It's finally here. The Show of Shows. The Showcase of the Immortals. The Grandest Stage of All. The Greatest Spectacale is All of Sports and Entertainment. Whatever you call it, WrestleMania is here.
And, let's be honest, if you're reading this, you probably don't need a big introduction to what WrestleMania is all about, so let's get right into the match preview and predictions.
Tag Team Championship Fatal 4-Way
Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (c) with Natalya vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. Los Matadores (Fernando and Diego) with El Torito vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) with Naomi
I’m not really feeling this match, although I’m sure the action will be fast paced. I was hoping, considering each “stable” has three members (even if two of them are Divas and the other is a “mini”) that we might get some sort of 3x3x3x3 match. Maybe next month at Extreme Rules… Anyway, the only team I’m completely ruling out here is Los Matadores. The Usos regaining the titles or Kidd and Cesaro retaining is where the smart money is, but just because I want to see WWE institute Freebird rules for the tag titles (any 2 of the 3 members of a team can defend the belts) then I’m going with … .
Adam Rose, Big Show, Curtis Axel, Damien Mizdow, Darren Young, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Goldust, Heath Slater, Jack Swagger, Kane, Mark Henry, Miz, Ryback, Titus O'Neil, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder, Konnor and Viktor, and NXT tournament winner Hideo Itami
Right now, there are 20 total participants in the battle royal, and I would suspect it will stay that way. Of course, last year, there were 30 announced and Cesaro snuck in at 31 and won the thing. Sheamus has been the rumored 21st participant this year, and if he's in it, I think he should win to re-establish him. I'll be honest, I expected Adrian Neville to be the NXT tournament winner and perhaps begin his rumored "Mighty Mouse" gimmick by eliminating the Big Show or something, but it was Hideo Itami who won the tournament instead. Having Itami win would be a heck of a start to his main roster career. However, at this point, I hope he just doesn't have an unceremonious showing. The big angle to watch here is the break-up of The Miz and Damien Mizdow. It's definitely happening, it's just a matter of whether that ends up being the final two facing off. If it's none of those guys, I'm going with Ryback. He's been super over since returning as a babyface and there's money to be made with him. He just needs a little shot in the arm and a big stage win like, even if it's on the Kickoff show, could be just what the doctor ordered.
Wade Barrett (c) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. R-Truth vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan
If I'm booking WrestleMania, I'm starting the main show off with this match. There is a decent chance that the most ardent fans of WWE -- the same ones who booed Roman Reigns out of the building at the Royal Rumble -- are going to be riled up and ready to destroy anything they don't like with their reactions. Presumably, a babyface is going to win this one, and Bryan, Ambrose and Ziggler are three of the biggest favorites on the WWE roster of the so-called "Internet Wrestling Community" that is blamed for taking over the shows. So give them what they want here by putting the white strap on one of them and preferably the guy that main evented last year's WrestleMania (and that they wanted to main event again this year) after a show-stealing match to set the bar for the event.
WINNER: And NEW Intercontinental Champion, Daniel Bryan
Does WWE #GiveDivasAChance at WrestleMania with more than 5 minutes of match time? Maybe, but trust me, this isn't getting more than 10 minutes and will be in danger of being cut short if something else goes long. Unless a celebrity was involved, the Divas match at WrestleMania has gone in favor of the heels for most of the past decade (and we really haven't had a Divas match that mattered since Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus at 'Mania 22). Kinda of pointless to bring back AJ just to have her team lose, right? And, is it just me, or are the Bellas teasing that they might rekindle their feud that was unceremoniously dropped last fall.
WINNERS: AJ Lee and Paige
Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton
There are two ways to look at this match: Rollins is going to lose, then cash in for the WWE title later in the show, setting up a title match between he and Orton at next month's Extreme Rules, or Rollins steals a win here, Orton wins a rematch at Extreme Rules where he can really hurt him, and Rollins cashes in later that night. Honestly, I think if Rollins were to beat Orton, it doesn't preclude him from cashing in later -- in fact, that might actually make it more of a surprise -- especially if he wins cheaply. Still, I'm sticking with Orton.
Logic dictates Cena should win this match. He's the patriotic babyface and it's WrestleMania, typically when heels get their comeuppance. But Rusev has been booked so well that I hate to see Cena end his nearly year-long streak of not being pinned or submitted. Much like many thought that the Undertaker's Streak should've been ended by a young up-and-comer who could use the rub, I feel the same way about Rusev. Personally, I've always thought it should've been Roman Reigns (I would've done Bryan-Lesnar for the WWE title and had Reigns beat Rusev here for the US crown -- something the vociferous fan base probably would've gotten behind). It still could be Reigns if he wins the WWE title and then faces Rusev down the road before he drops the US title. I get it if they go with Cena, but there is a better story to be told with both men post WrestleMania if Rusev wins and Cena begins to question his abilities.
This match might be the biggest question mark on the entire card and it's all a matter of the story they are trying to tell with the Undertaker over the next year. Presumably, he'll be retiring at next year's WrestleMania in his home state of Texas. So is the story he enters that match on a losing streak or does he re-establish himself with a victory here? I, for one, think he'll be working with Sting next year, and since it'll be a babyface vs. babyface match, the story will be Sting trying to resurrect the confidence of one of the greatest superstars of all time for one more match versus trying to take him down the way Wyatt is here. If WWE is serious about making Wyatt a top heel this year, he needs to win this one.
WINNER: Bray Wyatt
Triple H vs. Sting
Not much needs to be said about this match, which might be the best reason to tune into WrestleMania, just to finally see Sting in a WWE ring. I think this could elicit a "this is awesome" chant before Hunter and Sting even lock up the first time. Will this match deliver the goods in the ring? As long as it doesn't stink up the joint -- and it won't -- it doesn't matter. This is all about the spectacle. My only issue with this match is the lack of stakes involved. Sting said he wants to "take Triple H and the Authority down" but if he wins, they are still in charge. Hopefully, a loss to Sting just humbles Triple H to the point he an the Authority go away for a while, allowing the shows to breathe without a menacing Authority figure.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Roman Reigns
Put me in the minority, but I'm really excited to see how this one plays out. Is Roman Reigns ready to be "the man?" Does Lesnar re-signing with the company mean WWE is ready to reverse its booking course and keep their top championship on him? Will Seth Rollins cash in? Will Paul Heyman turn on Lesnar? And how does the crowd react to everyone? And more importantly, can these two gladiators put together a match and tell a story worthy of the main event of WrestleMania? As long as the latter part is true, I don't care who wins. I'm not concerned whether Reigns is "ready." If he's not, at worst you're looking at a five-month run through SummerSlam. I, for one, am willing to give him a chance to see how the story plays out. However, if WWE decides to book Lesnar to win, I want to see Reigns push him to the limits and, for the first time in his year and a half of dominance, Lesnar must act like a real heel and cheat to win. That keeps Reigns looking strong and sets up a rematch down the road. Meanwhile, it allows Lesnar to have anticipated title matches with Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton over the next year. However, I think a stubborn Vince McMahon is determined to crown a new champion here.