Friday, April 1, 2016

Worldwide Wrasslin’ Focus: WrestleMania 32 guestimations

WrestleMania 32 is this weekend, and barring a big swerve, Roman Reigns will (finally) be beating Triple H for the title in the main or semi-main event. This has left most smarks angry. I’m somewhere between there, and dejectedly meh about it. At this point, Reigns winning a title is like having to sit through a dentist appointment. You realize it has to happen, but the whole time, you just kind of wish it was over so that you could move on to better things.

When it comes to wrasslin’ and “better things,” pretty much everything else on the Mania card is more compelling. The Hell in a Cell cage match with Shane vs. The Undertaker, for the future of Raw, could go either way, and there will likely be a crazy spot or two during the match to get excited about. The Triple Threat divas’ match has a good chance to be the best women’s wrestling at Mania ever. (Damning with faint praise, but still.) The intercontinental title ladder match should be a good spotfest, even if some of the star power has been reduced because of injury. And, the two non-title singles matches – Ambrose vs. Lesnar, Styles vs. Jericho – should be excellent. Even the three-on-four handicap match between the New Day and the League of Nations should be fun because of the former’s antics.

Anyway! My predictions for the card, preshow matches listed with a P, predicted winners in bold, as listed on Wikipedia:

1P) Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback. Kalisto has been having good matches as the champion, even if the WWE has done its best to diminish the stature of the U.S. belt, downgrading it from Cena’s open challenges to Del Rio’s lukewarm reign to Kalisto now being on the preshow.

2P) Total Divas (Brie Bella, Paige, Natalya, Alicia Fox and Eva Marie) vs. BAD & Blonde (Lana, Summer Rae, Naomi, Emma and Tamina). I’m going with the latter, solely because Total Divas is probably on the verge of cancellation, and Lana is making her in-ring debut, unless I’m mistaken. I mean, that would have been a bigger deal six months ago, when she was actually a hot draw and paired regularly with Rusev. It means far less now that she’s significantly cooled down. Regardless, it’ll be a lot of fun to hear the crowd crap all over Eva Marie, and I’d be shocked if she didn’t take the pin.

3P) The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz. I’m thinking that either Golden Truth (Golddust and R-Truth) get into this match and win, or, there is some sort of contested or DQ finish. This seems like a kind of “who cares?” feud, with the Dudleys or Usos biding time until they can face New Day as a heel team this time.

4) Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns. It seems somewhat crazy that the WWE would let the crowd crap all over Reigns for weeks, and then, to have him lose. I think it’s almost certain that he wins, although I’m still holding out hope that there is a swerve of some sort or that he turns heel. (And if he turns, then you could have the Usos turn as well and kind of make them relevant, in an Edgeheads way.)

5) Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar (street fight). This one could honestly go either way to me. Yes, Lesnar is a monster, but they’ve established that Ambrose is going to be bringing a bunch of dangerous weapons. Plus, Ambrose is currently the most-over face on the roster, and he does need to win some of these matches if the crowd is going to take him seriously as a top guy. If the WWE doesn’t give him a win here, I think it really hurts his long-term value.

6) Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker (Hell in a Cell). If you’re going based on future value, I think a couple months to a year of Shane on WWE programming is way more valuable than the Corporation, which has kind of run its course. Plus, since he is a McMahon, you can have Shane turn at some point and go heel anyway.

7) Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks. It doesn’t really feel like they’ve done enough to establish Sasha as the Queen Bee of the division, so Charlotte could definitely retain and they could push the title change to another PPV. For example, maybe Charlotte pins Becky, which sets up the one-on-one between Charlotte and Sasha at a future PPV.

8) Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz vs. Stardust (ladder match). Wikipedia’s listing of the participants is also roughly the order I’d put their chances of winnings, although it’s more like 60, 30, 10, 2.5, 2.5, 2.5 and 2.5 percent to me. If Owens doesn’t retain – and I think he will and should – then Zayn will get the belt. In recent weeks, they’ve been showing Owens to be ruthless and opportunistic, and I think that happens again here – He’ll slither in at the end and snag the belt.

9) AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho. This has been a fun, intense feud, and this should be the blow-off match. Jericho is the part-time performer, so it doesn’t make sense for him to win. This should free up Styles to get involved in the world title or IC title picture.

10) Andre the Giant Battle Royal, announced participants: Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, Big Show, Kane, Tyler Breeze, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Konnor, Viktor, Goldust and R-Truth. The WWE loves its giants, and inexplicably, the Big Show. I think he gets the win. Kane would be my second choice, with a surprise entrant (Brawn Strowman? Cesaro? NXT guy?) being my third option. Of anyone else in the field, I’d pick Henry, even though he’s been buried lately, because they could give it to him as a sort of “Going Away” or retirement award. (The dirt sheets have been reporting he’s done after his contract expires at Mania.)

11) The New Day vs. The League of Nations. It’s a non-title match, so the League could win. However, they probably shouldn’t, since its members are kind of “meh” and I think it does more good to keep the New Day as strong as possible. (Side note: I also really like that a few weeks ago, Xavier Woods got the pin in a match, since they’d been keeping him solely as the comic relief manager for so long.)

From top to bottom, this is a strong wrestling card on paper, with average to weak storyline / booking interest. I’m hoping some legends and surprises spice things up, but the WWE’s track record on that lately has been very mixed.

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