Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WrestleMania XXXI (Play Button) Predictions

I feel as if we should still be wondering just how WrestleMania XXX will turn out. That's how fast a year has gone by. Here we are, hot on the heels of WrestleMania Play Button. Maybe the subtitle should be "Ready To Press Play?"

For one who doesn't always want all of the hype, I actually don't feel that they are doing enough as far as WWE Network goes. The "WrestleMania Today" shows from last year were very entertaining and exactly the type of "up-to-the-minute" hype/coverage that WWE needs for their biggest event of the year. That show will return, but why limit it to that? You have a twenty-four hour streaming network which is now the centerpiece of the company. Re-running terrible and pointless top ten shows unrelated to WrestleMania is the last thing that I would do, but that's what's on tap and I'm not running the company. For all that many of us complain about WWE having too much product overexposure, this is the one weekend where it's never enough.

Nevertheless, we should be getting between ten and twelve hours of live content between WrestleMania, the Hall of Fame, and their respective pre-shows. As I've made clear, I'm very content with the WrestleMania build. The "go home" episode of Raw? I couldn't believe that a snoozefest like that was all that they could come up with, but I was very satisfied with the rest of "The Road to WrestleMania," especially since creative had to deal with so many part timers.

So, what will happen on Sunday night? I can't tell you (but if you call the hotline...), but I sure can tell you what I think will happen...and what I'd prefer to happen.

Lesnar vs Reigns

What I think should happen...is for Lesnar to get a definitive win. You don't need to have Lesnar steamroll Reigns, but definitely show that Reigns just isn't ready to defeat "The Beast." As I said in my last entry, I'm not on the Reigns hater bandwagon, but he probably wouldn't have been my choice, either. Actually, I would have gone with Cesaro. Even after his complete post-WrestleMania botching in 2014, you easily could have built him back up. Is there a fan alive who wouldn't have loved seeing Lesnar vs Cesaro? Regardless, I would keep Lesnar as champion and have him either drop it down the line to Bryan (if he proves that he can stay healthy) or Rollins. I do feel that if you go with the latter, you have to turn Rollins face. For some reason, I don't see him as a heel World Champion, but definitely as a face.

What will likely happen...is Reigns goes over. Rollins could cash in and subsequently make himself the biggest babyface of the year by default.

Sting vs Triple H

What I think should happen AND what will likely happen...is Sting winning. You don't have Sting lose his first match both in the company and at WrestleMania. I think that the match will be similar to the Triple H-Lesnar match at 29, where it took a few viewings for the match to really click. Sting also factors into what I think should happen with...

The Undertaker vs Wyatt

What I think should happen...is for Taker to lose. Wyatt is great and the rub that he would get here only adds to his mystique. Taker loses two Mania's in a row? No problem. He needs to redeem himself in Dallas. Taker vs Sting. That way the match finally happens, Sting already has his Mania win, and Taker can win one last big one. I'd also make it Taker's retirement match and put him into the Hall of Fame in Dallas. Smoke and mirrors didn't work last year for Taker because of who the opponent was. Brock's best work is the high impact stuff and it just didn't gel with the Taker of 2014. Taker and Sting, however, could make it work in 2016.

What will likely happen...is that The Undertaker tombstones Wyatt and the whole deal is forgotten by the next pay-per-view. Sad, but true.

Orton vs Rollins

What I think should happen...is for Rollins to win. Yes, he has the briefcase, but he could still use a singles Mania win over a top star. Orton is at the point where he can lose and it isn't going to hurt. He's cemented his legacy by now, and while I was much more a fan of his in his earlier days, he's an instant Hall of Famer at this point. Rollins is just great. When the face turn happens, no matter when, it will be huge.

What will likely happen...is a win for Orton. When Jon Stewart was said to be appearing in his corner, I definitely thought that this would be the case. Regardless, I still think that we'll see Orton get his over Rollins and the gang.

Rusev vs Cena

What I think should happen...is for Rusev to pin Cena. This is coming from a Cena fan. I just think that they've done too much with Rusev for it to end now. This could also lead into a Cena heel turn. I've never bought the "this is why they won't turn Cena" excuses. They can do it any time that they want. Failure to save the dignity of his country could be the perfect catalyst.

What will likely happen...is that Cena wins. I like the idea of Cena bringing back value to the United States Championship, but that whole concept will be dropped quickly if he does indeed take hold of the title.

The Ladder Match

What I think should happen... is for Ambrose to take it all. I personally feel that his in-ring work has diminished greatly in the past year or so, but it's time for his hunt to be over and to get his picture on the wall.

What will likely happen...is that the secret eighth participant brogue kicks Bryan off of the ladder and takes the championship. I like Sheamus as a heel, so I'm just as satisfied with this.

As for the Tag Team Championship match and Divas tag, I honestly just don't care. If the New Day don't turn heel and take the titles, I'd prefer them to stay on Cesaro and Kidd. The Divas match should be a singles match for the championship. This is WrestleMania, not Raw.

And there you have it. WrestleMania predictions from someone who has no more idea than anyone else. The last time that my predictions appeared in print (Pro Wrestling Illustrated, May 2012, for the record), I was dead wrong.

What? I forgot a match? That's right, I did. And one of the ones that I'm most looking forward to, to boot. I have always loved battle royals and always will. I never understood "hatred" for them, but I think it's another one of those "bitchin'" Internet wrestling "fan" group-think concepts that I don't follow. Regardless, there is only one choice to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Just Another Crazy WrestleMania Season...


If I called this a "bitchin'" WrestleMania season, I wouldn't be far off track. Not "bitchin'" as in "it's been great" (although I don't think it's been bad at all), but because everyone has something to bitch about, or so it seems.

To clarify before we get any further, I have no problem with Roman Reigns. Would he have been my choice to book in the Mania main event? Probably not this year, but who else? Certainly not Daniel Bryan.

Suddenly, my face appears on the basement dartboards of Internet wrestling complainers...err..."fans" everywhere. No Daniel Bryan? How could that be?

I'll be the first to admit that I was one of thousands in the Consol Energy Center at Royal Rumble 2014 who was absolutely pissed that Bryan did not even show up in the Rumble match, but also that Batista won it. There was zero logic to it. Bryan had the most fan-backed momentum of any star in the company in at least a decade. As we all know, the booking shifted and "D-Bry" went on to have his huge "Yes Yes Yes" WrestleMania moment that everyone wanted.

That was last year.

Just a few months after, Bryan was injured, out of the picture, and seemingly with a finished career. That's no fault of Bryan, WWE, or his huge following, it's just the cards that he was dealt.

Fast forward to the end of 2014 and a miracle has occurred. Daniel Bryan has found a doctor with a method to treat and heal his career-threatening injuries. He will now be in the 2015 Royal Rumble, leading many fans to think that he will win it.

He does not.

I will not even get into how obnoxious the Internet wrestling "fans" have been following the events of the Royal Rumble. I've known some pathetic and babyfied wrestling devotees in my day, but I had no idea that there were so many. Death threats against Reigns, Vince McMahon, and others in the company? Please. You couldn't even follow through with your threats to cancel WWE Network.

Yes, I complained about the 2014 Rumble, but I got over it. There was also no logical reason that Bryan shouldn't have won that Rumble rather than be awkwardly shoehorned into the WrestleMania XXX main event. We had a right to get vocal. We received a winner who was never any great shakes in the ring to begin with and had a moderate following at best during his peak. I won't even mention that the guy was a "part-timer" who had just returned after an absence of several years.

This year, the "fans" turned on a Rumble winner who is on the cusp of becoming a new star. Isn't that something else that is always complained about? "No new stars are ever made, just the same old, same old." And I shouldn't have to mention that this same man was being salivated over by many of these same "fans" just a few months earlier. That salivation ended when "precious" Daniel Bryan didn't win.

As I stated above, I wouldn't have had him win either. To begin with, the "Daniel Bryan Underdog Story" already happened! Why would the company book a retread for their biggest show of the year? Would Lesnar-Bryan have been a good story? Possibly. Would they have had a good match? Maybe.

Ultimately, if this were 2012-2013 Lesnar, it would have been okay. With 2014 Lesnar and the way that he has been booked, I don't know that I could have gotten into it. Lesnar has been booked as an absolute monster in the past twelve months in a style that really has never been seen before in WWE rings. All the flying knees in the world wouldn't have me convinced that Bryan could unseat "The Beast."

The other, and more important, reason that I would not have booked Bryan is the uncertainty factor. If I'm McMahon, do I put all of my eggs into the basket of a guy who has proven to be a bit fragile? What if this "miracle procedure" fails and suddenly Bryan can't go a week before the show? The group-think followers don't want to hear that, but it's true. Anyone can get injured at any time, but why take the higher risk? Sure, WrestleMania was built on risks, but with corporate WWE that's no longer necessary.

Do I agree with every decision that WWE makes? Far from it. But the only thing that is baffling me this season is the ridiculous backlash. It's telling that Bryan followers are so blinded by the guy that they can't see the bigger picture, but it's reality. I want to see the guy have a long, successful.run on top, too, but WrestleMania 31 just isn't the place for it.