Wednesday, March 30, 2022

WWE WrestleMania 38 Preview & Predictions

This weekend is WrestleMania 38, and as usual WWE is doing their best to put on the least exciting lineup they can!

Don't get me wrong, there are a few bouts I'm genuinely looking forward to.  But then there are numerous bouts that belong nowhere near the biggest show of the year, and some GLARING omissions.  

Just take a look at this.

Guys who have a match at WrestleMania 38:

Johnny Knoxville
Logan Paul
Happy Corbin
Rick Boogs
Ridge Holland
Pat McAfee
Austin Theory

Guys who do not have a match at WrestleMania 38:

Finn Balor (current US Champion)
Ricochet (current Intercontinental Champion)
Damian Priest (remember how protected he was for like a year?)

Sorry WWE loyalists, there is ZERO excuse for the company's two secondary singles champions to be left off a TWO-NIGHT show while some D-list celebrities and not-ready-for-primetime players get slots.  None.  This is why no one takes those two titles seriously anymore.  What's worse, the WWE and Universal Titles are almost certainly being unified for a little while, so the company could really do with a secondary title that means something to fill that void, no?  I'm pretty sure when Vince puts these shows together he thinks "Hmmm, how can I ruin the night for at least 20% of the audience?"  Whether it's a good SummerSlam marred by that Becky-Bianca squash, a good WrestleMania marred by that Sheamus-Bryan squash (wow, that was TEN YEARS AGO), or an historic women's main event marred by being on after midnight at the end of a seven-hour show, Vince is apparently incapable of presenting a big PPV without including a heaping dose of goodwill-damaging stupidity.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a WWE bitch-fest, so let's predict some matches.

Night 1

The New Day vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland

Why Sheamus couldn't have had an I-C match with Ricochet, I'm sure I don't know.  Is there anything at stake in this one?  By the way, we're coming up on three years since Kofi's WWE Title win at WrestleMania, remember how much fun that was?  Yeah, here he is in the least important match on the show.

Pick: I guess I'll go with the heels to win here, probably thanks in part to Pete Dunne, er, uh, Butch.  Fucking Butch.  How much do you wanna bet Vince thought of that name because of the bulldog from old Tom & Jerry cartoons?  It was between Butch and Spike.  Whoever comes up with these ring names needs to be slapped hard by Will Smith.  Too soon?

Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin

Seriously, what in the blue fuck is this doing on a WrestleMania show?  They couldn't come up with ANYONE better for a former WWE Champion than Baron fucking Corbin?  Better question, how has Corbin survived this many roster cuts?  Been on the main roster six years or so, still stinks up the joint.  Even better question, how pissed must those two singles champions be, sitting in catering, watching this?  Time for Finn and Ricochet to walk out of a house show match and hope they get sent home.

Pick: Drew wins this obviously, probably pretty one-sidedly

Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. The Miz & Logan Paul

I know Logan Paul is a legitimate boxing draw and can actually fight, but I have absolutely no interest in seeing him mix it up with actual WWE wrestlers.  I do not understand why this match is here.  I guess this could be mildly entertaining?  I can't see Logan Paul being brought in to lose, so I'm gonna pick his team to win.

Pick: Miz & Paul

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs

Shinsuke has been on the main roster five years and this is only his third 'Mania match.  And only one of the three has been a singles bout.  Fucking sad.  But hey, at least he's here.  Imagine how fantastic Nak vs. Ricochet for the I-C belt would've been?  I guess this should be solid; Jimmy and Jey are excellent, as is Nakamura.  I know diddly about Rick Boogs as a worker.  Sadly I don't expect this to get enough time to matter much.

Pick: Usos retain

Seth Rollins vs. TBA

Alright, so this is either the big, triumphant WWE return of Cody Rhodes, or it's a huge letdown where Shane McMahon takes yet another spot away from a deserving wrestler.  Hey, ya know who could have a killer match with Seth?  Fucking Finn Balor.  Anyway, if this is actually to be Cody I don't for the life of me understand why they'd save him as a surprise instead of just announcing and hyping the shit out of the first major talent to jump ship in the other direction.  A match that big is meant to be advertised like crazy.  On the other hand, the fact that Vince is going to handpick Seth's opponent could point to Shane being said opponent, and I know Seth vs. Shane was originally the plan back in January, until Shane acted like a horse's ass backstage.  So this could go either way.  If Cody shows up, Cody's obviously winning.  If it's Shane, Seth is winning.  If it's a third party like Goldberg (fuckin' hell), Goldberg's probably winning.

Pick: Cody if he's there, Seth if he's not

RAW Women's Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair

Fuckin' finally Bianca is getting payback for that SummerSlam horseshit.  Jesus that took a long time.  What's sad though is this match was shoved onto the Night 1 lineup where there's a bigger women's title match already.  I don't understand why they didn't split up this and the Charlotte-Ronda match; Becky vs. Bianca deserves to be the top women's match on the card.  This should be a fine contest and it's the first match so far that I'm actually invested in.  Bianca needs another great 'Mania moment like she had with Sasha last year, and Becky needs to turn babyface again.

Pick: Bianca 

Smackdown Women's Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey

Another reason Bianca's getting the shaft is this match is almost certainly ending in a title change too.  These two had a great fight in 2018 and will hopefully be able to equal that here.  Ronda looked very rusty at the Rumble but I'm sure she's been working hard to shake off said rust since then.  This match should be very good.  Ronda's obviously winning back the title and will eventually lose it to Becky in much more decisive fashion than she did the first time.

Pick: Ronda

Kevin Owens-Steve Austin segment

Leave it to WWE to be so inept they can't even decide ahead of time whether this will be a proper match or not.  Hey guys, maybe pitch a big return match to Austin but have a backup plan in case he's only interested in a "confrontation?"  Like if he's not up for a real match, have him be the corner man for someone else?  Or a guest referee?  What the hell is the point of having them just brawl for a while with nothing at stake?  That's not a 19-year return, Austin's done this kinda thing a million times since he retired.  Worst thing about this is that Owens is going to end up looking like a geek in the end.  This segment is going on last and it's in Texas - there is noooooo way KO is getting one over on the Rattlesnake here.  So ultimately it leads to the same result as Taker vs. AJ two years ago.  Full-time guy singlehandedly hypes WrestleMania segment, "loses" a sorta-match to retired 50-something, 50-something guy goes home, full-timer is left holding the bag.  WWE can't make new stars.

Pick, for lack of a better word: Austin obviously comes out standing tall in his home state.  I love Austin, it'll be fun to see him, but aside from yet another Band-Aid bump in ticket sales, what's the point?

Night 2

Bobby Lashley vs. Omos

Yup, Omos has a match on this show but Finn and Ric don't.  Because "tall."  Awesome.  This is gonna be straight-up garbage.  Worse, Lashley, a legitimate wrestler/fighter who they booked as a monster for a year, is probably gonna have to eat a pin here.  Eff this place.

Pick: Omos

Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory

What in the name of Henry Kissinger's parakeet's feces is this doing on this card?  Vince's latest pet project (whom he'll have forgotten all about by May) vs. an announcer.  Unreal stupid.  It's not like McAfee even has much crossover appeal.  Is anyone watching the show for this?  I hate to sound like a broken record, but how about a US Title match for Theory?

Pick: Look, I would hope, if Vince is serious about pushing Theory, that he'd be booked to beat a fucking announcer.  But this is WWE we're talking about, so it could go either way.  Vince could fuck up pretzel sticks, so I'll pick Pat.

RAW Tag Team Championship: RK-Bro vs. Alpha Academy vs. Street Profits

This should be a good clusterfuck of a tag match.  Wait, they aren't going with the "three men in the ring at a time" rule, are they?  Because that rule sucks.  Anyway, this being a three-way tag match at Mania, literally any team could win this.  But I'll stick with the champs to retain because Vince thinks they're fun.

Pick: RK-Bro retains

Sami Zayn vs. Johnny Knoxville

Sweet fucking Christ.  Former I-C Champion Sami Zayn would rather fight a non-wrestler celebrity he already eliminated in the Royal Rumble than get a return match for the championship he lost.  Yup, that belt is worthless, as is by proxy any wrestler who holds it.  I'll ask again, is anyone watching the show specifically for this?

Pick: WWE's probably gonna book Knoxville to win even though Zayn just re-signed with the company, likely for seven figures.

Women's Tag Team Championship: Queen Zelina & Carmella vs. Sasha Banks & Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan vs. Shayna Baszler & Natalya

Speaking of worthless belts, this is the most stacked this division has been in three years.  Hey remember when Sasha and Bayley were the inaugural champions and hoped for a long run to really establish these titles as something worth a fuck, and then at 'Mania they dropped them to the IIconics?  Good times.  I like the pairing of Ripley and Liv, and a feud with Sasha and Naomi could be fun.  Anything to get the titles off the hack team currently holding them.

Pick: Sasha & Naomi

Edge vs. AJ Styles

And here's the one Night 2 match I'm actually excited about.  AJ has been doing nothing of value for the past two years and is well overdue for a renewed push of some kind.  So I'm happy he's getting a dream singles match against an actual wrestler with name value.  This will easily steal the night and maybe the entire weekend.  AJ has to win here.

Pick: AJ

WWE Championship/Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

Yeah that's right, these two fucks are fighting each other for the third time at a WrestleMania.  Not only that, but the company wants us to believe it's the Biggest WrestleMania Match Ever.  Hi, I'm Steve Austin vs. The Rock, have we met?  I guess this should be good, their previous two 'Mania matches were very good, Brock is actually over as a babyface and Roman is a successful heel now, so unlike in 2018 the crowd won't turn on this at least.  Sadly though it'll be the usual Brock nonsense with a thousand suplexes and five finishers from each guy, the type of match WWE apologists insist is high storytelling.  When it's over Roman will be a double champion with no one left to fight.  Hey maybe Johnny Knoxville will get a shot next.

Pick: Roman

So there's your WrestleMania lineup.  Yeah, on paper this kinda sucks.  Night 1 is definitely the superior card in theory, particularly if Cody shows up.  Night 2 is mostly trash.  I don't see this coming close to last year's 'Mania, which wasn't great but was at least good.  Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

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