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WWE WRESTLEMANIA 33 PRIMER
AIRS LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
By Joey Galizia (@RamJam89), PWTorch contributor
Here it is. The Ultimate Thrill-Ride. A long road that has left blood on the pavement, and desolation for its future. The time to put a definitive exclamation stamp on another season of WWE storylines, feuds, and controversy. This same nostalgic feeling comes back every year during the build up to the show of shows, and whether you are an advocate of the card or not, if you say you’re a fan of wrestling, you’ll be tuning in. With that said, here are my predictions for WrestleMania 33 out of Orlando.
ANDRE THE GIANT BATTLE ROYAL
It’s no surprise that this match has been demoted to the pre-show. Battle royals have a tendency to be overlong, overbooked, and underwhelming. That is with exception to the 1st incarnation of this match at WrestleMania 30. That particular bout was placed at the EXACT right spot in the card and was filled with fantastic spots to energize the New Orleans crowd including the finish which saw Cesaro slam the giant to win the trophy. At the time we assumed that meant big things for the Swiss-Superman, but neither he nor the other winners of this contest had anything special come from that moment other than the moment itself.
As far as this year goes: The entirety of the SD Tag division is in there, but probably just so they can be fed to the slaughterer of all man, Braun Strowman. While I as a fan will be rooting for The Likeable one Sami Zayn, it seems like nothing, not even The Big Show, will be able to stop the sausage king of Chicago.
WINNER: BRAUN STROWMAN LAST ELIMINATING THE BIG SHOW
NEVILLE VS. AUSTIN ARIES: CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
I have a personal connection to this particular match. I first started writing for the Torch roughly 5 months ago, and my first assignment was to cover 205 Live. Like any other new wrestling program it would struggle to find it’s footing but there were enough likable characters/talent for the show to eventually work. There is one essence that had consistently been aces for the purple brand show though: THE COMMENTARY TEAM. Mauro Ranallo, Corey Graves, and Mr. A-Double himself Austin Aries. The chemistry between these three was as natural and organic as any other great big-3 combo. They are the Wade, Shaq, and Bosh of the commentary roster. (If that parallel bothers you tweet at me and we’ll talk.) Aries always shined the brightest though. His quirks were hilarious, and his breakdown of matchups was even better. The only issue was that I was enjoying A.A’s commentary more than I was enjoying the stories being told in the ring. That was until Roadblock…WHERE THE KING HATH ARRIVED.
Right from the get go many had wondered why Neville was apart of the initial 205 roster, or for that matter a competitor in the Cruiserweight Classic Tournament. (Which you can watch on the WWE Network for an undisclosed amount SARCASM.) Hindsight being what it is, I’m assuming it’s so Neville could build up this very entertaining (and rather scary) heel personae where he feels everyone has forgotten about him. BUT HE’LL MAKE SURE THAT NO ONE EVER FORGETS HIM AGAIN. He tore through the division, and took the Cruiserweight Championship as his crown.
Even with Neville’s success he would still have to listen to the WWE Universe cheer Austin Arie’s name on 205 Live. The fans were eager for A.A. to make his inevitable return to the ring, and the rub they continuously gave him on a weekly basis could have been the extra push in his catapult to the top. It’s hard to determine who should pick up the W. I’ll go with my gut and say that the King retains, but then loses it at the next taping.
WINNER: KING NEVILLE
ALEXA BLISS VS. MICKIE JAMES VS. BECKY LYNCH VS. NATALYA VS. NAOMI VS. CARMELLA: SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the blue brand has done a much more effective job at presenting their female wrestlers. That isn’t to throw any shade at the women competing on Raw, but there is a much stronger ensemble presence on Smackdown and it’s a benefit to the wrestlers. Becky Lynch became SD’s first women’s champion but would drop the belt to that little tyrant Alexa Bliss at TLC. Lynch would receive multiple rematches but couldn’t reclaim the gold thanks to a returning Mickie James who inserted herself into the title picture when GM Daniel Bryan opened the door to all challengers. Natalya had just come off a VERY hot feud with Nikki Bella (which included the best promo work of Natty’s career) and she was looking to get the good Neidhart name back under the champions section. Oh, and Carmella is there too.
The big story here is Naomi. After being looked over for nearly 8 years the “glow queen” finally found a character that the fans could get behind. Not only that, but she defeated Alexa Bliss clean as a whistle to become women’s champ. Unfortunately an injury would force Naomi to forfeit the title and it was at one time expected that she wouldn’t be able to compete for at least 3 months. That is…until she made her official return on the go-home SD and looks to take back the belt she never lost. Considering Mania is in Naomi’s hometown of Orlando…this pick seems easy.
THE CLUB VS. ENZO & CASS VS. CESARO & SHEAMUS: LADDER MATCH FOR THE RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Cesaro and Sheamus worked out much better than anyone expected. After killing each other on multiple programs it seemed inevitable for the two Euro-Stars to never coexist. That is until former GM Mick Foley (BANG BANG) rewarded their competitive nature by teaming them up. That duo would work out for the best as they were the team to finally defeat The New Day after the latter held the esteemed belts for 484 days. They wouldn’t hold on to the belts for too long though. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made a splash when they arrived in the WWE, laying boots to faces and fists to noses. While their climb to the top hit many stagnant moments (blame the thin division for this booking) they would eventually triumph and capture the gold that belonged to them for so long.
Then there’s Enzo Amore’ and Big Cassius Cass. (He’s 7 feet tall BEE TEE DUBS.) To say that they are fan favorites are an understatement. These guys are consistently entertaining on a week to week basis. What they lack in full ring general skills they make up for with ADRENALINE induced energy and A WHOLE LOT OF CHARACTER. The dynamic duo would always fall short of gold in NXT, so it only seems fitting that they get their big win on the biggest stage of all time.
WINNERS: THE REALEST GUYS
JOHN CENA & NIKKI BELLA VS. THE MIZ & MARYSE
It’s insane to think that in 2017 one of the most exciting feuds would involve John Cena and The Miz. Just writing that out stirs my brain with insanity. But as our newest Olympic Hall of Famer would say…It’s true…IT’S DAMN TRUE. Miz has been on the run of his career, holding and defending his coveted Intercontinental Championship and breaking a lot of hearts and spirits doing it. He would get his chance at the Heavyweight Championship inside the Elimination Chamber, but would fall short thanks to then title-holder big match John Cena.
Weeks later both Cena and Miz would compete in an over the top rope battle royal determining a new #1 contender after Wyatt won the belt and Orton (the rumble winner) went crazy with plotting things. Cena would eliminate Miz thus ruining his title chances for the 2nd time in a short period. How would Miz respond? He would force Cena over the top ropes when the ref’s weren’t watching. What would follow would be weeks of high-level promo segments destroying one another before a fist was even throw. Stakes only grew when Nikki Bella and Maryse sparked their own separate feud because of backstage run-ins and Total Bellas controversy. When Maryse and her husband Miz decided to use that heat to bash both Nikki and her bae John…WELL…SH%T GOT REAL. Tonight in Orlando, only one team can win. Mania history says that can only mean one thing.
WINNERS: JOHN CENA & NIKKI BELLA (PROPOSAL AFTERWARDS!)
A.J. STYLES VS. SHANE MCMAHON
I’m going to blaze right through this one because although I’m sure it will deliver everything that one can expect from these two, the reality of the situation is that A.J. Styles deserves SO MUCH BETTER than a Shane McMahon match. I am still flabbergasted that WWE wouldn’t take this opportunity to work a cross-promotion match where Styles could have been pitted against Sami Zayn or Samoa Joe in what would have been instant classics and given the Orlando crowd something to really cheer.
Instead we are given this angle, which to its credit has been well established. A.J. believes that backstage politics are holding him back from being the company’s biggest star. After he rightfully won a #1 contenders match against Luke Harper, Styles would be forced to put that contendership back on the line against Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton. After Orton bested him with an RKO, A.J. aimed all of his frustration at the SD team, particularly Shane’O’Mac. Styles attacked Shane, Shane challenged him to a match, and here we are. A.J. is favored to win this bout, but MAN…wouldn’t it be such a MEEK MAHON thing to do to screw A.J. over. They wouldn’t do that…would they?
WINNER: A.J. STYLES
DEAN AMBROSE VS. BARON CORBIN: INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
As classic a feud as it can get. Ambrose and Corbin would both appear in the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship. The Lunatic Fringe scored a roll-up victory over The Lone Wolf (that happens to him a lot) giving Corbin the window to get ALL KINDS OF PISSED. He essentially code 187’d Ambrose afterwards (Dean would get pinned after an End of Days) and attacked him consistently for weeks to prove that he wasn’t going to forgive big Dean anytime soon. Eventually the cards would fall into place and Ambrose would accept his challenge.
I have a bad feeling that this match will be placed in the death spot, which makes sense since out of 13 bouts, this one has a limited build. With that said, Ambrose and Corbin do have great chemistry together outside of the ring, so I believe this could really be a lot better than expected. While I like Ambrose, the I.C. title hasn’t felt as important to him as it did to Miz. Time to crown a new champion in Corbin, giving him two years in a row of Mania moments.
WINNER: BARON CORBIN
CHARLOTTE VS. SASHA BANKS VS. NIA JAX. VS BAYLEY: RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
On his most recent podcast the Rattlesnake Stone Cold Steve Austin said that he was slightly worried about this particular match. He has a right to be concerned. Fatal-4 ways can be slightly tricky, and while the talent inside of the ring is LITERALLY the best in the world, the story that precedes it is not. Bayley is the underdog that everyone can get behind, but for some reason she received her big moment months ago on a random episode of Raw. Not only that, but former champion Charlotte held a very impressive PPV win streak that was primed to only be lost at the Show of Shows. That streak would get tarnished at the previous PPV Fastlane. (Another odd decision.) So now we have champion Bayley, defending against Charlotte who no longer holds the streak. The intrigue is gone. The wonder is gone. Having Sasha there helps though, especially since it should be the Boss who walks out with the gold.
A Sasha heel turn shouldn’t happen after Mania, it should happen AT IT. Nia Jax (who is the dark horse of this match but unready to carry the division) will probably transition into a feud with Charlotte when one eliminates the other. (Or vice-versa.) This will leave the two besties to square off against one another, and in doing so, give the Hugger a reason to chase the title yet again.
WINNER: SASHA BANKS
CHRIS JERICHO VS .KEVIN OWENS: UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
This is the real main event. If at this point in your life you still haven’t watched the infamous “Festival of Friendship” ceremony that occurred on February 13th than you need to quit your job, get to the nearest Apple Store and use their internet to witness one of the greatest segments in the history of television. (And I don’t just mean wrestling.) The friendship that was built between Y2J and Kevin Owens was a friendship that the WWE universe believed and shared in. Even as heels, the fans would cheer every time they embraced. Jericho has also been on another historic reinvention of himself, proving that age may slow you down, but the great ones can stall the clock. This made the unavoidable betrayal land that much harder, because we the fans were so invested in their friendship. Not only that, but it deemed the return of “Kevin Owens the vicious prizefighter” over “Kevin Owens the clown.” Either of these men rightfully deserve to walk out of Orlando as champion, but it is the one that has no regrets that probably will.
WINNER: KEVIN OWENS
TRIPLE H VS. SETH ROLLINS
Talk about a story that just writes itself. Early premonitions of this match were thought up as soon as Seth joined the authority, but his knee injury derailed any chances. It also derailed what had started to become a very legitimate title run. As WWE champion Seth defended and defeated: John Cena, Sting, Kane, Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, Neville, Dolph Ziggler, and even survived against Brock Lesnar. (Although that last one is thanks to the Undertaker.) That is an impressive list of names. So when Finn Balor had to relinquish his newly won Universal Title due to injury, (an injury Seth took credit for) Seth was ready to take his place at to the top of the card yet again. Then Triple-H returned and made it seem like he would hand Seth everything he wanted just like he had in the past. THEN HE GOT PEDIGREE’D AND ALL THOSE DREAMS WENT BYE BYE.
Hunter made a valid point for spitting on the good Seth Rollin’s name. He admittedly handed the keys of the kingdom over to the Architect, but Seth wasn’t ready for that responsibility. Having dealt with injuries himself, he knew the strain it could put on a wrestlers mind, and Aitch wasn’t in the mood to babysit anymore men. So he chose Kevin Owens. When Seth invaded Takeover San Antonio things got personal, so Hunter sent his biggest dog (not you Roman sit down) onto Rollins injuring him again. BUT SETH WOULD RETURN.
Finally, this dream match is upon us. Pedigree vs. Pedigree. Game vs. Architect. King vs. Slayer. (Sounds like a Halo match) No matter who wins, we win.
WINNER: SETH FREAKING ROLLINS
ROMAN REIGNS VS. THE UNDERTAKER
And thus, we hath arrived at the most difficult match on the card. Roman Reigns has been if anything, one of the more interesting WWE projects over the years. I really like Roman, and he has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he belongs in the main event. HE DOES. He sells tickets, he sells merchandise, he has the look, and he has the skill. STOP SCRIPTING HIM PROMOS.
His opponent: The Deadman, and probably the most beloved WWE superstar that is still active from the Attitude Era. (And many eras before that.) The streak may be gone (thanks Brock) but the ring is still Taker’s yard, and he isn’t ready to give it up to anyone, especially Roman Reigns. While I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed in hoping that this match is amazing, I’ll always be praying for Takers health. Although, after Roman defeats Taker (which he should) I’ll worry about Roman’s also.
WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS
BRAY WYATT VS. RANDY ORTON
My God this feud. Easily one of the best told stories that the WWE has going into WrestleMania. (Even if Randy has the same acting skills as a tree.) Bray Wyatt is the best talker that the company has but his constant preaching had fallen flat considering that he was never booked as a proper Eater of Worlds. However, recently that perception has changed. Since No Mercy Wyatt has a win over Orton (thanks Harper), was one of the final 2 for team SD at Survivor Series, one of the FINAL 3 in the Royal Rumble match, won the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, defended said championship in a triple-threat defeating John Cena and A.J. Styles, and on this most recent episode of SD Live, Wyatt defeated his long time friend Lucas YEAH YEAH Harper. It’s about time they saw Bray as the monster main eventer he’s so long proven he is.
Orton on the other-hand has been rejuvenated in this feud. He’s always been a better heel than he was a face (although a move like the RKO pops a crowd no matter his status) and his character work in this feud, although sometimes stale, is some of the better commitment tactics he’s had. The story of Orton infiltrating the Wyatt family wasn’t hard to predict (he is a snake after all) but his dedication towards that undercover work was still full-proof. We believed he was a member of that family, and hell, he even helped them become tag-team champions. While I am still VERY excited for this match, I can’t help but feel that one piece of the puzzle is missing. That piece would be Luke Harper, who was a huge backbone in this entire arc really getting hammered home. I cannot complain though. It’s WrestleMania. It’s time for legends to be born and legacies to be cemented. Orton and Wyatt are both 3rd generation wrestlers, and that on its own right is a story. The better story will be told…if Wyatt retains.
WINNER: BRAY WYATT
BROCK LESNAR VS. BILL GOLDBERG: UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP
I love Bill, but bye Felicia.
WINNER: BROCK LESNAR
GIVE ME THE GREEN LIGHT!!! CAUSE I’M READY TO GO!!!
NOW CHECK OUT PAT MCNEILL’S WRESTLEMANIA PEVIEW: Red Light. Green Light. Go.: McNEILL Previews WWE WrestleMania XXXIII (w/Wrestling History Lesson!)