Has it really been a year since WrestleMania Play Button? The show that, the Internet claimed, would end in a chorus of boos and rioting fans as Roman Reigns took the WWE Championship from Brock Lesnar? As usual, the Internet was wrong. I was, as well, in some of my predictions on this very blog. That's what makes WrestleMania fun. It is, and always will be, unpredictable. Even if you know that your favorite is leaving the event a winner, something is guaranteed to happen that will leave you wowed. Unless we're talking WrestleMania 27 (my official pick as worst of all-time).
It's often been said, but now I can officially say it: it really hasn't felt like the fabled "WrestleMania Season." I'm not speaking of the event itself, but rather the unusual and haphazard (even for WWE) build to the event. A multitude of things occurred in the lead-up, including countless injuries, to give WWE a bit of a break. However, I still feel that more could have been done to conjure up at least a portion of the usual fanfare. The last few episodes of Raw have felt bleak and uninspired. Some say that WWE dug themselves into this particular hole with a failure to create new stars, but who is to say that they wouldn't have fallen victim to injury as well? After all, my pick for the individual who should be topping WWE in this era, Cesaro, is among the injured.
Nonetheless, this Sunday we will be treated to hours upon hours of WWE spectacle and sizzle. As of this writing, eleven matches are scheduled with a great deal of confusion as to which will be on the main show and which will be on the two hour pre-show. To be honest, it makes little deal to me which are on which show--it's all WrestleMania. If WWE chooses to split it up in that manner, it's their decision. My problem arises with the multiple musical performances and additional ridiculousness that often fill Mania.
I like to say that WrestleMania 29, my live Mania experience, was the "wrestling" WrestleMania. Aside from a brief musical interlude (which provided a perfect MetLife restroom break), the event was devoid of skits and the like that send most wrestling fans racing to their keyboards in disgust. I think that it had to be some sort of experiment to see if they could pull off a Mania without the trendy bull, and I don't think we'll be that lucky again. WWE sees other events such as the SuperBowl gaining extra attention for all of the non-sports fare and feels that it just has to top it.
Away from the soapbox, we do indeed have those eleven matches. In addition to the confusion of which will be on the main show, there's the yearly speculation as to what will go on last. I'm of the belief that the Hell in the Cell encounter should end the show, as interest in anything else doesn't even come close. Since the match also has stipulations that will most certainly affect the company in a storyline sense going forward, it's absolutely the way that I would do it.
Indeed nothing has more interest on the card than the battle between The Undertaker and the returning Shane McMahon. I have no problem with someone who hasn't wrestled in years and a part-timer headlining the show. It's the story that was cultivated after injuries forced change and in-turn brought intrigue that the card may not have otherwise had. I feel it's almost certain that McMahon will win the match, as the whole deal will feel rather pointless if he fails. The fun will be in how he gets there and what happens because of his win. The appearances of several legends should happen here and somehow factor in. I hesitate to compare it to the interference in last year's Triple H-Sting match as that was more of a nostalgia deal. The interference here should end up meaning something in the long run.
The other important bout, albeit with much less interest, is the WWE Championship match. I was fully behind Roman Reigns being in last years title match, but once was enough. That being said, I'm in the camp that wants a heel turn if he is indeed going to be "the guy." Perhaps a loss here will spurn that heel turn? Depending on match order, maybe the outcome of this match factors into the end of Hell in the Cell.
Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose is positioned third from the top and has a rather forced feeling to me. As I always have, I look at matches as if the thing was, in a sense, a shoot. Does Dean Ambrose look like he can really do anything to Lesnar? No. WWE obviously sees this too, which is why they have given Ambrose "hand-me-down" weapons from the past to use in the match. Well, in no world is anyone is using a chainsaw in a match nor is Ambrose beating Lesnar. Add that to what we've all heard about WWE not considering Ambrose to be a top guy, and you have your answer. I think that we'll see some interesting spots in the match and it may end up entertaining in a sleeper sense, but I just cannot see "The Conqueror" leaving with a loss.
The women's three-way for the Divas Championship is also being promoted fairly high on the card and has had a fairly decent build. I see Charlotte retaining, although it could just be because I have interest in Sasha Banks winning at all. I really didn't buy her in NXT and I'm still not that big of a fan. Certainly she's better in-ring than many of the girls on the main roster, but the entire package does nothing for me. I'm not alone in desperately wanting Becky Lynch to take it all. The Irish bundle of cute is a favorite of many, but I just don't see her taking it. I'm really hoping to be surprised here...
The AJ Styles-Chris Jericho and Intercontinental Title matches will both deliver. No one is doubting that. I think that we'll see Styles debut at Mania with a win and possibly a similar outcome for Kevin Owens. I can guarantee you that, despite the Internet salivating at his inclusion, Zack Ryder isn't leaving the show with anything but a loss. He seems like a good guy, but you can lump him in with Banks in the pile that I just never grasped the appeal of.
There has also been a lot of chatter surrounding The New Day match. The tag team title trio is going against The League of Nations, but any random group of heels could have been plugged in here. The League could have been something great, but instead are presented as nothing more than heels that fill up spots. The focus here is The New Day and they aren't losing. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer has said that WWE will be giving them the rub here, and some have wondered if that means a fourth partner will be joining them. My mind has floated over to some possible help from the "Real American" (no, not Jack Swagger) in disposing of the evil foreigners. Perhaps an endorsement from The New Day at the biggest show of the year is just what The Hulkster needs for anyone who still harbors ill-will?
The ten-woman mishmash tag will be an additional bathroom break if the musical "numbers" don't provide enough of one. I'm sorry that Nattie, Foxy, and Emma are stuck in that. The Dudleys should easily dispose of The Usos in my eyes, but it will likely be the other way around. I enjoy both Kalisto and Ryback, but I've never been a "big vs little" fan.
That leaves us with the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. I've loved battle royals as long as I've been a wrestling fan, and the first two "Andre's" have been fun. Mark Henry should win it for a multitude of reasons. A member of #SocialOutcasts would also be a fun choice. For some reason...I'm feeling that Kane will find himself as the last man standing.
There it is, folks. WrestleMania...Star. It's WrestleMania--it's going to be fun (unless it's 27). No one is going to be pleased with everything, but there SHOULD be something for everyone. Last year no one thought that it would be our last Mania weekend with the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Rowdy Roddy Piper. It was. Let's all enjoy what we have, who we have, and that we live in a time and place where something as trivial as WrestleMania can be simultaneously and endlessly debated, critiqued, and cherished.