It’s that time of year again: WrestleMania. Usually, I find the lineup is pretty underwhelming, but over the last few years they have gradually gotten better at putting together a card worth watching (barely). People were afraid that with all the injuries, the bookers would struggle creatively. Honestly, my personal opinion is that with some of the bigger names out of the picture (people the fans seem to not really want or care about), the “creative team” has been forced to be fresh and try using people that are not on the verge of retirement and actually have a fan base–with the obvious exception of Roman Reigns (not speaking for myself because I’m a fan of his)– but I think they may have something working to remedy that particular problem.
I am also thrilled they’re not focusing on celebrities. I always felt that injecting non-wrestlers into the matches really brought the quality down, and was a very amateur move. It’s like saying, “Here, we can’t think of anything good, but please watch this because we have someone familiar to the mainstream involved.” Very low-rent.
Now, they have set the stages to create a great future for the company, and there are various possible directions for the product to go regarding their performers, storylines, and titles; I just hope they pick the paths that build on the future as opposed to sticking with angles only they like. WWE is notorious for not listening to the fans, and that worries me.
I’ll be perfectly honest about this: I’m pretty new to watching NXT, but after watching Takeover, WWE’s main product tastes pretty bland and I am not expecting WM to come anywhere near the performance level and entertainment value that show did, but as it stands, they’ll use their cheap thrills and effects and celebrity attractions to please the casual fans, the mainstream media, and the people who watch WM without watching WWE just so they can be involved. But, I do see potential for this show to be better than WM has been in years–shows that, in my opinion, have often come up so short in value–save for a few high spots and standout matches–that they have been a huge part of why I took a hiatus as a fan for a couple of years. I think the company is in that same period they were just before the Attitude Era back in late-97/early-98 when it all blew up. A better day is dawning, I think, just beyond the horizon, with the best faces from TNA and ROH defecting and NXT churning out cards that are reminiscent of the true ECW shows (before WWE ruined the brand) and early ROH events, as well as a ton of Japan-influenced performances; mostly, because it appears that WWE creative is finally learning how to listen to the Universe. Not as much as they should, but, you know–baby-steps.
Anyway, here are my predictions and hopes for the show:
- The Unnecessary New Staple: I like Battle Royals, but I wish there was more significance to making this an annual match. Maybe a shot at one of the secondary titles at the next PPV; or, maybe a glimpse of the guy that is going to get the next big push might give it relevance, but they have yet to really assign any sort of importance to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. So, in a way, it seems that if they spring Bray Wyatt on us and he wins, it’s almost worse than if he wasn’t in it, at all, because it shows some sort of relegation for his character. There’s been virtually no hype, no real build-up–they haven’t even told us all 20 participants–and nothing to draw any interest to it. I feel like the winner will have something to do with the Outcasts, and the Outcast with most potential for success is Bo Dallas. Of course, Kane may get the win since he’s almost out of the picture and has never won the Royal Rumble despite setting records in the match. Maybe the Golden Truth will finally come together and one–or both–of them will win. But, I BO-lieve, and we’re in Dallas, so my mind is made up. Winner: Bo Dallas.
- Table for Two, or Not?: The Usos are slowly going down the pipes and they need something new (maybe being a part of a heel faction with Reigns) and the Dudley’s have barely been a fizzle since returning. But, if they want to build the tag team division, then having a heel Dudley/face New Day feud continue the course may be their best bet. The WWE gains nothing by an Uso win, but a Dudley win can be turned into something good. I predict the Dudley Boyz.
- 10-Woman Mash-up: I really don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but I cannot figure out why they threw this Diva’s match together except maybe to just squeeze all the current Divas left into one match. Total Divas is full of demoted and 2nd string women while B.A.D. & Blonde has those currently with the most momentum. Eva will probably turn heel, and B.A.D. & Blonde are going to win. On a side note: I’m excited to see Emma. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the arrival of Dana Brook.
- The Dead Horse: Styles and Jericho is a played-out angle. Unless both men are going to unleash everything they have in their arsenals for about thirty-minutes, this match will be a replay of all their other matches. Hopefully, the win will be decisive, the feud will stop, and A.J. will move on to better things. If they make Jericho win, they’re stupid. But, Y2J always comes in and puts over the new guys, so I say Styles walks away with it.
- The Second-String Show-Stealer: Not very inventive to give us yet another 7-man Ladder Match for the IC strap, but it really could steal the show. All of these guys are good, even if most of them are mid-card shadows, but they could all give themselves a push by offering top performances. I detract my previous statement that Owens can’t get over, because I’ve come to think he might become one of the candidates for being the next big face, simply because he is relatable to the current fan base. But, so does Sami Zayn, and he’s awesome, people love him, and he just had one of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen against Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s been a building block for NXT and, even though it’s hard for me to pick between him and Owens, I am going with the slight upset and choose Zayn.
- Freebird Rule Gone Wild: Let’s be honest, no one really gives a crap about the League of Nations. The fans don’t care about one single member of that faction. The New Day is a freight train of momentum with a ton of talent and marketability. If WWE was still going the way they were a few years ago, I’d pick the League easily because Sheamus is pals with HHH. But, partially against my better judgment, I am giving WWE the benefit of the doubt and imagining they won’t be booty and might pick the right move over cronyism and keep moving the Tag Team division forward. The Power of Positivity triumphs.
- Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Goldberg in a WCW Retro Match for the US Title: Actually, it’s Kalisto and Ryback, and the difference is that people would have been interested in Mysterio and Goldberg. This one is hard to predict simply because they’ve done virtually nothing with either of these guys in recent weeks. Ryback still has a ways to go before he’s over and people actually do like Kalisto when he’s finally booked to do more than talk about how small he is and how much he had to fight his whole life to be taken seriously. Ryback can’t shake the Goldberg chants, which means people think he’s an unoriginal reject, so their best bet is to let Kalisto win, and I think they will. If I’m wrong, oh well.
- The Revolution Rolls On: I personally think Charlotte truly is a genetically superior athlete. She looks like a champion, walks like a champion, performs like a champion, and is bred to be a champion. But, I just don’t think a lot of people are feeling it, yet. The Universe loves Sasha Banks, but is she really ready? Wouldn’t she make a better heel champ? She does a lot of wiggling and swaggering, but what about the wrestling? I see her plod about the ring and pose, then hit the Bank Statement and win. Not championship stuff. Then there’s Becky…the quintessential “good girl,” and, look around at the Divas Division: a ton of heels being groomed. Who better to take them on than the sweet, virtuous Lass Kicker who never gives up? Besides, Sasha beat Charlotte, but Charlotte beat Becky. That, in itself, could be telling. I am going with Becky Lynch. ***Will Bayley make an appearance?
- Crazy and the Beast: I seriously doubt Dean Ambrose will win this match. But, that won’t matter because he’ll come away a winner. This will be tantamount to when Stone Cold lost to the Hitman in the submission match at WrestleMania 13. Austin lost, but that was his make-or-break moment and it defined the future of his character. The same thing will happen here with Ambrose. Lesnar will win, but people will be like, “Ambrose is here.” I imagine the Wyatts will interfere and probably rekindle their feud with the Monster, and we might even get a mutual respect team of Ambrose/Lesnar against Rowan/Strowman at the next PPV, giving Bray and Harper time to heal. This should be brutal.
- Money and Death, Welcome to Hell: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Shane will defeat Taker. It won’t be fair and square, but he’ll win. There will be a typical McMahon swerve, and this will somehow lead to the Authority getting time off. These two old men will break themselves down and tear the cage apart, and in the end, Taker will either finally be done or he’ll be reinstated in a later angle. Whatever is in the lockbox will have something to do with Steph, and we may see a heel faction arise from this. Next year: will we see an angle that culminates with the three Shield guys fighting for the gold, with a McMahon in each corner? Maybe Ambrose/Shane, Reigns/Vince, and Rollins/Steph. I don’t know, but the match would be brilliant and one of the greatest WM Main Events, ever.
- The King vs. the Emperor: When Reigns told Stephanie he is the Authority now, I think that carried more weight than just being an empty comment. Something’s up, and I think he’ll be in on it. Look for him to take the title, but look for him to turn heel doing it. Shane and Vince could turn on HHH and Steph using the, “You’re running this company into the ground, so I had to call Shane.” In any event, Reigns turning heel is the only way to save him, right now. It worked for the Rock, it worked for HHH, and it will work for Reigns. Maybe if they’d tried that with Cena, he wouldn’t be their biggest mistake. I foresee a heel faction involving Roman Reigns. I personally like Roman and want to see him get over and succeed, and this will be the best possible chance.
This WrestleMania carries with it the ability to turn the company in a better direction. Hopefully, the brass has been paying attention to the fan reaction to NXT and have realized what their product could really be. No more doing whatever they want despite the fan’s reactions or their business will fade and eventually shut down. It might take a while, but if they keep doing this garbage, it will only be a matter of time. So, I am hoping for a satisfactory show with good matches and preludes to better angles. They need to open the door to the youth so NXT talent can make their way in, because it’s in that company that their future lies.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed.