Ah, Wrestlemania. The Granddaddy of Them All. The Showcase of The Immortals. The Grandest Stage In The World. And on April 2nd, 2017: The Ultimate Thrill Ride... for some reason.
For those not in the know, Wrestlemania is the WWE's biggest show of the year. To hear them tell it, its the Superbowl, World Series, Oscars and Beatles reunion all rolled into one. For Wrestling fans, this is the big one and while it may not always live up to the hype, more often than not WWE is able to put on one of, if not the, best shows of the Year. Storys begin and end at Wrestlemania and the next night on Raw the train pulls out of the station and we do it all again.
This year, Wrestlemania is in Florida (shudder), Orlando to be exact. The road to Wrestlemania has seemed a bit bumpier this year, but I still remain convinced that the talent involved will pull off a good show in the end.
So, who's fighting what, where? Read on and get set for WRESTLEMANIA!
Wrestlemania Kickoff Show:
The Fourth Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The Setup: Featuring the likes of Big Show, Sami Zayn, Braun Strowman, Apollo Crews, Mojo Rawley and whoever else is in Orlando hanging around, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal should be a highlight of the show, giving an under-utilized, mid-card or rising star a chance to have their "Wrestlemania Moment" in a fun, but rather inconsequential way. What it seems to be this year is more long the lines of "Oh crap, this guy's match fell through/his opponent or tag team partner got hurt, so let's put them in the Battle Royal. It's hard to have a bad Battle Royal in my opinion, but The Andre Battle Royal being the peanut shell sweepings of the locker room has never felt more apparent than this year. This will air on the USA network as part of the second half of the Kickoff show.
Your Winner: I'd say Braun Strowman is the presumed favourite, but a great cap to their feud would see Sami Zayn win over Strowman. If WWE remembers that they had a feud, that is.
SmackDown Women's Championship Match - Champion Alexa Bliss vs all available female SmackDown LIVE Superstars
The Setup: Alexa Bliss was the champion and unseated by Naomi, which was actually pretty cool. Unfortunately, Naomi got hurt and she had to vacate the title, leading to Bliss regaining it. Naomi is from Orlando, the site of Wrestlemania this year, so as she recovered, I'm 101% sure the WWE had every intention of creating this "Bliss Vs Everyone" match so that the hometown girl could return and reclaim the title that she never lost, to a massive ovation. Then, the match got relegated to the Kickoff Show. The part of the show that ISN'T on the USA network. So, they had to do Naomi's big return on Smackdown and add her to the "Available Female" portion of the roster.
Your Winner: As much as I'd like that belt to stay around the waist of the best Champion in WWE, I expect Naomi to reclaim the title that she never lost, to a mild, arena half-full ovation.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match - Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
The Setup: This will be the best match of the Kickoff show (and possibly would have been on the "main" card as well). Austin Aries got his face kicked in by Shinsuke Nakamura in a match in NXT, so he was out of action and stuck on commentary for 6 months while the Cruiserweight Division and 205 Live were built up around him. Neville is a pissed-off hobbit who thinks he's better than everyone in the division, and is probably right about it. Once Aries was clear to wrestle, he immediately went after Neville, beating most of the division to earn a title shot.
Your Winner: Austin Aries return will be complete by grabbing that big purple belt. Hopefully this leads to the two men feuding over the title and even swapping it back and forth into the summer.
Power Couples Collide - John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
The Setup: Married couple Miz and Maryse hate common-law couple John Cena and Nikki Bella. They feel like Nikki is riding her boyfriend's coattails to increase her "brand" and John has outlived his usefulness in the WWE, since Miz is making movies and taking over Hollywood and John's just a "part-timer." John and Nikki claim that Miz and Maryse are the ones who are the ball-lickers and they are stupid poopy heads who are stupid. So, they're gonna fight.
Your Winners: My gut tells me that it's Wrestlemania and with 4 movies this year and a slew of hosting events, John Cena is poised to become a legit movie star. WWE loves nothing more than a big Movie Star coming from their ranks, so making Cen-Ella (Bell-ena? Jikki?) look good here is key. They'll take home the Oscar, er, gold, er, win.
SmackDown LIVE Commissioner vs. The Phenomenal One - Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
The Setup: AJ Styles used to be the WWE Champion. He lost the belt and to regain it, he had to participate in a bunch of matches that he deemed unfair. He turned his rage on the SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon and put his face through a car window. Shane, who has wrestled 1.5 matches (Being part of a Survivor Series team doesn't really count) in the last year challenged AJ to a match to settle the score. The two held a contract signing to ensure each other that NOTHING EXCITING will happen in their match, and it will be a by-the-numbers affair.
The Winner: After being dominated the whole match, Shane will win by doing what he does best: something dumb. He'll catapult himself into the stratosphere and drop an elbow from there or throw himself through AJ's dressing room mirror or something. But he'll get the win.
"Hold Harmless" Match - Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
The Setup: HHH once hand-picked Set Rollins to be the face of WWE. Rollins claimed the title by cashing in his Money In The Bank shot at Wrestlemania 31. Then Seth got hurt. Like really hurt and was forced to vacate the title and was out of action for half a year. When he came back, HHH had all kinds of new toys to play with and didn't care about Seth any more. Seth got mad. So they yelled at each other for a few months as Seth got hurt AGAIN, and then set up a match where if HHH breaks Seth's paper mâché knees, he's not responsible for it.
Your Winner: I was going back and forth on this one as Seth needs a win and HHH has laid down the last few Wrestlemanias (Sting match aside). But then I remembered that HHH's new best friend, Samoa "The Destroyer" Joe is nowhere on the card for Wrestlemania and I went "oooooohhhhh." Seth will lose via Joe interference and HHH will have an outstandingly dumb, but lavish entrance.
The Phenom vs. The Big Dog - The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
The Setup: This match kinda came at us sideways, when Roman Reigns was selected by the Undertaker to be his opponent at Wrestlemania. It was awkward because Braun Strowman was standing RIGHT THERE at the time. Anyways, since then the two have engaged in a battle of wits to determine the ownership of the WWE Yard and who's the bigger dog. Along the way, Undertaker kept distracting Roman with his dong. It's a grudge match, but no one really knows about what.
Your Winner: I have to go with Roman Reigns here. A win over the Deadman at Wrestlemania is the final feather in an audience-hated cap for Roman and may push him to embrace the dark side. Undertaker's wins at Wrestlemania haven't meant anything since the Streak was broken at WMXXX so it's time for the Big Dog to pass the bone, so to speak.
Raw Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Ladder Match - Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
The Setup: There are five tag teams on RAW. The New Day are "hosting" Wrestlemania and the rest are in this match. Gallows & Anderson are the longest-reigning champions never to win a match and that bugs Sheamus, Cesaro, Enzo and Cass, for reasons. Last week these teams started beating each other up with ladders, so always happy to put 2 + 4 together, the WWE made it a ladder match. Oh and the other team is the Shining Stars, in case you were wondering (you weren't).
Your Winners: In spite of some #DELETION rumours floating around, I say put the belts on Enzo and Cass. The Club are still missing their charisma cough*FinnBalor*cough and Cesaro and Sheamus both deserve to move away from their "team." Enzo & Cass are liked by the fans and if a team showed up to render them #OBSOLETE, say on Monday's RAW, their promo exchanges alone would make for great TV.
Raw Women's Championship Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match - Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
The Setup: Much like the Tag Division, the RAW Women's Division consists of the 4 women in this match and Dana Brooke. "Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match" just sounds silly, so sorry Dana. The motivations here are: Charlotte thinks she's the best and should be Champion, Bayley is Champion because she squeaked into it with Sasha's help, Nia is mad everyone forgets that should could literally kill them all and Sasha is the quiet one you've been told to watch out for.
Your Winner: This one's hard to call. I could see Bayley retaining because it's Wrestlemania (though her WINNING it at WM would be the better story). Nia Jax should just kill everyone and take the title. But I think it's Sasha Banks who walks out with the belt. And she does so after cementing herself as a bad, bad boss.
United States Championship Match - Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
The Setup: During Kevin Owens' Universal Championship run he had one true, blue, best friend: Chris Jericho. It was one of the more entertaining relationships on the show, but it made Owens look weak, like he needed help to win. Inevitably, the friendship dissolved an the two turned on each other, causing Owens to "lose" the Universal title to Goldberg. This will be a great match because both wrestlers are at their peak, but it comes with the problem of being a wrestling fan in 2017: I know what's happening next, so the outcome is obvious.
Your Winner: To avoid Spoilers, I'll list three possible outcomes. One is correct. If you know, then you'll know which one. If not, Happy guessing.
- Owens wins the title because Chris Jericho is scheduled to take a few months off to make a record with his band, Fozzy.
- Jericho retains because WWE desperately wants to put him and Samoa Joe in the same ring for a program, post-mania.
- Owens wins the title to become the fastest Grand Slam Champion crowned in WWE history.
Intercontinental Championship Match - Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
The Setup: Baron Corbin is kind of a miserable guy who hates everyone and everything. Dean Ambrose is craaaaazy. The two picked at each other until Corbin had enough and tried to crush Ambrose with a forklift. Weeks of Forklift-related matches and distractions ensued until a match for Dean's Intercontinental Title (that even he forgot he had) was made for Wrestlemania.
Your Winner: As much as I think the natural outcome here is Ambrose retaining, I'm going with Corbin getting his first taste of WWE gold and becoming even more insufferable because of it.
WWE Championship Match - Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
The Setup: Wow, where to start with this one? OK, follow along: Bray Wyatt is a crazy southern cult leader who beat Randy Orton a bunch. Randy, ever the optimist, responded to these losses with a shrug and literally saying "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" and became part of the Wyatt Family. He and Bray won the Smackdown Tag Titles, got into weird territorial disputes with Luke Harper and then Randy Orton inexplicably won the 2017 Royal Rumble, guaranteeing him a shot at the WWE Title, then held by John Cena. Elimination Chamber happened and (Ironically) OUTTA NOWHERE, Bray Wyat became the WWE Champion. Everyone was like "Awk-ward..." until Randy said that he would give up his title shot so he wouldn't have to face his "master." Then a couple weeks passed, Luke Harper quit the family and Randy did what Randy does by doing a complete 180 and burning down Bray Wyatt's shed, which was the source of his power (I'm not making that up. Not even a bit). They alluded to the fact that Randy was just learning how Wyatt ticked the whole time in preparation for facing him in what turned out to be a title match at Wrestlemania.
Your Winner: Please for the love of Sister Abigail, Bray Wyatt. No one needs to utter the phrase "Randy Orton, WWE Champion" in 2017.
Universal Championship Match - Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
The Setup: So, at Wrestlemania 20, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar had a match. It legendarily sucked. Lesnar left the company and Goldberg retired. Fast forward to 2016 and someone thought it would cool to have them face off in a Video Game commercial (kinda). This got Goldberg's attention and since Brock wasn't doing much but drugs to win UFC fights, someone (probably the same person) decided that 12 years later they would have a Wrestlemania 20 Re-Match of their terrible match at Survivor Series 2016. Brock agreed and Goldberg sweat on the contract which was legally binding. Their match lasted less that 90 seconds with Goldberg coming out on top. That made Brock mad and he was even madder when Goldberg came out the next night and said "That was fun! I think I'll win the Royal Rumble now!" Brock countered with "No sir! It is I who will win the Royal Rumble." So, when the two met in the ring during the Rumble in Jan.... Goldberg eliminated Lesnar in under 90 seconds. So, the next night Goldberg came out on Raw and said "Man, this wrestling thing is a GAS! I think next I'll win the Universal Title." Then Brock (via Paul Heyman) said "hey man, before you do that do you want to have a Wrestlemania rematch of our Wrestlemania Rematch Survivor Series Match?" Goldberg was like "K, hang on though I have to beat Kevn Owens for his Universal title" which he did... in under 90 seconds.
So, to recap: Goldberg and Lesnar fought in a terrible match in 2004. Both men left the company afterwards. Since 2004:
- Come and gone from the WWE a bunch.
- Made an NFL team, decided he didn't like it.
- Became UFC Champion
- Has wrestled many matches against top WWE stars like Undertaker, Roman Reigns, Big Show, Randy Orton and John Cena.
- Won the WWE Title and held it for a really long time.
- Moved to Canada to practice his isolationist ways.
- Did some TV stuff. Was in a movie, I think?
- Bought some cars.
- WATCHED some UFC
- Wrestled 2 official matches for a total of 3.5 minutes and was in a Royal Rumble for a few minutes (all of which happened in the last 6 Months).
- Beat Brock.
- Won the Universal Title.
- Sweat a lot.
Your Winner: I will be shocked, SHOCKED, if a) The match goes longer than 5 minutes, and b) Brock doesn't decimate Goldberg, avenging his earlier losses and winning the Universal Title.
So there we go, friends! The Road To Wrestlemania has felt long this year, but we got there. We got there...
Feel free to sound off in the comments if you agree/disagree with my predictions! I'll be live-tweeting Wrestlmaina on Sunday starting when the show begins at 7pm EST!