Your Average #WrestleMania 33 Preview & Predictions
Last week I put out a post previewing WrestleMania with a little over a week left before the big show. This post will be similar, but includes the latest developments after Raw and Smackdown this week, plus a prediction for each match.
Raw Universal Title Match: Goldberg (C) vs. Brock Lesnar
For better or worse, the top billed match for Raw (and most likely main event) at WrestleMania is Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg for the Universal Title. I understand this match from every angle except the creative one, because the WWE has set themselves up to have a 2 minute main event at their biggest show of the year. This isn’t the pessimistic side of me coming out, either. Goldberg is 50 years old, and he’s fought two matches since returning to the WWE. Both of those matches were under 2 minutes long. On top of that, Goldberg’s entire persona is built around those kind of matches dating back to his time in WCW in the late 90’s. The general consensus is that Lesnar is going to maul him and take the title, which is fine, but it’s something that probably should’ve been done at Survivor Series and not in the main event of your biggest show.
If I’m booking Raw post Mania, I have Lesnar win here and then have Balor return on Raw to announce that he’s going after the title he had to forfeit due to injury.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Smackdown WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. Randy Orton
If you want to see the differences between Raw and Smackdown, look no further than their championship matches at WM. While Raw’s features two part timers (if I’m being generous), Smackdown’s champion is a product of NXT who’s character has flourished for years before he finally become champion last month at Elimination Chamber. His opponent is a former rival turned follower turned rival again, and while Randy Orton has been doing this forever, he’s still a full time guy who I have no problem with being in a championship match.
This story has been going on for months, and while it gets cloudy at times (especially when they had Orton refuse his title match, only to change his mind with very little reasoning explained) I’ve enjoyed it mainly because this is the spot Bray Wyatt should always be in. I’m not saying he always has to be champion, but his character is too unique and layered to be toiling around in the mid card. As fun as this story has been, the best part about the feud is that you know the match is going to deliver as well. That’s something that can’t be said about the Raw Title match.
After this week’s Smackdown, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Luke Harper rejoin Wyatt, or have the mainly forgotten about Erik Rowan return from injury and reform the OG Wyatt Family. I’m very into the Wyatt Family with Bray as World Champion.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt
Raw Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match: Bayley (C) vs. Nia Jax vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
The story here is Bayley won the Women’s Championship from Charlotte with the help of her friend Sasha Banks. After a lot of back and forth and the unfortunate insertion of Stephanie McMahon into the fray, nothing really changed. Bayley is still the champ, Charlotte still feels (rightfully) screwed over and Sasha Banks is still Bayley’s best buddy. The X factor and fourth woman in this match is Nia Jax, who has steamrolled through the Women’s Division since debuting on Raw, even beating Bayley in a non title match a few Monday’s back.
I enjoyed the booking of this feud on Monday, as Bayley won clean thanks to a smart counter, but Nia ended up standing tall after taking out all three women post match. Last year’s Women’s match featuring Charlotte/Sasha/Becky Lynch was far and away the best match on the show, so hopefully they bring a little bit of that magic here and give us a great match.
Prediction: Nia Jax
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella
While having Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss defend her title against EVERYONE is a little bit of a cop out, I have to imagine this was a decision that was made once Naomi got injured. Naomi won the belt at Elimination Chamber and had to forfeit it shortly thereafter, which is a shame because she’s an easy to root for baby face that could’ve had a good program with a solid match against any of the female heels on the Smackdown roster. The ‘one vs. all’ stipulation should give Smackdown a hard reset opportunity post Mania, and whoever walks out with the Title should be given the spotlight. With her forever feud against Nikki Bella now in the past, my money is on Natalya to walk out the champ.
The wildcard in this match could be Naomi, who was added on Tuesday’s Smackdown and ended up being good to go after her injury. Now that she’s healthy, I can see WWE making her champion again, as she was most likely scheduled to go into Mania as champ. While I wasn’t expecting Naomi to be added back, I’m sticking with my original pick.
Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: Gallows & Anderson (C) vs. Enzo & Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
If I had to sum up the Raw Tag Team Division in one GIF, it would be this one:
No Division is in need of a reboot more than the Raw Tag Division, and hopefully after the triple threat match at Mania, that’s exactly what they’ll get. The talent is there: Gallows/Anderson, Enzo/Cass, Sheamus/Cesaro and New Day are the main four squads, and you have teams like the Shining Stars and R-Truth/Goldust that could sub in now and again. I have to imagine that a few NXT Tag Teams are getting promoted to the main roster after WM, so hopefully one of them gets sent to Raw and shake things up. As for this match, the story is all over the place, so it’s tough to be invested in any team. As much as I love Cesaro, he’s once again being wasted in a tag team, so I’m pulling for Gallows and Anderson to win and get a chance to be legitimate, heel champs.
This match is now a ladder match, so hopefully these six are given enough time to put on a show. Cesaro & ladder matches might end up being my favorite combination ever.
Prediction: Gallows & Anderson
US Championship Match: Chris Jericho (C) vs. Kevin Owens
The best and most emotionally satisfying feud heading into WM is easily Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens. Both of these guys have been brilliant for the past 9 months or so, and have really ramped things up since the Royal Rumble. Ignoring the name value of Lesnar/Goldberg, this match should have been for the Universal Title, and this is the match where Kevin Owens should cement himself as the best guy in the company. I think Owens comes out of this match as the US Champ and the best heel WWE has, so it’s not a total wash. Jericho deserves to ride off into the sunset after one of the best runs of his entire career, and hopefully Owens can channel his inner John Cena and bring some prestige back to the US Title picture.
Prediction: Kevin Owens
Intercontinental Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Baron Corbin
Similar to many feuds on Smackdown, Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin’s beef started at Elimination Chamber. After Corbin was eliminated, he set his sights on Ambrose and beat the ever loving crap out of him. The Miz pinned an unconscious Ambrose, thus costing Dean a legitimate shot at winning the WWE Championship that night. Ambrose is still the IC Champion though, so Corbin has continued to taunt and attack Ambrose in the hopes of taking the title off him. Corbin is my pick for the most improved main roster player on either brand, and he’s really flourishing since being drafted to Smackdown. I’m excited to watch Ambrose in this match, as I have to imagine he’s anxious to make up for his dud against Brock Lesnar last year. He has a hungry young competitor to work with this year in Corbin, so this match should be really good.
I’ve been a fan of Corbin since NXT, and I’d like to see what he can do with a title around his waist.
Prediction: Baron Corbin
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Austin Aries
The Cruiserweight Division was riding a wave of momentum after the Cruiserweight Classic, but they hit a brick wall once they debuted on Raw. There was nothing special or unique about them, and there was zero effort put into establishing the characters. TJ Perkins loved video games and Brian Kendrick was an angry pirate, and nobody cared. All that changed when Neville came on the scene, and thanks to great matches against Jack Gallagher and Rich Swann, plus the addition of Austin Aries, the Cruiserweight Division is riding a high into Mania. The Championship match features Neville defending against Aries, and along with Owens/Jericho, this match should steal the show.
As great as Aries has been on the main roster, I think Neville is too much to handle right now.
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
Not every match on the Mania card is for a title, and the biggest non title match is Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker. What started off as a battle of yards was kicked up a notch when Roman speared The Undertaker on Raw. Not much changed after this week’s show, unless you count The Undertaker digging graves and controlling the arena lights with his hands and arms as ‘change’. With Braun Strowman now officially in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, it looks like this match will be one on one, and as much I hate to say it, Reigns should destroy Taker. The Orlando crowd is going to give Reigns hell all night, so if the WWE is smart, they’ll book Reigns as an asshole here. He doesn’t have to cheat to win, but he should be extra vicious in this match and give the crowd a real reason to boo him.
Reigns cut one of his better promo’s on Monday, and he’s so close to being the best guy on Raw. There’s nothing you can do about portions of the audience booing him, because that’s just the way modern day crowds behave. If he starts to sell a little more in his matches and delivers believable, focused promo’s like he did on Monday, he’ll be unstoppable. With 14 matches already on the card, a few of them are going to have to be short, and with The Undertaker physically limited, this should be one of them.
Prediction: Roman Reigns
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
How do you know it’s WrestleMania season? There’s always a few telltale signs: The Undertaker shows up, a Pitbull/Flo Rida song is playing every half hour and two or more people are staring and/or pointing at a bright sign that says WRESTLEMANIA. Those are all fun, but my favorite ongoing trend over the last few years has been Shane McMahon and his flying elbow drop. While I would’ve loved AJ Styles being involved in the World Championship match, that’s not his role at WM, and if there’s one thing he’s proved over the last 14 months, it’s that he excels in every spot the WWE has put him in. Honestly, he could have worse opponents, because not only will Shane give this match everything he’s got, he also brings name value, which pretty much guarantees this will be a top billed match. Styles is the definition of the cream rising to the top, so it won’t be long until he’s back in the title picture. This should be a fun match, and a good way to give Styles his first ever WM win.
Prediction: AJ Styles
Holds Harmless Match – HHH vs. Seth Rollins
HHH vs. Seth Rollins was originally booked for last year’s WrestleMania, but thanks to a devastating knee injury to Rollins, they delayed it a year. The match was almost delayed again after Rollins reinjured his knee, but it looks like he’ll be alright to go next Sunday. The stipulation, which was confirmed on Monday, is that Rollins had to sign a ‘holds harmless’ contract which would make it an unsanctioned fight. That would allow HHH to (figuratively) murder Seth Rollins and vice versa, since Seth isn’t technically cleared to wrestle by a doctor. It’s unfortunate these two won’t be fighting in a regular match, because I think it’d be great, but adding in this stipulation does make for some interesting scenarios. Don’t be surprised if Samoa Joe inserts himself into this match at some point, as he is mind blowingly not on the card. I don’t know how physically limited Seth is going to be Sunday, but he’s a ridiculous athlete, so even if he’s well below 100%, those Cross Fit moves will be coming from every angle.
Prediction: Seth Rollins
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
There’s something to be said about watching The Miz mock John Cena for starring in a reality show. This is the same guy who introduced the world to his wrestling character while he was a cast member of the Real World back in 2001, so this entire storyline is a little surreal. Fast forward to the beginning of 2017 and The Miz was IC Champion while John Cena was the #1 contender for the World Championship, a title he would win at the Royal Rumble. How did we go from 2001 to early 2017 to a mixed tag match at WrestleMania? I’m not sure, but the build up for this match gave us the ‘lost’ episodes of Total Bellas I added above, so I’ll count it as a win.
The real life story is that Nikki Bella still has an injured neck, and this match will most likely serve as her unofficial retirement match. There’s also rumors of Cena proposing to Nikki (they’re a real life couple) which would be a cool WM moment. All four of these superstars are actual wrestlers, so at the very least we should get a competent, mostly entertaining match. If it ends up with a proposal, that’ll be icing on the cake.
On paper, this match had little appeal, but thanks to Cena and Miz being two of the best talkers in the WWE, it’s now one of the best built up matches on the show. Cena and Nikki are the most surefire winners on this entire card.
Prediction: John Cena & Nikki Bella
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Rounding out this year’s Mania card is the annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. There are 30 participants overall, and with Big Show included, it looks like the speculated Shaq match is off the card. Shaq was cool 17 years ago, but I can’t imagine a lot of people were getting hyped to watch him ‘wrestle’ Big Show. Before Strowman entered the fray, my pick for this match was Mojo Rawley, but if they give it to anyone other than Braun they’re insane. It’s foolish that they left him out of the Reigns/Taker match after the 6-9 months that he’s had, but at the very least he should leave WM as a dominant battle royal winner.
Prediction: Braun Strowman
Remember to follow us @averagenobodies as we’ll be tweeting all day Sunday and trying our best to keep up with all the action. Happy WrestleMania week!