So there’s going to be a bit of spandex today. Writing this as the first day of WonderCon comes to a close and I’ve settled down to watch the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. WonderCon has been a weird vibe which I’m sure will be recapped next week, but Friday I had the delight of interviewing Julie and Shawna Benson about their current Batgirl and The Birds of Prey run at the oddly tiny DC booth on the convention floor. While the WonderCon 2017 spectacle certainly isn’t on the level CCI would like to see, it really feels like a comic book show and that is AWESOME. A show that gives you quality time with creators. I was even able to find out Julie Benson knows one of my favorite indie scene wrestlers the Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels. What a world! So with that let’s get into the other big weekend event.
Sunday is WrestleMania. The Superbowl of WWE where the casual and hardcore fans alike come together over hot dogs and pizza while spandex clad gladiators put on a show for millions. In the spirit of Vegas betting, we’re running down our predictions for whom will come out victorious. Feel free to weigh in with your own picks.
Intercontinental Championship Match
Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin:
Sadly there hasn’t been much build for this match outside of a forklift spot where five people couldn’t think to move a lever in order to free Dean Ambrose. What’s even sadder has been Ambrose almost non-existent run with the Intercontinental title. It’s been defended, what, maybe once in the last 2 months? Neither superstar has really been notable on USA Network TV time but at least Corbin had a few good promos on the post-Smackdown show Talking Smack. You really do buy him being a huge d**k in real life. With Corbin needing something to legitimize his badassness, nothing would help more than taking the belt from Ambrose who never needs to win to be over. This match will likely end up on the 2 hour WrestleMania pre-show and hopefully, the two can make lemonade out of pigeon sh**.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Putting this on the pre-show would mean there’s room for both women’s title matches on the main show. Sure it’ll take some of the intended luster out of this match, but since its concepetion the ATG Battle Royal hasn’t been good for anyone’s career. Remember that first one when Cesaro lifted the 400lb Big Show out of the ring like he was a big bag of dog kibble? His reward was a feud with D-list Jack Swagger. Last year, Baron Corbin debuted at WrestleMania by winning the battle royal. I even had to look that up as I’d already forgotten about it. With WWE botching Braun Stroman’s push it’s likely he’ll win this year’s Battle Royal and continue the dead end track record of the match. WWE creative will simply see it as a “we’ve done our job with you” reward for the behemoth.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Smackdown Women’s Championship Six-Pack Challenge
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Natalya
I’ve actually come to like Alexa Bliss. At first, I didn’t think much more of her than a diva like the Bellas or Eva Marie. Since going to SmackDown, Bliss has stepped up her in-ring game doing great spots with Becky Lynch and Mickie James. Her microphone skills were probably there all along but buried as a manager/wrestler in NXT to an awful tag team. In a brand that lacks a true heel, Bliss has been the only thing keeping feuds compelling. Even though WrestleMania is usually a place where titles change hands; I don’t see Alexa dropping the belt.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
RAW Tag Team Championship Ladder Match
Gallows & Anderson vs. Enzo & Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
The tag team match without a tag team name. Monday Night Raw’s tag team division hasn’t been given the chance to show how good it can be. It has a lot of talented performers and with the New Day relegated to backstage spots, there’s an opportunity to show how deep this division can be. Going into this match, the groups were only allowed to build a modicum of story. Can SheaSaro pull off one more title win before it eventually implodes or can Enzo & Cass finally win a title? It seems fitting for Gallows & Anderson to drop the belts on the end of their first year in the company while simultaneously letting Enzo & Cass win the belts to culminate their opening year on the main roster.
Winners: Enzo & Cass
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. Miz & Maryse
Ironically, the one match that seems to have no stakes also had the most build up. The build up of Miz and his wife making fun of Cena and Nikki Bella has been fun to watch. From spoofs of the Total Bellas reality show to in-ring promos calling out Cena’s behind the scenes politics. If this match doesn’t end with Cena proposing to Nikki after the match then what the hell was all this for really? It seems that’s the reason why most people would entertain not going to the bathroom during this one.
Winners: Cena & Bella
United States Title Match
Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
Since their meltdown at the “festival of friendship” on Raw, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens have had the most strategic moments to build this US Title match. Certainly not many, but what’s been on TV has been well executed. Owens losing the Universal Title to Goldberg because of Jericho’s distraction and the onstage speeches all built a necessary level of drama. The U.S belt even feels secondary to the feud itself. When Jericho cut the promo about Kevin Owens being a Y2J fan in grade school, it was sheer gold. Anyone who watched wrestling in the late 90’s saw themselves in Kevin Owens. This match might fall under the traditional good guy/bad guy formula, but we’ll be cheering for both of these incredible performers. This is going to be the show stealer and Kevin Owens will come out on top because his gimmick can’t work for a long period of time without a title.
Winner: Kevin Owens
WWE Heavyweight Title
Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
The arsonist versus the swamp monster. I really wanted to be more invested in this match. Simply putting Luke Harper in and turning it into a triple threat wouldn’t have done it. Bray Wyatt winning the title at Elimination Chamber in February was what we all wanted but it went nowhere. Did he even get to defend the title? Orton burning down the house was a fun bit of on-screen felony but isn’t he supposed to be the good guy in this situation? I’m sure it’ll be a solid match to watch but I just don’t like the idea of Bray Wyatt dropping the title before he’s had a chance to do anything with it or Orton winning another title inching him closer to that Flair/Cena number of world championship reigns. That’s what is going to happen though :(
Winner: Randy Orton
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
AJ Styles is without a doubt the best in-ring performer of the modern era. Every match he’s in has the potential to be 5-star. He has an uncanny ability to change gears during matches, making it easier for his opponents to find a pursuance they could not have with any other competitor. His SummerSlam match with John Cena proves he can bring anyone to his level, but Shane is a different challenge. We’ve seen WWE’s most OMG moments come from the fearlessness of Shane McMahon. However, keeping up with AJ is more than jumping through a table or off of a cage, it’s about hitting your opponent with moves that haven’t even been invented yet. AJ as the full-time in-ring performer has to win this match, how captivating it will be lies with Shane’s willingness to push his athleticism.
Winner: AJ Styles
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
This could have been a great match. The whole Seth Rollins knee injury leaves it in limbo as to how long this can go and how good it can be. It will likely be a spot for Finn Balor to make a return maybe even turning him heel.
Winner: Triple H
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
Roman will win. If WWE have finally accepted they can’t tell hardcore fans who to cheer for then they’ll let this happen by turning Reigns heel. When you look at his matches, Reigns isn’t a half-bad wrestler. Just not someone who can hold my attention on a microphone. With the dead man on his way out and the streak broken, his biggest value to the business is building its future roads and that means putting Roman Reigns in the reaction spot of this year’s WrestleMania.
Winner: Roman Reigns
RAW Women’s Championship 4-Way Elimination
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Nia Jax
This is really the match that didn’t need to happen. Sasha vs. Bayley at NXT Takeover was the match of the year before they got to RAW. Why not have it at WrestleMania? Charlotte is one of the best performers in all of women’s wrestling but having her sit out Mania or in a singles match against Nia Jax on the early to mid card would put her in a better spot where we’d push for her to main event WrestleMania in 2018. WWE are using up the good will of this women’s revolution by only letting it get showcased through some sort of gimmick to get as many performers in as possible. As for the match itself, we need to get the full Sasha Banks heel turn with the title win. Let them carry a feud including Bayley chasing the belt all the way to SummerSlam.
Winner: Sasha Banks
WWE Universal Title
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
This Match will not be 90 second squash. WWE has to pay off on all the investment they’ve risked in the Survivor Series main event last year and Royal Rumble. Another quick squash would be a knife in the gut of fans acceptance for comeback legends. Goldberg will come out the victor, but the match has to go at least 10 minutes.
That’s my WrestleMania, I can’t wait to see how it all goes down.