For a majority of my more than 30 years of watching WWE entertainment, WrestleMania has been the show I have looked forward to seeing more than any other. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Royal Rumble and the occasional SummerSlam PPV, but at the end of the day everything Vince McMahon does throughout the year is geared towards delivering a top-notch Mania card for the masses to take in.
This year feels a little different. I am not sure if it is a byproduct of getting older (I hope not at least) or the lineup of matches, but even with Sting’s debut match in the WWE on the docket, my anticipation for this Sunday’s extravaganza is somewhat tepid. There have been some ‘dud’ Mania’s in the past (see the Miz vs. Cena headliner in Atlanta a few years back), and I am fearful we are headed in that direction. There is little buzz, less energy, and other than Brock Lesnar’s announcement earlier this week that he will remain with the WWE, not much to talk about in terms of big picture scenarios.
With this as the backdrop, I have summoned our panel of experts for their feel on the matches and to see if they share my sentiments.
Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c) (with Natalya) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) (with El Torito) vs. The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (with Xavier Woods) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) (with Naomi) Fatal four-way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Waymire: I don’t see any reason to take the titles away from Kidd and Cesaro, so they’re my pick. Usos are good but have had their run. Los Matadores are just plain corny, and The New Day are just plain embarrassing. Please DO NOT give either one of those teams the titles!
JD: I hate being Debbie Downer here, but just how bad is the Tag Team division currently? Los Matadores, New Day and the Usos are horrible kid friendly tag teams that 99% of actual wrestling fans despise. I love the idea of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, but how long are they going to keep them together? Six months? Can’t we have legit tag teams that aren’t forced down people’s throats in a cheesy way? I really hate making a pick here but if I have to I hope the Swiss hunk (yea I said it) and Tyson Kidd retain.
BJR: No interest. This was simply thrown together; the champs are not a true tag team as far as I’m concerned. So much for HHH’s focus on the tag team titles. Oh and where is the mighty Ascension?
Drew: Gotta go with the champs on this one. I actually like this team and wish the tag division had more pull (the other teams in this match are garbage and The Ascension has been a massive bust). Can’t see them dropping the title here.
PAC: I personally enjoy the team of Kidd and Cesaro. They probably aren’t built for the long-term, but glad that a great worker like Kidd is finally getting a chance to perform again. I see them winning unless the powers that be want to throw one of these other teams as bone.
André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal for the André the Giant Memorial Trophy
Waymire: This would be a good spot to bring back Sheamus, so he’s my pick. If he’s not even in it, then it’s a toss-up between a bunch of people nobody cares about. So I guess I’ll go with Ryback.
JD: Who really cares who wins as long as there is a cool spot (Cesaro eliminating Show last year).
BJR: No interest, couldn’t even really tell you who’s in this match. All I know is that Goldust is in it and we are not seeing him and Stardust have a match at Mania; instead they quickly throw them together in a PPV match last month and completely miss out on an old school feud with one payoff match on the biggest stage of them all. Winner: Samoa Joe.
Drew: Blah. Ryback I guess.
PAC: It will come down to Corporate Kane, Big Show, Ryback, and maybe a returning Sheamus. Either way I don’t have any interest in this match and am glad it is on the pre-show now.
Bad News Barrett (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Waymire: Maybe it’s time to take the Intercontinental title seriously again? If that’s the case, then I’ll roll with Daniel Bryan, who can make a big deal about following in the footsteps of HBK, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and Stone Cold, among others.
JD: This may very well steal the show. The only thing I don’t like is R-Truth being in this match (what purpose does it serve?). The other competitors are clearly the future of the company and keeping them involved in the IC title will only help to elevate it again.
BJR: Minimal interest. I’m still annoyed that they had Ziggler vs Bryan on this past Monday’s RAW, that match belongs on the Mania card. This match will be great from a pure wrestling standpoint and will have some amazing spots. I still think this was thrown together and really has no point to it other than giving these guys a chance to be on the card. I really need to start seeing long term feuds built up well prior to Mania, not three weeks prior. Winner, Stardust with help from Sheamus when he takes out Bryan.
Drew: Best match on the card in my opinion. Ambrose, Ziggler & Bryan always bring 100% to every match they are in. Stardust can be really good in big-ticket matches. If you could bet on this situation, I would put a lot of money on Barrett getting hurt at some point that will put him out of action for six months. Harper & Truth are throw-ins. I expect a lot of high-flying action, a lot of big-time bumps and at least two Holy Sh*t moments. The easy pick is Bryan. I’m going with Ziggler – he’s been on a roll lately and they can set something up with him & Bryan that can go for a while.
PAC: This is one of the top matches on the card and should bring down the house. My only regret is that the likes of Ziggler, Bryan, and Ambrose might’ve been better served in other feuds or in other high profile matches way up the card. I think Ziggler and Bryan will cancel each other out leading to a series between them down the line, leaving Ambrose to emerge victorious.
AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella) Tag team match
Waymire: I don’t see many heels winning on this night, so this might be one of the only matches where it could happen. The Bellas get the victory. But I still love Paige. A lot.
JD: I love AJ, Paige and Nikki. That is all.
BJR: Piss break. Winner: The Bella Twins.
Drew: Ugh. Remember when you actually looked forward to Divas matches since it was either (A) halfway decent wrestling or (B) good looking Divas? Now it’s neither. I guess I’ll go with AJ & Paige.
PAC: Do I have to pick someone? Team Paige only because of her accent.
Rusev (c) (with Lana) vs. John Cena Singles match for the WWE United States Championship
Waymire: Rusev can take the loss here and still be a monster heel, and I can’t see Vince McMahon passing on the sight of Cena winning the U.S. title at WM. I think it would be fun to watch Bryan and Cena with the secondary titles, so let’s go with Cena.
JD: Don’t know how many times I can say it: I hate this John Cena. I don’t hate the man, I hate the stale character. For all the shit you can say about Hogan, at least he got it at some point and was like “the red and yellow ain’t working anymore”. For all the people that say, “he’s just following Vince’s orders”, I would counter and say that if Cena demanded the turn heel, it would happen. Why do I want this so badly? Because I actually feel John Cena has a lot left in the tank just not with this super cheesy fruity pebble character. With that said, I’m guessing he goes over here (which shouldn’t happen).
BJR: Already seen this match and I have no interest in a rematch on the Grandest Stage of Them All. Winner, Cena.
Drew: Another blah. SuperCena wins breaking the undefeated streak. The ONLY good thing to come out of this would be if Cena brings back the spinner US title belt (that thing was awesome).
PAC: Surprising to see Cena down the card going for a secondary title. Despite all the USA/Russia ramifications and the building of Rusev into a monster heel, I think a lot of people still don’t want to root for Cena. It will be physical match with a lot of power spots, but Cena will win and the big American flag will drop from the sky.
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt Singles match
Waymire: Can it possibly be two straight WM loses for The Undertaker? I think so, as Wyatt needs to regain much of his lost steam, and this is one opportunity to do so.
JD: Very intrigued here, I think they did the right thing by keeping Taker off TV. I honestly have no idea where they go with this. It can’t be a clean finish because Bray should go over but I can’t imagine having Taker lose cleanly two years in a row after going 21-0.
BJR: Finally, somewhat of a good buildup with no altercations between the two. Plus they’ve never faced each other, so there’s some intrigue here. I sort of get why Wyatt would call out Taker, but still random to me as to why Taker would be facing Wyatt. I like Wyatt and think he should be put in a feud with another younger guy to try and steal the show. My guess this is to help people forget about Taker’s loss last year and maybe position him better for the match vs Sting if that were to happen next year. Winner, Taker.
Drew: Not excited at all. I have never been a Bray Wyatt fan and I continue to not be. Undertaker looked like garbage last year so I have no idea what to expect this year. I think I’ll take the Undertaker but I have no idea why.
PAC: Would’ve liked to have seen this match when Taker could still move. Wyatt is a powerhouse, and him and Old Taker could’ve had a real knock-down/drag out brawl. The build to this one has been decent, and if Taker hadn’t lost to Lesnar last year I would say Wyatt had a shot at winning. I see them appeasing the crowd here with a win by Taker.
Sting vs. Triple H Singles match
Waymire: As much as I’m glad Sting is finally in WWE, he really blew it by not agreeing a few years ago to face The Undertaker at WM 27. From what I recall, he was also in talks to face Triple H at WM 19, I believe. Give Triple H credit – he’s happily done the J-O-B in big matches, and that doesn’t change here. Sting gets the victory.
JD: Honestly, couldn’t be more hyped out this. Both men can still go and I can only imagine the how loud that place will get for Stings entrance.
BJR: I’m beyond disappointed that this is not Sting vs. Taker, that’s what’s best for business. With that being said, putting my disgust over HHH once again injecting himself in to Mania, I am looking forward to this match. Watching Sting’s entrance and first ever WWE match is alone going to be great. Plus HHH is one of the best in ring performers of all time, so between the two of these guys, we’ll definitely see a great and physical match. Winner, Sting and hopefully there’s something with Taker to set up next year’s Mania.
Drew: Although Triple H loves to dominate the storylines and insert himself into every event he deems worthy, he can still put together a solid match. Sting is still in relatively good shape, but his wrestling skills are meager at best at this point. Trips will make this match worth it but Sting wins at the end setting up a go-forward story of him vs. The Authority.
PAC: Say what you will about Trips dominating TV time and injecting himself into the hottest storylines, the man can still create interest in a match. Sting has obvious physical limitations at this point, but Triple H is smart enough to develop a contest that plays to his strengths and makes him look representable out there. I am still bummed at Sting for dropping the ball and not coming to WWE sooner to face the Undertaker a few years back. That would’ve been epic. We are left with this though, and while it won’t be as great, I am still jacked to see him in a match at Mania. Sting gets the win.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) Singles match
Waymire: Rollins can take a loss and still have a big night if he cashes in. Even if there is no cash in, he still has the briefcase and instant credibility, so Orton is my choice.
JD: I could see Orton winning but Rollins getting the last laugh with cashing in. I fully expect Rollins to walk out WWE Champ.
BJR: Will be a good match, Rollins has proven to be a solid performer. But again, we’ve seen this match in one way, shape or form, so I can’t get overly excited about it. The saving grace here will be J&J Security, this is one of the best things going right now and they still “got it” in the ring. Winner, RKO (and obviously Rollin’s could cash in his MITB).
Drew: Still can’t stand Orton (going on close to 15 years now). I love Rollins – he’s a perfect chickensh*t heel, great on the mike and really good in the ring. This will probably be a really good match. I’ll go with Rollins winning with outside interference.
PAC: Somewhat interested in this match because both men are really good in the ring and complement each other well. That and anything involving J&J security I am all in on. Orton gets the win and we might see Rollins cashing in later in the night.
Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns Singles match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Waymire: Boy has this match taken on added significance in the last few days with Brock’s re-signing. So many factors to consider: Reigns being chosen as the “next Cena,” Heyman possibly swerving Lesnar, Lesnar bucking tradition and walking out of WM as a heel champion, and the crowd factor weighing heavily on rejecting Reigns winning. With all that said, I’m still going with Reigns coming away champion, even with Lesnar’s slick new three-year deal. If Reigns was stubbornly given the Royal Rumble victory, why not here as well?
JD: There are three scenarios that I’m ok with for the outcome of this: 1) Lensar retains and walks out Champ, 2) Rollins cashes in 3) Reigns walks out champ only after a heel turn because let’s face it .. no one gives a shit about him as a baby face. It should be a great match, Lesnar is an absolute spectacle and Reigns can go to ..he just isn’t ready to be the top baby face.
BJR: Now that Lesnar has resigned with WWE (three year deal WC, are you OK with that now? Or is he still a part-timer?), this match will be entertaining only because Reigns will get booed out of the building. Lesnar should carry the match, I’m not impressed with Reigns in the ring whatsoever, not to mention he jacks his own arm off before his finisher. I won’t be shocked to see Lesnar’s next feud set up during this match. Winner and still WWE Champion, Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrock. Lesnar!
Drew: Before the Rumble I figured it was a lock that Reigns would win and carry the title going forward. But since the debacle at the Rumble and now that Lesnar has signed his WWE extension, I don’t see that happening. Now I have not been the biggest Lesnar fan since he “returned” since he’s basically pulling a glorified Rock scenario and showing up whenever the product needs a bump, only working about seven shows per year. With his extension, maybe he will actually become part of the storyline. Regardless, I see him retaining. I also say there is a 50% chance of The Rock showing up at the end to do something (setting up a match at next year’s WM), a 25% chance of Rollins cashing in on a “tired” Lesnar and winning the belt and a 10% chance of a combination of the two (Rock coming out to confront Lesnar after he beats down Reigns, giving him the Rock Bottom and Rollins running in to cash in his briefcase).
PAC: Prior to Lesnar resigning with the WWE I was certain that Reigns was going to win, but now I am not quite sure. Do they really want to put the title on someone (RR) who very well could get booed right out of the building? If Reigns does go over I could see Rollins coming down to cash in his briefcase, but the more I think about it, the more I see Lesnar getting the W. Why have him beat Taker at last year’s Mania, destroy Cena at SummerSlam, sign him to a large extension, if he isn’t going to remain as champ for the foreseeable future?