March 28, 2015 by Joey Keogh
The big night has finally arrived and, in spite of it boasting one of the worst roads to, and disjointed cards for, Wrestlemania in recent memory this is still the show of the year and it is impossible not to be super stoked for it. The go-home show helped matters slightly as, aside from an ill-judged tug of war over the belt at the end, it was a solid, and suitably exciting, final stop. The news, earlier this week, that the battle royal would be moved to the pre-show following NXT Superstar Hideo Itami‘s victory at AXXESS, which earned him a spot in it, is disappointing to say the least. Considering this is is a 4-hour event with a 2-hour kick-off programme, we can expect at least one of the main show matches to drag. Or maybe the Divas will get more time, or the race for the IC title will be given some room to breathe. We try to be positive here, because we’re all wrestling fans when it comes down to it, but they’re not making it easy for us right now. With all of this in mind, here’s my attempt to be as fair as possible with my totally prejudiced predictions for tomorrow night:
Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Championship Match: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) (with Natalya) vs. The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (with Xavier Woods) vs. Los Matadores (with El Torito) vs. The Usos (with Naomi)
It sucks that the tag team bout has been relegated to pre-show status, even if most of its participants don’t deserve to be a part of it. I mean, really, are we setting ourselves up for yet another lengthy Usos reign? What have we done to deserve such torture? The tag team division is in crisis, and the latest recruits (The Ascension, hugely popular in NXT) aren’t even getting a look in (they’ll be participating in the battle royal, presumably to make up the numbers). Kidd and Cesaro have been killing it lately, and they absolutely deserve to retain. The fact that there are a lot of outside participants involved, such as Naomi and Nattie, suggests that this won’t be a straightforward back and forth with a clear winner. It may even lead to a DQ, allowing Kidd and Cesaro to continue on without losing their edge. Or, The Usos might emerge victorious once again, rendering the division lamer than their pathetic attempts at humour.
Predicted winners: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Considering the amazing opportunity offered to one lucky NXT recruit to take part in a Wrestlemania match, it’s kind of sad that Hideo Itami will now only be appearing on the pre-show. Having said that, he’s still a favourite to win this and, if he does, it’ll kick the night off properly, so whatever else happens later on won’t sting (pun?) as much. On the other hand, rumours are swirling that Sheamus is poised to make his highly-anticipated (by whom, exactly?) return to TV during this match, stealing the spotlight and the prize in the process. Frankly, nobody really needs that ugly trophy. It’s meaningless, and judging by how it did absolutely nothing to help give Cesaro a push after he won it last year, I think it’s safe to say that nothing will really change significantly, regardless of who wins it. Itami should be the one to do so, though. He’s worked his ass off, he does great work in NXT and, perhaps most importantly, it would establish it as a brand in itself, meaning there could be a much-needed shake-up between the supposedly safe main show stars and the developmental talent.
Predicted winner: Hideo Itami
Dads Match: Sting vs. Triple H
If you’re a regular reader of this site, then you’ll already know I have no time for Sting. This isn’t 1997, and regardless of whether he’s “earned” the chance to be here, that still doesn’t account for the fact that he is stealing someone else’s spot and that he’s way too bloody old and slow to make any kind of impact. Someone more deserving, like our beloved Ziggler, or even an NXT star like Balor, could be given a chance to shine here but instead we get to watch two middle-aged men barely touch each other for fear of breaking a hip. The match with Trips and Daniel Bryan last year was an instant classic because there was a story-line and a drive behind it. What’s the beef here? Stinger thinks Trips is kind of arrogant, or that his wife has never had to work for anything? Every goddamn wrestler in the locker room could feasibly feel the same way and establish a feud with him as a result, if he absolutely has to have a match at Wrestlemania, which personally I don’t really think he does. Anyway, prepare for this match to be slow, sludgy and ultimately pointless. Whoever wins, we lose.
Predicted winner: Triple H
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Bad News Barrett (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan
Although it seems highly unlikely, I’d love Barrett to retain here and continue his feud with Ambrose. I think they’re great together, they have a lot of good heat, fantastic chemistry in the ring, and they’re both straddling a tweener line pretty much constantly, which keeps us on our toes. Harper is great, too, but he doesn’t really belong here. In fact, he’d probably be better off in the battle royal with his brother. Apparently, Bryan and Ziggler are being set up for a feud which, considering they’re two of the most popular guys on the current roster, could be fantastic. However, do either of them really need to win the IC title to do that? This is a belt that has the evil power to make whoever wins it lose consistently, immediately afterwards, so whoever takes it tomorrow night is going to be taking a massive risk at the same time. I’d like to see the intercontinental championship be elevated to actually mean something again, but for the moment it seems like either Bryan or Ziggler is going to walk away with it, even though it means absolutely nothing to two men who have already both been world heavyweight champions.
Predicted winner: Daniel Bryan
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
There have been suggestions, particularly over the past couple of weeks as we draw closer to WM31 and Taker is still nowhere to be found, that perhaps this has all been a hoax on the part of Bray Wyatt, a way to establish himself as the so-called new face of fear by tricking us all into thinking there’s actually going to be a match. Unfortunately, we could never be that lucky and Taker is certain to show up tomorrow, get his old butt kicked and leave Wyatt to face the music. This is an unusual angle, because it makes both participants look like shit. Wyatt isn’t Brock Lesnar; he didn’t fight for the chance to take on The Undertaker, he won’t be destroying the streak and he certainly isn’t going to look any better by making it 22-2. The only eventuality that could possibly make this match worthwhile is if Wyatt somehow gets himself eliminated and, as a result, neither of them come out of it looking like losers. There’s just no point to this. I get that Taker is great for putting up-and-comers over, but Wyatt isn’t the right person for this. They both deserve more.
Predicted winner: Bray Wyatt (though hopefully it’s a DQ instead)
Divas Tag Team Match: AJ Lee & Paige vs. The Bella Twins
There’s no logic behind this match, especially in the wake of the fledgling #GiveDivasAChance movement. Certain commentators have suggested that the removal of the battle royal and the tag team championship match from the main show might be a sign that the ladies are going to be given more time than usual to strut their stuff, on the biggest stage on earth. The cynic in me thinks not, especially as the RAW championship match was strangely, worryingly great, which begs the question; why the hell wasn’t it reserved for Wrestlemania? On another note, why is this even a tag bout? Why not a fatal fourway? There were hints that Paige and AJ might turn on each other soon, so it’d be perfect because everyone could beat up everyone. Either way, the ladies need a shot and the Bellas need to lose, simple as.
Predicted winners: The Goths
United States Championship Match: Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
For those of us not currently being held hostage in the United States, this feud makes absolutely zero sense. For anyone outside of America (maybe even for Americans themselves, if the Go Home Show guys are any indication), Cena seems like the bully here while Rusev is just an ambitious, and hugely talented, athlete and immigrant trying to make a name for himself. The hero of the Russian federation has been built up as an unstoppable beast, so the idea that he might destroy the smug and super-patriotic Cena tomorrow night, Summerslam-style, is almost too much to bear. The reason being, we know for damn sure it isn’t going to happen. Even on RAW this past week, we watched Rusev destroy Cena all over the place, safe in the knowledge that, come Sunday night, it’s more than likely going to be the other way around. Also, Cena doesn’t need the US title. What is the biggest face in the company going to do with the US title? Talk about how hard he is for his home country some more? Please, make it stop. Let Rusev kill him tomorrow night and I won’t complain about Stinger anymore. At least, not for a while anyway.
Predicted winner: Rusev
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
This is going to sound weird but, given how rubbish this year’s card is, I think this might be the Wrestlemania XXXI must-see match. I mean, the two pre-show matches should be fun, and the IC title fight has a lot of interesting competitors involved, but compared to the other singles matches, this is the only one I can honestly say I care about. Orton and Rollins have tons of great heat, they work really well together and their feud has been given plenty of time and space to breathe and build properly. Add to this the fact that, this past week on RAW, Rollins goaded Orton from the sidelines while he beat up his security team, refusing to ever let him get his hands on him, which just whetted our appetites further. It annoys me that Ambrose seems to have forgotten he’s mad at Rollins for betraying him, and I remain hopeful that the two of them will get their shot at a later stage, but for now Orton/Rollins will do nicely. They’re quite similar in how they play the heel (smug, arrogant, often holding back a little). This could be the match of the night, even though it’s not really for anything.
Predicted winner: Randy Orton
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
Following their considerable fuck-up at the Royal Rumble, the WWE must be aware of the fact that nobody wants to see Reigns win again – especially not the most coveted title, and definitely not at Wrestlemania. Apparently, Vince is in charge of writing this match, which does not bode well for us. However, Lesnar just signed another massive deal with the company so odds are they won’t want to piss him off. Weighing up the reasons why either of these men deserves to win, it could really go either way. It shouldn’t, but it could. Lesnar made history last year, by beating Taker and ending the streak, before going on to annihilate Cena at Summerslam. If he loses tomorrow night, there’s a good chance all of that could be undone. He won’t seem like the beast incarnate anymore. He’ll be flawed. What the hell is Heyman going to pontificate about if he loses? However, there are certain, other factors to consider such as the, admittedly unlikely, possibility that Rollins could cash in at Wrestlemania and steal the championship for himself in the process. Although it seems like more and more of a fantasy, the more time progresses, it’s still a possibility and it could be the shock ending we need to re-invest ourselves in the product. On the other hand, it could be as simple as Lesnar losing only to take the title back the following night on RAW. Stranger things have happened, after all. It’s doubtful anyone wants Reigns to emerge victorious, which means, again, he probably will.
Predicted winner: Roman Reigns
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