We’re just a couple of days away from WrestleMania 31 and I’m REALLY getting excited. Pip will (hopefully) be on the road making his way toward Cleveland tomorrow morning and our WrestleMania 31 Drinking Game is nearly finalized. I say hopefully as he woke up feeling shitty today… fingers crossed that he feels better in the AM.
I’d started writing the post a couple of days ago and I’m glad I didn’t finish is as there’s been some news that will almost certainly have an impact on Sunday’s event. WWE Champion Brock Lesnar has officially retired from MMA competition and has signed a multi-year extension to stay with the WWE. In addition to Sunday’s main event where Lesnar will take on Roman Reigns, this decision has some potentially huge implications on how things play out. More on that later.
Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match
Tyson Kidd and Cesaro will put their titles on the line against Los Matadores, The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) and The Usos during the WrestleMania pre-show. On one hand this could be a pretty good match as just about everyone here can work well. On the other hand there’s nearly zero story going into this match that would make anyone care about it. This one seems like a filler match there to get the most guys possible a WrestleMania payday (a la the Battle Royal or to some degree the IC Ladder Match). Kidd and Cesaro are a good team and really the only ones I’d want to see walk out with the titles. The Usos have had the title way too often lately, The New Day don’t stike me as a legit tag team and Los Matadores are a joke team from the 80’s.
Prediction – Tyson Kidd & Cesaro retain
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
WWE has confirmed the following entrants, so far: The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Titus O’Neil, Darren Young, Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan, Damien Mizdow, Sin Cara, Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Konnor and Viktor and the winner of the NXT WrestleMania Axxess Tournament. while there’s some good name there, this is going to be a shit show. This is yet another way to get a bunch of dudes on the card so they can say they had their “WrestleMania moment”. With 20 guys already announced I don’t think we’ll see too many more “surprise entries” but we’ve always got to be leery of Sheamus, Jericho, Rob Van Dam and the like. Sheamus would actaully make some sense here as they’ve been pimping his return for quite a while.
I think WWE really dropped the ball here with 2 feuds that ended up here: Miz / Mizdow and Goldust / Stardust. Personally I would have MUCH rather preferred to have seen singles matches rather than having these guys as participants in this match (or in Stardust’s case the IC Title match). But I digress…
I’m going with Mizdow. They’ve put off the split with Miz WAY too long at this point and I’m thinking this will finally be the night where it comes to a head. The guy is over like a million bucks right now. They’ve got to do SOMETHING with him… right? I mean, it’s not like they’d have a guy win this and then bury him for a year… oh wait.
Prediction – Damien Mizdow
EDIT: While I was writing this post I got an alert on my phone that this has been moved to the pre-show. Not sure if that means the Fatal 4-Way has been moved to the main show. Just more proof that this really is a throwaway.
Paige and AJ Lee vs. The Bella Twins
The #GiveDivasAChance movement has been taking shape for a few weeks now and for at least these 4 women it’s been paying off. They’ve been getting more than a 3 minutes bathroom break segment on RAW and I’m happy to say that they’re actually doing something with the opportunity. I would have preferred a Diva’s title match here but getting these 4 gals in the ring at the same time is a good way to go as well. The teased tension the other night on RAW was a nice touch but I don’t think that’s the direction we’re going here.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Brie once again turns on Nickie and costs them the match. After all, they never really explained why they kissed and made up after their bitter summer feud did they?
Prediction – Paige & AJ Lee
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
The build for this was sort of a mess. Orton gets put on the shelf by Rollins. Orton comes back and joins The Authority, only to make a face turn which everyone saw coming. Rollins is probably my favorite heal in the company right now and he’s simply an amazing worker. I’m not a huge Orton fan, but dude is a hell of a worker as well. This one has the potential to really steal the show. Will it be Savage / Steamboat? Probably not, but it’ll be a high impact, fast paced match that will hold the attention of everyone watching. I’d expect to see quite a bit of outside interference which will piss me off, but will allow Rollins to win the match.
Prediction – Seth Rollins
Intercontinental Title 7-Man Ladder Match
Bad News Barrett (c) defends against a slew of competitors including R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust & Daniel Bryan. If the build for Orton / Rollins was a mess, this was a fucking travesty. The IC title has been a joke for years now and the champ has been little more than mid-card feeder for up and comers on the roster. Since winning the title, I can’t think of a time when Barrett actually looked good because dude is a straight up stud worker. He’s a guy who looks great, talks great and has a great move set. Total package right? Wrong. He’s been booked looking weaker than any IC champ I can remember in recent memory and the build has included hot potato with the the title and more guys that anyone can keep track of.
Daniel Bryan has a legion of fans who think he can do no wrong and have been a bunch of crybabies ever since he lost the Royal Rumble. Vince and co inserted Bryan into this match as a make due and to shut them up. Now that Lesnar has re-signed, I’m guessing they’re going to do what they can do build the IC & US Titles (more on that later). With that being said, Vince can put the title on Bryan here and make the wrestling hipsters happy.
Even though I’m sounding pretty down on this match, it’s going to be amazing. There’s WAY too much talent in the ring for it not to be. I’m not the biggest Daniel Bryan fan, but dude can straight up wrestle… possibly better than anyone on the roster. Add to that Ziggler who’s the best bumper in the business, Ambrose who’s my favorite wrestler in the biz right now, the aforementioned Barrett and 3 other guys who are no slouches and this will be on quite a few “Match of the Night” lists Monday morning.
Prediction – Daniel Bryan is your new Intercontinental Champion
US Title Match: Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
Rusev has never been beaten. Cena is out of the main event for the first time in forever. I’ve often said that I don’t understand all the John Cena hate and I’ll stick to that. This one has been built damn near perfectly with one tiny blip… Rusev shouldn’t have “passed out” to Cena’s submission a couple of weeks ago on RAW. It was out of character for Cena and it showed Rusev as weaker than he should have been going into Mania. They tried to rebound last week with Rusev looking strong on the go-home show, but the damage had been done.
This is a match that I think was affected by the Brock Lesnar signing. Had Lesnar left, Reigns would have won the title and they’d need top heels for him to feud with. I’m tipping my hand a bit when it comes to my Lesnar / Reigns prediction, but I don’t think those heels are going to be needed. I think they’re going to take this opportunity to build yet another mid card title by putting it on Cena.
Prediction – John Cena is your new US Champion
Sting vs. Triple H
This is one of the best built matches on the card. It’s not going to be a classic wrestling match. Far from it actually. It’s going to be full of weapons, full of outside interference and full of moments where Michael Cole goes crazy.
Even though this isn’t the Sting match anyone wanted to see (that was Undertaker), it’s going to be one of the more enjoyable and entertaining “spectacles” we see on Sunday. Sting is looking to cement his legacy by having that 5 star match on the grandest stage of them all. HHH knows truly what’s “best for business” and he’s going to make the Stinger look great when he puts him over in the middle of the ring.
Prediction – Sting
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
I honestly don’t know what to expect here. And that’s exactly why I’m so excited for this match. We haven’t seen Taker since The Streak was broken a year ago. Bray Wyatt has done a simply amazing job building this match nearly 100% on his own simply by talking. He continues to impress not only on the mic but in the ring. I can make a case for this particular match to go either way.
On one hand, there’s really no reason for Taker to win here. The Streak is gone so at this point he’s just an old guy (he turned 50 on Tuesday) that wrestles once a year. That said, he represents the best gimmick in wrestling history and he’s still a big draw because of it.
If Bray wins it’s certainly not going to hurt The Undertaker’s legacy. He’s a first year HOFer for sure regardless of what happens on Sunday or if he ever wrestles again. Wyatt is already going to be the next “face of fear”… beating Taker at Mania isn’t going to change that. What it WILL do is take away the ability for Paul Heyman to call Brock Lesnar “The one in 21-1”. Lesnar isn’t going anywhere and neither is that saying.
Prediction – The Undertaker
World Heavyweight Title: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Until the news that Lesnar had re-signed with the WWE it was a foregone conclusion that Reigns was going to be the new world champion. The WWE has jumped through hoop after hoop making sure that Reigns is the next big star. I’ll admit that historically I’ve not been either a Reigns nor a Lesnar fan, but this build toward Mania has changed my tune – on both guys.
While Reigns may not be ready for the spotlight, no one really ever is when they get put into that spot. The crybaby Daniel Bryan fans have made their voices heard loud and clear and Reigns has only gotten better. He’s stepped up since the Rumble in a way that many (most) didn’t think he could. He’s always been a bad ass in the ring and he’s gotten MUCH better on the mic in recent weeks. So much so that at this point I think he actually COULD be the guy that Vince has been grooming.
But then there’s Lesnar. I used to hate that he was never around and hated that the world champ was basically a special attraction. I didn’t really think Lesnar did anything all that special in the ring and I was quite frankly sick of listening to Paul Heyman spout his schtick (even though Heyman is the best in the biz on the stick). And then the Royal Rumble happened. I was SO impressed by Lesnar that I can honestly say I’ve become a Lesnar fan. I was sure that he was going to lose the title and walk out of the the WWE the next day the same way he did after WrestleMania XX which I was in attendance for.
Now, we’ve got the news that Lesnar is sticking around. I’m thinking Vince is going to kill 2 birds with one stone. He can slow burn the Reigns build and give him some time to grow, keep Lesnar happy with his part time schedule and at the same time build his 2 mid-card titles with top tier talent. This is a winning solution all around as a large majority of the fans are going to be behind Lesnar anyhow on Sunday.
The only potential issues I can see with this happening are A) Seth Rollins cashes in his Money In The Bank contract possibly reforming The Shield along the way or B) Paul Heyman turns on Brock Lesnar to give Reigns the title. Either way I can’t wait for the conclusion to this match!
Prediction – Brock Lesnar retains
So there you have it… 9 matches announced for WrestleMania 31. Some are better than others but I can say that this is shaping up to be an event to remember. We’ll be watching the event on Sunday night, playing our Drinking Game, buildling the Beeramid and having the time of our lives. And I don’t even care if my predictions are true.
Here’s to you wrestling fans – enjoy WrestleMania!!!