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March 27, 2015

Your WrestleMania 31 Preview: Silicon Valley will never be the same

Wrestling Wrestlemania
032715_wrestlemania_Youtube WWE/Youtube

Legendary wrestlers Sting and Triple H square off Sunday in Wrestlemania 31.

This weekend comes the biggest wrestling event in the world, and we should be overwhelmingly excited about it. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California will be the center of the wrestling world Sunday night, but the buildup to the show has been one of the more lackluster ones in the past few years.

It doesn’t feel like WrestleMania now, but come 5:00pm on Sunday night when the WrestleMania Kickoff Pre-Show begins, it surely will generate the excitement for which WrestleMania is known. While the hype surrounding the event could have been better, the card still looks solid and it should be a great pay-per-view. Let’s get to the predictions.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match

Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns

Before Tuesday evening, I would have told you with 100 percent certainty that Reigns was walking away with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday night. Then Lesnar announced he had re-signed with WWE during an interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter, and everything changed.

With the deal being a reported three-year extension, there’s no more certainty that Lesnar will lose his championship in the main event at WrestleMania. Of course, we still have the Seth Rollins factor, as he still carries the Money in the Bank briefcase in which he can cash in for a title shot at any time.

While I don’t think Rollins will be a factor in the main event Sunday night, I do believe Lesnar will lose his championship despite his new contract. WWE seems hell bent on pushing Reigns to be their next John Cena, and I don’t think they’re going to let the crowd dictate changing their plans like they did last year with Daniel Bryan.

Reigns and Lesnar could still have a feud after WrestleMania, which I think should happen since the hype for this main event has been severely lacking, despite the presence and eloquence of Paul Heyman in trying to single-handedly build up this match.

Maybe we could see a heel turn for Reigns and a face turn for Lesnar? That’d be something different, and thinking about the Bret Hart/Stone Cold Steve Austin double turn at WrestleMania 13 makes me think we could see the same thing happen again. With all the moving parts and Lesnar now back in the fold, I think Reigns walks out of Santa Clara Sunday night as champion, good guy or bad guy.

Your winner and new WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Reigns

Sting vs. Triple H

There’s absolutely no way Sting is going to lose his first match ever in WWE. I think Triple H has too much respect for the business of having Sting lose his first match, even though it would probably be the biggest shocker at WrestleMania if it were to happen. That’s why I’m picking Triple H. No, just kidding … I swear.

The build for this match has been tremendous and I think Sting’s presence on WWE television has been surreal ever since he made his debut at November’s Survivor Series. He uttered his first words on television Monday night since debuting and I think that made the build even better. Saying he wasn’t fighting for WCW was needed since that’s a majority of what fans thought he was there for since it was never exactly clear why he wanted Triple H. Now we know, and it’s all about Triple H’s character of dictatorship and control. It makes sense since it’s what eventually killed WCW. That’s a nice subplot to have behind two of the biggest superstars ever in the wrestling industry. I think this has a chance to be the match of the night based on sheer anticipation, but the Ladder Match may have something to say about that.

Your winner: Sting

Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker

With the unceremonious ending to The Undertaker’s streak last year at WrestleMania XXX by the hands of Lesnar, many think the Dead Man will avenge his first defeat ever at WrestleMania by putting Wyatt to rest.

I honestly don’t think that’s going to happen. I believe in Wyatt, and I think he’s done an absolutely fantastic job in building to this match with The Undertaker. Wyatt was red hot going into his feud with John Cena last year, and the loss to Cena at WrestleMania XXX killed his heat and ultimately broke up the Wyatt Family. He needed something big to build off of to get his heat back, and his feud with Dean Ambrose didn’t do him [or Ambrose for that matter] any favors.

While a Wyatt win against an undefeated Undertaker would have done him wonders, defeating the 7-time former WWE World Heavyweight Champion would still be an amazing rub for a character that desperately needs it. Wyatt is going to be a huge player in WWE for years to come, and he’ll need to start winning titles soon. But what’s the second best thing to winning titles? Defeating The Undertaker at WrestleMania. I think it’s going to happen.

With rumors of The Undertaker’s retirement match being set for next year’s WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, I think he’ll win that one and retire with a 22-2 record at the grandest stage of them all. Wyatt’s win will not be a dominating win like Lesnar’s was last year, but it’ll be surprising.

Your winner: Bray Wyatt

United States Championship Match

Rusev (c) vs. John Cena

While having Cena completely destroy Rusev in order to get his United States Championship rematch may have rubbed the internet wrestling community the wrong way, I think it was a good way to build Cena into actually being a credible threat to Rusev. With the way the Bulgarian Brute has been booked the past year, and the way he’s been booked against Cena, one would surmise that WWE’s biggest star would have no chance regaining the United States championship.

Cena has a knack for great matches on the big stage, and I don’t see this one being any different. I think he’ll come close to being the first one to ever pin or make Rusev submit, but he’ll ultimately fall short. I anticipate a booking of Cena akin to Rocky Balboa in the first Rocky movie. He comes close, but falls short. I still think these two have good chemistry together, and I think they’ll have a third match at Extreme Rules – one Cena is likely to win.

Your winner and still United States Champion: Rusev

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match

Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Stardust

The build for the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match has seen good matches between the seven participants scheduled to compete in the match, but the whole hot potato angle with the championship being passed around from wrestler to wrestler leaves a lot to be desired. The past few weeks have made both the champion and R-Truth look about as weak as possible heading into the biggest match of their lives. Barrett hasn’t won on television via pinfall or submission since February 16th, although he did defeat Dean Ambrose via disqualification at February’s Fastlane pay-per-view.

However, seeing him constantly pinned week after week for the last month hasn’t really given the Intercontinental Championship much credibility. The goal of this match is to elevate the importance of the title, but R-Truth stealing it away only to give it to whoever confronts him also makes him look like a fool. While great matches are always a good thing, there needs to be a good story to support them in order to make people care about it. I think this match will steal the show and I see Bryan coming out of WrestleMania as your new Intercontinental Champion.

Your winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Daniel Bryan

A.J. Lee & Paige vs. Nikki (c-Divas) and Brie Bella

The feud between A.J. Lee and Paige with the Bella Twins has actually been a pleasant surprise. With very little time devoted to the Divas division each week on Raw and SmackDown, these four women have built a solid angle with good matches enough to make me care about this match despite the Divas Championship not being on the line.

With A.J.’s return to spike some popularity back into the division, and Paige’s resurgence after kind of dwelling in the middle of the division, I think they will come out of Sunday night with a victory. Despite their brawl this past Monday night, I think A.J. and Paige will make up to overcome the common enemy, the Bellas. Nikki has done a better job with the Divas Championship than I thought she would, but I think she’ll lose the title within the next month to one of the winners in this match.

Your winners: Lee and Paige

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

This is a match that could have had so much more hype surrounding it than it does right now. After Rollins kayfabely [oh, it’s a word now] put Orton out of action for a few months last November, many thought when Orton returned that he would just be a psychopathic maniac trying to exact revenge on Rollins and The Authority. In fact, when he returned at Fastlane, he did just that. He attacked The Authority as Rollins made his getaway.

It’s a picture-perfect professional wrestling angle that should’ve kept building towards Orton finally getting his hands on Rollins at WrestleMania. Instead, we got a long and drawn out angle which involved Orton rejoining The Authority and having Rollins regain his trust before turning on him.

While I understand the story goes with the character in Orton being methodological and the Apex Predator, I didn’t think this particular storyline needed that extra layer. Because of that layer, Roman Reigns was pinned clean on television by Rollins. There’s absolutely no way the main event challenger should ever lose before WrestleMania, even if it’s a part of another storyline. I thought that was ridiculous and really hurt the angle. I still think it’ll be a good match, but this is actually the match I’m looking forward to the least on this card. Never thought I would say that six weeks ago. I think Orton gets the win and his revenge against Rollins.

Your winner: Orton

WrestleMania Kickoff Pre-Show

For some reason, WWE announced Thursday night that the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal would be moving to the pre-show on the WWE Network. I’m not sure why they would move the match, but it could be because they have something big planned for it to possibly entice people who aren’t going to watch to order the Network. That’s pretty much the only thing I can think of, but it’s a really weird way to go about it.

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Participants: The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Titus O’Neil, Darren Young, Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan, Damien Mizdow, Sin Cara, Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Konnor, Viktor [List was updated March 23rd, more participants will likely be added.]

With the promos for the past month plus hyping the return of Sheamus, one has to believe he will be back in either this match or be a surprise entrant into the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match. I believe he will enter the battle royal, and of course, if that happens, he’ll probably win. However, I see a bigger picture here, and I think that’s to give Ryback some of his heat back. With Mizdow and The Miz playing amazingly great off each other, I see them eliminating each other or being involved in some kind of angle that leads to a singles match between the two at Extreme Rules.

Mizdow will obviously be the crowd favorite to win, and I wouldn’t hate it if that were to happen. But I think we’re going to see one of those WrestleMania moments where Ryback eliminated both Kane and Big Show with some type of maneuver, ala Cesaro bodyslamming Big Show out of the ring last year to win the inaugural battle royal. Can Ryback get the two behemoths up on his shoulders for Shell Shocked? Maybe. We’ll find out. But I ultimately think The Big Guy is walking away with the trophy.

Your winner: Ryback

Fatal 4 Way for the WWE Tag Team Championship

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro  (c) vs. The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Kofi Kingston and Big E

With the unfortunate news of Jey Uso’s legitimate shoulder injury, I will not be picking the Usos to win this match. While they are the best tag team of the four teams in this match, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd have put together a nice run together and will remain the Tag Team Champions after all is said and done. Los Matadores and The New Day being involved in the match almost seems like a joke, since only a handful of tag teams are treated with any semblance of importance in WWE. As we know, WWE goes through phases regarding tag team wrestling, and this phase is one of which not to get too excited.

Your winners and still WWE Tag Team Champions: Kidd and Cesaro

The week leading up to WrestleMania is always an exciting one, and this week is no different. I’ve been very timid on the build to what’s supposed to be their biggest event of the year thus far. I actually think the build to Summerslam last year with Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship main eventing was on par with last year’s build to WrestleMania XXX. This year, I feel as if WrestleMania is just another WWE pay-per-view. Of course, it won’t be presented that way and when I’m in front of my television screen on Sunday night watching, I’ll be excited as ever.  I’ll have a review of the biggest event of the year on Monday morning to see how my predictions stacked up against what actually happened.

I discussed WrestleMania with Brian Haddad on SportsRadio 94 WIP Thursday night:

I’ll have a review of the biggest event of the year on Monday morning to see how my predictions stacked up against what actually happened.

Enjoy the show!