Ever since Kurt Angle was announced as the headliner of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame class, fans like myself started fantasy booking some type of return to the ring. Would he link up with American Alpha? Would he reignite old feuds with AJ Styles or Samoa Joe? Would he start something new with Finn Balor, Seth Rollins or Kevin Owens? Up until this point those were all pipe dreams, but a new report from the Wrestling Observer is giving people newfound hope. While nothing is set in stone and Angle would have to pass WWE’s rigorous medical testing, it’s a step in the right direction. It goes without saying that Angle is one of the most physically gifted and entertaining wrestlers of all time, so any type of send off in addition to the Hall of Fame induction would be fantastic.
— Bray Wyatt (@WWEBrayWyatt) February 13, 2017
If you didn’t catch last night’s Elimination Chamber pay per view, you missed out on a landmark moment for one of WWE’s rising star and in my opinion, it’s greatest character. Bray Wyatt outlasted The Miz, Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, John Cena and AJ Styles to become the WWE Champion in the main event, pinning Cena and Styles to pickup the win. This is inexplicably Wyatt’s first singles title in the WWE, and it’s hard to think of someone more deserving. While guys like Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose, Owens & Styles have won titles during their brief singles careers, Wyatt has been relegated to a frustrating pattern of stop and start pushes. He’s carried WrestleMania season feuds with John Cena and The Undertaker, only to lose on the big stage and be sent back to the mid card. Last night he finally grabbed the brass ring, and he did it by himself. There was no assistance from Luke Harper or Randy Orton or a surprise return from Erick Rowan; it was just Wyatt, in his all glory, Sister Abigailing himself to championship gold. While anything could happen between now and WM, the smart and logical story is going to be Orton/Wyatt for the title in one of the main events, so Bray Wyatt should go into WrestleMania as the defending WWE Champion.
— WWE (@WWE) January 16, 2017
Now that we’re less than two weeks away from the Royal Rumble, ‘WrestleMania season’ is starting to take off. It’s far and away the best time of the year to be a wrestling fan, and a big part of that is WrestleMania weekend. One of the biggest events of that weekend is the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and we now know that Kurt Angle will be apart of the 2017 class. Angle is one of the most decorated and entertaining wrestlers in WWE history, and also happens to be a legitimate Olympic Gold Medalist. The only question left for WWE fans: will he have one more match? I hope so, but either way, congratulations to Kurt Angle on his hall of fame induction.
— WWE (@WWE) April 11, 2016
I know it’s only been two weeks, and the Raw after WM is always great, but how GREAT have these last two Raw’s been? Ignoring Shane’s match with The Undertaker at WM, this has been a great storyline. Ideally they would have had Shane come back and say he wants to take charge of the WWE, only for Vince to give him a shot on a trial basis. Shane would succeed, and the WWE Universe would support him, and eventually he would take over as Raw GM full time. Since WWE is not an ideal universe, they had to throw Shane vs. Undertaker at WM in there, have Shane lose, and then have him become Raw GM anyway. Maybe Vince really wanted to see him jump off the cell? Either way, the WWE is on an upward swing creatively for the first time in forever. Let’s look at what’s happened these past two Raw’s:
- No Authority, meaning no long winded promos that accomplish nothing.
- A logical, showing his work GM that sets up feuds and matches that make sense
- The debuts of Apollo Crews, Enzo & Cass, Baron Corbin and Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows
- Two of the four debuts above have instantly reinvigorated the tag team division
- A tag team tournament (with actual tag teams!) to determine the #1 contender for the belts
- Cesaro returning and becoming the #1 contender for the IC belt against a great heel with a new valet who he has great chemistry with (Miz and Maryse)
- AJ Styles becoming the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
- Bray Wyatt finally getting a chance to look like a main event talent, which gives Reigns another contender beyond Styles
- Kevin Owens entering a feud with Shane McMahon – yes, please
There’s so much happening right now, and all of it makes perfect sense. Giving Raw a GM who has little to no ego and who explains why he’s doing what he’s doing allows us to just sit back and let the performers perform. Instead of trying to connect the dots and wonder why things are happening, we get to see the men and women interact in logical stories. This is such a great improvement over pre WM Raw and I really hope it keeps going. You can even have The Authority return over the summer and have them feud with Shane, and don’t forget that we haven’t seen Brock Lesnar either. You also have Rollins, Cena, and Orton coming back soon. I know it’s only a few Raw’s in a row, but this is a big step in the right direction. Let’s hope they keep it rolling.
The Raw after WrestleMania is always the best Raw of the year (and sometimes better than WrestleMania) and last night was no exception. We got the return of Cesaro (in a tear away suit!) a new IC Champion in The Miz and a new #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in AJ Styles. BESIDES that, we got the Raw debut of Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin and your new favorite tag team Enzo & Cass. My favorite part about all three of these debuts is how positive the crowds reacted to them and how for the most part the announcers put them over for the live broadcast. Minus infinity points for Michael Cole saying that Enzo is an ‘acquired taste’ while 20,000 people sing his entrance promo word for word. Besides that, all three debuts for flawless. Corbin got a match with a smaller guy who doesn’t mind selling his ass off in Ziggler, Crews got to look like a million bucks and Enzo & Cass turned the tag team division on it’s head with one amazing promo. With these debuts, plus the return of Cesaro and the eventual returns of Cena, Orton and Rollins, this roster is going to be so stacked it’s going to melt people’s brains.
Before we get into it, how amazing does that set look? I can’t wait to see the finished product. WrestleMania 32 is live this Sunday from Dallas, Texas. If you need more hype than that for WrestleMania, you’re in the wrong place. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
This one is kind of a toss up. You’d think if WWE was serious about Braun Strowman, they’d give him a ‘WrestleMania’ moment without having him actually have to wrestle a match. That moment should be right here. Big Show has already won it, and the rest of the guys in this match are literal throw away characters. There are reports of Cesaro returning and entering the battle royal, but he already won the inaugural one, and if Cesaro is coming back. they should put him in a more important spot than a pre-show battle royal.
Prediction: Braun Strowman eliminates everyone and wins.
Natalya, Paige, Brie, Alicia, Eva vs. Lana, Naomi, Tamina, Summer, Emma
The only two people I care about in this match are Paige and Evil Emma. I’d much rather them have had a weeks long feud that ended in a one on one match at WM, but I also understand that you want to get as many people on the card as you can. I have to assume Team Total Divas wins here, because they’re the only team with a team name. As long as Evil Emma gets some good spots, I’ll be happy with either outcome.
Prediction: Team Total Divas
The Dudley Boyz vs. The Uso’s
Give me a flaming table. That’s all I’m asking for in this match. No one has to go through it, but I want it and I need it. Heel Dudley Boyz are far and way the best Dudley Boyz, and they are really only here to put over other tag teams, which is fine. Bubba Ray and Devon helped revolutionize the tag team division 15 years ago at WM17, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to give them some cool spots this year. Regardless of the outcome of this match, Enzo & Cass are showing up on Raw Monday night and taking over.
The League of Nations vs. The New Day
If you need visual proof that the WWE tag team scene is awful, look no further than the fact that the tag titles aren’t being defended at WM. Thankfully we’re still getting our New Day fix, even though it is against the League of Nations. Personally, I think this would be a perfect spot for The Rock. You want New Day to get over as good guys, so why not bring out the most popular guy in the world and have him even the odds? Chances are Rocky will come up and cut a promo, but this would be a fun and unexpected cameo that would help New Day immensely. League of Nations are bad, and I refuse to pick them to win either way.
Prediction: New. Day Rocks.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
If you can ignore the fact that this feud has been centered around crowd chants, it’s been pretty entertaining. Much like the Dudleyz, Heel Jericho is forever the best Jericho, and he’s been great during his most recent run. Pairing Styles with a veteran like Jericho for his first WM feud and singles match is very smart, and I fully expect these two to put on a show. I think Styles goes over, and has his first big time WM moment with a Styles Clash win.
Prediction: AJ Styles
US Championship Match: Kalisto (C) vs. Ryback
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been digging the simplicity of this feud. Ryback is enormous. Kalisto is not. Kalisto is champion. Ryback is not. And just like that, you have a David & Goliath feud with the good guy champion and the logical heel. The only thing that really makes Ryback a heel is that he wants to beats up the guy we’re rooting for. He has every right to win matches and become the #1 contender, but we like Kalisto better so Ryback is a jerk. It’s refreshing to see WWE build up a feud without having the two competitors wrestle each other every week to see who will eventually win a wrestling match. Also, the less Ryback speaks the better off we all are. As far as the outcome, this one could really go either way, but if they’re serious about Ryback again, they should give him this win.
IC Championship Ladder Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, The Miz, Stardust, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder
Picture this: five guys are laid out on the floor, the two remaining guys are slowly ascending up the ladder. They both reach the top at the same time and start trading punches. Who are you picturing? Zack Ryder & Sin Cara, right? HAHAHA. Sorry, I had to do that. But yeah, the only two guys who matter in this match are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, and if you think otherwise you’re wrong. Much like last year, this match does include seven very talented guys who are all looking to have their WM moment, so I expect some crazy stuff to go down, especially since they know Shane/Taker is going to be insane. I don’t see any other outcome than having the last two standing be Zayn and Owens, and from there I’m happy with any outcome, because these two will be feuding until they’re 100 years old.
Prediction: Kevin Owens. KO Mania lives!
Diva’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks
This is the match I’m the most excited for. The three main events will all be wonderful, but I started really getting into NXT during the Paige/Emma/Charlotte/Becky/Sasha/Bayley era and I feel emotionally invested in all three of these women. I’ve seen them start as NXT Divas and transform into the cream of the crop not only in NXT, but throughout the world. Now they’re in a Diva’s title match at WrestleMania and have a chance to tear the house down in front of 90,000 people. That’s pretty surreal. As much as I like Charlotte and Becky, this is Sasha’s time. They’re supposedly debuting the Women’s title on Raw the night after Mania, and there is no better pick than Sasha to be the champion. She is the rare combination of the most over female on the roster and also the best wrestler. Have Ric Flair interfere only to be taken out by Snoop Dogg. GIVE THAT TO ME, WWE.
Prediction: Sasha Banks
Street Fight: Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose
Just typing ‘street fight’ followed by ‘Brock Lesnar’ makes me nervous. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this match, but I know it’s going to be brutal. I honestly think the right call is having Lesnar win, and having Ambrose get stretchered out only to walk out under his own power. Give him all the crazy spots in the world, but one mortal man should not be able to defeat Brock Lesnar. Ambrose is going to come with his wagon of weapons, which I’d bet my life on Brock Lesnar picking up and heaving at him at one point during the match. This should be a spotlight for Ambrose, who has been a shining star during this insane stretch of injuries, but I don’t see him beating Lesnar. Between this and Shane/Taker, I really hope no one gets seriously hurt.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Hell in a Cell Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
This is hands down the oddest match on the card, and if you told me 10 years ago that WM 32 would be semi main evented by The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon I’d say I like you, but you’re crazy. But here we are, and to be honest, I am scared. Shane McMahon gave The Undertaker a flying elbow drop through a table during the opening segment of RAW, so what the hell are these two going to do at WrestleMania? I sincerely think Shane is jumping off the cell. I won’t be mad if he doesn’t, because that is very dangerous, but he’s jumping off something really high that’s going to make me watch through a hand over my eyes. Besides the insane spots, I want this to be like HHH vs. Sting last year. There’s no reason to make these two carry a 25 minute one on one match. Get the Mean Street Posse out there. Give me Stone Cold, HBK, Vince, Mick Foley. Let’s just go bananas. This is going to be as fun as it will be scary, and I cannot god damn wait. The added stipulations of Shane winning and taking control of Raw and Undertaker losing making it his final WM are intriguing, but this is definitely not the last year for Undertaker at WM.
Prediction: The Undertaker
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: HHH (C) vs. Roman Reigns
WWE really likes this Roman Reigns guy, eh? For the second year in a row, Reigns is in the main event of WM, and for the second year in a row, the majority of fans are not having it. Last year WWE made the last second change to have Seth Rollins cash in his MITB briefcase and it was executed perfectly. This year, they don’t have Seth Rollins or the MITB briefcase to fall back on. They can’t just have Reigns win clean, especially if he overcomes the odds of interference, but having him lose the main event title match two years in a row isn’t great either. You can’t really pull off a double turn either, because HHH is also the evil authority figure that is integral to so many storylines on Raw. Apparently there has been discussion about putting on Taker/Shane last, which might be the better call, especially if they have some insane stuff planned. Even if this isn’t the main event, the goal cannot be to have the crowd mercilessly boo your new champion. I have no idea what’s going to happen. Maybe Cena shows up, but then what? Maybe the Dudleyz interfere, but then what? Don’t sleep on Bray Wyatt either, who could cause a DQ finish or take one or the other out. He doesn’t have a match on the card, and if he’s not featured at all that would be a huge mistake.
Prediction: if I’m forced to pick, I’m going to go with Reigns. I just don’t know how.
Sasha Banks Getting Emotional Seeing Herself On The WrestleMania Logo Is My Favorite Video From WrestleMania Week
I think my favorite thing about watching all the men and women come up from NXT and be stars is how relatable it is. When I was a kid, I loved wrestling, but a five year old can’t really relate to Hulk Hogan or Shawn Michaels or The Undertaker. They were mesmerizing, sure, but it’s not like I saw myself as an undead zombie biker man. But with people like Kevin Owens or Sasha Banks it’s different. I’m their age, and while I’ll never be a WWE superstar, the feeling of fighting for a dream and accomplishing it is very relatable. That’s why this video is so great. Sasha busted her ass to get to NXT, buster her ass to become the NXT Women’s Champion and THE BOSS, and now she’s in a Diva’s title match at WrestleMania and her face is plastered on the side of AT&T Stadium. I can’t wait for her, Charlotte and Becky to tear the house down, and then the next night on Raw THE BOSS will be the new Women’s Champion.
How amazing are those pictures? The traders on the NYSE floor haven’t been this scared since Bane and his henchman broke in and started smashing skulls. WrestleMania week is great for a lot of reasons, but I can’t think of any reason being better than a cult leader and his bearded monsters ringing the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange in full character. Now let’s just get Wyatt to play an integral role in a main event match Sunday and all will be well with the world.