Andrew: Hello everyone, and welcome to this years WrestleMania Preview Spectacular. Since John is in N’awlins casually stalking Superstars and Divas under the guise of Jacque Contune: International Man of Intrigue (he’s got a twirly fake mustache and everything) I’m going to be posting the preview this month. So…lucky for you.
On Sunday we celebrate the 30th WrestleMania in recorded history (who knows what they called things before cave paintings were invented?) and while all of my friends are in New Orleans enjoying the Mania experience without me (Hey Jacob, Q, and Katie) I’m stuck here shopping for cars and hating my life. Still though, I will be watching on Sunday like everyone else, at least until the WWE Network crashes, then I’ll probably be playing Snood and waiting for the replay to show up. Gonna be a real glitchy Sunday.
Before we get started, here’s a pre-recorded message from John, because apparently bitter cynicism isn’t the best way to start an article.
John: It’s finally here. WrestleMania 30. It feels like the build for this show has been even bigger than other years just because that number 30 is so significant. It’s a tremendous accomplishment for WWE to say they’ve held 30 WrestleMania events. When you consider that Hulk Hogan is back in the mix, Mr. T is a part of the Hall of Fame, Ultimate Warrior is back for the Hall of Fame and there are plenty of rumors of past stars appearing, it really does have a big show feel to it.
As far as the actual card goes, I’m very optimistic about it. It’s an eight match show although with the tag title match moving to the pre-show there are seven matches on the main four hour event. It’s also a show with over 66 people appearing on the card in matches, which makes it the biggest WrestleMania ever that way.
The show will be judged based on the success of the top four matches. Those are the WWE World Heavyweight Title Match, Cena vs. Wyatt, Triple H vs. Bryan and Undertaker vs. Lesnar. If all of those four matches are great, the show will be too. They’re all likely to get 20 minutes or more of in-ring time while the others probably won’t get nearly as much time. If the big matches deliver, WrestleMania will be a huge success.
Andrew: Thanks past John. Joining us will be TJR’s resident Jersey Boy Christian Michael. Below are the matches listed and our predictions. You know how this works, I don’t need to spell it out for you, right?
WWE Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Ryback/Axel vs. Los Matadores vs. Swagger/Cesaro (Pre-Show)
Andrew: I’m basically of the opinion that putting any title match on a WrestleMania Pre-Show is a recipe for bullshit, so I’m not super thrilled that two of my favorite things about WWE in 2014 (the Usos and the Real Americans) are regulated to “Not WrestleMania” match status. It sucks, and they’re hardly deserving of being bumped in favor of probably another goddamn Motorhead concert or whatever.
However, being on the Pre-Show does give them the time to at least try and make something memorable. If the last three Mania’s are any indication I’m not holding my breath that any of the matches will be a classic, but tag matches are fun, and all of these guys are capable of making something out of nothing. It still sucks that they don’t get the real show treatment, but it’s something I guess.
Oh, fun fact: Eva Marie has a WrestleMania match, but Cesaro doesn’t. Chew on that for a while.
Winners: The Usos
John: It’s a shame that this match got relegated to the pre-show because the tag division was starting to get really good in WWE until they started doing random things like breaking up the Prime Time Players and tossing the New Age Outlaws into the mix. The Usos were on fire and should have walked into WM as challengers. Instead, their momentum is gone as champions while the lack of a real feud hurts. Why not put the tag titles on Cesaro/Swagger for four months, then have the Usos beat them here? It would have been better than this.
A team like Los Matadores shouldn’t be in a tag title match, but WWE wants as many people on the show as possible, so they’re in. The Ryback/Axel team is booked very inconsistently. They get a shot too. Weird logic. Cesaro/Swagger are obviously headed for their split with Cesaro looking like a guy ready to turn babyface. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them go at it during the match or after the match we see a Cesaro Swing on Swagger. The Usos are the obvious winners in a 10-15 minute match. They’re a team you can build the tag division around, but they the creative team needs to tell better stories to make us care more.
Winners: The Usos
Christian: I’m not going to lie. I’m disappointed in WWE. With a four hour PPV you can’t tell me there isn’t 15 minutes on the main show for these eight talented guys to have a good match. I know they are trying to push the pre-show on the Network hard and WrestleMania is on the Network so what’s the difference, right? There is a difference. There’s something special about being on the actual WrestleMania card and a guy like Cesaro especially deserves it. Remember how awesome he was booked leading up to and including the Elimination Chamber? Then the night after it was just Cesaro being a regular guy again. How about the Usos? They deserve to be on the WrestleMania main card. They are an amazing tag team and worked really hard to become great and worthy Tag Team Champions.
I’m done complaining (about this match) but it does seem a bit off that Los Matadores have a title match. The match would have a bit more pizzazz (do people still use that word?) if the Rhodes Brothers were in the bout. They were vital to the resurgence of the Tag Division and now they are doing comedy matches with Fandango. As for a winner, I think it’s too early to take the belts off the Usos unless they want to pop the crowd with a Real Americans win. I know they Americans are technically heels but the “smart” fans love them and WrestleMania will be filled with them. I just hope these guys get the chance to have a good match.
Winners: The Usos
Andrew: I’ve been pretty critical of the Andre Battle Royal on Twitter, and it’s not because I don’t like the match concept. I love battle royals, and I love that there’s a place for a bunch of guys that might not get used on a WrestleMania card other than to get punked out by Flo Rida to actually practice their craft. I’m fine with all those things. What I don’t like is using guys that should have their own stories being used to pad out the roster. Three big examples of this:
-Big E Langston is the Intercontinental Champion. He currently is the defacto #2 champion in the WWE, which in the new WWE is in kayfabe an honor and something he should be focusing his attention toward. I think having a match on the card defending that title would be more of a prestigious move than being another face in a battle royal, but I’m not a fake fighter with a fake belt with fake importance, so what do I know. Titles don’t really matter, but I desperately want to believe that they do, because that’s part of the fun in wrestling. But, if you’re going to shuffle your #2 champion into a match where the most he gets is a big trophy of Fezzik, how is that better than celebrating a successful title defense in a one-on-one encounter at the biggest show of the year? It doesn’t make sense to me.
-Even though Goldust and Cody Rhodes’ were on their way toward a breakup that could’ve been a main attraction undercard match. Now they’re two faces in a 30 man battle royal where they have to share elbow space with f**king Zack Ryder. Holy shit.
-Christian and Sheamus had about a billion matches on free TV over the past few months, but a big blow-off match at Mania seemed liked it was in the cards. Now Christian is basically dead because of concussions and Sheamus is rubbing elbows with f**king Zack Ryder. And yes, I know I already used that joke, but I genuinely can’t think of anything in 2014 WWE worse than 2014 Zack Ryder.
So I don’t hate battle royals. I hate lazy booking and misappropriated Superstars. It’s super bullshit. That being said, if this match ends with Heath Slater mauling everyone and dumping Big Show over the top with authority, I will be the happiest person in the world.
Winner: Heath Slater, because why not
John: Battle royals have never been matches that I have found interesting. A Royal Rumble match? Yes. I love those. A battle royal doesn’t have the excitement that a Rumble match does. It’s just 30 guys standing in the ring trying to create space by dumping others out until a three or four favorites make it until the end.
A babyface win is likely. Some people think maybe Alexander Rusev will win, but I think he’ll “debut” on Raw the next night. Since Big Show is a little too obvious, I’m going with Sheamus simply because I think WWE wants to continue pushing him as a babyface. They could also have Sheamus win and then use his win to turn him into a cocky heel. There are plenty of possibilities, obviously.
Christian: I’m very conflicted with this match. On one hand I love a good battle royal and love the fact that WWE found a way to get 30 guys on the WrestleMania card. On the other hand it was a major cop out on WWE’s part to avoid having to book midcard feuds for the show. They were building towards Christian vs. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler. I know we’ve seen those matches many times but they always deliver and it would be a lot better for this quartet of former World Champions than just being lost in a battle royal.
I have zero clue who is going to win. I don’t even know if winning even means anything. Sure, they get an Andre the Giant trophy but how about the winner getting a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match on RAW the next night? Something to make the fans care about the match especially if WWE is going to make this an annual thing at WrestleMania.
Winner: Big E
Divas Championship Invitational
Andrew: Yeah, Eva Marie has a match at WrestleMania. Then again, so does Emma, so that helps a bit. But still, Eva Marie. Woof.
I don’t really know what to make of this, except that the gang mentality against AJ Lee made me sympathize with her and wanted me to see Naomi get her orbital bone broken again. That, and big matches like this are designed to keep the belt on the champion, so I’m going to go with the obvious.
Winner: AJ Lee
John: Since there are likely going to be a lot of babyface wins, there’s a possibility that AJ Lee will retain her Divas Title just so they can put over a heel at some point. This past Monday on Raw, she got pinned clean by Naomi, so that makes me think she’ll still be the champ. I feel like that’s the wrong decision because her nearly one year title reign has gotten really boring. It should have been about building others up for this event and having her lose, but instead she might keep the title just so they can book a heel win.
It’s also ridiculous that they are including 14 divas in this match. Some women are barely on TV yet they’re getting a title match at the biggest show of the year? It’s lazy booking. They should have done a 6 divas match with AJ, Brie, Nikki, Natalya, Naomi and Tamina. That would have been much better. They could have done a 10 minute match elimination style. Instead, we get 14 women in one match with one fall to a finish. It’s not going to be that good.
I’m going with the AJ Lee win even though it should be Natalya, Nikki or Brie leaving as Divas Champion. Based on the way AJ was booked to lose on Raw on Monday, I think she’ll win here. One of the other girls will win it soon. Just not at WrestleMania.
Winner: AJ Lee
Christian: So, we have 14 Divas most of which belong nowhere near a wrestling ring in a one fall match. Good luck with that. Again, I commend WWE for getting all the Divas on the card but the only thing I think I’m thinking about is if this match will be a bigger disaster than the WrestleMania 25 Divas Battle Royal.
Winner: AJ Lee
The Shield vs. Kane & The New Age Outlaws
Andrew: BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD.
Seriously, I know it’s kind of the popular opinion online that this is going to be when Ambrose and Rollins turn on Reigns, but I don’t see it happening. The Shield are literally the best thing the WWE has going for them right now: Three future stars who are all growing as performers while simultaneously being protected as the top dogs thanks to the fact that the sum is greater than the parts. Reigns is poised to be the next big thing, but honestly aside from his three big moves he’s really still needs some work. Ambrose is fantastic but going it alone with the madman gimmick without more time for it to cook could hurt him. Rollins is hands down the best performer of the three, but even he would be hurt by the lack of the Shield shine. Breaking them up right now— especially because their face turn has made them WHITE HOT— would be a mistake.
They’re all great, but apart they would hurt. That, and I’m not ready for them to break up yet. I’ve loved them for a while, but I feel like I just started believing.
Winners: The Shield
John: This is an easy one to predict because the older heel wrestlers shouldn’t be winning a match like this. It’s all about The Shield getting the win. If you think The Shield are going to suddenly break up during this match you’re probably wrong. The way they’ve been booked is as a babyface team that has worked well together as a cohesive unit. It’s likely that they will break up perhaps in the summer, but it’s not happening yet. Look for a clean win for The Shield with Roman Reigns likely getting the pinfall just because WWE is most likely to push him when they do the split.
Winners: The Shield
Christian: There was a time I thought The Shield couldn’t get any more awesome. Then they turned babyface and they got more awesome. If you don’t love seeing these guys on your TV then I don’t know how you like wrestling. The Shield’s turn came when they didn’t feel like carrying out Kane’s orders. Kane getting the New Age Outlaws as backup makes sense from a story perspective because the Outlaws are old buddies of Triple H so it make sense they would do The Authority’s bidding.
This match seems like a step down for The Shield. They’ve been in the ring with the best of the best and now at WrestleMania they are facing three guys that are past their prime. Hopefully it is kept short as to not expose the Kane/Outlaws weaknesses. Just let Roman Reigns loose. Isn’t that what we are all paying for anyway?
Winners: The Shield
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
Andrew: I feel like I’ve exhausted myself on saying why Daniel Bryan winning at WrestleMania is something that the WWE needs to make happen, but I’ll try to reiterate it one more time for the sake of posterity.
Since SummerSlam the Daniel Bryan story has been the hottest arc the WWE has attempted in years. It’s cooled and reheated several times, and been a neverending torment to the Daniel Bryan faithful. Since SummerSlam I’ve been of the belief that this was all leading up to WrestleMania for the big payoff, but when Batista reemerged from whatever Hollister store he’s been trapped in for the last four years it looked like that wasn’t in the cards. So I shifted the importance of the title win out of the way in favor of Bryan’s new boss level against Triple H, the true evil that’s been pushing glass on his face every time he tried to rise above mediocrity. I convinced myself that a WrestleMania win over Triple H would be the ultimate satisfaction in his long and sordid tale. Then WWE gave in and put the stipulation that whomever won this match would go on to the main event, and suddenly we’re in a position to have our cake and eat it too.
I thought I would still be of the opinion that a win over Triple H at WresteMania was more symbolic than winning a fake title belt, but we’ll get to that later.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
John: This match will likely take place early on the card because the winner gets to be in the main event of WrestleMania. While I don’t expect it to be the opener, I think they have to do it early in the show so the second match is the most likely spot. Put the battle royal first and then this one.
Bryan should get the win. Hunter is a big name that doesn’t wrestle that much, so his only role should be to put Bryan over. They’ll likely get a lot of time to tell the story while the crowd will be really hot for it. This match may get the best crowd reactions of anything on the show. That’s how well it has been built up. Assuming Triple H is close to what he was in his prime, it will be a very good match that would benefit from Bryan winning via tapout. A clean pinfall win the running knee would work too. I could see it being a fluky inside cradle too.
I could see some kind of angle here as well with Hunter and his buddies beating up Bryan to the point where it injures Bryan. Then Bryan would have to participate in the main event with an injury as they add another layer to the story. There are a lot of ways it could go.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Christian: If The Game has anything left in the tank as a wrestler then Daniel Bryan is going to get it out of him. I’m hoping for an old school Triple H match in which he and Bryan beat the hell out of each other.
The story for the match has been pretty good. They’ve done some cool stuff like the Occupy RAW movement and the assault on Bryan a few weeks ago. I think adding the stipulation that if Triple H wins, he goes into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match was smart. Why make the outcome that obvious and maybe Bryan doesn’t win and Triple H abuses his power but Hulk Hogan as WrestleMania host can still insert Bryan into the main event. I don’t know, just throwing a few ideas out there. All I know is that if Daniel Bryan isn’t in the WrestleMania XXX Main Event, there will be a riot in the SuperDome.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Andrew: Fun fact- This match is just as important for John Cena as it is for Bray Wyatt.
There’s been a lot of talk about legacy, with the implication that Cena needs to beat Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania to secure his legacy for the future. The sad fact is that the past three WrestleMania matches John Cena has had have been f**king terrible. The two with The Rock were plodding nonsense that were basically just finishers padded between rest holds (aka RestholdMania) and the match with Miz at XXVII was probably the worst match Cena has ever been a part of. I don’t know how a loss to a cultist hillbilly could be any worse for your legacy than The Miz, but whatever John.
Sure Bray needs to prove himself here because if you’re going to be a top guy you’re going to be put in matches with guys you don’t on paper have chemistry with and you’re going to have to make it work, but Cena himself needs to prove that he too can have a good match with not only someone of value, but someone that he can help secure as a player. Make them, if you will. Cena’s legacy shouldn’t be about winning matches, it should be about putting on the best one of the night. He’s done it before; Cena is a good wrestler. But, when you’re forced to work with a movie star who barely gives a shit for two years in a row, it’s easy to get complacent.
I don’t think Bray needs a win here, but the match needs to be good. That’s on both of them though. Let’s see if they can deliver.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
John: It’s the hardest match on the card to predict. On the one hand, Cena should probably win because he got screwed over by Wyatt at both the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber. The good guy getting the revenge is the easiest story they could tell here. However, with so many babyfaces on the show and Cena in a position where he doesn’t need wins, I think they’re going to put Wyatt over.
Wyatt has been impressive since he showed up on the main roster in the summer and he seems to be a guy that will be main eventing for years to come. Putting him against Cena at WrestleMania shows how much faith management has in him. He’s a guy that’s going places and in five to ten years we could be talking about this match as a breakthrough for him. He showed how good he can be in that awesome Rumble match against Bryan. Now he gets Cena on the grandest stage of them all.
This is probably a feud that will last longer than one PPV match. I expect Cena to win the feud, but for this match I think Wyatt will get the win. Most likely it will be thanks to the help of his Wyatt Family members Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. A clean loss for Cena just doesn’t seem possible for this match. Still, the result is something people will remember so it will mean a lot for Wyatt to win this one.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Christian: This isn’t your typical Cena WrestleMania Match. Look at his list of WrestleMania opponents since 2006: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Edge, The Big Show, Batista, The Miz and The Rock. Take out Miz (who was WWE Champion at the time) and you have a list of hall of famers. Now enters Bray Wyatt. I think it’s wonderful that WWE is using Cena to elevate Wyatt. Win or lose, you don’t stick a guy in the ring with John Cena at WrestleMania unless you want and expect big things from him.
The build has been good but not great for this match. Cena being afraid of Wyatt was a golden touch but they didn’t really expand on it like I hoped. Cena is afraid because Wyatt isn’t after a title or being the best. He’s trying to destroy Cena’s legacy. The Sheep Mask stuff the last two weeks was pretty cool but there’s so much more they could have done. It’s hard to pick against Cena but boy how huge would it be for Wyatt to beat John Cena at WrestleMania?
Prediction- John Cena
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
I do not care about this match. The match will not be great, even though everyone will say it was. Enjoy your arbitrary Undertaker WrestleMania match, despite it’s quality!
Winner: The Undertaker
John: The outcome of this one isn’t really in doubt, but what surprises me is that they’re currently scheduled to have a regular wrestling match. No stipulation announced. For a Brock Lesnar match that’s rare because most of his matches since returning in 2012 have had a stipulation of some kind. It’s hard to imagine that this match will be regular without any stips added to it at the last minute.
It should be a match filled with great nearfalls and also some good submissions as well. Both guys are well equipped with moves that the crowd knows how to react to, so that’s something in their benefit. I expect Lesnar to connect with at least one F5 or maybe even two. Those will be massive nearfalls for him. They could even have Lesnar kick out of a Tombstone. It’s rare, but if anybody should it’s him.
The winner will be Undertaker. Most know it’s coming and that’s fine. It’s not like his WrestleMania matches are bad. They’ve been match of the year contenders nearly every year for the last five years, so even though he’s turning 50 years old next year he’s still able to have classic matches. That’s why I enjoy Undertaker’s WrestleMania matches so much. They have a special feel to them.
Winner: The Undertaker
Christian: I hate to write so little about what is the co-main event of WrestleMania but we all know what is going to happen. These two are going to have an awesome match because it’s The Undertaker at WrestleMania and Brock Lesnar is a freak. Then after about 20 minutes of awesome, The Undertaker hits a Tombstone and that’s the match.
Winner: The Undertaker
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. vs. Batista vs. (Daniel Bryan or Triple H)
Andrew: So all that talk about belts not mattering and Bryan’s true victory would be making Triple H tap out so hard his wrist breaks in half? Yeah, I was wrong.
The truth about titles is this; they genuinely do not mean anything, unless the story dictates so. Story is what matters, and if the story of Daniel Bryan is that winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will validate him and make all of his dreams come true, that is makes the title mean something. Otherwise it’s just a prop. When WWE says that the every Superstar should strive to be the WWE Champion, that’s just a false idol to give people that don’t understand what really matters something to validate themselves vicariously through their favorite wrestlers. What REALLY matters in wrestling is money, not title belts, and if Daniel Bryan can make a great living despite not being the champion than f**k the belt, it’ll just slow him down in the airport. It’s something he’s been doing for the past year, so the reality is that Daniel Bryan is doing great and doesn’t need that thing to make his life better.
But, the story is something we’re all invested in, and the story makes the title important. And honestly, because of the story they’ve told, if Bryan doesn’t walk out of WrestleMania with those belts raised above his head, I’m going to be so disappoint.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
John: I’ll just put it like this right off the bat: There’s absolutely no reason for Daniel Bryan to not leave as WWE Champion. They’ve spent all this time screwing the guy over. This is the payoff. They didn’t get to this point the right way, but they are there and they are not going to mess it up.
There have been people complaining to me already because they worry about Bryan’s reign. Who cares how long it lasts? If he has a short reign, so be it. It’s not like Austin or Rock ever had really long title reigns. What it’s about is the chase and the ability to tell the story surrounding a title. It’s about Bryan surviving all of the crap that has been put in front of him and overcoming it to leave WrestleMania 30 as the WWE Champion.
I think Orton and Batista have both done a decent job in the build to this match. While it’s not expected to be an all-time great match or anything like that, both guys have proven themselves to be good heels. Batista’s heel turn has really helped him while Orton is clearly better in that role. Neither guy is considered a cool heel either, so the crowd will be 95% behind Bryan.
There’s a chance that maybe HHH is a part of it based on whatever happens earlier in the show. I don’t think it’s necessary to do it, but if HHH wants to be in the main event then he’s going to be in it.
This match is all about the Daniel Bryan win. Enjoy the now. Enjoy the moment. Bryan’s a hard working guy getting what he deserves on the biggest stage. I look forward to chanting “yes” with 70,000 other people in New Orleans on Sunday night. My favorite wrestler in WWE winning the gold in the WrestleMania main event. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Christian: Has any WWE Champion in history felt less important going into a title defense at WrestleMania than Randy Orton? It’s like he’s there just because he’s the Champion. Everyone is focused on hating Batista, what Triple H is doing and loving Daniel Bryan that Orton is just kind of forgotten about.
Part of me thinks that Triple H will be in the match in addition to Bryan simply because he’s Triple H and he can do what he wants. That’s fine. It’s just another obstacle for Bryan to overcome. Bryan has to leave WrestleMania as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion or I’ll never have faith in WWE to do the right thing again. Aside from the fact that the guy deserves it, can you imagine the WrestleMania moment we’d have on our hands with Bryan as the new Champion and the SuperDome going berserk in YES! chants? I know I’m usually concerned with the quality of a match but it doesn’t matter here. Just give me the moment that we all want and Daniel Bryan deserves.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Andrew: Welp, that does it for us. What about your predictions? Let us know in the comments. If you have any thoughts of your own on the card, or if you want to chat with any of us during the show, hit us up on Twitter:
Enjoy WrestleMania everybody, at least until the feed goes out and we all storm Stamford with pitchforks!