By Jason Powell
Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship: Yes, WWE actually lists this as the top match on their website match listing. Sure. WWE wants to offer something for everybody when it comes to WrestleMania. I’m not really sure who they think the hocus pocus build catered to, but I found it downright awful. Wyatt isn’t the next Undertaker. His character should be the smartest guy in the company who manipulates and plays mind games, not a supernatural screwball. Orton’s master plan to tear down the Wyatt Family led to a faction that had never held a championship winning the tag titles and now the WWE Championship. Brilliant! I would stick with Wyatt as the champion and bring Finn Balor to Smackdown to be his eventual top challenger. WWE may want the happy RKO finish.
Bray Wyatt retains the WWE Championship.
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship: I have settled on seven minutes as the over/under for match time. They can afford to go longer and risk Goldberg being exposed now that they’ve made it to the big match. Here’s hoping they wow us with a surprisingly strong match filled with smoke, mirrors, and Pat Patterson’s magic. The outcome feels highly predictable. Hey, WWE, if you want to convince us that Lesnar covets the championship, then how about we hear that from him directly in a sit-down interview?
Brock Lesnar wins the WWE Universal Championship.
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H in a non-sanctioned match: Is this the match that features run-ins by Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn and/or Balor? I could just as easily see Joe getting involved in the U.S. Championship match. Either way, this seems like a slam dunk for Rollins, who will likely work from underneath before pulling out a win due to the knee injury storyline. Forget the Triple H conspiracy theories, a case can be made for Hunter winning due to outside interference or because Rollins is injured if the idea is to set up Rollins getting a win in a SummerSlam showdown match. My guess is we get the massage parlor finish.
Seth Rollins wins.
Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns: The most intriguing match of the night. Does Taker win clean causing Reigns to drift into heel territory? Does Reigns win clean only to have Taker pass the torch and raise his hand afterward (vomit)? Does the Reigns character have the audacity to cheat to beat Undertaker at WrestleMania? I could keep going, but you get the idea. There are a lot of directions that WWE could take. I would love to see Reigns emerge from the match as a heel. Yes, Reigns is a draw in his current form. Could he be a bigger draw with an all out heel turn? Sure, his merch numbers may drop, but could he boost the merch of other babyfaces by being the heel face of the company? These are questions that WWE never brings up when they have JBL and others attempt to convince the fans who boo Reigns that they actually like him and just don’t know it. Reigns would be a terrific heel and I would even go so far as to have him turn on Taker, then defeat Lesnar on Monday’s Raw with help from Paul Heyman, whose character decided it was time to jump off the Lesnar bandwagon after Goldberg defeated him at Survivor Series. Hey, I can dream. As always, savor the match due to Taker’s involvement. You never know when he’s going to follow through on his annual post WrestleMania claim that he is retired. One can only hope that he will give the company a one year warning so that they can build WrestleMania around The Last Ride match. As for the outcome? I always bank on Taker at WrestleMania and it’s only failed me once.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles: This is billed as a straight up match. Please tell me that Shane isn’t out to prove that he can do more than leap from high places. Sure, Styles is the right opponent if you’re looking to prove you can have a great match, the problem is that Shane’s idea of a great match seems to be throwing bad punches and applying MMA holds (see his match with Taker last year). As much as I roll my eyes at seeing Styles work with Shane rather than another world class wrestler, it doesn’t mean this can’t be fun for what it is. I’m going with Styles, but my alternate finish is Shane going over, causing Styles to reevaluate as a setup for a Styles babyface turn.
AJ Styles wins.
Bayley vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax in a four-way elimination match for the Raw Women’s Championship: The elimination stipulation has me far more enthusiastic about the match. It will be interesting to see if Charlotte is right about Sasha being a master manipulator and whether that leads to her winning the championship as a top heel. She’s a natural heel and I would like to see it. Ultimately, WrestleMania is a feel good show, so I’m going with the feel good wrestler retaining on the big stage.
Bayley retains the Raw Women’s Championship.
Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens for the U.S. Championship: The long friendship and now bitter rivalry made for a strong setup. I wish the U.S. Championship felt like a bigger part of the build, but the heat between the characters is more than enough to make this feel like a significant match. This has the potential to be a show stealer. Jericho got the surprise win over AJ Styles last year. I’m going with the heel this time around, but I can’t rule out a Jericho win here followed by an Owens win in a rematch on television.
Kevin Owens wins the U.S. Championship.
John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse: The build to the match was fantastic. That said, I can’t say that I’m anxious to see the actual match. Cena made it clear that this will be an ass kicking. His work with Miz should be fun, but I can’t say I’m fired up about seeing Maryse wrestle again after all these years. It should be fun and my money is on the post-match proposal.
John Cena and Nikki Bella win and get engaged.
Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Championship: It’s nice to see a singles match for the IC Championship on the big stage at WrestleMania. I could see this match going either way. Is the mindset to make fans happy by having Ambrose go over or to make Corbin on the big stage? I like the story of Corbin winning The Dre in year one and the IC Title in year two at WrestleMania.
Baron Corbin wins the Intercontinental Title.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass in a ladder match for the Raw Tag Titles: I wish I cared more about the outcome of the match, but they didn’t tell a good story going into this. Fortunately, they realized the match needed something extra and added the ladder gimmick. I’d prefer to see the heel champions retain and be positioned as badass heels, but seeing is believing. My guess is that Enzo and Cass return to Orlando and capture their first titles.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass win the Raw Tag Titles.
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Mickie James for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Is it a Kickoff Show or is it not a Kickoff Show? Is it a six-pack challenge or are they leaving the door open for others to enter (Asuka?)? The Smackdown women deserved a better match or at least a better build. That said, they also deserve to be on the the show, so I’m more understanding than most about going with a non-singles match. I would love to see Bliss retain the title, but I’m going with the hometown hero (which is usually a mistake).
Naomi wins the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Neville vs. Austin Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: I questioned right before the build to the match whether there would be enough time to tell a proper story between the two. It turns out there definitely was. I’m not crazy about the Aries news gimmick, but when they ditched the comedy and got seriously then it was intense and very good. It’s cool to see both men working their first WrestleMania match. I just hope they play to a packed stadium unlike the pre-show matches last year. I’m going with the babyface winning an early match to get things off to a positive start.
Austin Aries wins the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal: Of the advertised entrants, the logical winner is Braun Strowman. Big Show winning his second is doubtful, and Sami Zayn pulling off an upset win remains my extreme dark horse pick. The late addition of Killian Dain is fun, but I don’t think he pulls a Baron Corbin. I just hope Strowman doesn’t have to pose next to the trophy for the next few minutes.
Braun Strowman wins The Dre.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...