Here we are, the Thursday before Wrestlemania 32, so what better time to make a few prudent predictions? Well, yeah, Smackdown will be on tonight, so this will have to be a penultimate prediction, but who really cares about Smackdown – are you that excited to see The Ascension take on The Social Outcasts?
Kalisto(c) vs. Ryback – US Championship Match
Freaking out and having trap muscles that touch your ears wasn’t enough for Ryback. It was inspiring, and downright surprising, that he was able to give extended promos about a self-help book for so long, but he eventually met boos at the Royal Rumble. Now he’s back to being just The Big Guy. His thing is that he’s big. WWE truly will never escape Vince’s a-sexual lust of huge guys.
Kaliso has been having a spectacular run as champion. It’s a crime that his matches have been about as long as Divas’ matches circa 2005. He even gave a title defense during a pre-show. Luchadors doesn’t get a lot of attention these days, and this could be a big moment for Kalisto. The David vs. Goliath moment here is about as reminiscent of a Rey Mysterio match as it gets. With any luck, that’s the little dragon’s trajectory.
Crazy Idea: Kaliso wins and is put over by Rey Mysterio in a surprise appearance
7-Man Ladder Match – Intercontinental Title Match
Did you see Zack Ryder’s fierce new beard last Monday? Like… right?
Let’s be real; Stardust, Sin Cara and Ryder have about as much of a shot at the IC title as Doink the Clown making a surprise entrance. What most people are here to see is Kevin Owens take on Sami Zayn while Ziggler gets in some licks, then quietly sells in a corner. The happiest guy in wrestling has been a long awaited addition to the main roster. As good as Zayn’s debut has been, it wasn’t quite have the landslide Owens brought with him. This looks like a good place for Sami to prove himself and win over the non-NXT watchers.
On the other hand, Kevin Owens hasn’t had a chance to play with his shiney new title very much.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Crazy Idea: Zack Ryder’s beard wins the title and he goes back to making silly videos
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
AJ Styles has been a fan darling since his surprise entrance at the Royal Rumble. His ring presence has been bolstered in a long feud with Chris Jericho. At this point though, there isn’t much left to do in this plot. This rivalry has been entertaining, but hasn’t had much emotional weight. It’s fun to see the two vets go at it, but there aren’t any stakes. People already love AJ. There’s no way he’s going anywhere. And Chris’ legacy is cemented, bolted and riveted to the WWE, he’s not going anywhere either. All that’s left is for him to put Styles over one more time, it seems.
Winner: AJ Styles
Crazy Idea: AJ Styles cuts his stupid hair
The New Day vs. League of Nations
This match is the counterpoint to the AJ/Y2J match. While there isn’t a title up for grabs, there is still considerable weight. The New Day has been spectacularly popular for the entire 8 months of their title reign. It was almost surreal to see the about-face the crowd has taken on them. Their opponents, The League of Nations, have been the new attack dogs of The Authority, and not much else; just a group of huge, evil guys with no character to speak of. The New Day have been popular for so long that beating the entire League of Nations, in a handicap match, at Wrestlemania, would seal them as champions for quite a while. Or it could really hurt their momentum, and possibly lead to their fall.
Winner: The New Day
Crazy Idea: The New Day incorporate a new finisher involving all three men pouring cereal on opponent
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose – Street Fight
Wanna know something crazy? Dean Ambrose has not won a PPV match since he was with The Shield. These last two years have also been the most fertile for Lesnar. It has been wild to see Dean come so close, so many times, just to have his chance snatched from him. In the wake of Foley handing over the barbed wire baseball bat and Terry Funk passing the chainsaw, you really have to wonder if Ambrose’s time has finally come.
And how about those promos he did with the hardcore legends? They’re making it seem like Dean is going to literally murder and dismember Brock Lesnar in the ring. I guess that’s one way for the writing staff to get out of the corner they’ve painted themselves into with the invincible Brock Lesnar.
Crazy Idea: Paul Heyman gets a new idea for promos
Triple Threat Match – Diva’s Championship Match
The Diva’s Revolution was a highlight of the last year in wrestling. What was once an embarrassing sideshow designed to let man-children ogle boobies is now a real division with serious talent. The match dynamic here of an intense (l)ass kicker, a mean heel and a dirty fighter with a dirty manager is an excellent cross section of wrestling as a whole for both sexes.
As champion, Charlotte has evolved from awkward and wooden on the mic, to being a mostly believable heel; there’s still something lacking when she tries to pull off really dirty tricks, though, some X factor of charisma. Becky has been dialing up the violence in her bouts, and it’s done wonders to set her apart. Maybe someday we’ll see a hardcore duo in Lynch/Ambrose? That leaves The Boss. We’ll no doubt see the dirtiest manager in the game try to get involved, but the crowd has been bristling for Sasha for months, and she seems poised to capture the title.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Crazy Idea: Becky Lynch wins and reigns as a badass fighting champion
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker – Hell in a Cell
What could easily be the main even of this Wrestlemania, Hell in a Cell will decide a lot behind the scenes. If Shane wins it will mean he controls RAW, splitting RAW and Smackdown, something that’s been whispered about for some time. The Undertaker will also be forced to retire. Something else that’s been whispered about for some time.
Shane O’ Mac’s mic skills have been impeccable. There’s no denying that with his confidence and intensity, he would make an excellent modernization of Mr. McMahon. And if his victory really does represent a change to a more NXT-esque, less PG driven product, it’s hard to say no.
The WWE has really been building Shane as an invincible high flyer since his return. Seriously, you can’t watch the weekly shows without seeing that clip of him jumping off the titontron at least once. He hasn’t had any formal matches yet, and he looked exceptionally spastic the few times he incorporated “realistic” MMA punches against ‘Taker and some rent-a-cops, so hopefully he’s been holding back some real moves. He is going to have to deliver in a massive way to make good on what seems like the Deadman’s last ride.
Crazy Idea: Undertaker wins, but the product changes anyway
Triple H(c) vs. Roman Reigns – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Triple H has shown that his in-ring ability hasn’t lost a step despite his time wearing a tie. And in his recent addresses to the WWE Universe he has rekindled a voice we haven’t heard in a long time; he didn’t sound like Triple H, he sounded like The Game, like a true champion.
On the other hand, you have Roman Reigns, a man who is clearly not going anywhere. Reigns hasn’t had much time recently to win hearts and minds. He’s pivoted his character from being a silent sentinel, to being a lone wolf, to being in a bro-mance, to being a cool island dude and now he’s got a harder, more aggressive edge. This new persona is winning more folks over, but his weeks long absence ham stringed the time needed to develop that persona. All during the all-important run up to Wrestlemania. It’ll be hard for Roman to make the crowd like him if he’s already champ, but it’s hard to change a ship once it’s in motion.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Crazy Idea: Triple H retains until Seth Rollins returns from injury, then vacates the title to him