Thursday, April 5, 2018

WWE WrestleMania 34 Preview & Predictions

Oh man.  Oh mama.  Oh doctor.  That's right, it's WRESTLEMANIA!  

We are just days away from the 34th annual Showcase of the Immortals, and man does this lineup smack the ever-lovin' goose shit out of the previous fifteen-or-so editions.  THIS is what a WrestleMania match lineup should look like folks.  Lots of variety, major bouts involving the current crop of stars, maybe a nostalgia act or two in special attraction matches, and some potential MOTY candidates.   It's about time they got one right.  Course they could fuck the whole thing up anyway, but for the first time in literally years they have a really stacked lineup to work with.  This 'Mania season has felt to me like Triple H and Steph had a much bigger hand in booking it than Vince did.  The last three PPVs have gone according to logic, and the focus has been overwhelmingly on the full-timers while Hunter, Steph and Shane are in matches designed to get newer people over.  I haven't been this jazzed about a WrestleMania show in a long time.  A long time.

So let's get to the picks.  It's a whole new season and we're all starting with a clean slate.  But first the 2017 results:

1. Justin - 90/120 (75%)
2. Landon - 79/108 (73%)
3. Dave - 62/86 (72%)
4. Dan - 75/120 (62.5%)

Pre-Show Cruiserweight Championship Finals: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali

I haven't been following 205 Live so I have no idea what's been going on with this division.  The CW division needs a breakout star to build around.  Neville was that star for a while but got so fed up with the tiny box he was put in that he up and walked out.  He is supposedly in talks to return, so maybe they'll do something more with him.  Problem is the CW division is such a tiny niche in WWE programming that any potential breakout stars are, to a certain extent, wasted in that division.  They either need to figure out a balance or scrap this experiment.  I'm sure the match will be solid but they'll probably put it on so early the stadium will be half empty.  Gotta feel sorry for these guys.

Justin: No idea - let's go with Cedric.
Dan: I mean... I've never heard of either of these dudes. Ali
Landon: Alexander
Dave: Cedric.  Who cares?

Pre-Show Andre the Giant Battle Royal

Sooooo glad this isn't going on the main show.  The only Andre Battle Royal I've truly enjoyed so far is the first one, which turned out to be an unexpected hit.  Since then it's been a pointless sideshow attraction designed to cram all the unused names on the PPV.  And none of the four winners really got much of a push afterwards.  Baron Corbin is the only one who can truly claim it helped his main roster career, and even that is debatable.  Only 14 names have been announced so far, and none of them seem like sure winners.  Of those 14 I'd probably pick Corbin to repeat.  At least that would be something on his resume: Two-time Andre Battle Royal winner.

Justin: Either Corbin or Mr. Surprise Entrant #6 (Maybe Dolph?)
Dan: Is Elias in this?  If so, him.
Landon: Karl Anderson
Dave: No idea, Dolph....

Pre-Show Women's Battle Royal

The women's division equivalent of the ABR.  But at least this one is historic for being the inaugural one.  It sucks they couldn't find time on the main show for a Sasha-Bayley match, as that would've been another potential show stealer.  But the focus of this match is clearly going to be on that feud.  This only has 13 names announced so far, and Sasha, Bayley and Becky have to be the favorites.

Justin: I could see Sasha and Bayley canceling each other out and paving the way for Becky to take it down.
Dan: Ruby Riott
Landon: Becky Lynch
Dave: Sasha

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers

This should be a fine car wreck of a match.  The BB have been pushed as the latest coming of the Road Warriors and I'm happy about that.  Harper especially is way too good to have been wasted for so long.  This is only going one way.  Harper and Rowan kill everything they see and become the dominant heel Tag Champs.

Justin: Bludgeon Brothers
Dan: BB
Landon: Bludgeon Brothers
Dave: Gotta be the Bludgeon Brothers

RAW Tag Team Championship: The Bar vs. Braun Strowman & ???

I'm a little sad they didn't just make this a handicap match, even though I hate handicap matches.  It just would've been kinda fun to see The Bar pound the crap out of Braun only for Braun to Hulk up and murder them.  Since they've built Braun up as an indestructible monster, why not have him be the first singles guy to win the Tag Titles by himself.  Yeah, I know that would make the actual teams look bad for a while, but it's Braun Strowman we're talking about.  He's kinda this generation's Andre.  Anyway, all signs point to Elias being the mystery partner, which is lame.  Elias stinks.  Maybe Elias will basically do nothing in the match after Strowman refuses to tag him in.  I'm still holding out hope that Samoa Joe will get this spot, but I think Joe probably returns on RAW the next night instead.

Justin: Braun and whoever are clearly winning this.
Dan: Braun Strowman & Rey Mysterio
Landon: Braun and Bray/Storm/Jarrett
Dave: Braun and partner

US Championship Fatal 4-Way: Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Rusev vs. Jinder Mahal

Yeesh, this got out of hand fast.  I'm fine with them doing something with Rusev.  The guy's hugely over and got that way on his own.  Jinder not so much.  This is my pick for weakest main card match, but it should still be decent I guess.  I'd love it if Rusev won here and got a nice US Title run to go with his fun gimmick.  I'm not sure that's happening here though, since Orton just won the thing and almost every other title is surely changing hands.

Justin: Orton retains for now
Dan: If they're smart they gotta go with Rusev.
Dave: Orton

RAW Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax

It's Shawn vs. Diesel.  Triple H vs. Batista.  Conniving Heel vs. Babyface Power Broker.  This should be short but entertaining.  The way the feud has been executed Nia really has to dethrone Alexa.  Also there have been rumors of a Carmella cash-in either here or in the SD match.  In either case Carmella needs to not win the belt.  Nia and Asuka would both kill her.

Justin: Nia wins
Dan: Yes
Landon: Nia
Dave: Jax

Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat: The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins

This is another potential show stealer.  Finn and Seth have been on fire lately in singles matches against each other.  Miz can have great matches when he's with the right opponents.  Give this 15 minutes and let 'em dazzle.

Justin: It's Finn's time to win some gold.
Dan: Seth Rollins
Landon: Finn
Dave: Rollins, though I'd like to see Miz retain.

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon

Holy fuckin' jeez I can't wait to see D-Bryan return to action.  The Smackdown roster just got a HUGE addition.  For once I'm actually excited about a match of Shane's.  This should be great.  The stipulation is a little odd and it kinda seems they've painted themselves into a corner.  If Owens and Zayn lose they stay fired.  Obviously they aren't staying fired, so either Shane screws up and costs them the match (I can't see Bryan getting pinned in his in-ring return), creating tension between them, or Bryan turns on Shane and forms a new stable with his ROH buddies.  I'd be alright with that.  How about a new Smackdown Six Era with Bryan, AJ, Nakamura, Owens, Zayn and either Finn or Joe being moved over from RAW?

Justin: KO & Sami win somehow
Dan: Yes
Landon: KO and Sami to be reinstated
Dave: Bryan & Shane

Probable Impromptu Match: John Cena vs. The Undertaker

Welp, never seen this before.  A major WrestleMania match between two of the company's biggest drawing cards is being left as a cliffhanger.  I guess the rest of the card is so stacked they felt like they didn't need to formally announce this?  I cannot fathom that they would tease this match for weeks and not actually deliver on it.  But I gotta think, with Kid Rock being a Hall of Fame inductee this year (Sweet Jeezus), he'll come out at some point, break into a rendition of "American Badass," and BikerTaker will ride down to the ring for a quick match with Cena.  Hopefully it won't last long.  Whatever...

Justin: Taker wins obviously
Landon: Taker
Dave: Taker but really, who gives a shit?

Mixed Tag Match: Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon

Well, this'll be a spectacle.  Rousey is a bona fide box office star who will bring a lot of eyes to the product.  She desperately needs a manager-type to cut promos for her, at least for the time being.  Talking is obviously not something she's comfortable with yet.  But in the ring I have no doubt she'll pick up the fundamentals quickly.  I'm not expecting a five-star classic here but it should be a fun little special attraction match.  Just please don't put it on last.  That would be stupid.

Justin: Rousey & Angle win handily
Dan: Come on.
Landon: Rousey and Angle
Dave: Rousey & Angle

Smackdown Women's Championship: Charlotte vs. Asuka

Yet another potential show stealer, I hope this gets a good amount of time.  Charlotte is probably the best possible opponent for Asuka in her debut 'Mania match.  The question is, if Asuka wins does she take the belt to RAW or stay on Smackdown?  Regardless, this should be a major highlight of the show.

Justin: No one's ready for Asuka
Dan: Obviously
Landon: Asuka
Dave: Asuka

WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Oh good lord.  It's the match I've been clamoring for for two years.  For those of you who haven't seen their WrestleKingdom 10 match from 2016, stop whatever you're doing and go watch it. is the place.  It's a goddamn classic.  And this should be too.  Give these guys 25 minutes, sit back, crack open a beer, and watch the fireworks.  Not much of a storyline here, other than "These two will tear the house down and this is the match the fans wanted."  I'm alright with that.  Stand back and let 'em crush it.

Justin: Nakamura wins the strap
Dan: Again, obviously
Landon: CHAOS
Dave: Nak

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

It's the rematch from three years ago basically no one wanted to see.  But ya know what?  I actually like what they've done with Reigns this time.  Instead of stupid "sufferin' succotash" promos they had Reigns go out there and say "I'm here every week for you guys and Brock comes and goes as he pleases."  That is relatable.  It gives us a reason to care about Roman.  That said, what I'd really love to see here is Paul Heyman turning on Brock and going with a heel Roman Reigns.  Holy shitballs that'd be great.  I don't think that'll happen, but I can dream.  Regardless, obviously Reigns is winning this.

Justin: Roman finally takes down the Beast
Dan: RR
Landon: Roman
Dave: Reigns

There ya have it folks.  A truly stacked WrestleMania if I've ever seen one.  This is a throwback to the WM17-type shows they used to do.  In the immortal words of Don King, "I'm excited, but we're not there yet.  I know ya wanna get excited, but we're not there yet because I'M excited!"

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