Wrestlemania 31 Preview
Wrestlemania is just days away and I can’t help but feel that this seems to be the most underwhelming Mania in years. It’s weird considering you have a match-up that most never figured they’d actually see (and fewer even fantasy booked) with Triple H v Sting. I’m not sure if it’s how they have presented the matches or if it’s the actual matchups themselves. Maybe it’s because the WWE has been trying to get everyone their “Wrestlemania Moment” in recent years. In fact, I believe that the presentation of Wrestlemania will allow me to explore a new theory in Sports Entertainment that I developed called the: WWE Wrestlemania Participation Trophy Theory™. Because there is no other way to explain some of the booking decisions that are/have been made in Wrestlemania’s recently. This style of booking probably has reduced my excitement as a whole for Wrestlemania.
The upside of having low expectations for Mania is that I might actually walk away excited about the WWE main roster and its presentation. This seems unlikely though….so with that in mind here is my underwhelming Wrestlemania 31 preview post! Which is bound to be as disappointing as WWE Creative is on a weekly basis.
Match #1: (Pre-show) Fatal Four Way Tag Team Title Match:
Kid Cesaro (Champs) v. The Usos v. Los Matadores v. The New Day (Kofi & Big E)
Probably the worst booking of the PPV. The WWE has tried/is trying to rebuild the Tag Team Division so what do they do….put them on the 2 HOUR (not kidding) pre-show. This makes no sense; this should be at least the opening match or a sandwich match between other big matches. I’m also not a fan of the Fatal Four Way (especially in the Tag division) but this is why we have the new Wrestlemania Theory to explain such happenings. My feelings on this match are that this match will spawn several story lines for the upcoming weeks/months.
The first story line that I see happening is probably the most obvious in that The Uso’s will be shut down after this match seeing as the IWC is abuzz with rumors about Jey Uso’s injury and need for surgery. Not sure what this will mean for Jimmy in the upcoming months but if this is true there is no way I can see them winning the title.
Story line 2 is that because of the Jey’s upcoming situation it gives an opening for something that has needed to happen for awhile, the necessary and inevitable New Day heel turn. For too long has the crowd’s reactions to this group been lukewarm/brutal, if this group has any shot to last they have to get some momentum and what better way to do that with a Heel Turn that leads to Jey Uso’s injury. This would get them instant heat and with the right promo on Raw could make them a hot heel group in the future.
However, this would only work if story line 3 plays out: Which is that Kid Cesaro retains the titles because of something that the Usos/Los Matadores do (accidentally) to the New Day. Lets face it, of all these teams (excluding the Uso’s…excluded due to injury rumors) only Kid Cesaro can really make it long term as a tag team. Furthermore, I believe that they are the team most suited to carry the division, Los Matadores ascends to the top face team (I don’t love it but meh…whatever at this point). These scenarios also allow for Kid Cesaro to flip face at any point because then you would have at least 2 if not 3 heel teams with New Day, Ascension, and Kid Cesaro being a flexible team that can adapt to what the story line requires.
PREDICTION: KID CESARO RETAINS THE TAG TITLES
MATCH #2: 7-way Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match:
Stardust, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, R-Truth, Daniel Bryan & Bad News Barrett (Champ).
Two matches in and we have 15 wrestlers (19 if you count the 4 ring escorts in the Fatal 4 Way) that have put their gear on so far….good start for my WWE Wrestlemania Participation Trophy Theory™. I actually think that this match could produce something that is completely necessary if booked correctly: the return of prominence to the Intercontinental Belt. In order for that to happen, the guy that gets put over in this match has to be the right guy. Which means that R-Truth (100-1), Harper (75-1), and, as much as I like Cody Rhodes as a performer, Stardust (50-1), are long shots, at best, to win this match. This leaves us with Ambrose (10-1), Barrett (5-1), Ziggler (5-2), and Bryan (2-1) as favorites to win (If you can’t figure out what the numbers mean those are the odds I’m giving each performer to win*).
In the end, Bryan actually makes the most sense to win this match, as long as creative doesn’t decide to have him drop the belt in like 2 months…which I wouldn’t put past those clowns. However, because of my lack of faith in the creative processes within the WWE I would not be surprised if in some way or manor R-Truth ends up with the belt (most likely because he stole it…yet another dumb story line but I digress).
Prediction: Daniel Bryan is your new Intercontinental Champion
Match #3: Randy Orton v Seth Rollins
In a normal Pay Per View (and yes I know…WWE is trying to do away with the PPV model but until I find a better name for it that’s what I’m going to use) this easily could be a main event. By the end of Mania this match could end up being the match the match of the night. However, this isn’t a normal PPV and being the best match doesn’t mean its got the juice to be a main event, and unfortunately in a PPV with Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Triple H, & Sting that’s what happened here. Orton has been getting the best of Rollins for awhile now and that is a problem. If Rollins is in fact the “Future of the WWE” as he has proclaimed, at some point you have to best a rival. Another issue is that if he is Mr. MITB he can’t continue to get owned and be a viable contender for a title, let alone a title holder. I think that by the end of the evening the game will have changed for Rollins and it starts in this match.
Prediction: Seth Rollins wins (w/assist from J&J Security)
Match #4: 2nd Annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
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, Viktor, and the winner of the NXT Four Way at Axxess (Adrian Neville, Finn Bálor, Tyler Breeze and Hideo Itami)
This match might as well be called the 2nd Annual Road to Nowhere Battle Royal after the boost it gave to Cesaro after he won it last year. Also, once you add the 20 men in this match (I’m sure this isn’t the final lineup but as of 8:12 pm CDT on 3/25/15 these are the “official entrants”) we are now at 41 Superstars that have had some role in Mania. The WWE Wrestlemania Participation Trophy Theory™ is starting to look like a pretty sound theory. Now that I have gotten the majority of my snarkiness out of the way about this match, I will revert to a previous statement that I made in regards to the IC Belt match. IF this match is booked correctly, it could work to launch a wrestler to a new level of popularity or get some serious heat on them. This means you need to either put over a big man like Ryback, a hot fan favorite like Mizdow or Axel, or someone about to get a big push like a Rowan/Konnor/Victor. However, I don’t think any of these men will win the battle royal…well maybe Mizdow, because let’s face it…that would be cool. I think this match could be a new way to introduce a new wrestler to the main roster and give them something to give the wrestler to talk about in promos. For this reason then…
Prediction: Adrian Neville or Finn Bálor win the battle royal…unless neither are in it then I don’t know…it would probably be Ryback because hes a f***ing idiot (I hope its Mizdow though).
Match #5: Bella Twins v Paige & AJ Lee:
Well the Divas get a nice slot following up the Battle Royal but before Cena. However, seeing at where in the card where it falls there’s a solid chance that these ladies may not get more than 10 minutes to work. I think that at some point there has to be a revenge match between Brie and Nikki after the fallout from the story line where Brie got fired and Nikki brought her back as a personal assistant. I feel like it either happens at Mania or it doesn’t happen at all. Why not have a team break down while creating a feeding frenzy for a Fatal 4 way for the Divas title at a later date.
Prediction: Paige & AJ Lee win via assistance from a Brie cheap shot/abandoning Nikki
Match #6: US Championship Match: John Cena v Rusev (Champ)
Will John Cena finally put over a young star that isn’t The Miz in a Wrestlemania? That’s the question that will be answered in this match. This match could also be telling for the creative direction that the WWE has for Rusev. Is Rusev being prepared to be the next Lesnar, or will he become just another Ryback? If the answer is the former then a second win vs Cena in as many PPVs would be huge. Although one has to wonder, if Cena loses another PPV what is his long term future. 2 years ago he was a main event talent that was headlining Mania with the Rock. Now hes wrestling mid-card, with a talent that is still relatively young and unproven. I still question the decision to decimate Cena at Summerslam last year, obviously it had the desired effect for Lesnar, but I think Cena has actually suffered some from that one. Maybe, this is the match that gives Cena the ability to go do a couple movies. This would allow the fans to take a break from the Cena overload that has gripped the WWE for the better part of the last decade.
Prediction: Rusev Retains US Championship
Match #7: Bray Wyatt v Undertaker
This is the most bizarre match of Wrestlemania in my opinion. Can you have Wyatt lose 2 Mania matches in a row without diminishing his character? Is this Undertakers last match, and if it is, can he really lose it? Is there a plan for Sting v Taker in Dallas next year?
All of these questions leave me more confused by this matchup than I was when the build started for it. The good news is that we learned that Bray Wyatt can carry the build up for a match by himself, which seems to be a rare talent among the current roster members, especially when you look at the Lesnar & Reigns matchup. I’m just going to guess that the Taker is going to put over a young guy because he understands his new role in the company and understands what a rub a win over Taker would be for a guy like Wyatt (although it would have been better if he had ended the streak). However, I would not be surprised in the least if Taker wins this match.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt wins
Match #8: Sting v Triple H
Probably the most anticipated match of the evening and it’s not even close. Sting actually sits in the same role as Randy Orton is prior to this Mania. Both have been getting the better of their matchup in the build up to their Mania matches. This usually means that a character is due for a big fall. However, I can’t see how this would be good booking in this case. The WWE spent the better part of 6 months building to this match, and seeing Sting lose after all of that would be…well…actually par for the course. I just can’t see how this would be good or even effective booking. It wouldn’t make sense for Sting to lose this match, whether this is a one off for the Icon, or a build up to next year’s Wrestlemania in Dallas. If it’s a one off, hes going to get his Wrestlemania moment, if this is just the first match in an ultimate build to a Taker v Sting Icon v Icon match, I can’t see him losing because I have to imagine that Undertaker will win his last Mania match now, whoever it comes against.
Triple H has his own set of issues. Is this a last match for the Game? As his pet project continues to grow and actually have its own level of success, how many more times is the King of Kings going to be willing to get in the ring. Plus, is it time for Vince to pass the torch to the next generation of the family? Although I highly doubt we will learn any of the answers to these questions that night. This should be a good match but I have to imagine that Triple H is going to stack the deck in his favor, will Sting be able to overcome what the game comes up with.
Prediction: Sting is the Icon…he is also the winner
Match #9: WWE Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns v Brock Lesnar (Champ)
Finally, its Main Event time! Roman Reigns vs the Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar (think Paul Heyman style). These men are handpicked champions, both WWE prototype wrestlers who look like what CM Punk (I bet you didn’t expect to get the obligatory Punk reference there did you?) spent so much time complaining about. In the last year, Lesnar has ended the streak of the Phenom, decimated the face of the PG era, and held off a Triple threat challenge to his reign. It would seem that Lesnar should destroy the young and upcoming Reigns, who has left a lot to be desired by a large portion of the WWE Universe. The question is how do you “make Reigns look strong” while not making Lesnar look weak. The answer: Outside Interference and Heyman is a perfect man for this task. I believe that by the end of this match, Heyman will cost Lesnar the match…intentionally or not.
Prediction: Roman Reigns wins belt
However, this match leaves Reigns in a weakened state, which leads to the architect of the Shield to seize the opportunity and he cashes in MITB on the beaten down World Champ.
Bonus Prediction: Seth Rollins cashes in Money in the Bank. Beats Roman Reigns. New Champion Seth Rollins
*Note: for entertainment purposes only! I will not pay out any bets made on these wrestlers…except R-Truth which I will gladly accept any bets that you would like to place on R-Truth winning the IC Belt