As I write this, we are five days out from the biggest WrestleMania in history, financially at least. The opinions of this show are all over the board. It’s going to be the worst WrestleMania ever; It’s going to be one of the most surprising WrestleManias ever. The card sucks, the card is really good despite the injuries, and everything in between. For the last nine months, I have brought you my predictions on how the show would fill out. Now that the show is fully booked and all five hours of programming are spoken for, let’s see how I fared on my last set of predictions and let’s also see on the ones I got wrong, did WWE improve on my idea or leave me wanting?
For the sake of time, we knew the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was a given. So no need spending any time on that. When I did my predictions, I limited myself to no more than nine matches because that’s what last year’s card had. This year’s has 11. The three matches I didn’t account for were the 10-Divas Tag Match, AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho grudge match & Dudleys vs. Usos grudge match. I’ll talk about the last match later on, but the other two I won’t be comparing to anything.
US Title Match
Prediction: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Chris Jericho
Actual: Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback
Despite the fact that ADR isn’t the champion and Jericho isn’t a face anymore, it’s quite easy to say WWE dropped the ball on this match. I really have no problem with Kalisto getting this push and being US Champion. Hey, new stars being made right? However, it’s clear as day that no one wanted to see Ryback get a one on one match for the title at WrestleMania. If this was at a Payback or Battleground PPV, I’d be all for fresh feuds. This is the biggest show of them all though. This match is the biggest glaring letdown on the card in my opinion. Which leads me to…
Intercontinental Title Match
Prediction: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Neville vs. Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Kalisto vs. The Miz vs. Ryback (Ladder Match)
Actual: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Stardust vs. Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz vs. Sin Cara
Let me ask you all a question. How much differently do you view the card if Owens/Zayn and Kalisto/Ryback just simply switched places? That’d be a significant improvement, right? That’s where I feel WWE has really dropped the ball here. First off, one could argue that Kalisto is only getting this push based off the Salida Del Sol he did off the ladder at TLC last December. There’s nothing wrong with that either, it was a hell of a bump. My point is, why not showcase him as a champion this time in a ladder match? That’s what he did to try and win a title, imagine what he’ll do to retain one. It sells itself. Then if you have an intense grudge match like Zayn and Owens going one on one for a title, no one thinks twice about the likes of Ryder, Stardust, & Sin Cara being involved in the ladder match. Most fans probably end up being happy for them. It’s all about presentation and WWE failed here.
Divas Title Match
Prediction: Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
Actual: Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
Hey, I got one right! This really seemed like a no brainer back in January and I’m glad WWE stayed the course on this one and didn’t try to narrow it down to a one-on-one match. Both Sasha and Becky deserve this opportunity against Charlotte. One can only hope that they get 15 minutes and are told to go out there and have an NXT-style match. If they are allowed to do that, this match can honestly steal the show. Anyone that’s seen their NXT work knows that’s not an exaggeration either.
Tag Team Titles Match
Prediction: The New Day (c) vs. The Dudley Boys vs. The League of Nations vs. The Usos
Actual: The New Day vs. League of Nations (4 on 3, non-title) & The Dudleys vs. The Usos
Clearly I was on the right track. I’m glad the tag titles aren’t on the line for the match with The New Day and League of Nations. The New Day, in my opinion, have been the most consistently entertaining act in WWE throughout 2016. Which as we know, has had some pretty bad programming. They’ve managed to be the cream that rises to the top though. I fully expect a spectacle from them at WrestleMania. As for the other tag match, this is another match that feels like it could be so much more. This really should be a battle of two lead dog tag teams from two different generations. It’s turned into The Dudleys making derogatory comments about The Usos heritage and family. Also the fact that The Dudleys aren’t using tables anymore apparently. There’s absolutely no sizzle on this match and the fact it got relegated to the preshow says a lot. When I say WrestleMania, You say Preshow!
Brock Lesnar’s Opponent
Prediction: The Rock
Actual: Dean Ambrose
Nothing would’ve beaten The Rock vs. Brock. As I said in January, it’s legit the biggest match WWE can sign. I really thought something would change at the last minute and The Rock would be able to compete in a match. Alas, it was not meant to be. Dean Ambrose has turned out to be one hell of a consolation prize though. I feel this match has been the most consistently booked on the card and seems like it’s the match people are most looking forward to. Rightfully so. I don’t know if this show as a whole will be looked back upon poorly or fondly, but either way, everyone will remember what a battle these two had. Even if this is the only good thing on the card somehow, it’s going to be REALLY good.
The Undertaker’s Opponent
Prediction: Kevin Owens
Actual: Shane McMahon inside Hell in a Cell
When my column came out in January, the news had just come out that very day that John Cena was seriously hurt and would miss Wrestlemania for the first time since WM 18 in Toronto. It seemed a given that Cena would be Undertaker’s opponent, so in a last minute edit, I chose a new up and coming superstar that deserved the opportunity. I never in a million years would’ve predicted a Shane O Mac return. I choose to look at this match by the way I feel about the two bookends of this storyline. On one side, the return of Shane and the emotion that poured out of him and the crowd and the reaction to the news that he would have to face Taker inside Hell in a Cell for control of Raw. That was a tremendous segment. Then, this past Monday when Shane’s Leap of Faith returned and it was like Shane O Mac 2000 all over again. That was another tremendous segment. Let’s forget all the convoluted promos and stipulations and wasted segments in between. Those two segments can stand alone and show this match will tear the house down. I can’t wait to see what bells and whistles are in store for this one.
WWE Title Match
Prediction: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Triple H
Actual: Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Three months ago when I made my prediction for this match, WWE was finally on the right track for Roman Reigns. He had earned the WWE World Heavyweight Title and more importantly, he earned the respect of the fans again. He had fought a tough uphill climb and came out on top. Then, WWE killed and squashed dead all of his momentum. Clearly I had no problem with this match against Triple H, I just have a problem with how they got here now. The problems began at Royal Rumble. They booked Reigns like a heel first of all. Then, they gave the fans hope that Dean Ambrose could crash the party by having him be the last one in the ring with Triple H and not Roman. Once Roman was dumped unceremoniously by Hunter, this match was DOA. The fans instantly attached back to Dean, because they all liked him more anyways, and now Roman was back to fighting the uphill climb. This time, it might be too steep for him. Unless WWE’s master plan is to somehow turn Roman heel at the end of the night, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when they try to present him as the new face of the company and 90K+ fans are booing him out of the stadium.
My Predictions for Who Wins At WrestleMania
Someone from NXT wins the Battle Royal (Cause really, the participants are garbage)
Team Bad & Blonde (After Eva Marie costs her team the match somehow)
The New Day
Zack Ryder (I had to do it)
Brock Lesnar (Dean Ambrose will be a bigger star than ever before though. Think Austin after WrestleMania 13)
My Predictions for NXT Takeover: Dallas
For those that follow me on The NXT Spotlight, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Takeover will steal the weekend. It’s the best possible card they could put together and I legit feel honored that I’ll be able to attend it live.
Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin – When this is the weakest of the five advertised matches, that tells you how stacked this card is. After Corbin surprisingly beat Apollo Crews at the last Takeover, I could see a scenario where he beats Aries here. With it being Aries debut match though, I think this will be a showcase win for him. Prediction: Austin Aries
NXT Tag Team Title Match: The Revival (c) vs. American Alpha – I wish this match would’ve had more build and more interactions between the two teams. It’s because of that fact that I think this will be a long, drawn out feud. I think this match will be simply incredible and leave everyone on the edge of thier seats hoping for a title change. American Alpha’s time will come, but I don’t think it will be this weekend. Prediction: The Revival
NXT Women’s Title Match: Bayley (c) vs. Asuka – What should be Bayley’s swan song in NXT is going to be a dandy. I can’t wait to see these two contrasts of style collide and watch it play out. Asuka has finally come into her own in NXT and has been less creepy and more bad ass. Will Bayley have a counter for Asuka’s quick strike attack? I don’t think so. Prediction: New Champion, Asuka
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuki Nakamura – Another swan song in NXT combined with the most highly anticipated debut in NXT history. I truly feel this will be the match of the night and ultimately the match of the weekend. Sami has such a soft spot for NXT and he’s clearly going to do the honors here to leave the brand in good hands as he goes to the main roster permanently. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Title Match: Finn Balor (c) vs. Samoa Joe – How bad do you feel for Balor and Joe having to follow all of this? I can’t imagine the pressure they’re going to feel in this match, but I’m sure they relish in it. They know what task is in front of them and I think they’re more than ready to step up to the plate. This version of Samoa Joe is the perfect version for NXT and for the main roster, should he get there. I was really undecided on this match until yesterday when I saw the picture of Karl Anderson at the Performance Center. That tells me it’s time to move Finn up to the main roster and make a lot of noise with his Bullet Club brothers. Prediction: New Champion, Samoa Joe
Agree or disagree with any of my assessments? Let me know in the comments below or follow me on Twitter, @FriscoKTank.