Now that the calendar has turned the page to 2016, we are officially on The Road to WrestleMania, and now just under three months until “The Show of Shows” takes place from The Death Star aka AT&T Stadium. You’ll come to find a lot of nicknames for the stadium if you’re traveling to the North Texas area for this show. Since the last time we were all together for this prediction series, Sting has been all but ruled out for the show, Seth Rollins had a serious knee injury that will keep him out, Cesaro and Randy Orton were also seriously injured and as of this moment deemed out as well. The Rock then came and saved the day by announcing he would be coming to WrestleMania to make history and bring a couple surprises with him. Needless to say, a lot has happened in the last three months.
Then from out of nowhere the huge news breaks this week that the Golden Boy himself, John Cena is now out possibly 6-8 months with what’s being reported as a torn rotator cuff. I have this great image of Vince locking himself in a bunker, crying himself to sleep wondering what he’s going to do next.
With that said, all of that has obviously overhauled my predictions for the show. This was actually the hardest point for me to predict the card due to all these changes. I’m determined to press on though, so just a reminder as the only rule I set for myself in this series is that I’m limiting myself to nine matches since that’s what WrestleMania 31 had. If you’d like to go back and see how much my cards have changed in the last six months, you can find the nine month card here and the six month card here.
Pre Show Match: Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Once again I’ll just copy and paste what I’ve written the last two times. The less said the better. As John always says, I’m sure Mark Henry will be a threat in this like he is at every Royal Rumble. Added bonus this time, I think Big Show will be predicted by the announcers to win back to back trophies. Call it a hunch.
WWE Tag Team Title Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Dudley Boys vs. The League of Nations vs. The Usos
I’ve been predicting two pre show matches like they had last year, but with the rash of injuries now, I think this card will actually have one less match than last year. So The New Day get their rightful spot on the main show. The League of Nations could be represented by Del Rio and Rusev since that’s what we saw this week on Raw, but really any combination of the group would make sense. As you’ll see later, I have Del Rio and Sheamus in other matches, so for now I’ll say this will be Rusev and Wade Barrett.
WWE Divas Title Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
The last two weeks on Raw we’ve seen Sasha vs. Becky and Charlotte vs. Becky. Coincidence? I think not. I know they’re going to have Charlotte vs. Becky for the title this week on Smackdown, but this triple threat match still seems like a no-brainer now. This prediction is two-fold as well. First off, this is really the only match they can give us right now that can steer the Divas Revolution in the right direction. These girls can be given 15 minutes, told to have an NXT Style match and tear the house down. Secondly, this match would perfectly set up the debut of Bayley the next night on Raw. The girls can talk about how good their match was, etc, and then here comes Bayley saying they haven’t done anything yet because she hadn’t been on the main roster. It just makes too much sense.
US Title Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Chris Jericho
After all the goodwill John Cena did for the US Title (and trust me, it’s hard for me to praise Cena), it’s now back to just being a prop to someone. As I stated earlier, it would not shock me to see Del Rio in another match and this title be ignored, but then Chris Jericho officially returned and it got me thinking of something. Chris Jericho despite being the winningest Intercontinental Champion and the first ever Undisputed WWE Champion, he’s never won the US Title. It’s an easy story to tell and it’s also an easy angle to set up. The League of Nations could eliminate Jericho from the Rumble, he could be a smart ass to them at some point and they then take him out in retaliation. You can open the main show with this match and get an excellent 10-15 minute match.
Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Neville vs. Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Kalisto vs. The Miz vs. Ryback
I feel WrestleMania needs this type of “Car crash” match without Money in the Bank anymore. I personally would love to see Dean vs. Owens one on one in a No Hold Barred type setting, but I have a feeling we’ll see something similar before WrestleMania between the two, and also there’s a lot of guys who deserve a spot on the Mania card and this is the best way to incorporate them all. Kalisto is destined to break away on his own, and they should use Sin Cara’s injury as an excuse to do that. They’ll remind everyone of what he did at TLC to justify his spot here. I’m not sure if they’ve already dropped the Neville/Miz angle, but I assume they’ll pick that back up at some point and that’s how both of them will get into this match. Sheamus, despite not being a worthy WWE champion, was still champion nonetheless. He needs some sort of consolation prize. Ryback is a throw in because of his popularity, and Bray Wyatt eventually needs to go for a title. I think he was primed for a match with Sting if Sting hadn’t got hurt, so instead he is thrown in this match. I dropped Kevin Owens from this match and really couldn’t find someone to put in his place. Maybe one of the Social Outcasts members if they’re serious about giving them any type of push, but for now seven guys is good.
The Undertaker vs. Kevin Owens
While I don’t fall under the mindset of the likes of PWInsider and think that just because Cena is out that ALL plans for WrestleMania are out the window, really you’re just changing one match, it is no doubt a big blow. To me, Cena/Taker was the second biggest match WWE had in its arsenal (coming behind the match I predict next) and so now WWE needs to really think outside the box to fix this. One thing that WWE desperately needs is a true top heel. A vicious heel. You also need someone that the fans that have actually stuck around, care to see in a high profile match. Kevin Owens fits all of those descriptions to a T. They need to take this opportunity of Cena being gone and legitimately make a new top star out of it. It will take some finesse to get Owens out of his program with Ambrose and looking strong enough to be worthy for a match against Taker, while at the same night not reclaiming the Intercontinental Title. It can be done though. They call Kevin Owens “The Prizefighter” and he talks about how his sole mission in life is fighting for a prize so that he can make the most money to support his family. Well Streak or no Streak, there aren’t many bigger prizes on the WrestleMania docket than facing The Undertaker. You could do something where Kevin Owens “gives up” on his pursuit of the IC Title because he realizes that WrestleMania is just around the corner and what he really wants to achieve now is taking out The Deadman on the biggest stage possible.
The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar
Ever since The Rock made his announcement that he would be at WrestleMania, he’s repeatedly said he’s coming to set the attendance record, make history, and bring some surprises along the way. He can accomplish all three of those things by having a match with The Beast himself, Brock Lesnar. There is no bigger single match that WWE can put together than Brock vs. Rock. The publicity this match would get from the entertainment world and from the sports world is unparalleled. That publicity would offset the fact that Rock will probably be limited in his TV appearances heading into the show. He can tape multiple interviews for the likes of ESPN & Extra and those will get more interest in the match than any segment on Raw would, just based on how many more people watch those channels. We may honestly never see anything like it again if they decide to go this route. As for a cherry on top of it all, have Rock declare it his retirement match. That would be a surprise that would definitely boost attendance and buyrates/Network purchases.
WWE Title Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Triple H
I’m a big fan of the new wrinkle in the Royal Rumble and making Roman Reigns defend his title in the battle royal. There are multiple routes they could go with that now, and I truly believe the Royal Rumble is anything but predictable now. Especially if the likes of John Cena and Brock Lesnar are in the Rumble. To me though, they came up with this idea for Roman as a way to hold off on the inevitable Triple H vs. Roman Reigns match. If WWE does go with Rock vs. Brock, then that should and probably will be the main event, so that that will some take pressure off of Roman having to follow everything. Obviously the story for this match has already been put in place and Triple H can come out after Roman wins the Royal Rumble and say that since the roster let him down, there’s only one guy who can take down Roman Reigns and that’s him. I could even see a way where Roman loses the Rumble match and this match ends up not even being for the WWE Title. Either way, this will be a tremendous opportunity for Roman to continue to grow as Triple H has shown recently that he’s willing to put others over and make them look like a million bucks in his current role.
One updated thought on this match. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on Social Media that now that Cena is gone, you HAVE to go with Reigns vs. Brock at WrestleMania. First off, I think a lot of people feel this way because they don’t know if Rock is wrestling for sure. Rock is going to wrestle, so you have to put him against the most marquee opponent possible (more so than ever now) and that’s Brock. Secondly, if Cena is out for 6-9 months, Roman Reigns is your new workhorse. I’m keeping Roman Reigns as far away from Brock Lesnar as humanly possible. You can’t risk any sort of injury to Reigns. I know that’s a little hypocritical to put Rock in there with Brock when he can’t afford any injury due to his film schedule, but that’s really not WWE’s problem, and plus Rock has been around much longer and knows how to protect himself better. Reigns, along with a lot of the new guys, only know one speed right now. A match with HHH will help Reigns learn how to slow things down and work smarter.
– My early predictions for the NXT Takeover event that will take place that weekend are Finn Balor vs. Sami Zayn vs. Apollo Crews for the NXT Title, Bayley vs. Asuka for the NXT Women’s Title, Dash & Dawson vs. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan for the NXT Tag Team Titles, and Samoa Joe vs. a debuting AJ Styles. They typically have five matches on Takeover events, but that covers all the main people so it’s hard to say what they could round the card off with.
– I’d love to see the Freebirds, Christian, & JBL inducted in the Hall of Fame this year. I think Victoria or Jackie Moore would be a great choice for the divas, and Lemmy from Motorhead (RIP) seems a slam dunk to be the celeb inductee this year. I think WWE will hold off on Sting and Taker for now.
– I’ve said it both times previously, until I see Daniel Bryan in a ring again, I can’t predict him to be on this show as much as I would love to.
– With the Cena news, I’m sure WWE is trying everything they can now to get the New Japan Four to be cleared and signed by WrestleMania. Any sort of appearance by them in front of a crowd that would be well known to them, would make a huge splash and help offset any of the roster that’s not able to appear due to injury.
As you see, the rash of injuries drastically change the landscape of the card and really crunch the amount of quality matches there can be. What do you think of this card as we sit less than three months out? Do you like it or hate it? What matches would you like to see? Let us know in the comments!