WrestleMania predictions and more
HERE ARE YOUR letters and questions, most of which concern WrestleMania XXXIII, which takes place on April 2 from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
I will be posting another update on the site this coming Wednesday, April 5. If you would like to share your opinions on TakeOver, WrestleMania and the post-’Mania Raw and SmackDown Live, please e-mail: email@example.com . . .
I personally feel the line-up for WrestleMania XXXIII is the strongest in years.
The marquee matches (Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker and Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar) will be terrific spectacles and the crowd should be red-hot for both matches. These might not deliver in terms of in-ring wrestling action but, from an entertainment standpoint, all four guys know how to put on a great show.
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho, A.J. Styles vs. Shane McMahon, HHH vs. Seth Rollins and Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt all have the potential to steal the show. For the purists, Neville vs. Austin Aries will no doubt be a hard-hitting affair. True, John Cena is being wasted in a mixed tag with his other half, but you can’t have everything, and I think the card is stacked enough without another big Cena match. Honestly, I haven’t looked forward to a WrestleMania this much in a long time.
My match predictions:
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar: Lesnar takes the Universal title by pinfall in less than five minutes.
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker: Reigns pins ’Taker after hitting a tombstone piledriver on ‘The Dead Man’.
HHH vs. Seth Rollins: Rollins wins after Finn Bálor returns to counter Samoa Joe’s interference.
A.J. Styles vs. Shane McMahon: Styles wins after Shane wipes himself out with a crazy stunt.
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt: Wyatt hits sister Abigail to retain his title.
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho: Owens captures the U.S. title from Jericho in dominant style.
Neville vs. Austin Aries: Neville retains the title in the closest match of the night.
John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse: Easiest of the night to call — Bella pins Maryse to win.
Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin: Corbin takes the IC title from Ambrose in an average match.
I expect both Bayley and Alexa Bliss to retain their titles in underwhelming matches, and the Raw tag team champions to retain after a rush-job match.
And I’m predicting Braun Strowman will eliminate pretty much everyone to win the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
If all of the above does occur, it will leave WWE in fantastic shape, with a heel Reigns ruling Raw and eventually challenging Lesnar for the Universal title, Bálor and Rollins opposing The Authority and having matches against Owens and Joe, and A.J. Styles back in WWE title contention, where he belongs.
I also believe this will be the last time we see The Undertaker in the ring. After observing the pain ‘The Phenom’ has been in, it will be satisfying to see him have one last great match and then ride off into the sunset.
While I will watch WrestleMania on Sunday, I don’t think I’ve ever been less interested in the product WWE is providing.
For me the problem is, the story lines are so formulaic and predictable that hardly anything maintains my interest. Nothing means as much as it should or at least enough for me to care to tune into the next show to see what happens between Wrestler A and Wrestler B.
Example one: Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho. The inevitable break-up between these two following their long association would have sold the match itself — if done properly.
In my opinion, they pulled the trigger a tad early on the Owens/Jericho rivalry. This has created difficulties preserving the momentum each week, and the story line has lost much of its lustre after the hot angle on February 13 when Owens attacked Jericho. Now, it’s just another match at ’Mania.
Example two: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt. Had Orton burned Wyatt’s compound down the week before or during WrestleMania week, the gravity of what had happened would have been fresh in mind and, accordingly, would have had a greater impact on the match itself. Also, Randy giving up the WWE championship match, which instigated the mini Rumble match, etc., only to then regain the title opportunity after someone else got the match in order to lull Wyatt into a false sense of security was nonsensical.
WWE should have kept it simple. Crank up the tension between potential feuding parties, insert a few swerves to drag it out and, then, BOOM! Orton burns down the compound on the SmackDown Live before WrestleMania. Reaction: “Wow! I’ve gotta see that match.” Due to the way in which the hype has played out, however, this is just another match at ’Mania, which just happens to be for the WWE championship.
The only thing that is holding my interest at the minute is A.J. Styles. While his reward for carrying the SmackDown brand for half-a-year is a match against Shane O’Mac, he has again grabbed what he’s been given by the throat and is making the story, the feud and the match matter. Kudos indeed to Styles for that.
On a side note, I feel the need to admonish Dean Ambrose for his treatment of Baron Corbin on Talking Smack. As Corbin attempted to convey to Dean the lengths to which he will go to win the IC title at WrestleMania, Ambrose’s expressions, mannerisms and responses were Cena burial-esque. It was quite ironic that what Ambrose did with the remote control to Corbin at the end of the segment is exactly what I’ve been doing for months, each time Ambrose has popped up on my TV screen. Ambrose’s staleness alone screams, “Heel turn!” just to change things up.
I’m just reading the Harley Race interview in The Power Slam Interviews Volume 2. What do you make of his comment about working a three-and-a-half-year stretch without a day off?
It does sound like an outrageous exaggeration on the surface. However, I can believe it because Race was a co-owner of the Kansas City territory in the 1970s and 1980s, as you know, so it is feasible that he went into the office or had business-related meetings when he wasn’t on the road as NWA World champion — which he probably counted as a work day.
I cannot believe Race wrestled every day for three-and-a-half years straight; that’s ridiculous. However, I’m sure he wrestled for months without a day off because that’s what the Alliance expected of its heavyweight champion during that era. Simply put, if the champ wasn’t willing to fulfil the schedule, the NWA would find someone who would.
That Jack Brisco was so eager to drop the NWA title in 1975, and Terry Funk couldn’t conceive of enduring a second reign after he relinquished the NWA championship to Race on February 6, 1977 communicates how arduous the job was.
I’m fairly convinced that Michael Cole refers to Roman Reigns — with undue enthusiasm — as ‘The Big Dog’ to irritate Raw’s (remaining) audience.
Kudos to WWE for putting on an exciting and momentous episode of Raw this week (March 6). The company does have me chomping at the bit to see the ’Taker vs. Roman Reigns match at WrestleMania. I just hope they do the smart thing and have Reigns go over, while turning full heel in the process. Should they do this, they’ll create the hottest heel wrestling will have seen in some time.
I must say that I simply cannot see Braun Strowman making it as a long-term headliner. His persona and promo skills are straight out of the 1980s, and match his somewhat dated ring style. I would be happy to be proven wrong — but I just can’t see it.
The biggest victim of WrestleMania season has to be A.J. Styles. ‘The Phenomenal One’, WWE’s success story of 2016, deserves better than a match with the boss’ son. And I’m rather disturbed that a Shane McMahon match seems to have become a WrestleMania tradition. Shane is taking a spot from an actual wrestler who could benefit from performing in a singles match on the show.
Given everything that has happened lately, I have a feeling the fans at ’Mania may turn on Goldberg in his match with Brock Lesnar. Can’t say I’m particularly looking forward to this match. That these two will be competing for one of the company’s top titles on a ’Mania in 2017 is somewhat demoralising.
In continuing my unofficial role as your ESPN First Take message-bearer, I’m letting you know that Triple H appeared on the programme to promote WrestleMania XXXIII.
What are the chances that we will see two short one-sided main event matches in Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns vs. Undertaker at ’Mania?
Also, do you believe Shinsuke Nakamura will make an appearance in Shane McMahon’s corner to set up a match with A.J. Styles down the road?
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar at WM XXXIII should last longer than Goldberg’s Survivor Series 2016 and Fastlane 2017 matches. Having conditioned its fans to expect blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em Goldberg bouts, WWE can no longer rely on swift match shock factor to offset the action shortfall. For that reason, I believe WWE will have to deliver more on Sunday than at the aforementioned events on which Goldberg defeated Lesnar in 86 seconds and relieved Kevin Owens of the Universal title in 22 seconds.
It’s hard to believe the contest will go longer than four or five minutes, though, because Goldberg’s stamina is severely limited, by his own admission, and Lesnar needs to appear dominant in order to powerwash away memories of his convincing loss at Survivors and the ease with which Goldberg eliminated him from the Rumble match and speared him on Raw this week.
“Guys, I can’t believe I’m saying this but, when it comes to Lesnar’s chances this Sunday, there’s a little bit of doubt creeping into my mind,” remarked Corey Graves on the March 27 Raw after Lesnar had tasted the spear.
One need not have the mathematical brain of Alan Turing to crack that code. WrestleMania will be Lesnar’s night for the reasons listed above and because he is sticking around for at least one more year, whereas Goldberg may very well wrestle for the last time on Sunday.
Reigns vs. Undertaker should last far longer than Goldberg vs. Lesnar. The match will be memorable for the atmosphere in Camping World Stadium, if nothing else.
I think Shinsuke Nakamura is more likely to make his official main roster debut on the post-WrestleMania Raw or SmackDown Live than at ’Mania to prevent his introduction from getting lost in the whirlwind of happenings on the ’Mania card.
I can think of two more reasons why it probably won’t happen: an appearance by Nak in the Styles vs. McMahon match would dilute Shane’s thunder and make Shane appear to be something less than Styles’ equal.
Do you think Shawn Michaels should have come out of retirement to face A.J. Styles at WrestleMania?
No. Seven years have passed since Michaels last wrestled. In the interim, he’s moved on in life and long since eradicated the wrestling bug from his system.
Bear in mind, expectations would have been colossal for a Michaels vs. Styles match on the ’Mania stage. After seven years as a non-wrestler, one has to wonder if Michaels could have come close to measuring up to the mental image that fans would have had for such a match-up, if it were made.
It would seem senseless to break a retirement vow after seven years to leave the public with a sense of disappointment.
Even in a best case scenario — if Michaels had returned and torn the house down against Styles — it would have tarnished the majestic way in which he had bowed out in 2010.