WrestleMania is upon us. This year we have an unusually stacked card. Where every match could be considered a "must-watch." We have a kickoff show that has some interesting viewing options. We will see the crowning of a new Cruiserweight Champion, The Andre the Giant Battle Royal, and the first ever Women's Battle Royal. Meaning that all active titles on the main roster will be defended on the main card. (Or so we currently think).
WrestleMania 34 is supposedly going to be a seven hour long show. So this BreakDownZ will be long. Once again I am joined by guests. This time I am joined by Josh.0 and Amanda.
Josh: Hello friends, Josh.0 (AKA @ChiefJosheola) here and I hope you enjoy my WrestleMania 34 hot takes. Be sure to join me every Tuesday night at 10:05 pm on the TYT Sports Facebook page for 10:05 Live. It's a live wrestling show driven by your comments, questions, and insights about everything WWE.
Amanda: I create articles about the WWE which are both analytical and satirical to boot. My pieces range from analysis of entire divisions, to unpacking storylines which mimic real life politics. For more about her work, visit http://thislazypanda.wordpress.com or Twitter @ThisLazyPanda
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Amanda: Oh who knows, only a few have been announced officially--so how on earth can I guess? Let’s just give this one to Tye Dillinger, he doesn’t get a fair shake.
Winner: Tye Dillinger
Josh: This event kicked-off last year's show and featured the random number of 33 superstars because, why not? This year, we have no idea what the final number will be and it doesn't seem to matter. This match is usually where creative dumps in a wealth of mid-card talent who have no clear direction. There are plenty of legitimate contenders with an equally good chance of winning such as Corbin or Ziggler. However, I think the man who will win the match and thus get a push going down the road into 2018 is Tye Dillinger. The Perfect 10 has been noticeable absent for quite a while but is insanely over with fans. Hence, he is my pick to win this year's Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale. Because, why not?
Unfortunately, winning this Battle Royal literally means nothing except being saddled with a comically large trophy. It would be nice if the winner were granted something meaningful such as a title opportunity or choice of entrance number in the Royal Rumble. Something. Anything. Maybe Dillinger will even go on to face Roman Reigns who will end the evening as the new Universal Champion.
Winner: Tye Dillinger
Triple Z: Different approach them my two guests. Although I do love Tye Dillinger I don't see WWE giving him this moment. Although this Battle Royal means nothing. Maybe it is different this year due to the HBO documentary? Doubt it. Past winners include Cesaro, Big Show, Baron Corbin, and Mojo Rawley. What are those four doing now? Not anything of true importance. The most unimportant match will go to the most unimportant superstar WWE sees fit. So I'm going with Dolph Ziggler. He's a random option but WWE has been throwing him into things lately.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
The Fabulous Moolah Mem...er...uh...I mean, Women's Battle Royal
Josh: The Fabulous Moolah Mem...er...uh...I mean, Women's Battle Royal.
Your opinion about the name change is your own. Personally, I don't care. Did Moolah engage in some shady business dealings in the 1950s, 60s,and 70s? Probably, but so did most male trainer and promoter of those eras. As for the more salacious accusations I can only say this; she was never charged with a crime and she was never convicted of a crime. People are quite comfortable making judgements about people through the court of public opinion but for me, I prefer facts and evidence.
There's a huge difference between accusations of financial malfeasance and accusations of sexual misconduct mixed with drug abuse. But hey, wrestling fans made up their own mind and went so far as petitioning Snickers to get involved who threatened to remove their sponsorship, which is ultimately why the name was changed.
Money doesn't talk; it screams.
I guess my question here is, "why should I care?" WWE is trying to bill this match as historic, but they tried the same thing with the Andre the Giant Memorial and literally no one cares. The winner of both matches isn't awarded any title opportunities or meaningful prize so what is the motivation? A win at WrestleMania? I mean, ok, sure. I'm going with Becky Lynch because she is the only Horsewoman without her own storyline going into WM34.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Amanda: Again, nobody's official, so it’s anyone’s game. I know Sasha and Bayley very stupidly don’t have a one on one match (so much for that extremely slow burn of a feud, what a disappointment) so who could win? Eh, Becky’s been announced, and because I love her, I’ll give her the win.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Triple Z: This is smart on WWE's behalf. They are constantly promoting the Women's Evolution. Giving the division a match where all can be featured is smart. Although it is a low stakes kickoff match. Like what Josh mentioned earlier it was suppose to be "The Fabulous Moolah" Battle Royal. WWE quickly scrapped that after the backlash. You know WWE could of named the match after some different women's wrestlers of the past. In the end the name of the match doesn't matter when there is no stakes.
Let's talk about Bayley. No one is talking about the hugging phenomenon who hit a brick wall. A year ago she is winning on the grandest stage of them all. The next year she is in the kickoff match while having a "spinoff" feud with her best enemy Sasha Banks? How did this fall happen? Also if WWE decided to pivot into this epic feud why did they not make a singles match? I think it would be more impressive for the Women's Evolution to have three amazing single matches on the card then to have two automatic title matches and one goofy battle royal.
So who wins this? It's has to be one of the fallen Horsewomen right? My guests picked Becky so I'm going against the grain and picking Sasha Banks to finally have her moment. (Maybe one of these times it will actually happen.)
Winner: Sasha Banks
Mustafa Ali VS Cedric Alexander
Amanda: I don't even know where to begin. Both are such amazing, showstopper performers. Ugh, it pains me, and I’d be thrilled with either winner. Uh, I’ll flip a coin here and go with the great Cedric Alexander.
Winner: Cedric Alexander
Triple Z: If I'm being honest here. I do not care about 205 Live. So much can change in a full WrestleMania calendar year. Going from Austin Aries/ Neville to Mustafa Ali/Cedric Alexander isn't bad. It's just how we got here. We once thought the Cruiserweight division would inject life into long three hour RAW's. Now people want it to be axed from the show entirely. In this case I hope to see Mustafa Ali go over.
WWE should love Ali. He has the look on top of a great move set. It's time WWE let's him lead the new era of Cruiserweights.
Winner: Mustafa Ali
Josh: It's a shame the cruiserweights don't get more respect in WWE. It's not their fault because the matches are almost always fantastic, but 205 Live is in a terrible time slot and is network only so WWE treats it like a lesser product. This match will be interesting because both Alexander and Ali are over with the fans so whoever wins, so do we. The show has certainly seen a surge in the quality of matches since Triple H assumed command of the 205 Live helm and hopefully this trend continues. The tournament to crown a champion after the title was vacated in the wake of Enzo Amore's very real and very public firing from the WWE was a great way to get the entire cruiserweight roster involved. In this instance, I'm going with Ali as the winner because I think Alexander can make a great heel turn and thus squeeze more life out of this feud. These two men have a history of working well together and I wouldn't mind seeing them compete a few more times, this time in a heel vs. face dynamic.
Let purple reign.
Winner: Mustafa Ali
Randy Orton VS Bobby Roode VS Jinder Mahal VS Rusev
Triple Z: This match has the potential to be really good or absolutely dreadful. Although this match is a copycat from the RAW brand's Intercontinental Championship match it still has potential to be a good contest. Outside of the Kickoff matches this may be the most thrown together match on the card.
WWE basically was running a checklist on who needed to be on WrestleMania's main card.
Randy Orton? Former World Champion from last year's event. Have to include him somehow.
Bobby Roode? One of the best entrances in the game got to include him.
Jinder Mahal? The star we pushed all year can't go back to the Kickoff show. That'd just make our Indian fan base upset.
Rusev? Look at the merchandise sales. Plus the crowd will just continue to chant "Rusev Day" so let's give him a match.
Rusev's organic rise should result in a title reign. Which I believe will start this Sunday at WrestleMania.
Josh: Until the addition of Rusev, this was one of the least exciting bouts on the card. It seems like WWE looked at the chemistry surrounding the Intercontinental Title on RAW and said, "hey, let's just copy that."
Unfortunately, no one involved in the U.S. Title picture comes close to the mic skills of Miz or can create the palpable heat being generated between Balor and Rollins. Adding Rusev was a smart decision so it doesn't seem like a simple carbon copy but instead adds an interesting element seeing as how insanely over The Bulgarian Brute is with fans. This match should allow everyone who isn't Rusev to build on their strengths.
Roode can try being a babyface, despite the current run falling apart each week. Randy Orton can (and should) go back to being a heel and using dirty, underhanded tactics to win. Jinder Mahal can be himself; an annoying fifth wheel who is just talented enough to make you take him seriously in the ring. Orton is the safe choice here, but I don't see how WWE can ignore the incredible popularity of Rusev Day. A win at WM would not only add some much-needed life to this title picture but also allow WWE to sell a whole lot of Rusev Day t-shirts. I'm sure Orton will want a piece of Roman Reigns' Universal Championship that he is absolutely going to have.
Every day will now be Rusev Daaaaaaaaaaay.
Amanda: I genuinely forgot this match was happening, but it has helped me to remember that quite a majority of matches are going to involve lumping various superstars together in clusters hoping for the best. Anywho, Rusev has been on fire lately, what with every day being Rusev day and all. It’d be a real shame not to push that into Rusev month, or Rusev year! My pick for this match is for Rusev to win the title, with Aiden English singing his praises post-victory.
The Uso's VS Bludgeon Brothers VS The New Day
Amanda: This was a guaranteed gem the second it was announced The Usos and The New Day were going head to head. Adding the Bludgeon Brothers just adds another interesting, brutal dynamic to the mix. It would be an upset if the The Bludgeon Brothers swooped in and stole a win, and that’s exactly what they have to do to really get the fire going for them to be at the level of these titans.
Winners: Bludgeon Brothers
Triple Z: It's time for The New Day to have their very own WrestleMania moment. Winning the Tag Team Championships in New Orleans would do just that. The trio hosted WrestleMania last year putting them with the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock. Still they haven't had their big victory moment yet. After having the longest Tag Team reign of the modern era. The same team should be rewarded a victory at WrestleMania. I think WWE will go this route. Especially after The Uso's reign and with the upcoming shake-up post-Mania.
Winners: The New Day
Josh: I've enjoyed the payoff granted by The Bludgeon Brothers. For a while I was worried they would just keep coming out, staring at people and then easily dispatching of hometown jobbers. Ever since the utter melee that took place at Fastlane, I have been impressed with how well big guys like Rowan and Harper work as a team, using each other for more devastating moves that you can almost feel coming through your television. It works and it works well. But as unstoppable as they have seemed, both the Usos and New Day are no strangers to competition, and their uneasy alliance against the former Wyatt Family members makes for interesting storytelling. The Usos and New Day can't simply team up and take out the Bludgeon Brothers because, well, this is STILL a title match and every team wants to win. Taking out a pair of giants isn't enough and may do more harm than good in the process.
WrestleMania is all about shake-ups. Both the Usos and New Day have had their share of title runs and now it's time for the Bludgeon Brothers to stand on top of the mountain and dare anyone to knock them down. It's too bad none of these teams can challenge Roman Reigns for his inevitable Universal Championship.
Hammer Bros. cosplay will become cool again.
Winners: Bludgeon Brothers
Alexa Bliss VS Nia Jax
Josh: The psychological warfare between Bliss and Jax has been a lot of fun to watch and honestly, this appears on its face to be an easy prediction. I'm not saying this will be a squash, and Mickie James will likely interfere on behalf of her frenemy Alexa, but all signs point to this being Nia's moment where her roller coaster of a year finally pays off big time and earns her gold. But there is a wildcard: Carmella.
Because the women's version of this coveted briefcase is not technically
brand-specific, Miss Money in the Bank may choose to jump ship and cross over to Team RAW. This can be explained as seeming "easier" than trying to pull one over on stronger competitors like Charlotte or Asuka, but WWE can play this from several different angles if they choose. This also makes Charlotte vs. Asuka all about the two women in the ring instead of the constant "will we see a cash-in or won't we" hanging over what should be a fantastic one on one match.
The persistent rumor I have heard from several wrestling websites is that Carmella will attempt - yet fail - to cash in her briefcase at WrestleMania and according to the rumor, she's ok with this. Whether that's true or not will remain to be seen but I think it would be a great compliment to Jax for her to win and defend her new title all in the same night.
Ignorance is Bliss and this time she will pay the price. Nia Jax becomes the new RAW Women's Champion.
Winner: Nia Jax
Triple Z: I'm actually going to have a similar take to Josh. I do believe Carmella will cash in during this match. After Mickie James helps Alexa Bliss to victory over Nia Jax. Either way this match will be quick. I am unimpressed with Nia Jax. Bliss has had a great title reign it would be a shame to see it end at the price of Nia Jax. The best part about the reign of Bliss was the unpredictability. We all thought she would lose at Elimination Chamber but she didn't. On numerous occasions she has pulled off upsets. Carmella beating Alexa Bliss would make more sense than her going after Charlotte or Asuka. Plus there could be a possibility that RAW ends up with both Women's Championships leading to the inevitable shake-up.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Amanda: This is just painful. I love both women very much, they’re my personal favorite dynamic duo. However--all good things must come to an end. Ideally I would love to see Nia Jax rise to fruition and take the title from Alexa Bliss. Yet, a part of me feels that ultimately, Mickie James will interfere and help Alexa retain her sweet bliss.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
The Bar VS Braun Strowman and TBD
Amanda: I haven’t the slightest clue on who Braun’s partner might be. That being said, I can’t see him winning. I see this is a fun, one off match for him. He’s a man destined for greatness, destined for a demolishing singles run. The only option here is for The Bar to win, while Braun’s partner holds him back.
Winners: The Bar
Josh: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE WWE DON'T RUIN THIS! DON'T FORCE STROWMAN TO HAVE A PARTNER! HE DOESN'T NEED ONE! HE DOESN'T WANT ONE! THERE'S NO RULE THAT SAYS HE HAS TO HAVE ONE!
DO THE RIGHT THING! DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
Strowman remains one of the most entertaining aspects of RAW. Untethered by any aspirations of becoming Universal Champion, the Monster Among Men has been free to roam around the roster and destroy anyone or anything in his path. Nameless security guards. Elias. Craft services.
What I hope WWE doesn't do (which means they probably will) is give Strowman a tag team partner at the last minute. Where is it written that he needs one? It's unconventional to have a single man win the tag team titles on its own and it helps to repair part of Strowman's image. The appearance of his "brother" Brains Strowman during the RAW go-home show gives me hope that WWE is heavily leaning on the side of not giving him a partner which is the absolute correct decision. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a single tag team champion in WWE but I can think of no one more deserving or realistic to hold this inaugural honor than Strowman.
Before losing several high-profile matches to lesser life forms, he was billed as the new unstoppable juggernaut who would one day take the place of Brock Lesnar as the next big thing. Taking these losses cracked, but didn't break this mold but single-handedly competing for or possibly winning a championship that normally requires a minimum of two people to achieve will repair that damage. Personally, I'd prefer to see Strowman hoisting the Universal Championship after defeating its soon-to-be owner, Roman Reigns but that won't happen on Sunday. Only three things in life are certain; death, taxes, and everyone catching these hands. Braun Strowman (and hopefully no one else) wins the Raw Tag Team Titles.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Triple Z: If the Monster Among Men does receive a partner it will be a big surprise. On the level of a Hardy Boys return. I can't imagine Braun losing this. Although I have said that many times before. His partner will be someone memorable because it's the world of WWE he has to end up with a partner. Who's a big time star that isn't in WWE that would want to be with Braun? That's the big question. There might not even be a star available. Either way this should be a showcase for Braun, and hopefully the end of The Bar. Let Cesaro become something again. For now the only outcome in site is Braun standing tall.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Charlotte Flair VS Asuka
Josh: Undefeated streaks are stupid.
There is no place for them in the modern world of professional wrestling because kayfabe died a long time ago and fans no longer rely on dirt shirts to get information about their favorite wrestlers or storylines. We all know it's scripted yet WWE still wants us to care that someone is undefeated for a reason other than the creative team deemed it to be so. Suspension of disbelief is a cornerstone of enjoying this medium, but there are just some things that insult our basic intelligence as fans.
Asuka is an incredibly talented wrestler but the company has put more stock into her streak than it should and each match becomes less about her technical skill and more about whether or not she'll finally lose. The Undertaker had a solid character built up well before his streak began and his consistent winning at WrestleMania didn't become a major part of his storyline until much later. With Asuka, her entire character is being built around her streak and one day it is going to end. Then what? I give the WWE credit for making her challenge to Charlotte so memorable as her surprise appearance at Fastlane not only confirmed their match at WrestleMania but also confirmed that Asuka would
be switching brands if she won. Taking on Charlotte for the SmackDown Championship is the smart choice for Asuka not just in terms of competition but because fans want to see the RAW Women's Champion Alexa Bliss utterly destroyed by Nia Jax as revenge for her dirty mind games.
The rumor is that Asuka will not only defeat Charlotte but may even remain undefeated until the next WrestleMania where she would likely face a more seasoned Ronda Rousey. Obviously, no one can predict what the WWE landscape will look like that far out but such a move wouldn't surprise me since it's clear the company wants to make both women into huge stars for the division. This also means the company will invest heavily into making us believe Asuka can remain undefeated for an entire year while retaining a coveted championship the entire time.
Kayfabe is dead. Long live kayfabe.
Amanda: I don’t care what anyone says. No way on Earth, Asgard, or anywhere else does Asuka lose at WrestleMania. I expect to see a devastating match that ends with Asuka wielding the title.
Triple Z: The Streak is on the line. Ah remember when there was a legendary streak? Those were the good ole days. This highly anticipated match will most likely be the best Women's match of the night. Asuka winning the Royal Rumble was the clear set up for her winning the championship at WrestleMania. Charlotte Flair is not winning either way.
The Miz VS Finn Balor VS Seth Rollins
Triple Z: The Miz who is very underrated is getting a match with Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. It is the perfect way for The Miz to lose the title while maintaining reaching new career heights. It now becomes the matter of if Finn Balor or Seth Rollins will win the championship. I think WWE has been creatively drained when it comes to Finn Balor. Especially after that atrocious, exhausting feud with Bray Wyatt. The Intercontinental Championship will give Finn Balor something to do. While distracting fans from the fact he hasn't received his rematch for the Universal Championship he never lost.
Winner: Finn Balor
Josh: All of the competitors have similar styles in the ring and unlike the U.S. Championship feud, this is a good thing. The WWE has spent just the right amount of time ensuring that each man has a motivation for wanting to compete beyond the achievement of a belt. What I find interesting is that both Miz and Balor has an entourage who can help them if things get dicey. Rollins had The Shield for about 7 minutes until Ambrose got hurt and Reigns was put back on a solo journey towards Brock Lesnar and the Universal Title. But this is WrestleMania, so anything could happen. The WWE loves breaking records and Miz will one day become the longest reigning (combined days) IC Champion of all time, which will make his promos even more insufferable in the best of ways. The current record holder is Pedro Morales who held the title twice for a combined 619 days. Miz has been IC champion 8 times and his record currently stands at just under 600 days. Since this record doesn't involve "consecutive" days, it's a safe bet Miz wants to take some time off after WrestleMania to be with his newborn daughter. The chemistry between all three men has been fantastic and Balor and Rollins can continue a feud with each other while Miz is out of the picture. Balor has the most ground to make up since his unfortunate injury and putting a belt around his waist will help him get back on track. The Miz can (and will) win back the IC title at a later date and then break the record unless the WWE charts him a course that leads straight to Roman Reigns and his (guaranteed) Universal Championship.
The Demon King gets his crown. Finn Balor wins the Intercontinental Championship.
Winner: Finn Balor
Amanda: This is a terrible match for me personally, as I love all three that are involved. The Miz has held the title for a length amount of time, and Seth has always been the man on top in securing himself a title. However, it’s time that Finn showed the world what he was made of. I sense a win in the future, and I see the title belonging to the Balor Club.
Winner: Finn Balor
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon VS Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Josh: Sigh. Where do I begin? Ok, let's do a compliment sandwich, where I say one bad thing in-between two good things.
GOOD: I'm glad to see Daniel Bryan back in the ring, even if I personally
feel that it's a bad decision. CTE is still such a misunderstood disease that even though Bryan has been "cleared" it doesn't mean he is free from danger. He's a father and a husband and although he wants to wrestle more than anything in the world, the risk may not be worth the reward in the long run. But it's his life and his choice and I wish him all the best. I'll be cheering for him.
BAD: Shane McMahon should never step foot inside a WWE ring. Ever. His wrestling skills can only be described as mediocre at best, and that's being generous. His strikes are weak and shameful in their cartoon-like execution. His move-set is literally quick hands and crazy legs, and he possesses no technical skills that would stand up to even an amateur wrestler. He only exists to take big bumps, which makes him a one-trick pony. But because he's Vince's son, his appearance in a WrestleMania match is as inevitable as a sunrise. Shane should never defeat an actual wrestler because it's an
GOOD: Shane McMahon can serve a valuable purpose in taking a pinfall so Bryan doesn't have to eat the pin on his return.
I know a lot of people will predict Bryan gets the win in his first official match back in the WWE but I'm going to throw a curveball and invoke the "heel turn" boogeyman. Too often fans demand a heel turn in situations where it simply doesn't make sense but in this case it fits for several reasons. I predict Daniel Bryan will turn on Shane McMahon and thus give the win to KO and Zayn. The stipulation for this match is that if KO and Zayn lose, they are "fired" and yes, this could be a way to write them off SmackDown and put them on RAW. However, I'm not sure if WWE is willing to take two of the blue brand's biggest stars and switch them to another show, especially considering the low ratings SmackDown has been suffering for months. Losing them would do more harm than good. A heel turn would explain why Bryan sided with KO and Zayn so frequently in the weeks leading up to this match and achieves two things; it keeps KO and Zayn on SmackDown and allows the program to tell a more compelling story after WrestleMania 34. Ratings will be sky high on April 10th with fans asking "Why Daniel Why?" and if rumors are true that Hulk Hogan may be returning to WWE, he could fill Bryan's vacant GM spot. Daniel Bryan wasn't always a fan favorite and has played the role of heel before.
YES! NO! YES! Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn win after Daniel Bryan turns on Shane McMahon.
Winners: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Triple Z: First things first. What a thrill it will be to finally hear Daniel Bryan's music again as he walks down the ramp with a true purpose surrounded by a sea of "YES" chants. This match itself has potential of course but it's not the ideal first outing for Daniel Bryan's glorious return. The timing was terrible. So they couldn't of done really anything else with D-Bry.
Bryan is returning to Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The place where "The Miracle on Bourbon Street" happened. Four years later we see a un-retired Daniel Bryan teaming with his superior Shane McMahon in a match against the struggling duo of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Shane McMahon is going to turn on Daniel Bryan. Firing him as GM. Sending him back to RAW where he belongs. I don't see Bryan losing in that stadium and with that crowd.
It's just a shame that if Daniel Bryan doesn't suffer his injury after WrestleMania 30 he's probably still the hottest star in the company. He also probably changes the main events of the past four Manias with 34 included.
Winners: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon
Amanda: If RAW was going the route of having their horrible bosses fight their employees, I should have assumed SmackDown would do the same. I’m antsy about this, mostly because Daniel’s recently been cleared and Shane’s just barely coming over his own illness. Nervous nelly me is fearing the worst, but I’m here for a triumphant Daniel Bryan return: which is why I see him and Shane winning over Kevin and Sami.
Winners: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon
Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey VS Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Amanda: I’m torn over this match, mostly because I love three out of the four people involved. I’m not a huge Rousey fan, and I just want something that’s going to entertain me. My guess here is that Rousey and Kurt win, as a means of redemption for themselves against their horrible bosses.
Winners: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
Triple Z: Is Ronda Rousey ready for the world of WWE? After her recent stops at ESPN it seems like that would be a no. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon will do the job. They need Ronda Rousey to keep the headlines. Despite her missteps on ESPN programming, while promoting her new career, she will become WWE's woman. As for Kurt Angle this will be the closest to a singles match we will see him in yet. Where will he go from here? As a competitor will he ever get to have dream one on one matches with the best WWE has to offer? Will he just ultimately suffer as the last option. WWE wants all the outlets from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, NBC, ABC News, Rolling Stone, USA Today, and CBS Sports to cover "Rousey's First Win."
Winners: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
Josh: For all the "Triple H Shovel" jokes, we cannot deny that The Game has recently put his ego aside when it comes to the biggest show of the year. Last year he lost to Seth Rollins and the year before that he lost the WWE Championship to Roman Reigns. With the Shane/DB match potentially ending in controversial fashion (says me), I believe this match will be more satisfying to the fans who want to see a pair of white collars get their comeuppance. Triple H's professional credentials can never be questioned and I can think of no one more qualified to be granted the keys to the kingdom once Vince decides to retire. Or when the ancient Egyptian curse placed on Vince's head is somehow lifted.
Whichever happens first. Triple H has lived and breathed the world of professional wrestling since 1992 and has gone from an in-ring performer to businessman and back again effortlessly. I believe he has a legitimate interest in presenting the best product possible. Triple H has evolved from King of Kings to Kingmaker and that trend will continue at WrestleMania 34.
What this means is that when it comes to introducing a new talent to the roster - especially someone who doesn't have a pro wrestling background - Triple H will do everything in his power to put them over. Rousey has been on the WWE radar for quite a while and while some people see this match as hand-holding (because well, it is) I think this is the best way to get her into the business. While she was undoubtedly a great fighter in the UFC, those skills don't always translate to a pro wrestling ring. Teaming her with three veterans of the squared circle ensures there is no pressure on her to carry the match. Yes, I realize I just referred to Stephanie McMahon as a "veteran" but when compared to Ronda Rousey, Stephanie is a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
The company is heavily invested in Rousey's success and I am more interested in seeing where they go from here. Assuming her and Kurt are victorious, then what? Can Angle stay on as GM after defeating the two people who are essentially his boss? I know it's pro wrestling so logic goes out the window in almost 99% of these cases but it still makes me wonder how they will allow such an overt example of insubordination to stand. The same goes for Rousey. Perhaps I'm reading way too much into this but those details matter to me. Yes, I will enjoy watching Rousey compete in WWE but I want her involvement to be more than a gimmick. With Triple H leading the way, Rousey will be the next subject of his role as Kingmake...er...Queenmaker.
Winners: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
AJ Styles VS Shinsuke Nakamura
Josh: These two men have never faced each other in a WWE ring but they have faced each other. They squared up at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in 2016 when both men were wrestling for NJPW. That night, Nakamura walked away with the win. It would be Styles' last match before departing for the WWE, with Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and Nakamura soon joining him. James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch said Wrestle Kingdom 10 was a "perfect example of how to build a card, especially leading to the final three matches with Shibata vs. Ishii hitting four-stars-plus, Nakamura vs. Styles going a little higher...". Larry Csonka of 411Mania gave the event a rating of 9.25, saying that the final three matches (including AJ vs. Nakamura) were so excellent that they "brought the show to another level".
Whether or not AJ and Nakamura can live up to this quality won't be known until April 8th but all signs point to yes. I understand WWE is a completely different style of wrestling than NJPW or ROH or any other promotion for that matter but these two men work so well together they can absolutely bring the same level of intensity and technical proficiency to this match. AJ Styles has had plenty of good matches during his time with WWE and this is the one advantage he has over Nakamura.
We know AJ can bring it on the biggest stage but Nakamura has yet to do so. I still believe many fans don't understand the hype built around Nakamura because he has yet to have what I would consider to be an epic match in WWE. This will change at WrestleMania 34 where I believe any fans on the fence about his abilities will be convinced he's the real deal. Where AJ goes from here is anyone's guess, but my money would be a move to RAW and him becoming the next challenger for Roman Reigns' new Universal Championship. Seriously, is there anyone who doesn't think Reigns is going to win?
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Amanda: It’s an indie lover’s wet dream. Thankfully (as far as I know) this match won’t be hindered by AJ Styles’ rumored injury. All we can hope is that both parties are safe, no major injuries occur, and it’ll be given enough time to really shine and stand out on the card (because obviously it will). My guess would be that now it’s Nakamura’s time to be the champ that runs the camp.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Triple Z: This should be a technical masterpiece. Nakamura and Styles will finally have the opportunity to go one on one in a WWE ring. Considering WrestleMania is going to be on forever. Nakamura/Styles should receive quite a bit of time to have a killer match. This match could end the night although we know that isn't going to happen. Nakamura will complete his quest to become WWE World Champion.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Brock Lesnar VS Roman Reigns
Triple Z: This should be an all out war. Although one has to feel bad for Roman Reigns. He is always put into the position where it is toughest to succeed. This time being in the main event with a potential opponent that has other goals. UFC President Dana White decided to give a minor spoiler to WrestleMania stating that Lesnar would be returning to UFC. Which I don't believe just yet. Does Lesnar want to be suspended again? Lesnar is making $6.5 million in WWE. Is UFC really worth it? To Lesnar it probably is. Which is a shame for all his WWE fans. This feud has been perfect for Reigns though.
Tapping into the frustration of WWE fans fed up with Brock Lesnar's boring championship reign. To bad it comes at a time where WWE's true hero Daniel Bryan made his triumphant return. Reigns will predictably win in his second showdown with Brock Lesnar. His fourth year finishing off WrestleMania.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Josh: Roman Reigns is going to win. The end.
Prediction/Guarantee: Roman Reigns wins (duh) and becomes the new Universal Champion.
P.S. - The only way to make this match even remotely interesting would be if the rumors about a Paul Heyman "heel" turn prove to be true. Reports seems to indicate Lesnar is returning to the UFC but Heyman will stay with WWE to possibly manage Ronda Rousey or even Roman Reigns. Having Heyman screw over Lesnar would be a surprising end to what otherwise is the most predictable (read: boring) match on the card.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Amanda: Well that’s an easy pick, right? Roman Reigns has to win at this point. It feels as though they tried to get a dynamic out of this that mirrored The Rock and Stone Cold’s rivalry. Spoiler alert-- it’s nowhere close to that and I just personally want Brock Lesnar out and done with WWE already. It’s about time RAW finally had the major title back on the scene with Roman Reigns picking up the win.
Winner: Roman Reigns
John Cena VS The Undertaker
Josh: Yes, The Undertaker failed to show up on the RAW go-home show and left many fans convinced he won't be at WrestleMania because this is exactly what WWE wants you to think. We all knew this match was going to happen from the moment John Cena publically challenged The Phenom. While WWE does their best to keep fans in suspense, we must always remember that professional wrestlers are professional liars. When they try to make you think something isn't going to happen, that's because it's definitely going to happen. The only thing that could keep The Dead Man from competing at WM34 would be if the man himself simply didn't feel like doing so. He and his "brother" Kane are the longest tenured active wrestlers still with the company and as such he has quite a bit of power and sway over when and where he chooses to perform.
If The Undertaker truly wasn't going to perform, I don't believe WWE would go so far as to keep sending out Cena to sell the idea of essentially (and publically) showing up anyway "as a fan". The WWE doesn't make a habit of highlighting their failings and I find it extremely unlikely that the biggest star in the company will simply sit in the crowd for 7+ hours and watch. It's just not going to happen.
My biggest issue with this match is that it should have happened years ago when Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak was still intact, even if such streaks are inherently dumb. Since that time he has been felled by Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns which takes most of the air out of this match in terms of what is at stake. The question is now whether the Dead Man will suffer an almost unheard of third loss at the biggest show of the year or if one last victory will finally be his swan song. Watching Undertaker leave his hat and coat in the ring last year was a veiled allusion to retirement, which may still prove somewhat true. Rumors are swirling that we will see the "Bikertaker" persona who traded his duster for a leather vest and his wide-brimmed hat for a red bandana. Perhaps one version of the Dead Man was indeed retired after his loss at WrestleMania 33 but that remains to be seen.
I also wonder how much mileage John Cena has left in his WWE tank. He is filming more movies, appearing on more television shows, and is finally taking the marriage leap so the end is certainly near for the company's biggest star, but not before he wins a record-breaking 17th world championship some time this year. Cena is talented enough to carry this match and carry it he will. The middle-aged Undertaker's last few bouts have been underwhelming to say the least because professional wrestlers age like cheese instead of wine.
Fortunately this match is less about an exhibition of technical skill than
it is about the emotion and spectacle surrounding one of professional wrestling's last remaining icons. The younger, stronger Cena is facing a man who has been frustrating him for weeks. Cena is not used to being ignored and it's been interesting to watch him devolve into semi-tantrums in the face of thunderous silence. For Undertaker, he is out to prove that no matter how big of a star Cena is, the entire WWE still bends the knee to the man from Death Valley.
What is dead may never die. The Undertaker beats John Cena.
Winner: The Undertaker
Amanda: I have a million and one reasons as to why this match shouldn’t happen, and it’s all rather exhausting to explain. Should the Undertaker not honor his retirement, nor the superstar who retired him (seriously Taker, you hypocrite) then I suppose he wins? Either way, I don’t see a beneficial outcome for either contender. The streak is over, we’re at a point where….it just doesn’t matter. What a blemish upon history.
Winner: The Undertaker
Triple Z: The Undertaker will always have a flaw surrounding his legacy especially after his losses to Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Did WWE use their borrowed time with the star wisely? Making him face Shane McMahon for no reason. Having Reigns retire him despite Taker obviously not wanting to retire. We are getting dangerously close to Mark Calaway becoming Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Yet Marisa Tomei played by Michelle McCool won't be able to save him.
Also I have said this many times on ZWrestleTalk but screw the whole "go out on your back" gimmick. The Undertaker is a icon that could pave his own way to retirement. Not every great wrestler needs to lose to go out. Newsflash: Territory days are over.
Despite it being a long and confusing road to get there. Is The Undertaker returning each year to make up for his horrendous matches at the previous two WrestleMania's? Is The Undertaker unsettled about his own appearance and legacy? John Cena taking on The Undertaker is a main event match, and deserved probably more hyping than it received. Can the Deadman finally go out on a high note? Will he even go out at all? There is so many moving parts that go to this match. If we keep trotting out Taker can we just have him face Sting at WrestleMania 35? Minus-well get all the dream matches out of the way while we have him on borrowed time. Yeah, The Undertaker could've honored his "retirement" but truly did we ever think The Deadman was retired? Even after Reigns delivered the gut wrenching, heartbreaking spears. Did we really think he was going to go out especially after years of never going out.
After The Undertaker's cryptic appearance at RAW 25 most speculated that he was going to stay true to his retirement. Now it looks like that might not be the case. If The Undertaker does come back to fight John Cena at WrestleMania. How does he lose? He can't. Last year on ZWrestleTalk I wrote after WrestleMania 33 that "The Deadman finally died." This year I'm writing about how The Deadman is resurrected and will live to fight another day.
Winner: The Undertaker
WrestleMania 34 is bound to be historic. Follow @ZWrestleTalk on Twitter for additional commentary. WrestleMania 34 is April 8 and the Kickoff starts at 5PM ET. The first two hours are free to the public. Starting at 7PM ET the main card will begin.
I created ZWrestleTalk. On this page I give my PPV predictions for Wrestling Events (Usually just WWE)