Well, for better or for worse, WWE WrestleMania 32 is nearly upon us. Despite lacking much of the hype and energy that usually goes hand in hand with WrestleMania season, it will still be a show worth tuning into. WrestleMania has become a bonafide pop culture phenomenon.
There’s lots on the line this year as Dean Ambrose seeks to educate Brock Lesnar on the violent and bloody roots of his CZW days, Shane McMahon steps into the Devil’s Playground to face The Undertaker in an attempt to win control of Monday Night RAW and Roman Reigns plays the hero that everyone seems to hate when he challenges Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship.
So, let’s break down the card and make some healthy predictions for Sunday’s match-ups.
Kickoff Pre-show: WWE United States Title Match
Ryback vs Kalisto (c)
I have absolutely no idea what WWE is trying to do with Kalisto. He’s been confusingly booked in a series of tag team losses against the League of Nations and on the last RAW before WrestleMania, he scored a meaningless win against Konnor of the Ascension.
That last bit confirms to me that they have no idea what they’re doing with him. On the other hand, his opponent isn’t faring much better. It’s taken Ryback years to get away from the “GOLDBERG!” chants that have plagued him so much and, as a fan favorite, he does well. But then, WWE decided to partially turn him heel and switch him from colorful singlets to black trunks. Making him look a whole lot more like... Goldberg. C’mon guys, really?
I expect a decent, but basic, Big Man vs Little Man contest with Kalisto winning, so that Ryback can stuff him into a locker after the match and complete his heel turn.
Kickoff Pre-show: 10 Diva Tag Team Match
Team Total Divas vs Team B.A.D. and Blonde
This is the culmination of the Divas Revolution? A ten-lady tag match that was only booked to get as many of them on the show as possible at once? Didn’t they come up with the Divas Revolution as a way to STOP doing this? Apparently not.
I expect a short match that goes about 5 minutes (that’s being generous) which will break down into Diva finishers all over the place about 3 minutes in and end with Eva Marie turning on her teammates and helping the other team win. Because seriously, they actually thought people were going to CHEER her?!
Winners: Team B.A.D. and Blonde (and the live crowd, for a free bathroom break)
Kickoff Pre-show: Tag Team Match
The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz
Ehhhh. That’s all I’m feeling from this match. The feud has been thrown together and neither team really has anything else to do right now.
I expect this to be the most well rounded of the pre-show matches, with the Dudleyz getting the win after some dirty play and a 3D, mostly because I doubt this is the end of the feud. But seriously, where are we going with these guys?
Winners: Dudley Boyz
Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles IV
Well, I’m honestly a bit surprised we’re getting a fourth match out of these two but I’m not mad. Each of their matches has been stellar and they only improve with each bout as they get to know each other in the ring better.
This one could go either way but I don’t see a point in having Jericho win, because then there would need to be yet another match to settle the score and this is also AJ's first ever WrestleMania, so he'll be looking to impress.
I see Jericho and Styles having another awesome match, with Jericho ultimately falling to the Phenomenal Forearm, followed by a Styles Clash (which WWE is saving for things like WrestleMania, right? Right?!)
Winner: AJ Styles
3rd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Fun match, but ultimately just another quick fix for getting as many undercard or otherwise under the radar Superstars into one match. Honestly, the only really memorable moment to come out of these matches to this point was the inaugural match, which saw Swiss Superman Cesaro body slam Big Show over the top rope in an absolutely ridiculous show of strength and fortitude.
This year, the field is largely similar, with four spots still to be announced.
I’m expecting one of those mystery spots to go to Braun Strowman, the near-mute, lumbering, green as goose poop giant of the Wyatt Family, who will likely go on to win it. I think they have Strowman throw out the Big Show and Kane at the same time when it comes down to the three of them, so Strowman can look big and strong. For God only knows what reason. The WWE seems to think he’s the next cereal box mascot.
Winner: Braun Strowman
4 on 3 Handicap Tag Team Match:
The League of Nations vs The New Day
Well, I’m still a bit leery about it, but WWE is looking to capitalize on the audience embracing the New Day’s huge entertainment factor by making them official babyfaces.
The good news is that they aren’t doing anything differently. The New Day continues to be WWE’s most entertaining act, and they haven’t altered anything about the gimmick aside from who they’re fighting.
The League of Nations on the other hand…can someone please tell me why they’re still a thing? Do they have ANYTHING going for them aside from them all being foreigners?
Look for a solid tag team match, made infinitely more enjoyable by some New Day antics and some potential Francesca the Trombone action, which will end with New Day picking up a win, because what reason would there EVER be for LoN to beat the best team in the company?
Winners: The New Day
Triple Threat WWE Divas Title match
Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch vs Charlotte (c)
Unlike the other match involving female wrestlers on the WrestleMania card, this one isn’t likely to disappoint. The three best female wrestlers on the roster are set to face off in a Triple Threat match for the Divas title.
I hate that butterfly belt. Always have. To me, it represents a misguided era in which WWE chose to put most of their money and marketing behind the women that looked the most like swimsuit models. It was that mindset, which then necessitated 20 second matches to hide a lack of talent and enthusiasm, that created the Divas Revolution.
These three women, three of NXT’s “Four Horsewomen”, are the culmination of that effort to bring a little bit of legitimacy to a dying division.
I predict these three absolutely blow everyone away and make the most of the time they’re given. I also predict Charlotte retains, this time without her Daddy’s help, to give her true bragging rights and to set up what I feel is the next logical step of the Divas Revolution: The return of the WWE Women’s Championship.
Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Title
The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler vs Sami Zayn vs Stardust vs Zack Ryder vs Sin Cara vs Kevin Owens (c)
Let’s look past the fact that three of the participants in this match are only in it because half the roster is injured right now. I’m still looking forward to this contest.
It’s a bit of a throwback to the days before WWE decided to create an entire PPV around the Money in the Bank ladder match.
There’s a lot of factors to consider. Owens, the defending champion, has been extremely up and down lately. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler are just sort of there. Stardust, Zack Ryder and Sin Cara are essentially playing with house money. They shouldn’t realistically even be there, which gives them all the incentive in the world to show off and make the most of having a marquee match at WrestleMania.
But let’s be real here. Sami Zayn. A feud with Kevin Owens that goes all the way back to NXT. A feud that still hasn’t been resolved. The real story here is Zayn, and whether or not WrestleMania is the place to progress that feud. You have Sami freakin’ Zayn in a ladder match. Given how many heels are likely winning at WrestleMania, let the crowd have this one.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Sami Zayn
No Holds Barred Street Fight
Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar
So, in the weeks leading up to this match, Dean Ambrose has been “gifted” Mick Foley’s barbed wire baseball bat and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk)’s actual, working chainsaw. These are wonderful throwbacks and crowd pleasers and references to Ambrose’s real-life violent independent circuit work as Jon Moxley in cutthroat organizations like Combat Zone Wrestling.
But this is WWE. A publicly traded company that, until otherwise noted, operates under PG cartoonish guidelines. The best we’ll get is a tease of these weapons being used, nothing more.
Still, it’s going to be an amazing match. Lesnar and Ambrose kind of have that intangible way of making whatever match they’re in memorable. All common sense and logic screams that Lesnar withstands a hellacious beating and puts away an incredibly resilient Dean Ambrose, who I think should kick out of at least two F5’s.
They let Roman Reigns do it and Ambrose has 100,000 more things going for him than Reigns.
The goal of this match should be to get Ambrose over as a never-say-die anti-hero, the spiritual successor to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. He hasn’t got the same level of popularity, but he’s well on his way.
That said, I’m going out on a big limb and saying Ambrose shocks the world and beats Lesnar. After all, Brock has only been pinned twice since coming back to the WWE in 2012, and both those losses came in matches of this type. The lesson here? You need lots of hardware and no rules if you want to defeat Brock Lesnar.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Hell in a Cell
Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker (If Shane wins, he controls RAW and Undertaker is done competing at WrestleMania)
Oh boy. This one is tough. It may have seemed thrown together but, if nothing else, WWE has done a great job of confusing people enough that it’s hard to predict. For the first time that I can recall since Vegas began betting on WWE PPVs, the oddsmakers are torn. Shane McMahon, as of this writing, has a dead even chance of winning. 1/1.
Smart money still says Undertaker wins but it’s how he does it that will determine where things go.
Expect an emotional match with plenty of risk taking and Undertaker being torn on what to do. After all, he’s kind of the unwitting pawn in the midst of all of this.
I predict Undertaker, one way or another, wins the match, continuing the story and setting up my hopeful prediction for the main event…
Winner: The Undertaker
WWE World Heavyweight Championship match
Roman Reigns vs Triple H (c)
Fans who watched this week's episode of Monday Night RAW might have heard a rather unflattering chant being directed at Roman Reigns, the man who is supposed to be the top good guy in the company.
“DIE ROMAN! DIE ROMAN! DIE ROMAN!”
There’s no way WWE doesn’t notice this. If the man burst into flames in the middle of the ring, the live crowd would probably throw cans of gasoline at him. Couple that with this being Triple H’s first World Title defense at WrestleMania since WrestleMania 25 and the one thing you can bet on is Roman Reigns being mercilessly booed out of the building.
Fans respect Triple H, even if he’s the biggest heel in the company, which he technically is right now. Realistically, there isn’t going to be more than a small handful of fans in Arlington, Texas who are going to be pulling for Roman Reigns to win the match.
I’m going to go against my instincts (that scream at me that WWE will just do the boring, predictable thing and give the belt to Reigns and continue to pretend that people like him) and say that Reigns does indeed win the match and the title…via a good old fashioned double turn.
Winner and new World Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!