Paul Heyman said it best in one of the most unforgettable scenes form Beyond The Mat: “This is the dance!” For many aspiring pro wrestlers, WrestleMania is the dance that many of them dream of being able to perform on. The biggest event on the WWE calendar and the night where big moments and matches are generally guaranteed. It’s also the night that attracts celebrities, and this year’s show is no different. R&B/pop singer (and FearlessRiOT Top 20 Music Countdown favorite) Tinashe joins a long legacy of (generally R&B and pop) stars to open the show with “America The Beautiful”. Also, Flo Rida and Pitbull are set to perform, but let’s not talk about that. And after a stellar Hall of Fame, an outstanding NXT TakeOver, and the unveiling of a breathtaking Universal Studios-like stage design, WrestleMania looks set to end this glorious weekend with a bang. At least let’s hope that’s the case; let’s not forget what RAW’s biggest match of the night is. And seeing as this year’s WrestleMania has 13 matches to run down, starting from the Kickoff and going all the way to the headliners, I think it’s time to officially end WrestleMania Week by predicting who will come out victorious on the final stop before RAW After Mania.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Are you currently signed to the WWE and have nothing to do for WrestleMania night due to lacking a either a decent feud or even a shred of relevance? Then step right up to volunteer to be reminded that you could easily be tossed over the top rope by The Big Show because BIG. After all these years of barely ever winning Battle Royals, WWE still expects us to buy The Big Show as the favorite to win them due to size alone. But like last year when Shaq made a last minute cameo, Big Show (who isn’t facing Shaq this year because that match is never happening) isn’t the only giant who’s going to be in this one; Braun Strowman, the most impressive big man to step into a WWE ring in recent memory, will also be taking part and it will be a difficult task trying to get him over the top rope. Maybe the lower-card likes of Bo Dallas, The Shining Stars, and Apollo Crews can eliminate them as a unit, but there’s no guarantee that it’ll work in the end.
Who I Want to Win: Of all the confirmed participants, BRAAAAAAAAUN!
Who Will Win: BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUN! …..That is assuming the recently returning Drew McIntyre or another big name from NXT doesn’t show up.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
First of all, yes, it sucks that this match is taking place on the Kickoff Show and not the official program. But I can’t really say that it’s much of a surprise due to the fact that anyone who’s watched the rebooted Cruiserweight Division knows that WWE has struggled trying to make stars out of the newer, less established talents. Hmm, maybe it has something to do with that “Making them wrestle like the heavyweights” thing may have something to do with it. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that the two men competing for the purple strap on this show are names that people are mostly familiar with. Inventor of bananas Austin Aries turned his pupil injury into a golden opportunity to speed to the front of the Cruiserweight line. After his wit and charisma got him over with WWE audiences nationwide, he won the chance to challenge the King of the Cruiserweights for his title. If Neville expects the Self-Proclaimed Greatest Man Who Ever Lived to bow for him on Sunday, he has another thing coming.
Who I Want to Win: Austin Aries.
Who Will Win: King Neville.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
A tower made out of paper, toothpicks, Scotch tape, and Elmer’s Glue has better build than this feud does. This feud actually had a well-put-together start; Baron Corbin, who does not look like the type of guy you want to get angry, was eliminated by Dean Ambrose at Elimination Chamber, killing his shot at the WWE Championship dead in its tracks. Corbin’s response? Keep beating the crap out of the Lunatic Fringe. For weeks, the two ended up being given segments on Smackdown that seemed almost slap-dash compared to the rest of the show, with the one real selling point being Corbin trying to crush Ambrose’s lungs with a forklift. Since then, nothing much of interest has happened between them; the build to Ambrose’s match with Lesnar last year had much better build. Does this mean the match will suck? Not necessarily, but given how generally good Smackdown has been, you’d think they would put more work into this one.
Who I Want to Win: Dean Ambrose; I realize it’ll take more than a remote control for Ambrose to emerge victorious here, but if he can find a way, I’m all for it.
Who Will Win: Baron Corbin. It’s been established that WrestleMania is just not Ambrose’s event. Plus, his IC Title reign hasn’t been anything special. Expect a title change here.
Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE RAW Tag Team Championship
One thing that RAW no doubt does better than Smackdown at the moment is let their Tag Team Division have some kind of a pulse. On Smackdown, legitimately talented duo American Alpha just had one of the worst championship reigns of any kind in company history before dropping them to The Usos, who can’t seem to get on a WrestleMania main card to save their lives. All their other tag teams? Perceived as absolute jokes. Meanwhile, RAW’s tag team division is far from perfect, with Gallows and Anderson constantly being made to look like chumps, Enzo & Cass quickly souring on most fans, a team with Sheamus somehow being the most interesting duo around, and The New Day too busy shilling dessert treats to compete. But at least they have something going on for WrestleMania. Those first three teams just had this year’s Ladder Match stip slapped on to their match, and while no one is expecting some Dudleyz/Hardyz/E&C magic here (it probably won’t even top the non-Ladder Match Triple Threat Tag from yesterday’s TakeOver special), I repeat my notion that a lot of hard work has to go into messing up a WrestleMania Ladder Match.
Who I Want to Win: Enzo & Cass; while I realize that some fans aren’t as into them as before, the fact is that they have never won a Tag Team Title before and this could make up for them not winning the NXT Tag Titles while they were down there.
Who Will Win: Enzo & Cass; I actually have a theory that the reason they’ve been kept away from the RAW Tag Team Titles for so long is to save their win specifically FOR WrestleMania, so this will be that program realized. And if the Hardys show up on RAW the next night and we get banter between Enzo & Broken Matt, even better.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
When it was announced that this match would take place on the Kickoff show, fans were outraged that WWE planned to repay the women of Smackdown Live for being booked so well that they’re highly-praised above the RAW Women’s Division in such a fashion. Sending them to the Kickoff portion of the show in favor of the Poor Man’s Sean Paul and the Poor Man’s Nelly was widely deemed unacceptable. I bet that when defending champion Alexa Bliss told her mom she was gonna become a WWE star, she was sure she’d land a more prestigious slot on the WrestleMania card than that. Thankfully, WWE does listen to fans once in awhile and the outcry was vocal enough to get the match bumped onto the main show. And in it, Alexa is the proverbial Scott Pilgrim against Becky Lynch, Carmella, Natalya, Mickie James, the returning Naomi, and possible surprise entrants if WWE still plans to role with that, as her coveted Smackdown Women’s Championship hangs in the balance. Will her second championship reign come to an end on this night in her current residence of Orlando?
Who I Want to Win: Naomi. She’s going in hoping to win back the championship she spent years fighting hard for and never even lost. She’s over with most of the crowd, myself included, and she’s in her hometown. They have to give her the win.
Who Will Win: Alexa Bliss. Bold prediction here, but I could easily see WWE being all kind of bogus by having Naomi take the L in front of her hometown by having Bliss get even more heat on her with some sort of underhanded cheating tactic.
Power Couples Mixed Tag Team Match
Do Mixed Tag Team Matches really have a proud history at WrestleMania? The Snooki match from WrestleMania XXVII was a terrible mistake and I don’t know if the Mixed Tag from WrestleMania VI would be considered highlights in the careers of Dusty Rhodes, Sensational Sherri, Randy Savage. But if we can be straight-up here, the build for this match is lowkey some of the best and most entertaining storytelling from this year’s WrestleMania Season. Say what you want about WWE making John Cena’s WrestleMania match a lovey-dovey couples affair, but 1) at least he’s not in another World Title match that he doesn’t need, and 2) the savagery exhibited by himself, The Miz, Nikki Bella, and Maryse in this feud has been must-see television. John Cena’s fire promos. Nikki’s “I’ll break you, bitch” line. And those Total Bella Bulls*** segments that saw Miz’s greatest acting performance to date and Maryse getting her Liv & Maddie on as both Bella Twins? Genius! Now let’s just hope the match itself lives up to it’s entertaining build.
Who I Want to Win: The Miz and Maryse. I’m kind of down for The Miz winning every match for the entire rest of the year for all the hard work he’s put into becoming as buzzworthy as he’s been lately.
Who Will Win: John Cena and Nikki Bella. Come on. Even I know that Miz & Maryse have no actual chance here, especially if the rumored proposal between Cena and Bella ends up happening.
What a relief. They didn’t have to postpone this for a later date. After a certain amount of time, would anyone even have cared anymore? Seth Rollins’ career has been totally shot ever since his WWE Championship reigns came to end by way of an untimely knee injury. And when he came back, the last thing he needed was for him to end up out of action before WrestleMania 33 came around, leaving him unable to compete on the biggest show of the year yet again. What’s more is the fact that his scheduled opponent, his kayfabe mentor in deviousness Triple H, had already turned on him and cost him the Universal Title. So a second injury, especially after he crashed NXT TakeOver, would’ve just made him seem cursed. Oh, hi, Samoa Joe! Don’t hurt Seth too much…..and it’s broken again. You broke his knee off a sleeperhold. What even are physics anymore? Luckily, WWE found a solution; the same match type Triple H brutalized his own best friend in at SummerSlam 2002. To quote Triple H himself in his 2003 Goldberg feud: “You’re the proverbial one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest; and baby, I wrote the book on kickin’ ass!”
Who I Want to Win: Seth Rollins. Maybe I just feel sorry for the guy. I mean, after missing last year’s WrestleMania and almost missing this years, the least they can do is give him a victory.
Who Will Win: Triple H. So many odds are stacked against Seth Rollins that it is not even funny. The bum knee. Samoa Joe waiting in the wings. The fact that it’s WrestleMania, where they wouldn’t even let Sting and Booker T beat Hunter? Seth. Is. Doomed.
WWE United States Championship
The Bella Bulls*** segments were collectively the second greatest segments to take place on the Road to WrestleMania 33. The first greatest was the unexpectedly heartbreaking split between the Best Friends Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. For months, they seemed to be two peas in a pod; destined for the TV BFF’s Hall of Fame with the likes of Beavis & Butthead, Cory & Shawn, Spongebob & Patrick, Max & Caroline. These were just two funny and clever Canadians who bonded by how awful they treated people, especially backstage interviewers. But at some point, Owens had it with Jericho and his scarves and his lists and his “It”, and decided that it was time to cut him loose, leading to the devastating line “How come my name’s on this?” and an assault that calls back to Jericho himself against Shawn Michaels in 2008. Jericho decided that the ultimate revenge would be to cost Kevin Owens the only thing he truly cares about: that ugly red strap on his shoulder. After that, Owens was officially incensed and a United States Championship match was born. The U.S. Title finds itself back in an interesting place on WrestleMania; after being contested on the pre-show last year by wrestlers who are now either a non-factor or gone completely, two men with legit animosity with one another and all the skill in the world look set to deliver.
Who I Want to Win: Kevin Owens; I understand that for the sake of the story, Jericho should win in the name of revenge, but the primary goal of Chris Jericho now is to help build the future, and Owens defeating him on the grand stage would be a HUGE badge of honor. Plus, wouldn’t it be funny if Owens bragged about he did that when AJ Styles couldn’t, setting up a feud between the two?
Who Will Win: Kevin Owens; probably by choking Jericho out with his own scarf, but I can neither confirm nor deny that.
Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship
Before the fans were able to get their match back on the main show, I wonder how Becky Lynch originally felt about being relegated to the Kickoff show a year after competing in the best match on WrestleMania 32, meanwhile both of her opponents in that match were always going to find themselves with such a lucrative spot in a main show title match. Taking Becky’s place are the previously most innocent wrestler in the world and Awesome Kong-lite. To be fair to Nia Jax, actually, it’s not like the girl doesn’t have potential. She certainly does, but it has yet to be realize in a significant manner. In essence, she’s still just girl #4 in this match, a powerhouse with the lowest chance of victory. The other three women were part of the Four Horsewomen of NXT; Bayley is the defending champion, Sasha Banks is the fan favorite who everyone is rooting to turn heel, and Charlotte is the arguably the face of the division, a dominant competitor with only a single PPV loss.
Who I Want to Win: Bayley; this should have been the night she won the title for the first time anyway.
Who Will Win: I imagine a scenario where Nia Jax is eliminated first, because obviously, then Charlotte gets eliminated with a lucky roll-up, then Bayley finally pins Sasha Banks and sets the wheels in motion for a Sasha heel turn fueled by jealousy. So yeah, Bayley.
Smackdown Commissioner vs. The Phenomenal One
AJ Styles had his heart set on a WrestleMania main event with the World Championship on the line. AJ Styles fans had their hearts set on the exact same thing. But as CM Punk can tell you, sometimes you can’t get what you want in WWE and after losing his title opportunity back to Randy Orton, AJ Styles had to find something else to do for the big dance. He took matters into his own hands by putting his own job on the line and attacking his boss in a fit of rage. Believing Shane was the reason he wouldn’t get his title opportunity, he left McMahon a bloody mess in the parking lot. Never one to just let people walk all over him, Shane figured that if anyone is going to teach Styles a lesson in respect, he was going to personally be the one to do it. Reversing Daniel Bryan‘s attempt to fire him, Styles booked the match and likely immediately started thinking up the blueprints of what he planned to jump off of come April 2nd.
Who I Want to Win: AJ Styles. I like Shane; he’s the coolest member of his family, but he absolutely does not need the win over AJ Styles, especially since it would leave Styles with an 0-2 WrestleMania record if he did win.
Who Will Win: AJ Styles, presumably after Shane jumps off of something high and AJ takes advantage of the inevitable injuries. Hopefully no one gets run over by a roller-coaster though.
Dog vs. Dog: Battle For The Yard
You know the amount of overblown hatred that people have garnered for Taylor Swift, especially following the Kim Kardashian-Kanye West situation from last year? I think Roman Reigns may have surpassed that somehow; the fact of the matter is that fans have really grown to loathe this man. And the sad thing is that it’s barely his fault; WWE has tried so hard to push him in a role that doesn’t really sure him over numerous fan favorites that the backlash has been heavy and brutal. He even got booed at the Hall of Fame, a night where everyone is supposed to be on their best, most respectful level of behavior. Simply put, crowds will only ever see him as a villain at this point. Hence why his feud with Undertaker makes so much sense. This seems designed specifically to piss off and troll fans, with Roman as the entitled prodigy looking to kick Undertaker off his (and Paige‘s and Hornswoggle‘s) property and steal his yard. Imagine how thunderous the boos will be if Roman Reigns hands Undertaker his second WrestleMania loss. I’m sure Vince is, and he’s completely prepared to laugh right in our crying little faces.
Who I Want to Win: Undertaker; who do I look like, wanting to see Roman Reigns pin one of the G.O.A.T.’s? Nah, I’ll stick with the old dog, thank you.
Who Will Win: Roman Reigns. Y’all know it’s gonna happen. I know it’s gonna happen. Let’s just accept it and find ways to cope with it.
WWE World Championship
Throw Bray Wyatt on the list of wrestlers who generally have a terrible time at WrestleMania. He’s never won a match, having fought legends to losing efforts in his first two appearances and then being absolutely dominated by The Rock and John Cena in a non-match last year. This year, however, he’s walking in with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on his shoulder, so his luck has significantly changed since the Brand Split. Also since the brand split, something big has been brewing between him and Randy Orton. When the third generation wrestler Orton won the Royal Rumble, people saw it as a completely random move. And it did seem random at first. Then, cue the brilliant storytelling of the Smackdown storytelling team to justify the entire thing. That is before they turned Orton into a cold, sadistic arsonist with absolutely no concern for people’s property or fictional deceased loved ones. This storyline has strayed into fantasy elements so much, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the girls from The Craft showed up out of the blue, but overall, it’s still one of the most interesting and creative builds for the show and leads to Bray Wyatt’s most high-profile WrestleMania appearance to date
Who I Want to Win: Bray Wyatt. The kid finally has a World Championship. Let him keep it for a while, I am begging.
Who Will Win: Bray Wyatt; I’m making a bold prediction and saying that Bray Wyatt’s bad luck at WrestleMania will turn around. I really hope I’m right on this one.
WWE Universal Championship
So…..this is happening. I don’t know what to say. I didn’t like this match the first time they did it on WrestleMania, and that match was so anticlimactic and empty that doing it again does not and never has appealed to me. There does seem to be a pocket of fans who are, though, having taken a sip of the Paul Heyman promo Kool-Aid and eating the Goldberg ‘member berries and actually gotten excited to see two part-timers battle for a belt whose reputation has never completely been pulled out of the garbage bin that it fell in after Finn Bálor‘s shoulder took a hit. Ever since Goldberg has returned, he hasn’t wrestled a single match that has gone over two minutes. He wasn’t even in the Royal Rumble very long. But in every appearance, he’s totally embarrassed Brock Lesnar, which was like the James Ellsworth persona in that it was funny at first, but is not a joke that really needs to be repeated. And that leads to this, a rematch I’m looking forward to less than The Rock vs. John Cena II. We all remember Goldberg rematerialized because of WWE 2K17, right? He’s getting a push because of a video game. He is a more established Suicide from TNA. A video game ad is headlining WrestleMania. Well, I guess this moment still rings true for Vince.
Who I Want to Win: Finn Bálor, all healed up and having magically acquired a mythical Money in the Bank briefcase from the demon committee in his home realm, and being sent to cash it in and save the universe from another boring part-timer reign.
Who Will Win: Brock Lesnar. Goldberg won’t have him shook this time, but they both will have my eyes rolling the second the bell rings.