor, Mark Henry, R-Truth, Tyler Breeze, & Viktor. That’s 16 entrants out of the advertised 20. As luck would so have it The Wyatt Family is not advertised for this show, and there are four of them.
PREDICTION – As I stated, The Wyatts would be perfect surprise entrants. I also believe that Braun Strowman will be the man who ultimately wins. Not that it matters anyway. The last two winners (Cesaro and The Big Show) didn’t get anything long term out of it.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho – Now we’re getting to the good stuff. This is the match I am personally looking forward to the most. Yes, this is their fourth meeting, but each time it’s been great. Plus, each guy is an experienced enough veteran to know how to keep doing new stuff in multiple match feuds. This was quite literally a match thought impossible as late as a year or two ago. Perhaps coincidentally, AJ was on Jericho’s podcast, and both men stated their interest in having a match with each other. As fate would have it, Jericho made his return to WWE about the same time AJ made his debut, and the program began.
Rather that ramble on about how pumped I am for this match, I’ll just link this hype video
PREDICTION – It is pretty amazing that at the ripe young age of 45, Chris Jericho is doing some of the best work of his entire career. However, much like The Dudleys, Jericho’s best role at this stage is to give the rub to younger talent that will still be around in a few years. I have high expectations for this match, but I am confident they will be met. I am also confident that The Phenomenal One will have his had raised one more time.
INTERCONTINTENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH: Kevin Owens© vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz, vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust vs. Zack Ryder – You read that correctly. Zack Ryder is in a title match at WrestleMania. Granted it is likely due to the unfortunate injury to Neville, but that doesn’t change that this is Ryder’s highest profile match in years.
The background to this match is quite simple. Everybody hates Kevin Owens. Ziggler holds a non-title victory over Owens, and Miz owns a victory over Ziggler. Sami Zayn is a longtime rival of Owens dating back to their days before WWE. The other three (Stardust, Ryder, and Sin Cara) were the guys Owens was more willing to face. The implied reason is Owens is ducking suitable competition. In the end, we get this spotfest of a Ladder Match that has become a staple in major WWE Events.
PREDICTION – On this week’s A1 Podcast, I made the prediction that Owens retains. I still stand by that prediction, but I can see a scenario where Zayn wins, especially coming off his loss to the debuting Shinsuke Nakamura last night. Owens can claim he never “lost” as he was never pinned, and the Owens/Zayn feud is off and running. Perhaps Stardust can resume his feud with Stephen Amell?
DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP: Charlotte© vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks – Three of the “Four Horsewomen” are in prominent roles at this year’s Mania.Charlotte has really started to spread her wings as a villain, while Sasha has arguably become the most popular woman on the roster… While she was ALSO playing a villain. Becky is a personal favorite of mine, because she plays a spunky babyface so well.
This story is recapped quite well in another WWE produced video package
Once again, women’s matches on Main Roster WWE shows haven’t fared well. Roadblock’s Natalya vs. Charlotte match was the exception. Remember it was only a few weeks ago that all of these women were in some of the most terribly written segments in recent years. I think the placement on the show will play a factor. If it’s on early, we can expect the ladies to tear the house down. If it’s within the last hour, then we can expect a rushed match that doesn’t take time away from the main events. Because, you know, timing matches for a SIX HOUR show is tough…
PREDICTION – Sasha Banks is all over the marketing of this show. She’s front and center in some of the billboards, and even has her own ongoing video diary on WWE’s YouTube page. Not only that, there is news that WWE will rebrand the Diva’s Division back to the Women’s Division, complete with an all new title belt. It all points to Sasha winning her first title on the main roster. Sasha wins, and then debuts the new belt on the following episode of Raw.
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose – In what has been one of the more lopsided stories in recent months, Dean Ambrose has challenged Lesnar. Somehow we’re supposed to think Dean Ambrose has a chance against the big scary Lesnar after Ambrose has lost to HHH, lost to Roman Reigns, and lost the IC Title a few weeks back. But wait there’s more!
Mick Foley has given him a barbed wire bat…
…and Terry Funk has given him a freaking CHAINSAW!
So we are lead to believe that Dean Ambrose is going to use a CHAINSAW against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania? If not, why was he given one?
Anyway, you should still check this hype video out since we get some awesome Paul Heyman mic work.
PREDICTION – I can’t see Brock losing to anybody except a tip-top babyface. At least in a clean manner. My official prediction is Brock wins, but Dean looks tough in that he keeps getting up from the punishment Brock dishes out. The only way I see Brock losing is if The Wyatt Family arrive and interfere in the match.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Triple H© vs. Roman Reigns – In a match practically nobody wants to see, Roman Reigns challenges for his third WWE World Title against Triple H. This is one of those cases where the alleged preferences Vince McMahon has for his “Superstars” are apparent. Roman Reigns is a big, good looking guy with great hair. These are all things that score points in getting a “push” in WWE. However, most of the top tier guys in WWE are charismatic talkers. Just look at the history. John Cena, The Rock, Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, to name a few. Reigns does not have the talking charisma that the aforementioned legends have. Yet WWE constantly scripts him fake sounding dialogue for him to say. It hurts what should be a “strong silent type” persona. It also makes him look to the audience like somebody forced upon them, and not somebody they have chosen.
I could go on, but I already did a year ago, and things haven’t changed much. Suffice to say this is a match that will be VERY interesting to watch the crowd reactions to.
PREDICTION – I fully expect Roman to win the match and the title. Whether he turns heel in the process remains to be seen. That is why I also fully expect this match to NOT go on last. Normally, I am a strong proponent of the final match on the WrestleMania card being for the World Title. However, this year is the exception. Even if he’s trying to play the hero, Roman Reigns is going to get booed out of the building, and that is not something Vince MacMahon will want to be as the final visual of “The Greatest WrestleMania Of All Time”.
HELL IN A CELL: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker – Again, this is a type of story that will drive you crazy if you try to apply any sort of logic to it. Somehow Shane McMahon brokered a deal with his father that will be devastating if it’s revealed. Shane has demanded control of Monday Night Raw, or he will destroy his father with with whatever unknown information is contained in an unseen lockbox. Vince turned this into a match where Shane has to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania (something that has only happened once in 23 years) in a Hell In A Cell Match (often looked at as ‘Taker’s Specialty Match). If Shane wins, he gets his control and Undertaker will be banned from WrestleMania. If Undertaker wins, Shane is barred from WWE, and Vince will disown him as his son. Shane has vowed to fire Triple H and Stephanie if he wins.
Why Undertaker is agreeing to do Vince’s bidding is unknown. It’s also unknown if Shane could fire Triple H should this match take place before the World Title Match. It’s also not clear if Shane could just overrule any stipulations should he gain control. None of it really matters as WWE rarely follow their own stipulations.
PREDICTION – With all the teasing of big changes if Shane wins, I can’t see a situation where he would lose. Plus the figurative egg on the face of the evil Vince, Triple H, and Steph would provide that happy ending usually seen at WrestleManias. My prediction is a Shane McMahon victory, it’s just a matter of how much shenanigans are involved. I fully expect heavy interference (which defeats the point of having the match in an enclosed cage in the first place, but I digress…) from both sides. I’m sure Triple H and Steph will get involved, even Vince himself. I could also see The Rock, John Cena, Steve Austin, or even Sting making appearances to help Shane. Sting would especially be an interesting choice because not only will he be a full fledged member of The Hall Of Fame, but his first ever WWE appearance was helping stop The Authority of Triple H and Stephanie.
IN CLOSING – While there are no must-see matches in my book, I’m sure there will be a lot of drama in the final few matches. Plus, WrestleMania is always a great spectacle to look at. A 90,000 seat arena packed with fans is always an amazing sight.
Once WrestleMania is over, we can look forward to the “Raw After Mania” where we’ll presumably get Shane’s coronation as the new Authority Figure, Sasha Banks christening of a new title belt, a big debut or two, and the major angle that will kick off the next few months of storylines.
Thank you for taking the time to read this rundown, and I appreciate any feedback you have.