RECOMMENDED NEW PODCAST...
(Search "wade keller" & "pwtorch" to subscribe in podcast app)
Wake the pets & call the neighbors, it’s time for our exclusive WWE Network pseudo-pay-per-view projections.
DISCLAIMER: Projections are based on what the columnist would do if he were booking this event, instead of Paul “NXT” Levesque, Runjin Singh, Ed Koskey, and WWE President For Life Bats— Crazy Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Projections are not predictions, because this is the column where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. This preview has been sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall’s porch since noon today. Some of our departing contestants will receive a supply of Schick Super II razor blades, the only twin blades with a Teflon coating, to get your face into Schick Shape. Pat McNeill’s wardrobe provided by Haggar Clothing Company. Remember, this is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, please, no wagering. This lineup is based on the best available information as of this writing. These projections are based on what the columnist would do if he had creative control over WWE, unless it’s not funny enough.
When we left WrestleMania 31, the top three singles champions were Seth Rollins (WWE Champion), John Cena (U.S. Champion), and Daniel Bryan (Intercontinental Champion). None of those champions are scheduled to work WrestleMania 32.
In the history of WrestleMania, this has never happened before. Sure, we’ve come close. At WrestleMania XXVII, the show ended with The Miz as WWE Champion, Edge as World Champion, and Wade Barrett as Intercontinental Champion. By WrestleMania 28, Edge had been forced into retirement, and Wade Barrett was a healthy scratch. However, The Miz was part of the winning team in a 12-man tag.
The promotion will break the all-time WrestleMania attendance record on Sunday. WWE will announce the actual attendance as around 109,000. And, of course, they’ll be lying, I mean, exaggerating, as they have consistently exaggerated about WrestleMania attendance for the past twenty-nine years. Why mess with a winning formula?
Before we preview tonight’s show, let’s get to this month’s edition of the Wrestling History Lesson, because that’s why many of you clicked here in the first place.
Twenty years ago, on March 31, 1996, the World Wrestling Federation presented WrestleMania XII from Anaheim, California. This Kickoff Show match isn’t on WWE Network, but we have it here for you. It’s The Huckster vs. The Nacho Man. Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler had the call.
Just kidding. Here’s The Undertaker vs. Kevin Nash.
What was happening in World Wrestling Entertainment 15 years ago? I’m glad you asked! On April 3, 2001, the World Wrestling Federation taped the April 5 episode of Smackdown in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. On this show, former WWE champion The Big Show took on future WWE champion Jeff Hardy. Michael Cole & Tazz had the call.
Did you catch WWE Smackdown? Well, you can watch the opening bout from this week’s episode right now. It’s A.J. Styles vs. Heath Slater, with the Social Outcasts at ringside for Slater, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It doesn’t get much bigger than this. Mauro Ranallo & Jerry Lawler have the call.
Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and John B. Layfield will be announcing the show. Renee Young, Booker T, and Jerry Lalwer will be doing the pre-show while Tom Phillips will sit alone in the social media lounge. Mauro Ranallo will be doing the call of the Kickoff show. On with the program!
Predictions for NXT Takeover Dallas: Wins for Apollo Crews, Austin Aries, American Alpha, Asuka, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Samoa Joe. That’s right, the A’s have it.
Kalisto vs. Ryback (WWE United States Title): I am very pleased with the way Kalisto has moved into the “Masked Hispanic underdog” spot previously occupied by Rey Mysterio. I am less pleased about the whole Lucha Dragons, but that is a top for another time. Projection? Ryback puts Kalisto in the Shell Shocked and captures his first United States title. JBL and Saxton rave about Ryback’s new ring gear.
Total Divas (Brie Bella, Paige Knight, Natalya Kidd, Alicia Fox & Eva Marie #Youcantwrestle) vs. Bad & Blonde (Naomi Uso, Tamina Snuka, Emma Dashwood, Summer Rae & Lana Perryishnakov): No doubt, you’ve heard by now that Mr. McMahon and the writers were amazed at the hostile crowd reaction for Eva Marie on Raw. There’s an easy explanation for that. Mr. McMahon doesn’t want NXT or Total Divas. Projection? Brie hits a face plant on Lana and gets the pin on what should be her farewell weekend.
The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz: At some point, Bubba Ray & D-Von realized that they gave up their TNA paydays to get themselves booked on the WrestleMania pre-show. On the bright side, at least they’re making money. Projection? You may have noticed this by now, but WWE pay-per-views are not about getting the Dudleys over. Jey escapes the Dudley Death Drop, and the brothers catch D-Von with the double splash. Next?
The 3rd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal: For what it’s worth, the WWE website has this on the main card, and not on pre-show. Projection? Your announced participants are Big Show, Kane, Curtis Axel, Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Tyler Breeze, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Konnor O’Brian, Rick Viktor, Goldust & R-Truth. Let’s add four more names to the list. Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman from the Wyatt Family and Baron Corbin as the NXT representative. Braun Strowman was originally supposed to win, but I think this trophy should go to someone who will make better use of it. Bray Wyatt and the family remove Big Show at the finish, and the Eater of Worlds wins.
The League of Nations vs. The New Day (4 on 3 Handicap Match): This is an another tough call, so let’s look at the facts. Is this feud going to continue past WrestleMania? We don’t know. Are there any tag teams on the WWE roster for New Day to feud with after they get done with The League? Well, New Day has already won their feuds with The Usos and The Dudleys, so, no, there aren’t. Is this a title match? Nope. Projection? After some pre-match entertainment from the champs, the bad guys get the win when Sheamus hits the Brogue kick on Xavier Woods. This will set up some sort of rematch for Payback.
A.J. Styles vs. Chris Jericho: Part of the reason Chris Jericho wrestles today is to help get the new talent over. Y2J lost to Fandango at WrestleMania three years ago. Do you really think he’s going to have an issue putting over AJ Styles again? Projection? The Phenomenal One gets to win with the Styles Clash. Hey, it’s WrestleMania.
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust vs. The Miz vs. Zack Ryder (WWE Intercontinental Title – Ladder Match): Speaking on an annual tradition, our WWE Intercontinental Title Ladder match is in its second straight year. It’s not optimal, but at least this way we know the IC Title will actually get defended at WrestleMania. Projection? Ziggler and Miz get to the top of the ladder, trade punches, and knock each other off the ladder, enabling Owens to clamber up and pull down the championship belt. Zayn can beat Owens for the title on Raw, or at Payback or any time in between, but this is the right call.
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (WWE Divas/Women’s Title): The “Nature Boy” Ric Flair is back at WrestleMania. Granted, he’s there to manage his daughter, but it still feels like a big deal. Projection? Charlotte & Slick Ric wrap Becky’s knee around a ringpost. Sasha catches Charlotte with the Bank Statement, and Becky isn’t able to make the save. The Boss takes control of the Ladies Revolution and the title.
The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon (Hell In A Cell): Nothing against the Son of a Son of A Promoter, but the moment Shane-o-Mac got this assignment, we abandoned all hope of a mat classic. But this leaves the door open for chicanery and shenanigans, and that’s the sort of thing that calls for a booker, creative writer or long-form wrestling columnist.
Both wrestlers cut their pre-match promos in the middle of the show. Undertaker keeps it simple. Blood, death, the usual. Shane tells ‘Taker that tonight, he will see his life flash before his eyes, and this will be his final WrestleMania.
Shane enters the cell first. We get the big entrance from the Undertaker. Shane waits in the corner farthest from the Cell door. The moment the door closes, The Mean Street Posse emerges from underneath the ring and attack the Dead Man. While this is happening, Shane grabs bolt cutters from under the ring, cuts open the chain, and lets himself out of the cell. That turns out to be a good idea, because Undertaker has laid out Rodney, Pete Gas & Joey Abs. Shane grabs a microphone.
Shane: Okay, Phenom. I warned you. There are a lot of people who still have unfinished business with you. Dead Man, this is your life!
With that, we see a group of Undertaker’s former WrestleMania opponents make their way, slowly, down the ramp. We see Jake Roberts, Kevin Nash, King Kong Bundy, Sycho Sid, and A-Train. (Not pictured: Jimmy Snuka.) They attack Undertaker one at a time, black ninja style.
“No chance in hell” plays, and Mr. McMahon appears on the ramp. He waves out the WWE League of Extraordinary Enhancement Performers, all decked out in official WrestleMania 32 T-shirts. Here comes Alex Riley. Here come Los Matadores. Here comes the medically cleared Antonio Cesaro. Here come Mojo Rawley, Tye Dillinger, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady. Finally, Kane comes out wearing his mask, shorts and his flip-flops, muttering to himself.
Shane: Oh, yeah? Two can play at that game. Initiate Phase Three!
We see Tommy Dreamer leading another group of ex-wrestlers in through the crowd. Here comes Rhyno, Billy Gunn, The Nasty Boys, Carlito, Charlie Haas, Diamond Dallas Page & Jim Duggan. They’re all decked out in You On Demand t-shirts, and they go after Undertaker. This brings Stephanie McMahon to the ramp.
Stephanie: I’ll handle this, Dad. Security!
A group of indy wrestling WWE security guys head down to the ring, followed by The League of Nations, who are all wearing official WWE security golf shirts. The giant brawl is spreading all over ringside.
Mick Foley’s music plays. Foley makes his way out in street clothes. Cue Shawn Michaels’s music. He is also in street clothes. Then, glass shatters. Austin, Michaels & Foley are standing together about halfway down the ramp, at a safe distance from the action.
Austin: How do you want to handle this?
Foley: I had weapons, but I gave them to Ambrose.
Michaels: We can probably grab a few chairs.
Austin: Those official WrestleMania chairs are no good. Too much padding.
Just then, John Cena’s music hits. The Franchise runs to the ring, heading right past the legends in the aisle.
Foley: The kid’s here. I think he can handle this.
Michaels: Okay. So what should we do?
Austin: How about Cracker Barrel? Sunday night is fried chicken.
Foley: Great idea.
The three Hall of Famers head off into the sunset. Cena eventually restores order, and Undertaker chokeslams Shane for the victory.
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose (Street Fight): Lesnar has had the better of Ambrose at every turn. Sure, a win over Lesnar would elevate Dean, but WWE still has plans for Brock Lesnar as a money draw in 2016. Projection? A long bloody brawl, ending with Brock hitting Ambrose with Barby and winning with a F5. After the match, the Wyatt Trio comes out to beat up Lesnar, but Ambrose fires up the chainsaw and runs them off, earning Dean a reluctant handshake from the Beast. No hugs in this match. That’s Bayley’s gimmick.
Triple H vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Title): Hunter can still have good matches. Reigns has been in several really good match, including the main event of last year’s WrestleMania. If you’re expecting this match to suck, you’re kidding yourself. Projection? A full-sized WWE main event. Referee John Cone gets bumped, Hunter hits the Pedigree, and Reigns kicks out. The Rock saunters to ringside and dodges a slap from Stephanie McMahon. Scott Armstrong tries to throw Rock out of ringside. Nope. Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. Reigns hits the superman punch and the spear. John Cone revives long enough to make the count, and Roman Reigns is a three-time WWE champion.
Aftermath: Vince McMahon decides to hold a big celebration for Undertaker’s victory on Raw. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H join him. The Undertaker (via a pre-taped message on the Titantron) declines to participate.
Just after Mr. McMahon pours the champion, the Shane-o-Mac music hits, and the prodigal son swaggers down to the ring. The crowd pops huge for Shane.
Vince: Sorry, Shane, you’re not supposed to be here!
Shane: Oh, I AM supposed to be here. Because I am staying here on Raw, and I brought my new insurance policy with me.
(Roman Reigns comes out, holding the WWE Title bout.)
Roman: That’s right. Shane-o-Mac is my new manager!
(The crowd starts booing vociferously.)
Shane: No, it’s okay. Roman’s with me now. He’s cool.
(The crowd boos louder. Hunter leaves the ring, peers under the apron, and pulls out a sledgehammer.)
Hunter: Pops, with all due respect, we tried it your way. Now, it’s my way.
Shane: Wait a minute. What are you…Yow!
(Hunter chases Shane from ringside, then turns his attention to Reigns. Roman tries to fight back, but Hunter pops the champ in the midsection with the sledgehammer. Hunter spends the final ten minutes of Raw beating Roman with a sledgehammer as the Dallas crowd cheers wildly and chants “Thank you, Hun-ter!”)
Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina has been a PWTorch Columnist since 2001. He’d take the North Carolina Tarheels to win the NCAA Basketball Title, but he hasn’t done so well with his March Madness predictions.