If you’re not a fan of pro ‘wrasslin, you’re likely unaware that Wrestlemania, the biggest show of the year, is this Sunday. If that’s the case, this article probably won’t interest you in the slightest.
For everyone else, come on in! I’m here to run through every match on the ‘Mania card and give soft-as-hell predictions/fantasy booking suggestions. The 2015 edition of Wrestlemania has gone through one of the more interesting hype machines I can remember, just based on the real-life reactions and situations to the proposed bookings. That’s not saying I think the show is going to rank up there with the best ‘Mania’s ever, but it’s got some quality drama going into Sunday. And as always, Vegas has legitimate betting lines on Wrestlemania matches. Now let’s get to it!
Fatal Four Way for the Tag Team Championships
Tyson Kidd (c) and Cesaro (c) vs. Los Matadores vs. The Usos vs. The New Day
This match has been relegated to the ‘Mania pre-show, available only on the WWE Network for $9.99!!!!!! (Insert groaning here.) The tag team division was floundering until the addition of Kidd and Cesaro, but even that’s just kept it barely afloat. I wanted to see the Ascension or some randomly paired superstars in this, but alas, we have the four tag teams we’ve been seeing for a while now. The main reason I’m interested in this match is that there won’t be just eight participants. Each of these tag teams have an extra member/manager that will surely be accompanying them to the ring. There’s one dude. two women, and a small bull/man-child thing, all of whom have some animosity toward each other.
Prediction: WWE can’t possibly put the straps on the Usos again so soon, and no one cares about Los Matadores outside of El Torito up there. So that leaves the New Day, which is a clunker of a faction right now, and the current champs. I’d expect to see Kidd and Cesaro retain on the pre-show. No other teams makes sense right now, and why derail the momentum of your best pairing?
Second Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Okay, so there are twenty dudes in this Battle Royal, 19 of which have been officially announced. There might be one “surprise” entrant (Sheamus, most likely), but the story is one member of NXT (WWE’s development program) will be entered in the match after winning a tournament Thursday night. Here are the “big names”: Ryback, Big Show (who is always in these matches just so someone can eliminate him), Kane, The Miz, Mizdow, Goldust, Mark Henry, Curtis Axel (#Axelmania BROTHER), and Jack Swagger. Everyone else is sorta small potatoes and didn’t have another match at ‘Mania already. This is where WWE throws in a bunch of wrestlers to jump-start/conclude/continue feuds, so there’s going to be plenty of “little moments” for the dedicated fan.
But hey, don’t just listen to me. Jon Gruden did some hilarious analysis of some of the entrants. It’s worth watching even if he spends way too much time talking about Titus O’Neil.
Prediction: They’ve been pumping Ryback quite a bit lately, basically letting him run roughshod over anyone and everyone, which includes the Miz, repeatedly. The Miz and Mizdow’s imminent split has been brewing for quite some time, but we’ve been waiting for the trigger to be pulled. I’m betting the incident that starts their multi-match feud is right here. Mizdow will have a chance to save the Miz from a Ryback elimination at the ropes, instead choosing to eliminate both competitors, and therefore winning the Battle Royal. One can hope anyway. The NXT entrant will last a while, but likely won’t win the match.
***Update*** This event has also been shifted to the WM Pre-Show and Hideo Itami won the Axxess tournament to earn entry into the match.
Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title
Wade Barrett (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Daniel Bryan
This match has every reason to be batshit crazy. There will be ladders, and lots of them. Maybe we’ll see a table or two! (SQUEE) It’s got Luke Harper, Stardust, and Dean Ambrose involved. Crazy things are bound to happen. Current champ Barrett has been losing to everyone left and right these days, all while the title belt’s been stolen and swapped around like spit at a Spin the Bottle party. (Does that still happen anymore? Is there an app for that? Hold on, I’m going to go make an app for that.) If any match is going to absolutely steal the show, it’ll be this one. There are too many great wrestlers involved for it to be anything less than hella-entertaining.
Prediction: Why put Daniel Bryan in this match if he’s not going to win? It’d be a fun swerve for Ambrose to win, but creative has totally lost sight of what to do with him. R-Truth would be a cool idea, but does WWE even know what his character is about? And Ziggler’s had so many IC reigns that another one won’t legitimize the belt without better booking. So put it on Bryan and make the fans happy for five minutes while you try and make the Intercontinental title mean something again.
United States Championship
Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
Everyone’s favorite screeching Russian manager Lana has been off TV for a few weeks as she shoots a movie with Edge up in Toronto, but in terms of the storyline, there’s a “rift” brewing between the unbeatable Russian and Lana, thanks to her caving in and giving John Cena a match at ‘Mania. Cena lost last month at Fastlane due to a low blow (and subsequent passing out), so he’s been on a rampage to claim the US Title and put it back where it belongs, which apparently is in the hands of a jort-wearing American who likes to kick ass and ask questions later. No matter the ending, I think we’re all thankful that Cena is nowhere near the main event.
Prediction: Lana’s unwelcome return distracts Rusev, who loses to John Cena. Afterwards, Rusev is a total dick (WOMEN RUIN TITLE MATCH FOR RUSEV) and breaks up with his manager, leaving her able to finally enter the Divas division? (A fan can dream, right?) This feud has been obviously building to a Cena win at ‘Mania, given that’s the star/stage combination that allows Rusev to lose without dropping his worth and giving it the desired audience/gravitas.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
This feud really started months ago when Seth Rollins “injured” Orton with his patented curbstomp. Orton was out several months with a legitimate injury (ya know, real life), coming back at Fastlane to wreck a match of the Authority’s. After a few weeks of “will he or won’t he,” which included taking a step back to the Rollins – Jon Stewart feud, Orton finally snapped and made his move. So we have a match set for the big show. (Not the Big Show, mind you.) It pits Orton, returning anti-hero, against Rollins, sellout and corporate tool. And as much as my girlfriend hates him, he’s apparently a Harry Potter fan.
Prediction: If what we all expect to happen later in the show actually happens (which I’ll address a few matches from now), then Randy Orton wins this match hands-down. It likely won’t be a BEATDOWN, leaving Rollins healthy enough for a surprise at the end of the night. But for now, we move on.
AJ Lee and Paige vs. Nikki and Brie Bella
I’m still mad that this is just a tag team match and not a fatal four way with the Divas Title on the line. How is this belt NOT being defended at the biggest show of the year? I love the participants, even Nikki Bella, who has actually proven to be the better of the twins as of late. I just hate the match type. We saw a FANTASTIC fatal four way in NXT not too long ago, proving that ladies can handle their fair share of storytelling, when they’re trusted with it. Anyways, this is a basic match of two stars who “need to get along” against the “true team.” Well, it would be if that “true team” didn’t just had a massive feud stemming from last year’s Wrestlemania. A program that still hasn’t been properly resolved. Ugh. I’m still upset by this.
Prediction: We’ll probably get some ending where Paige and AJ manage to give the Bellas a taste of their own cheating medicine, but if you want to know what I’d do here? Have the Bellas pull off a win, and start flaunting themselves all over the ring, as they are wont to do. Then, Charlotte from NXT pops up and demolishes the twins. Paige and AJ get back into the ring, thinking they’ve got another anti-diva on their side. That’s when Charlotte gives them the ole double clothesline. You want to #GiveDivasAChance at WWE’s Super Bowl? This is how. Let Charlotte wreck everything.
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
So when Wyatt began subtly calling out the Dead Man several weeks ago, I didn’t quite believe that the WWE’s long-time loyalist would be back for Wrestlemania. That notion has since been firmly debunked. Now we’ve got the legendary superstar versus the “New Face of Fear” in Bray Wyatt, a match they’ve been promoting for over a month now… without the Undertaker showing up. At all. Ever. Outside of some thunder and lightning/premade footage/responses and a voiceover, the Undertaker hasn’t come anywhere near Wyatt. They’re saving his appearance for Mania. We’ve heard ‘Taker is in better shape these days, but his age is half the reason we’re not getting an Undertaker – Sting match. The other half being Sting’s age. (New rumors have popped up saying Sting-Taker is planned for Wrestlemania 32, so everyone be sure to take their Centrum Silver vitamins that day.) Instead, he gets Wyatt in a battle of supernatural forces. Urn versus rocking chair. Hood versus fedora. Eye makeup versus stringy beard.
Prediction: As much as Wyatt deserves to win because he’s been SO GOOD at promoting this match just on his words alone, clearly the Undertaker has to win. Why bring him back if it’s only to lose again to someone not Brock Lesnar?
Sting vs. Triple H
I’ll freely admit I’ve been goddamn loving every second of this match’s hype. Forget the fact that Sting probably shouldn’t be fighting Trips (why does he care??), because that doesn’t matter. This is the one fight WWE has handled properly in its lead-up. Sting has shown up at every turn to thwart the Authority, starting with November’s Survivor Series. Now he gets his hands on Triple H, who can actually still have a solid match at his age. Sting’s 56, but has moved pretty well in his limited and brief showings thus far. That doesn’t mean he can still go all-out for the 30 minutes this match likely requires. HHH is going to be carrying this match a lot of the way, but that’s normal. I would expect to see pop-in’s from Stephanie and maybe other members of the Authority, but this is probably one of those moments that Trips wants to run solo. Ya know, MAN STUFF. All that said, I just want a sledgehammer versus baseball bat battle here.
Yeah, it’ll be Sting. Triple H doesn’t need to win anything else at Wrestlemania. And they’re not killing Stinger’s momentum. UNLESS something INSANE happens, like Undertaker comes out and screws things up for some demonic purpose.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Before we predict anything, we all need to watch this.
That, my friends, is a future WWE Champion in action. Like all Reigns promos, it’s solid for about five seconds and then goes off the rails. Back to the serious shit!
I don’t remember a ‘Mania main event that’s been more interesting off the cameras than on it. Sure, last year’s insertion of Daniel Bryan was a behind the scenes meta-masterpiece, but watching it unfold live was just as fulfilling. This year? It’s all about everything besides the match itself. Roman Reigns looks to be hand-picked by Vince McMahon to be the real-life future of the brand, even if he only has a handful of singles matches to his credit. He’s got a look, that’s for sure. He’s athletic as hell, no one’s doubting that. But his mic work is still lackluster and “Believe That” is a terrible catchphrase.
Reigns and his steely-blue eyes (I had initially typed “they’re dreamy” in this parenthetical, but my research indicates that Reigns has been using colored contacts for a while now. That’s depressing as hell.) are going up against Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, genetic freak and the missing link between neanderthals and modern-day humans, has been working a part-time schedule with WWE, showing up on average once a month to do Brock Lesnary things.
He’s had a handful of matches in the past year, an amount some guys manage to fit into a single week. He shows up, obliterates his opponent, and walks away holding the title, which sounds like the best job ever. His buddy Paul Heyman does all the talking, and we absolutely love him for it. Anything to get more Heyman on the mic.
Prediction: This was a pretty obviously a Reigns win only a few days ago, but when Brock Lesnar announced on FREAKING ESPN that he was leaving UFC behind for good and re-signing with the WWE, every option got put back on the table. Here are some of my ideas:
-The double swerve. Paul Heyman turns on Brock, allowing a confused Reigns to pick up the win. But then Heyman turns on Reigns, which leads to a Rollins cash-in of his Money in the Bank contract. Boom. We’ve got a ragey beast and a pissed off Reigns chasing down a true heel (now partnered with Heyman) over the next few months.
-Legendary interference. It’s been bandied about that The Rock and Brock Lesnar are tentatively set up as a match for Wrestlemania 32, another “long game” by McMahon like was the case for Rock vs. Cena. If that’s the case, look for Reigns to lose clean to Lesnar with the Rock at ringside or coming out afterwards to save his cousin from a prolonged beating. Brock taunts Rock, Rock comes in and whoops Lesnar, dropping him with a Rock Bottom. Rollins immediately runs out and cashes in on the beast. INSTANT AWESOME.
-The most likely (at least before Brock re-signed). Reigns somehow beats Lesnar, but of course he’s a mess afterwards. Brock may even light him up again with an F-5 for good measure. Lesnar walks away from a flattened Reigns, when Rollins comes down and cashes in on his former Shield-mate. And the feud is ignited!
As you can see, I don’t think there’s any way ‘Mania ends without a Rollins cash-in. We need one. It’s been hanging over our heads for so long that NOT doing it at the biggest show of the year would be a waste. It just remains to be seen who he cashes it in on and if he’s successful.
Okay, that’s a shit-ton of words that your eyeballs slowly digested. I applaud you. It took me three days to write this, thanks to a bout of sinus pressure the likes of which have never been seen before. I’ll be glued to my TV this Sunday night, thanks to the ole’ WWE Network. I’ll be tweeting some thoughts here and there over @MostlyAvgJoe, so follow up for the snark! Enjoy the weekend, and enjoy the MANIA.