It’s time for WWE’s annual blockbuster, ‘WrestleMania’, although this year’s event seems a bit lackluster.
The build for this year’s WrestleMania, which started at January’s Royal Rumble, has left a lot to be desired and although WWE is promoting the event as “the ultimate thrill ride” it seems anything but.
Regardless, WrestleMania 33 will be special because all WrestleMania’s are and here is how the event will play out:
WWE Universal Championship: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
It’s amazing to think that fans have to “hope” that a championship match, in the main event at WrestleMania, between two legends, lasts around 10 minutes. But, sadly, that is the harsh reality of the Universal Championship match between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg.
Goldberg’s run with WWE has been solid, but it needs to end and it’s likely he calls it a career after WrestleMania 33. With how well things have gone for Goldberg, it is possible WWE can lure him back for a few more matches in 2017, but it seems pointless.
Lesnar is poised to dominate this match, decimate Goldberg, take the title and send him into retirement.
I expect this match to play out for 12 minutes before Lesnar starts taking Goldberg apart. I also expect Goldberg to headline the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
The build to this match deserves some praise. Rollins/HHH was supposed to happen at WrestleMania 32, but we know what happened there. This match almost suffered the same fate when Rollins suffered yet another injury, yet it survived.
Despite some bad luck and unfortunate circumstance pressing a pause button on this bout’s momentum, this match still made it to the card and still has the interest of the WWE Universe.
This match is basically an ‘Extreme Rules’ contest, which means you should a sledgehammer, tables, chairs and you should also expect Samoa Joe to interfere on the behalf of Triple H.
I also expect Finn Balor to make his return to WWE, to fend off Samoa Joe and “even the odds” for Rollins.
Either way, Rollins wins and HHH continues to do what he has done more often than not over the past few Mania’s: put someone over.
Winner: Seth Rollins
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
WWE has done it yet again. They have pushed Roman Reigns to the moon while shoving him down the throats of the WWE Universe.
Prepare to be angered.
Let’s face facts. The Undertaker is in his 50s, has been rumored to be needing hip surgery and has looked terrible in the ring, most obviously at this year’s Royal Rumble. Those are facts and that’s why WWE is putting Roman Reigns in this match.
Undertaker will pass the torch, or “the yard”, to Roman Reigns and walk off into retirement.
How WWE can do this effectively is accepting the fact that fans want to hate Roman Reigns and have him turn heel while beating the Undertaker.
In that scenario it’s effective because it sets up the WrestleMania 34 main event between a champion Brock Lesnar vs a heel Roman Reigns with both men being the only ones to claim that they beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania.
One beat “The Streak”, the other ended his career.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Braun Strowman involve himself in this match, fresh off a battle royal victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Shane McMahon vs. Aj Styles
Make no mistake about it, this was WWE’s “Plan B” for Aj Styles and although it’s being bashed a bit, it’s still not a bad option.
WWE made a full-court press to make the dream match between Aj Styles and Shawn Michaels happen. But they failed and the creative team turned to this option.
I expect a lot of high risk, big spots from Shane McMahon in this match, and although HBK isn’t involved, I still can’t help but think the better “Plan B” would have been Daniel Bryan. That would have been one hell of a WrestleMania match.
Sure this match lacks a ton of storyline sensibility, but Shane O’Mac will have fans wondering what crazy thing he will jump off of this year.
Winner: Aj Styles
Fatal 4-Way: RAW Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
This match would have been better, in my opinion, as a Triple-Threat match.
This isn’t meant as any disrespect to Nia Jax, who has improved markedly in the ring and seems to be embracing her dominant heel persona, but her character shouldn’t be a “throw in” for any match. She should be a force to be reckoned with, with a legit chance to win.
Jax, unfortunately, has no chance of winning this (unless WWE eyes a big surprise) and this match has been booked around Bayley/Banks/Flair.
Jax would have been better served entering the Andre ‘The Giant’ Memorial Battle Royal, where her entrance alone would have made one heck of a “WrestleMania moment” and would have done far more for her than a throw-away appearance in a championship match would have.
I expect a Sasha Banks heel-turn on Bayley to win the title.
Winner: Sasha Banks
United States Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
This match has been so wonderfully executed that I, and perhaps many of you, have forgotten that the United States Championship is on the line. That either says a lot about the work of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, who is putting in the best work of his career, or it indicates that the United States Championship is in need of a huge re-boot.
With Chris Jericho taking time off, extended time, it makes sense for Owens to pick up the win here and setup a Jericho return in the future where he can claim his revenge.
Winner: Kevin Owens
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
What started off as a match that was universally rejected by the WWE universe has finally gained some level of acceptance.
But I can’t help but wonder if John Cena is a little bummed out considering he was lined up to square off against the Undertaker for the longest time. Now, his WrestleMania 33 match is this mixed-tag team match?
I expect Cena & Bella to win and I also expect Cena to propose to Bella at the conclusion, ala ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, to create a “WrestleMania moment”.
Winner: John Cena & Nikki Bella
Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
Is it just me or has Dean Ambrose been an after-thought thus far in 2017?
Ambrose needs a solid feud to re-ignite his character and I’m not sure a face-Ambrose finds that feud. I much prefer Ambrose in a ruthless heel role instead of playing the fan-favorite, although he really doesn’t try hard to do so.
Baron Corbin needs the win to help further legitimize him and help bring a fresh, new face to the Intercontinental Championship that is much-needed.
Winner: Baron Corbin
WWE World Championship: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
This is a storyline that has played out over the past few months and although it may have seemed that it has dragged on for a bit too long and although it may have gone too far down the supernatural route, it is still a solidly executed build.
WWE would be smart to keep the strap on Wyatt who can gain far more by defeating Randy Orton, than Orton can by walking out of WrestleMania 33 as the WWE World Champion.
Perhaps we finally see ‘Sister Abigail’ appear? Maybe Luke Harper interferes?
With the way this story has played out, anything is possible.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Triple-Threat Ladder Match: RAW Tag Team Championship: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Big Cass & Enzo Amore vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
This match has the potential to be special and different than the ladder matches we are accustomed to seeing.
The superstars involved in this match aren’t high-flyers, aren’t aerial risk takers and it’s unlikely that (outside of Enzo) we will see any death-defying leaps or big spots. And that’s what could make this match special.
I feel that tag team ladder matches and multiple-superstar ladder matches have become nothing more than spot-fests, and while they are entertaining, the story-telling element has lacked.
This is where this match can help, by bringing a unique, brutal, bar-brawl physicality to the ladder match and not rely on a plethora of big spots to make the crowd pop.
Winners: Big Cass & Enzo Amore
SmackDown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Carmella
WWE has subtly teased that this match will be full of surprises and I expect there to be some special appearances and surprise entrants that will add a new level of interest into a match that has seemed kind of thrown together.
Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Becky Lynch and Natalya will carry this match to respectability with solid in-ring work and excellent story-telling, they are all that good.
And while the more talented and legit competitors named above may be better suited for the title I think WWE will opt for the “feel good” story/moment of having Naomi win the title in her hometown.
Cruiserweight Championshiop: Neville vs. Austin Aries
I think that this match being on the “Kickoff” show is a good thing and a bad thing.
A bad thing because it runs the risk of a lot of fans not seeing it. A good thing because it has the potential to steal the show, if given the right amount of time.
Austin Aries has been exactly what the WWE crusierweight division, and Neville’s heel character has needed. And while Neville has done solid work in his new heel persona, although it happened so “under-the-radar”, he needs a feud to help give his title run, his character and the cruiserweight division a boost it needs.
Aries and Neville could, if given enough time, have a potential Match of the Year and what a message it would send to the roster and creative if the kickoff show match ended up being the best on the whole card, at WrestleMania no-less.
Winner: Austin Aries
Andre ‘The Giant’ Memorial Battle Royal
Remember a few years back when this battle royal debuted? It seemed to have a lot of promise but each year it seems to lose more and more purpose.
With Big Show set to retire after WrestleMania 33, I expect him to have a very strong showing in this match and I predict he will be one of the last 2 competitors standing.
WWE could use this match to help Apollo Crews, who desperately needs it. Crews doesn’t need to win, but a very strong showing and a number of eliminations could help Crews generate a little buzz and momentum to carry on for the rest of 2017.
In the end, I see Braun Strowman and Big Show as the last two men, with Strowman eliminating Big Show and thus, ending his career. This would not only be a big win for Strowman, but also be a passing of the torch from Big Show to Strowman.
Winner: Braun Strowman
CM Punk Makes Surprise Debut on WWE Backstage
After weeks of rumors, CM Punk has officially joined the crew of FOX’s WWE Backstage with a surprise appearance at the end of Tuesday’s show.
The appearance marked the first time Punk had appeared on WWE television since 2014 when he left following that year’s Royal Rumble, rather bitterly and abruptly, and engaged in a verbal, and legal, feud with WWE for the next few years.
However, the tension has seemingly thawed in the last year or so, with Punk more open to a return, in some form or fashion, to the world of professional wrestling, and with fans continuing to clamor for his return.
Punk’s deal to join WWE Backstage is via FOX, and he revealed that he isn’t interested in a return to the ring.
“Yeah I did it,” Punk said, during an appearance on Collider Live (h/t WrestlingInc.com’s Raj Giri). “I’m very much in a position where, ‘Well come talk to me.’ I’m open to anything. If they come to me with, ‘Hey we want you to wrestle,’ I’ll say, ‘Um, I’m not interested.'”
My agents just called me and Fox is throwing everything at this because they spent a lot of money on this and they’re all in to make it work. Originally, I thought it was a WWE thing, so I was just like, ‘meh, no.’ But then they said, ‘This is Fox.’
“I’m not dealing with anybody in WWE. They explained to me what it was, and I love Renee Young. Renee Young is a great person … she’s Canadian, so obviously she’s super over-the-top nice and friendly. I prefaced it with, ‘Guys, I’m not going to come in and dump all over stuff just to dump on it. That’s old Phil. But if it’s bad, I’m not going to be able to pretend it’s anything but bad.‘
“So they want to present it like it’s a real sport and just have a show that recaps stuff, just like they do with the NFL, just like the NHL Network would do with hockey games and stuff like that. That’s where we are with that.”
While Punk may not be dealing directly with WWE at this point, this certainly opens the door to a renewed working relationship with WWE down the line.
You can check out his shocking appearance below:
WWE Crown Jewel to Feature First Ever Women’s Match in Saudi Arabia
WWE is making strides with it’s ‘Crown Jewel’ event in Saudi Arabia, at least culturally.
WWE announced on Wednesday, during a special press conference at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, that the first-ever WWE women’s match in Saudi Arabia will take place at this Thursday’s ‘Crown Jewel’ event as part of Riyadh Season, which includes more than 100 events over a two-month span featuring world-class entertainment and sports properties.
Natalya will take on Lacey Evans on the card, which also includes Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez, and Tyson Fury vs. Braun Strowman.
Natalya and Evans have had several matches during this feud in 2019, and this bout promises to deliver the same action we have seen.
This isn’t the first time that WWE has attempted to put on a women’s match in Saudi Arabia, as they had planned a match between Natalya and Alexa Bliss for the Super Showdown event that took place in June, with officials traveling to the country in preparation of the event.
Unfortunately, approval was not granted from the Kingdom and the match was nixed at the last minute.
However, now approval has been granted and history will be made on Thursday.
WWE is making amazing strides in elevating their women’s division, and it also points out how women streamers are making strides on Twitch and Mixer. Some are even considered the top female streamers in the industry, putting on some of the best Twitch channels and the best Mixer channels that can be found on the platforms.
John Morrison Returning to WWE
John Hennigan (aka John Morrison), who has made a name for himself on the indy scene since departing WWE back in 2011, is heading back to WWE on a brand new deal, according to PW Insider.
Morrison won WWE’s Tough Enough competition back in 2002, headed to their development, and then made a successful first run in the company highlighted by multiple tag team titles, a WWE Intercontinental Championship reign, and winning the ECW Championship.
Morrison found success following his departure in 2011 with promotions such as Lucha Underground, AAA and Impact Wrestling, which he left in July after being one of their top stars and holding the Impact World Championship.
With WWE locking up superstars with lucrative long-term deals, their move to FOX, and NXT’s move to USA Network, it is likely that Morrison inked a long-term deal with the company.
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