Brace yourselves, the amount of times you’ll have to hear about tonight’s show being “The Ultimate Thrill Ride” is about to skyrocket because it’s WrestleMania Sunday! A mammoth 13-match, 5+ hour evening awaits you from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL, LIVE on the WWE Network! In addition to this preview, be sure to listen to Big Shooter, Goat & Brock give their thoughts on WrestleMania from this week’s show. Let’s run down the card for the Showcase of the Immortals.
WWE World Championship: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. Randy Orton
For nearly a quarter of 2016, The Eater of Worlds has been embroiled in conflict and partnership with The Viper, Randy Orton. After battling each other at No Mercy, Orton bent the knee to Wyatt, joining Harper & Wyatt’s Family in October. At first, it was a match made in
heaven hell: sole survivors of the Raw vs. SmackDown singles match at Survivor Series, a tag team championship victory, a Royal Rumble win by Orton, and a WWE Championship win by Wyatt.
However, The Viper was merely laying in wait. First, causing a rift between Harper and Wyatt, then betraying Wyatt by burning Sister Abigail’s remains and the Wyatt Compound to the ground. A series of supernatural back and forth exchanges have consumed the pair since, with Wyatt bathing in Abigail’s ashes and proclaiming himself all-powerful, and Orton returning to the compound driving Wyatt’s Crusix into Abigail’s charred remains in an attempt to end her powers.
Now the duo square off in the main event at WrestleMania to presumably end the story.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt. The introduction of the Crusix and the army of masked acolytes two weeks ago on SmackDown has my spider sense tingling for a return or new members being introduced to Wyatt’s flock, aiding the champion in retaining his championship.
WWE Universal Championship: Goldberg (C) vs. Brock Lesnar
Will the third time be the charm for the Beast Incarnate? After dropping matches at WrestleMania XX and at Survivor Series 2016 in under 1:30 to Goldberg, Brock Lesnar hopes to prove that old adage correct in their third meeting. This is also Goldberg’s first defense of his newly won WWE Universal Championship.
Prediction: Lesnar claims his First Universal Championship reign.
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
It’s the battle of two “Big Dogs” for control of the “Yard” aka the WWE ring. The conflict between these two combatants began at January’s Royal Rumble when Reigns put the kibosh on The Undertaker’s championship hopes by eliminating him and claiming said yard for himself. Naturally, the Deadman, who had a DVD proving that the WWE was his yard (which I think is admissible in court), took issue with Reigns ownership claims, and a WrestleMania showdown was born!
Prediction: The Undertaker. While the boys on the show this week picked Reigns in a sweep, I’m going the other direction in hopes an Undertaker victory sets Reigns off in a homicidal rage giving us the heel Roman fans are demanding.
Non-Sanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
Seth Rollins and the Game have been linked in WWE storylines since Rollins betrayed The Shield in 2014 and became the crown jewel of the Authority’s reign over WWE. But the antagonistic relationship between the two stretches back to August of 2016 when Triple H returned from an on-screen hiatus to cast his “chosen one” aside in favor of Kevin Owens during the crowning of a new Universal Champion, before disappearing from WWE television again. By December, Rollins had enough and began to pursue a match with Triple H, calling him out on several occasions.
The Game largely ignored the request, choosing instead to distract Rollins with his music, resulting in Rollins missing out on a spot in the Royal Rumble match. Rollins subsequently crashed NXT Takeover: San Antonio in an effort to confront Triple H and the following Monday, Triple H promised to finally meet Rollins in a face-to-face promo. However, it was all a clever ruse as the Cerebral Assassin instead let his destroyer, Samoa Joe do his dirty work, re-injuring Rollins’ surgically repaired knee.
Flash forward through several months of injury uncertainty, the match was finally made official on last week’s Raw with the signing of a “hold harmless” contract to keep Rollins from suing the company from further damages as a result of competing while injured.
Prediction: Seth Rollins via Finn Balor assistance. There’s little doubt that Samoa Joe will play a role in this match with the rule book thrown out the window and the Architect being who he claims to be, should have a backup plan in the form of Joe’s NXT rival, the Demon King.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
The flash point of the beef between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon can be pinpointed to one event, a key story point coincidentally in the WWE Championship matchup, Randy Orton’s initial refusal to face Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania. Following Orton turning down his title match, McMahon & GM Daniel Bryan booked a 10-man Battle Royal to replace Orton in the main event at WrestleMania. After a controversial finish when Styles & Luke Harper were ruled to have been eliminated last simultaneously, Styles would go on to defeat Harper for the #1 Contendership, the following week, only to have Orton reclaim his Royal Rumble right later that night.
In my opinion, Orton, who gave up his chance, burned a man’s home to the ground, desecrated a burial site, etc, etc, should have been out of luck, having given up his opportunity. SD commissioner Shane McMahon instead decided to pit Styles against Orton for the final right to face Wyatt at WrestleMania. Unfortunately for Styles, he lost the #1 contendership and the Phenomenal One could take no more, attacking McMahon and slamming his head through a car window. Despite his actions earning him termination from WWE, McMahon reversed Bryan’s decision and gave Styles his WrestleMania match, against the Shane O’Mac.
Prediction: AJ Styles. Despite this being a standard singles contest going into the show, I can’t imagine this will be a Greco-Roman classic, but rather the WrestleMania stunt show we’ve come to expect when a McMahon steps onto the WrestleMania ring. I’d expect a Shane O’Mac leap to backfire resulting in Styles’ first ‘Mania victory.
WWE United States Championship: Chris Jericho (C) vs. Kevin Owens
In another slow simmering confrontation, the Best Friends (who turned out to not be best friends at all) have been entangled in each other’s affairs since mid-2016, like Orton-Wyatt and Rollins-HHH. When Kevin Owens won the Universal Championship, Chris Jericho was at his side protecting the championship like it was his own. However, after Jericho accepted a match with Goldberg on Owens’ behalf, the Prizefighter had seen enough, turning the following week’s Festival of Friendship into a Holiday of Hatred, smashing Jericho’s head through the obscenely expensive Jeritron 5000 and powerbombing him out of his life. Jericho would get a measure of revenge at Fast Lane costing Owens’ his Universal Championship. Now, Owens looks to cost Jericho his championship by taking it himself at KO Mania 2.
Prediction: Kevin Owens. Ahem. This should have been for the Universal Championship.
Mixed Tag Team Match: John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
After several backstage mishaps between Nikki Bella and Maryse, a little lead pipe attack from the fiery Frenchwoman, and battle royal eliminations between Miz & Cena, this match-up has developed into a war of words over who is the “IT” couple of WWE. Al Roker will be there too for some reason.
Prediction: Cena & Bella, with a possible in-ring wedding proposal to cap the segment off. As he has been for several months, The Miz has been a heat generating machine and while it’s a prominent match on the WrestleMania card, I think we all know how this one is going to end up.
Fatal Four Way Elimination Match for the Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley (C) vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
After snapping Flair’s PPV streak at FastLane, Bayley faces insurmountable odds today at WrestleMania in an Elimination Match. This match has evolved from a straight one-on-one affair over the past few months each time Raw commissioner Stephane McMahon sees an opportunity to stack those odds against the Hugger. What started out as Flair vs. Bayley, turned into a triple-threat after Sasha Banks defeated Bayley in a non-title match, and a fatal four way after Nia Jax did the same on Raw two weeks later.
Prediction: Charlotte Flair with a side order of Sasha Banks turning on Bayley following her elimination and causing Bayley’s elimination.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Baron Corbin
After being eliminated from the Elimination Chamber and taking out his anger on the Lunatic Fringe, Corbin and Ambrose have been trading aggressions non-stop, most notably with Corbin pinning Ambrose under a forklift backstage. Now the Lone Wolf will get a chance to pin Ambrose in the ring and win his first WWE title.
Ladder Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship: Enzo & Cass vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows (C) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
Gallows & Anderson’s most recent sets of challengers look to settle the score in one of the most dangerous matches in WWE, as evidenced by Sheamus’ face. Initially, Enzo & Cass and Sheamus & Cesaro were set to do battle against each other to determine the #1 Contenders to the Good Brothers’ championships, but Gallows & Anderson’s interference prompted then-Raw GM Mick Foley to make both teams contenders in a Triple Threat Match. The stakes were raised this week on Raw when ladders were introduced and the Ladder Match was set.
Prediction: Enzo & Cass, purely for the crowd reaction and the likelihood of an Enzo on Cass’ shoulders to reach the belts style spot.
WrestleMania Kickoff Show:
The Fourth Annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
It’s the fourth year for the match that has seemingly replaced the Money In the Bank/Intercontinental Ladder Match as the yearly ‘Mania tradition. This year WWE is bringing the BEEF to the match with a number of huge bodied superstars in the mix. The biggest of them all previous winner, The Big Show is set to try to reclaim the trophy after his rumored match with Shaq, set up during last year’s #ATGMBR never materialized, but he’s not the only giant in this year’s field. Joining Show in the 300lb+ club of entrants is NXT’s Killian Dane, Mark Henry, and Braun Strowman.
The full list of entrants are Raw’s Sami Zayn, Braun Strowman, Goldust, R-Truth, Curtis Axel, The Shining Stars, Bo Dallas, Jinder Mahal, The Big Show and Mark Henry; SmackDown’s Dolph Ziggler, Tag Champions The Usos, American Alpha, Rhyno, Heath Slater, Apollo Crews, Mojo Rawley, Curt Hawkins, Tyler Breeze, Fandango; NXT’s Killian Dane; and Chinese recruit Tian Bing.
Prediction: Braun Strowman
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (C) vs. Austin Aries
After a stint as the Cruiserweight division’s color analyst, The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, Austin Aries made his return to in-ring action a few weeks back winning a #1 Contenders Match on 205 Live to earn his opportunity at the King of the Cruiserweights on the WrestleMania Kickoff Show. Aries is clearly the most acclaimed challenger to Neville’s crown to date in what should be a barn burner of a match.
Prediction: Aries wins the title, but the battle will be far from over.
Six Pack Challenge for the SmackDown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Mickie James vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Naomi
After regaining the SmackDown Women’s Championship due to Naomi’s injury, Alexa Bliss managed to alienate every woman in the SmackDown division resulting in what was initially dubbed Alexa Bliss vs. The World, but has evolved into a Six Pack Challenge Match with the return of the final entrant, former champion Naomi, who defeated Bliss at Elimination Chamber.
Prediction: By hook or by crook, Alexa Bliss retains.