Hi wrasslin’ fans, lapsed or otherwise, you may or may not be aware that this little thing called Wrestlemania is tonight and if we get behind it, it might just make it!
We (wrestling penoids) will return to our normal thread after tonight, but here’s a place for everyone to discuss the biggest AMERICAN wrestling event of the year in all its silly splendour in case any casuals want to get involved. Are you staying up for it? planning on catching up (full or highlights) tomorrow?
In the UK you can watch it either on Sky Box Office or WWE Network, the pre-show starts at 10 pm tonight and the main card at midnight. Given the amount of matches, it’s probably safe to say this thing is gonna run til about 5 am…
But anyway, let’s break down the card! (Order TBD)
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYALE a.k.a that sweet, sweet WrestleMania payday
Load of old bollocks innit? Just throwing everyone who doesn’t have a match in here, INCLUDING THE SMACKDOWN TAG CHAMPS THE USOS. Interestingly, Luke Harper isn’t listed (though he might be a surprise) so at the moment the only really credible guys here are The Big Show and Braun Strowman (who should win, really). Couple NXT guys Tian Bing and Killian Dain have announced as debuting here too so look at them as outsiders, otherwise pretty forgettable.
NEVILLE VS AUSTIN ARIES - CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE
Shame this is on the pre-show really, they’ve spent the better part of the year trying to build these guys up and finally seem to have struck gold with “King” Neville proclaiming “Fuck the Mackems” and no one will see them on the big stage. If you are new, (Adrian) Neville is a high-flipping Geordie lad who has recently kicked out in frustration at always been looked down upon (because he’s a wee, weird geordie guy) and it’s been pretty great. It’s kinda off Aries is the face here but anyway, this should be a good match between two excellent workers with an alright story behind it to boot.
Smackdown Women’s Title 6-pack challenge
Alexa Bliss © vs Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Naomi
This WAS on the pre-show but WWE actually responded to complaints that its a bit shit the women’s division they’ve spent the last year and a half building as a credible thing to end up on the pre-show. That said it’s probably a good shout it will just open the main show instead. I love Alexa Bliss but no chance Naomi isn’t taking this, she never “lost” the title and now gets to do it in front of her hometown crowd (was her “injury” a work?) but these are all credible challengers (except maybe Carmella) so should be entertaining enough. This isn’t an elimination match, far as I’m aware btw.
RAW TAG TITLES LADDER MATCH
The Club (Gallows and Anderson) © vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Enzo & Cass
Because who doesn’t love big ol’ tag ladder matches at Mania? This division is a mess after tonight’s hosts The New Day (don’t sleep on them getting involved) ruled the titles for over a year. This should be fun at least, the only way to make this match a bit more entertaining was to throw some ladders in the mix, although big fella Sheamo might not agree after he received several stitches taking a ladder shot on RAW this week. There are also A LOT of rumours of the Hardy’s getting involved here but I’m not sold on that just now (would make sense re ladders mind). But if not, I think, sadly this is Enzo & Cass’s coronation even though they are clearly the weakest team of the bunch…
Predictions: DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! (but if not S-A-W-F-Ties Enzo & Cass)
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH
Dean Ambrose © vs Baron Corbyn
I’m surprised this isn’t a no-DQ match given the build of this one. For the uninitiated, Ambrose is “TOTALLY INSANE” whereas Big Banta Breakfast Corbyn is a “Lone Wolf” who’s gimmick is that he really believes himself to be the next top guy (and fair play to him, I guess). Highlights have included Corbyn trying to murder Ambrose by crushing him with a forklift (which they keep mentioning totally earnestly because WRASSLIN) and Ambrose literally switichin Corbyn off during an interview. Hard to know where Ambrose is at the moment, he started last year SUPA HOT FIRE and seems to have lost all momentum, so would except this to be Corbyn’s moment to prove himself.
Prediction: Corbyn takes intercontinental title, labour party, to new heights.
BIG SILLY MIXED TAG TEAM/MARRIAGE PROPOSAL MATCH
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs The Miz and Maryse
Holy fuck, what a build, what a year these guys have had. On any other year (remember these two headlined a WM only 6 years ago) this would be the stupidest match on the card… and it is, and will be, but that is not a bad thing. This will be pure “sports entertainment” and you know what, I’m actually kinda looking forward to it? Everyone involved’s stock have flown up over the course of the last year, and the build for this between them has actually been amazing (If you haven’t seen them, do yourself a favour and check out Miz and Maryse impersonating Cena and Nikki, it’s been amazing). This will be a classic “Good guys conquer bad guys” match Cena has been having forever, but for once he’s (well, WWE) aren’t burying young talent and can see Miz and Maryse coming out of this looking great. I expect Daniel Bryan will get involved in someway (returning the kicks Miz stole from him probably) and Cena proposes to Nikki after, with the rest of the show just being the two of them fucking in the middle of the ring.
Predictions: It would be AMAZING if Miz and Maryse won, but it’s not going to happen, so let’s just enjoy this for what it is.
UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH (but oh so much more)
Chris Jericho © vs Kevin Owens
This is a title match, but it is SO MUCH MORE. This has had almost a year build, as Jericho and Owens became best friends and literally carried post-split RAW for its first few months. Owens had to give up the big boy title for the big boy match for this, and everyone kinda forgot Jericho was champion, so the title isn’t really important, this is the culmination of the greatest betrayal since the shield or shawn michaels put marty janetty through the barber shop window. This has the potential to be MOTN as Jericho is still “the best at what he does, maaaaaaaan” and Owens is just a fantastic heel. Owens should win, however, for this story to really make sense (but this might carry over to RAW tomorrow)
RAW Women’s title match, 4-way Elimination match
Bayley © vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
You’ll notice (if you’re still reading) both womens matches are basically just big smodges just to get everyone (except Dana Brooke, lol) involved. The Women stole the show last year, but I can’t really see it happening this year. Since that incredible encounter, Charlotte and Sasha have fought forever, as have Bayley and Nia Jax, and so here we are. Bayley’s not had a great run as champion, and kinda needs to go back to being the underdog. Sasha has been teasing a heel turn which very much could/should happen here, Nia Jax is big and that so if she doesn’t win she’s probably getting DQ’d? (If that’s a thing, wrestling can never make up its mind about that). So I guess that leaves Charlotte to become a 5 time champion on her run to match (or beat) her father’s record in the space of like 2 years through short reigns (i’m sure Flair did too during WCW). The most intriguing thing about this match is that its elimination, but otherwise, thoroughly un-hyped for this one, sadly.
Prediction: Sasha heel turn on Bayley, Nia gets screwed somehow, Charlotte wins.
MAIN EVENT MATCHES:
Shane McMahon vs AJ Styles (because we had nothing better to do for our universally praised wrestler of the year than fight the boss’s son)
Who the fuck knows, we could have had Michaels vs Styles man. I respect Michaels decision not to come out of retirement, but ffs, we’re left with THIS? I don’t really know what to say, they’re building this as a regular wrestling match, so in theory Styles should squash Shane O’Mac, but I guess he’s gonna need to jump off something for some reason because it’s him? I have faith in Styles to produce some magic with Shane (because hell, if he can do it with Ellsworth than surely here) but man, they better be putting the title on Styles for a year after this to break CM Punk’s record or something.
Predictions: Shane to jump off the rollercoster set or the giant fake ring above the normal one (which looks really weird btw), Styles obviously to win because otherwise I might just give up.
Seth Rollins vs Triple H
When did Un-sanctioned become Non-sanctioned? Anyway, if you don’t know what this means, basically its a “kayfabe” (storyline) was of saying this match “shouldn’t be happening officially” and therefore these two can use all of WWE’s facilities to beat the shit out of each other. Or something. This match pretty much depends on how healthy Rollins is (apparently he’s had the flu all week, guy really can’t catch a break huh?) and he’s returning from a knee injury (hence the non-sanctioned thing). If he’s healthy and all is good, this could be a decent blow-off to a long, drawn out build in which Triple H screwed Seth out of the title back in August and then everyone forgot about it for a bit. We will just have to see.
Prediction: Rollins, Triple H might be a heel but his actual real-life heel days are long past. That said, it being a un-sanctioned match, expect a lot of shenanigans from Samoa Joe (and/or maybe Finn?) given he’ll be allowed to basically turn this into a handicap match.
IT’S MY YARD! NO IT’S MINE! MATCH
Roman Reigns (boo) vs The Undertaker
Fucking hell, Roman Reigns got booed at the Hall of Fame induction. That is some seriously dumb, needy bullshit. It takes a lot for me to feel sorry for Reigns but that was insane. Anyway, this match is much more dependent on The Undertaker who isn’t, in fact, a dead man and is indeed aging quite rapidly at this point. He did not look good at the Rumble at all and he barely had to do anything against Shane last year, so who knows. Reigns, love him or hate him, is a reliable safe pair of hands in “big matches” and you know what, it actually makes much more sense for him to beat The Undertaker and go full heel (PLEASE WWE, we beg you). Triple H made an interesting comment the other day that “Well, Reigns basically is a heel to most of you anyway, so we can kinda book him how we like” so maybe not. Anyway, there’s some chat that this should close the show, but I don’t think so, personally. This might be alright, we’ll have to see how long it takes Taker to get to the ring (gonna guess half an hour) but PLEASE guys if you are putting Reigns over tonight PLEASE do not get Taker to raise his hand in respect. You WILL get a full scale riot on your hands (then again, maybe that’s what they want).
Predictions: Reigns (sadly?). Apparently, J.R is calling this one too.
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
WILLIAM GOLDBERG © vs BORK LESNAR w/ Paul Heyman
sigh The main dispute over who closes the show is between the two title matches. I personally think it will be this but in the spirit of the rumble winner we will stick to that format for now. This match could be good. It could be. It just depends on if Goldberg (who also got booed at the Hall of Fame, interestingly) can go longer than 5 minutes. This is the big epic culmination of the grand total of about 3 minutes of actual wrestling so far, as Goldberg squashed Lesnar at Survivor Series (which was a great moment tbf) and then eliminated him with relative ease at the Rumble. This is also a “WrestleMania XX apology match” after that utter shit-show which ruined an otherwise solid (though controversial, purely because of Benoit) Mania. So basically, this match HAS to be at least 10 minutes. It doesn’t need to be a big long “slobberknocker” but it does need to at least feel like a big bruising end to one of the company’s biggest but most controversial storylines, given two part-timers are fighting over one of its main belts. I’m quietly confident that they will deliver something worthwhile, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it’s utter mess.
Prediction: Lesnar finally conquers Goldberg, although apparently the latter is booked for RAW tomorrow? Also, maybe, just maybe Finn Balor shows up (here or tomorrow).
WWE TITLE MATCH
Bray Wyatt © vs. Randy Orton
This might be on before the two other matches, but as Randy Orton is this year’s Royal Rumble winner, let’s stick with tradition for the purposes of this write-up.
This storyline man, fuck, this has been wild. It has also been a lot of fun and very self-referentially “attitude era wrasslin” so I must say I’ve enjoyed it a lot and if nothing else, Bray Wyatt has actually finally got to be champion for a bit and looked pretty menacing doing it. There’s still the Luke Harper issue to be resolved here (and perhaps a return for forgotten Wyatt family member Erick Rowan?) but this should be a pretty solid main event. Orton isn’t amazing, we all know that, but he does have the ability to turn matches on their head in an instant (as does Wyatt, for that matter) and this storyline, crazy as it has been, has been great for both of them. Except maybe some supernatural shit too given the whole “No I HAVE THE SPIRIT OF SISTER ABIGAIL” dispute.
And so there we have it. phew This took as long to write as its probably going to be to watch it, but there we are. I hope this was worth writing down for someone anyway. Overall, this is an intriguing Mania which hasn’t had the best build but, on the Raw side especially, that’s kinda typical of where WWE is at right now. I’m kinda anticipating taking a bit of a step back from the weekly product after tonight, so really this is their last chance to keep me hooked beyond this week, which may or may not succeed. There are a lot of variables going into tonight, but there is a lot of potential too. We shall see. I just hope not to be too drunk/tired to miss the main event like last year (although tbf, that was a total snoozefest).
Let me know your thoughts, feelings, predictions and Wrestlemania plans! Or tell me to shut up and I’ll get a mod to merge this with the other wrestling thread. For now I’m off for a walk while I still can.