The last time I came around and put pen to paper around here (or fingers to keyboard, as it were), I welcomed myself back from some time away. I’m doing that again today, and hopefully you’ll be seeing my words appear a little bit more often in the future. I can’t, and won’t make that into a promise, but I do intend to have more of a presence here at Dot Biz than I have in quite a while.
That said, I do have plenty that I want to say, and this time around I want to say it about this Sunday’s WrestleMania. We’re only a little over a day away from WWE’s biggest show of the year, and I’ve found myself feeling excited for it one day, and underwhelmed the next. I think the majority of the excitement comes from the fact that it’s WrestleMania, which in and of itself, of course, is a draw.
I’m looking forward to seeing the gigantic, ridiculously massive set that they have created — all week I’ve been following the construction of the structure and I can’t wait to see what it looks like at its completion. I am looking forward to the unique atmosphere of holding a show in an outdoor stadium with the first 3 or so hours (including the kickoff show) happening in the daylight and seeing nightfall come, giving the show a new, different aura. I love that.
Conversely, I’ve been very bored with the television shows, both RAW and the oft-praised SmackDown. They both have things to be praised, but as full entities, the shows are both incredibly underwhelming and I haven’t felt any urgency whatsoever. It never felt like WrestleMania was fast approaching. The shows haven’t made me feel like I was on a path (a road, perhaps?) toward something spectacular. It has felt, for the most part, like business as usual.
There, again, have been some great moments, such as the Triple H-Seth Rollins brawl that saw The Game attack The Architect with his own crutch and AJ Styles laying waste to Shane McMahon in the parking lot. The interactions between Roman Reigns and The Undertaker have been pretty cool, as well, and Roman has been winning me over in the last few weeks with his ‘devil may care’ attitude.
In the end, it all comes down to whether or not the actual event delivers. The build up is completely over, and now it’s time for the Show of Shows to either rise up to the occasion or fall short. I’m expecting a mixed bag, but with more good than bad. Below, I’m not going to discuss what I expect to happen, but rather what I hope to see — what I think would make this a great WrestleMania.
Kickoff Show: Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Winner: Braun Strowman
I expect that Mr. Strowman is the universally accepted pick to be the winner of this sucker, and rightfully so. There aren’t many big names in this match, which features, as far as stars go: Strowman, Big Show and Sami Zayn. That’s really it. Sure, you have guys in there like The Usos and American Alpha, and Dolph Ziggler is in it, but what the hell has that guy done lately? All 5 of these men are exactly why SmackDown Live isn’t as good as everybody says it is, by the way. Two spectacular tag teams who barely get to see the light of day and a great wrestler who had a great second half of 2016 only to turn heel (good move) and feud with two lower card guys that WWE had no intention of pushing higher up on the card (bad move).
That’s beside the point. The only feasible winners are Big Show, who could win for the second time and is rumored to retire after this show, Sami Zayn, who will likely be Strowman’s final elimination, and Brauuuuuuuuuun himself, who will assuredly be the last man standing in the ring. It’s what I want to see, it’s what should happen, and it’s what I believe will happen. If they don’t bungle things with him, the Abominable Strowman could have one hell of a great year in 2017.
Kickoff Show: Austin Aries vs. Neville (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
It’s probably being assumed by most people that WrestleMania will see the dethroning of the King of the Cruiserweights and the coronation of a man at the A Double Level. I wouldn’t be against that by any means, but I am absolutely loving the reign of Nevile as the angry-at-the-world heel champion and I’m not ready for it to be over. The title has only been back for 7 months and there have already been 4 champions, including the current title holder. That’s far too many title switches. Neville is on a roll, and giving him a proper long title run is the definite way to go. He’s a great heel and there are a ton of natural babyfaces on the cruiserweight roster.
Plus, Aries is a better heel anyway, so he’ll have his time down the line. I know the crowd has been loving him, but it’s not his time right now, at least not in my book. It’s not really a “strike while the iron is hot” situation, because even if it runs cold, Aries is great, and can heat that baby back up at any time. There’s no reason to worry about him if he doesn’t win the belt on Sunday night.
Six-Pack Challenge: Naomi vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss (SD Live Women’s Championship)
After weeks of having no idea what the hell they were going to do, WWE finally solidified the match for SmackDown Live’s Women’s Championship this past Tuesday night. There’s a reason this match was originally scheduled for the kickoff show — they had no clue where this match was going to end up and the build has been all over the place because of it. The weak build lent itself to being placed below other, more organized matches. It wasn’t a slight against the SmackDown Live women, but rather a poor set of circumstances that arose due to Naomi’s injury.
Thankfully Naomi has healed in time for the show, but not in time for them to get the match’s stipulation set earlier than 5 days away from the show. As it turns out, WWE has taken this match off of the kickoff show and will be placing it on the main card, where Naomi will likely get her big WrestleMania moment that she was very close to losing. I’m all for it. I was interested in seeing where a Naomi championship run was going to go, so have her win the belt at WrestleMania and let’s see what kind of matches WWE has in store for her championship defenses.
Ladder Match: Enzo & Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Gallows & Anderson (RAW Tag Team Championship)
Winners: Enzo & Cass
I think the outcome of this match has been clear since before it was even announced. The goal, for at least a decent chunk of time, has been to put the gold around the waists of Enzo and Cass at WrestleMania. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen in a triple threat ladder match. Of course this will be nothing in comparison to the pair of classics that we saw from the Hardyz, Dudleyz and Edge & Christian in 2000 and 2001, but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s the annual mandated WrestleMania ladder match, and they put it together as subtly as WWE is able to: have guys randomly hit each other with ladders 6 days before the show and then add the stipulation. Whatever works, I guess. The match should be fun, and it will be a nice change of pace for the stagnant tag division. There will be some fun spots, Sheamus will likely find a way to get himself hurt or maimed, and in the end, Enzo & Big Cass will get the titles that have eluded them since they came up from NXT. I’m happy with that.
Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE Intercontinental Championship)
Winner: Baron Corbin
This match is happening. After starting off pretty hot, this feud has really cooled down. Corbin hasn’t show any ability to handle himself on the microphone when he’s scripted (though he’s GREAT when left to his own devices, as you can see any time he’s on Talking Smack) and Ambrose hasn’t had much to work with. They haven’t had a lot of time to flesh out the storyline, and I wouldn’t honestly be surprised if they put this match on the kickoff show should they decide that a third match is needed.
It will be a short and probably pretty decent match, but since they aren’t likely getting much time, it won’t be anything to write home about. Again, the problem with this match comes from SmackDown’s inability to put together a fully well-rounded show. It’s not a bad show, it just often feels incomplete. This storyline is a great example of that. I have no idea where Dean goes from here, but Corbin is going to pick up his first title in WWE and hopefully he will get his chance to shine, because he has improved leaps and bounds since his debut at last year’s WrestleMania and he deserves a shot.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
Winners: John Cena & Nikki Bella
There’s no reason to have them lose. There will be no continuation of the storyline after WrestleMania.This match was made solely to be a WrestleMania special attraction match, possibly ending with Cena finally proposing to Nikki Bella. Do I care? No. Not even a little. Will the match be any good? Maybe, but just a little. Is it happening no matter what? Yeah, it is. Does it stop Cena from defeating a young, rising star in a one-on-one match and completely killing his push? Yes, yes it does.
The Miz will have no problem recovering from a loss in this match, because he’s The freakin’ Miz and he can talk his way right back into any feud he wants. I’m not worried about him. This match is all about the WrestleMania moment of Cena and Nikki getting a win as a couple and possibly, as has been speculated, an in-ring proposal. Nothing of any real substance, and it could only happen at WrestleMania. I’m cool with it.
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (WWE United States Championship)
Winner: Kevin Owens
I will admit to being disappointed that this isn’t for the Universal Championship, but I never truly expected that to happen, so my disappointment is moot anyway. This storyline has been building since shortly after Owens won the title in August, and after some twists and turns during the angle, the payoff at the Festival of Friendship was absolutely and heinously perfect. It could not have been done any better. Their feud since then, much like everything else following the Fastlane pay-per-view, has been okay at best. A couple of beat downs, some decent promos, but nothing that felt like the blood feud that you would expect this to have become. This rivalry peaked with the Festival of Friendship and has steadily coasted downhill since then.
Kevin Owens should be walking out of WrestleMania with the US Title. There’s no reason for a Chris Jericho victory here. Whether or not WWE is going to be putting together a faction with Triple H leading Owens, Samoa Joe and whomever else they might have in mind, the point remains that Owens needs to be rebuilt as a solid, strong, evil heel. He was a jokester with a slight mean streak from time-to-time during his Universal Title reign. If he’s going to be a proper heartless bastard, then he has to finish the feud with Jericho by defeating him for the US Title, and sending Y2J packing for a while.
Fatal Four Way Elimination: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax vs. Bayley (RAW Women’s Championship)
Winner: Sasha Banks
Sasha has been on the verge of a heel turn for months now, and Charlotte has been the only one who sees it coming. It’s going to be very strongly hinted at during the four way match on Sunday because of some questionably unfriendly actions from Sasha under the guise of the match being every woman for herself. Nia will be eliminated first, Charlotte will go next, and Sasha will duke it out with Bayley to determine the champion. Sasha will become champion once again (for the 4th time, I believe) and will probably turn heel on Monday Night RAW, leading to a proper chase by Bayley and eventually a real reign as champion instead of the bullshit they have done with her.
I get that the idea has been based on Sasha slowly turning heel and using Bayley to get her shot, but the title reign has still been hot garbage. They could have done the same storyline without making Bayley look like a fluke, but they decided against it, because why not have the champion look bad, right?
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Winner: AJ Styles
There’s no way this match ends with Shane getting his hand raised in victory, right? Obviously losing to Chris Jericho at WrestleMania last year had exactly zero negative effect on AJ’s push to superstardom in WWE, so that’s a wash, but on principle alone there is just no way that Shane McMahon can win this match. AJ is unbelievably over with the crowd inside of every arena they go to and the crowd is lukewarm to Shane except for when he says the name of the city they’re in.
I am expecting to see a pretty good match, and Shane will probably come close to killing himself by trying to hang at AJ’s level instead of letting AJ do most of the work. That’s okay, though, because at least he cares. I’m not invested in this match but I am intrigued by exactly what they plan to do. Both of the men are out of their minds, so somebody is going to fall from or fly off of something high and a big spot is guaranteed to happen. This is going to be more of a car crash than the ladder match, and thusly I am looking forward to this.
Non-Sanctioned Match: Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
Winner: Seth Rollins
I have no idea as to the actual status of Seth Rollins’ knee injury. Is he fully recovered? Is he mostly recovered and will the match be more or less just a brawl? Does he actually care, and will he go out and compete to the highest level possible no matter what? Who knows. I do know that I have been looking forward to this match just so I can see Rollins get his revenge and then move on to something different. Just like Jericho vs. Owens, this match has been brewing since last August, when Triple H screwed Rollins out of winning the title. There have been some rocky fits and starts during this feud, but overall it has been mostly good stuff.
If Seth is completely healed up, I’m expecting them to pull off a very good, possibly great match. I am looking forward to seeing exactly what they do here.
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
Winner: Roman Reigns
Hell yeah I want Reigns to win. For one, it’s the right way to go. Undertaker isn’t going to be sticking around and Reigns is, ostensibly, the guy they are going to be running with for the foreseeable future. Also, if, and when, Roman does hand Undertaker his second loss at WrestleMania, the internet is going to go crazy with people pissed off, just like they were 3 years ago when Brock ended the streak at WrestleMania XXX.
Outside of waiting for Roman’s win so I can hear the live crowd’s reaction and see the internet’s reaction, I am also very interested in seeing exactly what kind of match this will be. What can The Undertaker even do in the ring? Will the match be under 10 minutes long? Will it go too long and will that had a significantly negative effect on the match’s quality? These are the things I find myself interested in.
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt (WWE Championship)
Winner: Bray Wyatt
I will say that I expect to see Orton win, but my official pick is Bray Wyatt, and he’s the guy I want to see win the match. His first singles title reign just started, and it shouldn’t be as short-lived as his first ever title reign, where he, Orton and Luke Harper held the belts for only a very quick hiccup before losing them to American Alpha. I get that it was all storyline driven, but the man deserves better. I also believe that Luke Harper should be the third man in this match, but sadly that ship has long sailed.
Their match will probably be pretty good, hopefully better than their one prior singles match from 2016, and it will likely happen somewhere near the middle of the card. With all of the talk about WWE introducing a physical manifestation of Sister Abigail, I find myself interested in seeing if they do that at WrestleMania or if they wait until after, like on the SmackDown After Mania (if it happens at all). My heart is with Bray in this match, so I will watch intently, and I’ll be rooting for him to retain the title.
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (WWE Universal Championship)
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Don’t expect this one to go more than 5 minutes, but do expect the outcome to be different from their three prior in-ring encounters. This will not see Goldberg go 3-0 in one-on-one matches with Lesnar, and Brock will leave WrestleMania as the new Universal Champion. And no, I’m not assured in my pick based on Goldberg’s recent Tweet in which he stated that he will be taking some time off after WrestleMania. The man is a part timer. If he does win the match, it is fully feasible for him to disappear for a little while. Lesnar himself did that when he held the WWE Championship a couple of years ago.
Silly individuals reading too much into off-handed Twitter comments aside, I do not expect Goldberg to retain. Will he go to Suplex City? I don’t know, maybe. I have no idea if his fragile body can handle it. I love how people talk about how great shape he is in at 50 years old, but fail to realize that while he looks good aesthetically, that’s as far as it goes. Ric Flair didn’t look very impressive aesthetically at 50, but he could still have a damn good wrestling match. Of course he didn’t take nearly 13 years off between matches, but the point still stands that Goldberg looks good, but he’s far from being in ring shape. Yes, I’m aware that he never really intended or expected to get into in ring shape. That is a conversation for a different time.
In the end, Lesnar finally gets his victory over Goldberg and Big Bill goes home, and his kid got to see him be the real life Super Hero that his dad can be. Goldberg got what he wanted and needed, and I’m very happy for him and his family (I truly am) but now it’s time to move on.