WrestleMania is now behind us and although WWE knows where the next super show will be held (Orlando), it’s not likely they know much about what will be on the show. It’s been said that Vince, despite his penchant for last-minute changes, still maps out the two or three big matches for WrestleMania a year in advance. Of course injuries, terminations, suddenly hot or suddenly cool superstars can shake things up in the 365 days in between the big events, and OF COURSE Vince has a penchant for last-minute changes, so hearing him talk about next year’s WrestleMania this far away would be rather adorable.
But if Vince can do it, and it not be worth the legal pad it was scribbled on in the writers’ room, then so can we!
Last year I would have guessed (and did, several times) that Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins would be the main event of WrestleMania 32. My theory was that Rollins would have a long reign with the title, heeling it up along the way, weasling out of losses to the likes of Roman Reigns and John Cena but would meet his maker against the man he stole the title from at WrestleMania 31 (and slipped away from on the Raw after WrestleMania). My thinking was that Lesnar would win the Royal Rumble, giving fans a satisfying conclusion to the match after several disappointing finishes over the past few years (seriously, when was the last time fans were excited about the Royal Rumble winner? 2010?), and then the story would be that at WrestleMania there would be no where left for Seth to run and hide.
But then they went and did that match at Battleground in July.
As it turned out the plan in Vince’s mind from the moment WrestleMania 31 ended was “Reigns vs Lesnar” with Reigns the champion defeating the challenge by Brock, cementing himself as the new face of the company. So if you thought 100,000 people cheering for Triple H was fun, just imagine if Brock Lesnar had been Reigns’ opponent.
Of course, injuries and other things ruined a lot of the plans for WrestleMania 32. One marquee match that had to be scrapped was John Cena vs The Undertaker. Another was Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose, which was nixed when AJ Styles debuted and surprised the WWE brass at how instantly popular he became (no really, they were surprised by this).
So here we are, twelve months away from WrestleMania
33 Supernova. If you were Vince McMahon, what would you be planning? Well I’m not Vince McMahon, but here’s what I would be planning (keeping in mind that any number of debuts, injuries and other things can shake things up; these are predictions based on basically the current roster). Some of these, also, are matches I assume will happen, not necessarily matches that I want to happen.
LADDER MATCH FOR THE US TITLE
Why not? It’s essentially been done for two years now, with great success in both cases, and has cemented itself as the suitable replacement for the Money in the Bank match that used to open the show. WrestleMania lacked some sizzle from 2011-2014 when they didn’t have a big car crash ladder match in the early portion of the show, so bringing it back next year seems like a no brainer. Sure they could do it for the IC title again, but I say let’s mix it up and have the match be for the US title. Either way the result is the same. As for competitors? It’s interesting to note that only two of fourteen people competed in both ladder matches at WrestleMania 31 and 32: Stardust and Dolph Ziggler. Anyone want to make a prediction that either of those will have a proper singles match at WrestleMania 33? Didn’t think so. Let’s throw in someone like Kalisto, Apollo Crews, Kofi Kingston, and just for fun, Randy Orton and Rusev.
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Enzo & Cass is what I’m going with here. Obviously I have high hopes for Enzo and Cass to get over with the mainstream WWE fanbase. I think their mic skills and fast-paced in-ring style will win them over easily and they will take the Tag Titles around SummerSlam. As for their WrestleMania opponents, I’m going to go out on a limb and say we get the inevitable team-up between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. For as long as those two have been wrestling they’ve been doing one of two things, either beating the crap out of each other, or tag-teaming with one another….which is always just an excuse to build babyface heat on Owens before he turns on Zayn again and starts the whole thing over. I don’t see either man rising to the world title level next year, both will be bigger than the IC title, and it seems like we’re going to get the first run of their one-on-one feud played out this spring. So that only leaves them teaming up, which I think will get over like gangbusters with fans.
BULLET CLUB LEADER vs BULLET CLUB LEADER
AJ Styles vs Finn Balor needs to happen, and it needs to happen on a big stage with a big storyline. This one writes itself. Balor was the original leader of the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling, but when he left for NXT, AJ Styles took over control of the group. So the way I would book it is to have the Bullet Club tag team of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson debut as backup to Styles…only to switch teams when Finn Balor gets called up. That starts the feud, which culminates on the big stage. It’s a certain show-stealer of a match and the perfect showcase for Balor in his Mania debut.
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Bray Wyatt vs Cesaro at first seems like an odd pairing, but if handled right, it could be a huge feud. Having it be for the IC title seems like a step down for both men, but I’d like to think that the company gets behind elevating the title this year the way they did the US title last year. And like it or not, Cesaro simply isn’t going to be allowed near the WWE title, at least not any time soon. So why not give him something else to defend? And who better to work a great match with, on the big stage, than The Eater of Worlds? If Cesaro gets a one-on-one match at WrestleMania next year it will be his first, and not a year too soon either. Bray also needs a showcase match to bounce back from missing this year’s show. Pairing them up may not seem like everyone’s first choice, but it could be the sleeper match of the night.
BROCK LESNAR vs THE ROCK
Can the Rock finally do this match next year? He’s been talking about it for a while now but the stars have never been able to align for them. I don’t know the Rock’s schedule, but with the show being in Florida, I would expect The Great One to at least make an appearance, and you know Vince is itching to get him back in the ring, so he can promote, promote, promote the heck out of it. Shoot, half the WrestleMania commercials this year were focused solely on the Rock and he didn’t even have a proper match on the card. Pairing him up with Lesnar is simply the “biggest” match the company could book, as it would be the most attractive to casual and non-fans. The Rock’s movie schedule is going to be the big hurdle here, but if they can make it happen you can be sure it’s going to happen on this show.
WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH
Sasha Banks vs Bayley is the only match that makes sense here. The story writes itself and could start as early as the Raw after SummerSlam. Sasha (finally) wins the title, Bayley debuts but has to chase the title first, going through a gauntlet of other women competitors before she can finally get her shot against Sasha. Of course I wouldn’t let WrestleMania be their first main roster match. I’d have that be Surviror Series. And then again at the Royal Rumble. Each time Bayley gets closer and closer to winning but keeps having the rug pulled out from under her. Until finally, on the biggest stage, she wins the gold. Again, the story writes itself. But whatever story they tell, this is the match they need to tell it around.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL
I’m not even going to try and predict the twenty or so competitors, but I will say I liked how this year was like a mini-Royal Rumble with legends, NXT debuts and other surprises. Keep that going and it can be more than a bathroom break match. As for the winner, I’m going to predict Big E. Here’s a guy the company was very high on a few years ago, with the backstage talk being that either he or Roman Reigns would be the guy to get the monster push (Roman of course won the day). After that he sort of floundered, moving in and out of the IC title picture without much direction, until he joined the New Day. As part of the trio he has thrived, showing off his quirky and fun personality and getting himself over with the whole WWE audience. I think by WrestleMania 33 the team will have run its course, and though I don’t think they will do the predictable “team breaks up and feuds with each other” route, I do think they will go their separate ways and that Big E will start to get a big push. I think that push starts here with a win at WrestleMania.
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Once again, the only predictable direction to take the top title is Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose. The much-anticipated Shield Triple Threat needs to be seen at WrestleMania. The question is, does the WWE have enough self-control to save that moment when the three finally square off for the biggest stage? We’ve seen a lot of Seth vs Dean, we’ve seen a little of Roman vs Dean and a little of Seth vs Roman (and I suspect we’ll see a lot more this year), but we’ve yet to see the Shield itself explode in a one-on-one-on-one match. The question would be, who walks in as the champ, who is the Rumble winner, and who is the odd man out? Obviously giving Reigns the Rumble again any time soon seems disastrous, so let’s give it to the underdog Dean Ambrose. That leaves the question of who is the champion. On that note I think it will be Seth Rollins with Dean Ambrose winning the title. That leaves the most protected guy of the three as the odd man out, but if you don’t think you’ll see Roman Reigns chasing, winning and defending the title throughout 2017 you haven’t been paying attention. The key here is to give the fans a “moment” and that moment ought to belong to Dean Ambrose, even if it’s short-lived.
THE MAIN EVENT
John Cena vs The Undertaker was originally planned as far back as WrestleMania 26. On a rare episode of Raw, airing live from Madison Square Garden, in the fall of 2009, Undertaker delivered a tombstone to Cena in a shocking (and crowd-pleasing) move. The plan was for Cena to get his payback at the Royal Rumble in 2010, leading to the match at WrestleMania. HBK’s decision to retire at the hands of Undertaker changed all of that, however. The match was again planned for WrestleMania this year, with the expectation that it would main event the show, and possibly be Taker’s swan song. Cena’s injury changed all of that, however. So now we have this WrestleMania and the chance to finally get the last true dream match left for Undertaker. There’s no question Vince wants it, and that it would certainly main event over anything else he could come up with. This might be the last opportunity to do it, as well. You don’t really need a big elaborate storyline. If this will be Undertaker’s final match, you just need the announcement and the stand off. After that, it’s all about building hype around Undertaker’s goodbye. The real drama would be whether or not he would go out losing, like Flair and HBK and so many others who competed in “retirement” matches, or if they would break that tradition and give Undertaker one last win on the show that came to be defined by his victories.
Plans change, ideas change, heels become faces and good guys become villains; there’s a lot that can shake up a WrestleMania card, especially with a whole year to go, but while some of this is dream booking and wishful thinking, a lot of it is a good bet on what you can expect at next year’s Showcase of the Immortals.
So what say you, readers? Does this WrestleMania card interest you?