Alright, alright, alright, so here’s the deal. I don’t have any prior knowledge about upcoming storylines, I don’t read online spoilers and I’ve only been watching WWE regularly for a little over two months. What I do have is a fairly solid idea of how to write a compelling story and how decisions are made vis a vis the success and talents of wrestlers. So here goes:
Kalisto v. Ryback (United States Championship on the line)
So little promotion for a title match. Why back in my day… In any event. I’m going to say Kalisto on this one. Ryback hasn’t done anything to impress me beyond getting the fans to repeat his kayfabe breaking catch-phrase and looking like a poor man’s Goldberg. And since the tag division is building to a Heel Dudley run against the New Day the ole Lucha Dragons are going to need something to do in singles competition
The Total Divas v. B.A.D and Blonde
I literally can’t even, are we just giving everyone on the roster a spot in ‘Mania? Well, at least this is pre-show confirmed. The winner of this match is fairly irrelevant, I haven’t even seen most of these woman in more than one match yet. I’m calling some kind of falling out between this Eva Marie character and the Total Divas that escalates from/to the reality program of the same name. Other than that this is a nice spot for someone to elevate themselves to a potential title run against the winner of the later, more relevant, women’s division match. I’m going to take a stab here and say Paige but there’s a lot of talent and a lot of desire bottled up in this one so I am, in much the same way as the WWE is, open to anyone.
The Usos v. The Dudley Boys
Dudley’s win via disqualification as the Usos do something impressive that puts one/both of them through a table. Which I’m excited to see. It’s always nice to see someone with the energy of an Usos paired with consummate professionals like the Dudley’s on such a big shiny stage. It can only mean good things for us, the viewers.
Andre the Giant Battle Royal
Generally we see this as a wish-granter to what can never be at the Royal Rumble since the Royal Rumble has so much ‘Mania money tied into it. I’m officially calling a Big Show win with a short and unimpressive one on one between he and Kane at the end. I have a stretch goal where Cesaro comes back but that’s a little tough to sell since the rules tend to require everyone to be in the ring before the match can start. Still, it’d be fun to see.
The New Day v. The League of Nations
This one, the Hell in a Cell and the Main Event are tied together as far as I’m concerned. We need a certain amount of good news so no one goes home depressed but we also need to see what’s best for business and sometimes it’s necessary to have the bad guys win so the good guy wins are sweeter. I’m going to call a New Day win but that’s only because I don’t see enough heat on the League yet. They may be destined to return to singles competition now that the Dudley’s are established as strong Heels.
AJ Styles v. Chris Jericho
Can I say it? The real winner here is going to be the fans. But seriously, this is a show stealer and, if Shane isn’t as well prepared as we and the WWE all hope, will probably be the best match of the night. I’m going to go ahead and call a Jericho win, dirty of course, but probably something like a pulled tights or a low blow.
The entire midcard (Intercontinental Title on the line)
I think I already asked if we were just giving everyone on the roster a match, didn’t I? It appears the answer is yes. Three of these guys are here because they ran a card that deserves a Wrestlemania moment and the other four are here because they will be willing/motivated to do something risky/stupid in order to get noticed and moved up the card. Sin Cara and probably Stardust are going to do some wild things, I imagine, but Dolph will be the most consistently entertaining and should walk out of this with a shiny new IC title. This match will be good but AJ/Y2J and Shane/’Taker will likely outshine it.
Charlotte v. Becky Lynch v. Sasha Banks (Diva’s Championship on the line)
There will be drama. I believe we will start the separation between Charlotte and her Dad (giving her great heat in the process) when he does something that arguably costs her the match but doesn’t clearly cost her the match. Sasha wins because I don’t think the character she’s built can survive a lose on this stage and Becky is great at losing and staying relevant and effective. But man do I ever want to see a Becky championship win in the next thirty days. That young lady has done nothing but impress me since the Rumble.
Shane McMahon v. The Undertaker (Hell in a Cell)
I can only say what I want and what’s best for business, Shane wins. The finish I’m really hoping for is that ‘Taker wins, finishes Shane-O with a clean tombstone, listens to the crowd reaction when the realize they are doomed to a future of more “Authority”, more Vince and more decisions that elevate poor performers with good looks and bad ring/social media presences and then lies down under Shane’s arm for a three count. I would also accept a tap-out but that is harder to make clear to the crowd. There is no better legacy for the Deadman than as the guy that can beat anyone but occasionally takes a loss when it’s best for business. And losing to Shane here is best for business, I think the shareholders as well as the fans will all agree.
Dean Ambrose v. Brock Lesnar (Hardcore, falls count anywhere, no hold’s barred, barbed wire board, extreme rules street fight)
Brock wins, which seems like a given since at this point I can’t see anyone short of Superman (and he’s busy promoting a lackluster film, last I heard) getting a clean win over Brock and, in a situation where nothing is illegal, there are no dirty wins. With that being said, Dean’s career is the real winner here. If he can put a match that looked anything like the Rumble encounter between he and KO then that will go a long way in proving that he can put on four star matches with just about anyone in just about any situation. I have no idea how to “work a chainsaw” (you do know how to work a chainsaw, don’t you boys? Yes sir, Mr. Simmons) but I’m excited to find out.
Triple H v. Roman Reigns
Is it time to dreamcrush? I think it’s time to dreamcrush. I’m not even sorry, Roman. You’ve come a long way in the last few weeks but the smart money is on keeping the belt on the Game. When there is any crowd reaction to Mr. Reigns it’s the opposite of what the company is trying to accomplish. The goal here is to put on such a great show that the fans forget they are supposed to dislike Triple H. And, giving my predicted outcome of Shane v. ‘Taker, they’ll be more interested to see if Triple H will have a spot on Raw at all on Monday and, were he to lose, this would be the last time we see him or his lovely wife. And, as spectacular a finish as that would be, that’s a little too much good news for one night. Roman has a shot at staying relevant if he continues to build his “Wild Samoan” persona that he’s been showing us for the last few weeks but at the moment the fans aren’t behind him enough to get that nice, heartwarming ‘mania finish.
So it’s a Game win but the real question is how do you draw the curtain? The fans are going to be cheering Triple H and I don’t think that’s the ending we want. Shane will almost certainly not be able to walk so he can’t come out to gloat. Sadly, I don’t think Seth Rollins will be healthy yet although that would be awesome. So given our limitations I’m calling out the Beast to take Triple H to suplex city to set up a “You will never get a title shot, Brock, you’re an animal” story on Monday so we can see how Shane runs things. Will he just hand a title shot to the most impressive competitor? Will he get Brock to fight Roman for the number 1 contender spot, sparing us a Triple H v. Roman round 2 that no one wants? Will he book Big E v. Triple H, main event on Raw and the New Day walks away will another belt with shades of the beginning of Commissioner Michaels? Will Shane not win on Sunday and James stops watching wrestling entirely? Only future James can tell for sure.
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