Last Wrestlemania isn’t canon. Not to me. It was right at the start of the pandemic, and holding a show at a giant stadium, even though it was outdoors, was a horrible idea at the time. So, it was instead held on two nights at the antiseptic and utterly silent WWE Performance Center, and it wasn’t even live. Did we really need to have a Wrestlemania on a closed set? It wasn’t the same. It didn’t feel right.
This year is different as the event will be held at Raymond James Stadium in fucking Tampa, Florida, a state where there are no goddamn rules, virus be damned. It’ll be populated a little bit more than February’s Super Bowl, and while it’s still a scary idea, it at least should feel like Wrestlemania this year. That might be the one thing carrying this dead-ass show over the finish line, as the booking for the promotion as a whole drives further and further toward hell, and not a thing on this show feels special or huge. But again, they have the benefit of a real crowd, people who will be excited to return to a sense of normalcy, and the huge pageantry that is this show. It’s over two nights again, which is smart since 7 hours is way too long a night in the midst of a pandemic. So, let’s take a look at what’s on tap. By the way, we’ll start doing more of these for the bigger AEW and New Japan shows. After all, this is a metal site posing as a wrestling site.
Bad Bunny/Damien Priest vs Miz/John Morrison: I get the allure of Bad Bunny, and credit due, he’s taken this seriously and hasn’t acted like a celebrity above this all. I just don’t really care, but I’m not the audience they’re after with this. I am hoping this can be a launching point for Damien Priest, a guy who has all the intangibles WWE looks for (he’s really big!) and should be in a main event role by next year at this time. Plus, he really found himself in NXT. Not holding my breath, as WWE booking is not reliable.
Braun Strowman vs Shane McMahon (Steel Cage match): Ugh. Every show needs a toilet match, and this is it for night one. Awful storytelling, Shane McMahon again overexposed and turning purple before our eyes, Braun getting a fucking train whistle effect when he runs slowly around the ring to shoulder block dudes. Whatever. I’m done with both of these dudes.
Women’s four-way for a tag team title shot on night 2: This match pits the Riott Squad vs Naomi and Lana vs Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose vs Natalia Neidhart and Tamina for the right to face Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax for the Women’s Tag Team titles on Sunday. WWE has done a piss-poor job building any of these teams at all, so it feels like it has no excitement. Maybe they add Bayley and Charlotte Flair as a team.
Cesaro vs Seth Rollins: Rollins’ terrible savior gimmick aside, that dude can go, and so can Cesaro, who was long been underused in WWE. There is no other finish that makes sense than Cesaro winning if they really are serious about him this time. But I’m not getting all excited about that because there’s a pile of bodies WWE built up and did nothing with. This should be really good in the ring, though.
The New Day vs AJ Styles and Omos (Raw Tag Team title match): This is a big test for Omos in his first match on the main roster. After his work last Monday on Raw, he didn’t look very promising at all, but you never know. Luckily, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Styles all are excellent wrestlers, and their work should let Omos just have spots to be a monster and not get exposed.
Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair (Smackdown Women’s title match): This is a huge match for Belair, one of the few NXT talents in the past few years who got brought up and used mostly well. This seems early for her to win the title, but her losing on this huge stage also is not a great idea unless they have a strong long-term plan for her. Go ahead and laugh. Banks is fucking great, Belair is an excellent athlete, and I’m really looking forward to this one. There is a chance it could headline night one.
Drew McIntyre vs Bobby Lashley (WWE Heavyweight title match): Shoving 6 months of story into 6 weeks, Lashley just recently won the title after McIntyre lost in in February to the goddamn Miz, who went on to lose it to Lashley. This seemed too early for Lashley to lose even after his group the Hurt Business (it included MVP, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin) was dissolved for seemingly no good reason. The idea likely is to crown McIntyre in front of a crowd, which was the plan for last year, so I assume he wins the championship here.
The Fiend vs Randy Orton: FUUUUUUUUUCK this shit. Night 2 toilet match. Toilet match for the world and for life. Don’t care. Won’t ever care. I just want the Fiend to go away forever.
Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn: Owens and Zayn are longtime friends who have always wanted to do a Mania match together. Zayn has been going on with this conspiracy theory character, which is one of the few stories that plays off current events. He has been amazingly entertaining in this role, and Owens is great as the babyface who knows how delusional the heel is being and wants to beat sense into him. I’d love to see them reunite afterward and form a tag team.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Winner of night one match (Women’s Tag Team title match): There’s zero reason for a title change here unless there’s a mystery fifth entrant the night before and if that team is Charlotte and Bayley.
Riddle vs Sheamus (U.S. title match): Well, they sure wasted no time making Riddle a goof. Based on his out-of-ring issues, it’s likely what he deserves. Sheamus has been on a nice run lately, having really good, hard-hitting matches. Not sure where this one goes. I can see Sheamus getting the belt as a thank you for his recent work. It makes more sense to keep it on Riddle to build him up. Again, WWE is awful at momentum, so Riddle likely loses and slips further into the land of the lost.
Big E vs Apollo Crews (Intercontinental title match): So, like, Crews suddenly has an accent. He turned heel and embraced his Nigerian warrior heritage, which apparently, yes, comes with a fake accent and a fucking spear. Stop letting 70-year-old white men book. Big E is getting his first real singles run, and this feud with Crews over the IC title has been his first big one. Also, this is a Nigerian drum fight now, which I have no what that means. I wonder if WWE even knows what the fuck this is going to be. This should be a solid match, though.
Asuka vs Rhea Ripley (Raw Women’s title match): That non-canon Wrestlemania last year? Yeah. Ripley lost her NXT Women’s title to Charlotte Flair at that show, inexplicably. She has new life now as a Raw regular, and Asuka is just one of the best there is. She’s not had as ton of great opponents during her title run as of late, so Ripley should change all of that, and she’s a really good worker who is still young and is only going to get better. It also feels early for Ripley to win, but her losing another Mania match makes no sense, and Asuka doesn’t need the title. Unless the plan is for Asuka to face a returning Becky Lynch…
Roman Reigns vs Edge vs Daniel Bryan (WWE Universal title match): You’ve seen the memes I’m sure of inserting Bryan into every Mania main event as well as numerous life events. More strange storytelling as they managed to take Edge, who has a great built-in story as a man battling back after his career ended prematurely a decade ago, fighting through another serious injury, and finally on the cusp of regaining to being a champion, and now he’s a heel. Uh. OK. WWE never does well when they’re handed an easy story. Reigns has been so, so great as the Head of the Table along with Paul Heyman, and it also seems a little early to take the title from him. Problem is you have no one built up to face him after Mania. Edge or Bryan win and spend the next few months defending against each other and Reigns.
Also, your hosts are Titus O’Neill (a great man who has done amazing community work and is an asset to this company) and Hulk Hogan (a lifelong piece of shit). Do with that what you will.