SummerSlam is in the books, which means we’re basically at the halfway point in the wrestling year. That’s right, it’s all downhill to WrestleMania from here. Figuratively, and hopefully not literally, anyway. And even though WWE is in some form of semi-controlled chaos due to the brand extension and being forced to crown two Universal Champions within the first two weeks of the title’s existence, there are still some thing we’ve seen that have led us to make a reasonable assumptions about where things could go if WWE was currently being booked with WrestleMania in mind. And we can’t prove that it’s not, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt (this time), and assemble a list of matches that we think could possibly happen at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando.
WARNING: These predictions are both ridiculous and reckless speculation. We strongly discourage anyone who wants to place money on any of these matches happening. But if you win, we get half.
11. Cesaro vs Sheamus, Match 7 of the “Best of Seven”
No, we’re just kidding. Could you imagine them having the absolute guts (if not the brains) to try and drag that series out for eight months? Wait, we probably shouldn’t give them any ideas. And with that hilarious joke out of the way, on to the less unlikely ideas!
10. Enzo and Cass vs Anderson and Gallows
We’re fairly certain the New Day’s record-breaking run as WWE Tag Team Champions is coming to an end, and soon, and more than likely at the hands of The Club. The former doctors are perfectly positioned to be the next big heel threat to the tag team division, and The New Day are going to be entertaining whether they have the belts or not. Meanwhile, Enzo and Cass are well on their way to becoming a big deal, and while they also might not necessarily “need” the titles to be interesting, they’re definitely going to get their fair share of title shots. Inevitably, those two teams are going to clash in a big feud, and after The Club finishes up with The New Day over the next few months, the timing should be right to build to a big clash between them and the Realest Guys in the Room at WrestleMania. Sure, it could always happen earlier than that, but we’re not doing a list of potential matches for TLC, here.
9. The Cruiserweight Division
We know, frustratingly vague, right? Blame the fact that the Cruiserweight Division only exists as a name at the point this list was made. Although we’ve got a pretty good idea of the names who will be filling it, it’s impossible to tell exactly how characters will be presented and what alignments will shake out after its inception in late September. We can pretty much guarantee there will be some sort of Cruiserweight title match at WrestleMania (assuming they don’t get bored and pull the plug on the division after two months or something), either of the one-on-one variety, or some sort of multi-man match that resembles a car wreck involving bodies. On the bright side, if they choose that one, maybe they won’t use half of their midcard in a ladder match that would be far more dangerous to their bodies. Really, this is just a way of telling you that if you haven’t been watching the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network, you should really start, so you can familiarize yourself with some incredible talents that are going to be running around on Raw in the near future.
8. Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor
It’s too bad that we’ll never know what Finn Balor’s first Universal Title reign would have been like, but if you think Seth Rollins taking credit for injuring him isn’t going to come back to haunt the Architect, you’re lying to yourself. At six months, Balor slots in to be a potential return for the Royal Rumble at the earliest, but will almost certainly be ready to go, barring any setbacks in his recovery, in time for WrestleMania. At that point, we can’t help but expect Seth’s chickens to come home to roost. With or without the title on the line, we can pretty much write this match down in ink for WrestleMania, because it makes so much storyline sense, even WWE’s Creative team can’t mess it up. Theoretically, anyway. And of course, put down a Demon King entrance on that list of Mania entrances we appear to be building. At this point, we’d almost watch the show just for those.
7. The Rock vs Vin Diesel
Perhaps you’ve heard the rumors that The Rock suddenly went public with his dislike for Diesel’s “unprofessional” attitude while filming Fast 8, despite the two working together on three movies before that without incident. Maybe it’s just a lifetime of paranoia that comes with being a wrestling fan, but we smell a work. Surely it’s just a coincidence that WrestleMania takes place in the Rock’s stomping grounds in Florida, and Fast 8 just happens to hit theaters a few days after the show, right? Well, yes, actually, it probably is, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still larger plans afoot to take advantage. We’re not saying the two will have an actual wrestling match at WrestleMania, because insurance companies would have a screaming fit, but we can entirely envision another Rock segment where he ends up in a staredown with Diesel, before they get interrupted by some midcard heels and unite to clear the ring in a big, PR-focused WrestleMania moment.
6. Big Show vs Shaquille O’Neal
We’ll be honest, this match is the only one we feel entirely comfortable with predicting, because barring injury, it’s basically set in stone thanks to Big Show’s fairly public challenge of Shaq at the ESPY’s. This is a match WWE has been trying to put together for years, and with Show telling anyone who asks that this is likely his last year as a wrestler and that he wants to leave after a big WrestleMania moment, this is probably the last chance they’ll get. Like most of Show’s celebrity Mania matches, this will get decent media attention, be an entertainingly bad match, and be mostly harmless in the overall picture, depending how much TV time they waste setting it up (although we’ll award extra points depending on how many jokes they make about Shaq’s movie career). Besides, we’d be lying if we said we honestly weren’t curious about how a match between the World’s Largest Athlete and one of the biggest men in NBA history would go down.
5. Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn
Yeah, we know, they said they wouldn’t fight each other anymore. But now Kevin Owens is the WWE Universal Champion, even after Sami beat him at Battleground. Do you think Sami’s going to just let that go, or that KO won’t brag about it endlessly, especially if he ends up getting an extended reign out of the deal? Maybe it’d make more sense to have this match at Survivor Series, which is taking place in Canada this year (and would inevitably result in a Montreal ending, so forget we said that), but given how legendary this feud is and how poorly it just kind of ended out of contrived necessity, we would obviously support the two of them having a massive blowoff at WrestleMania with the Universal title on the line. Or not. Our point is, as long as Sami and KO are on the same brand, we’re going to eternally expect them to break out in a fight at any moment. You really did this to yourselves, WWE.
4. The Undertaker vs John Cena
Sure, Undertaker has been telling anyone who will listen that his match with Shane McMahon was his last, but there’s no way he’s going to go out on that stinker, right? And more importantly, if there’s any chance at all that he can be convinced to have even one more Mania match, there is absolutely no chance WWE will pass up the opportunity to do the one Undertaker match everyone’s been saying they should do for the last several years. With Cena visibly becoming a part-time performer, this year more than any other could be the very last chance for a Cena-Undertaker match, one of the few dream matches (okay, they’ve fought before, but that was literally over fifteen years and another lifetime ago) that could carry WrestleMania (and live ticket sales) by itself. If you put that on top, it won’t matter what the rest of the card has. Then you give Taker the incredible match he deserves for a send-off, he rides off into the sunset, and Cena moves into his former role of “guy who shows up occasionally when they need a huge match to carry a PPV”.
3. Sasha Banks vs Bayley
Okay, so Sasha vs Charlotte was a match that we wanted to see on the main roster because we knew it would be awesome, but this is the match that we need to see because it could actually be the best Women’s match in recorded history if done correctly. If you haven’t watched Sasha vs Bayley from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn in 2015, you need to stop reading this, go watch it, and come back to us. Don’t worry, we’ll wait. In fact, we’ll watch it again while we’re waiting.
See, that was awesome, right? No less an authority than Steve Austin has called that as close to a perfect match as you can have, and he did not use the qualifier “for a women’s match”, either. Now take that match, up the stakes by putting it on at WrestleMania in front of so many more people, and give it a semi-main event spot. The entrances alone will make highlight reels. The only concern is that they might legitimately kill each other by trying to clear the very bar that they set for themselves in Brooklyn. With nearly a year for Bayley to work her way into becoming the emotional core of Raw (which she’s already doing) and inevitably get turned on by her best friend, setting her up for a big victory at WrestleMania, this could be one of the biggest moments in WWE history.
2. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura
We got shivers down our spine just thinking about getting to see this match again. In case you’re not aware, immediately before signing with WWE in early 2015, these two men had an absolute Match of the Year candidate in New Japan at their version of WrestleMania, and there is a long list of terrible deeds that we would be willing to do to watch them hook up on the grandest stage of them all in WWE. With Styles defeating John Cena at SummerSlam and establishing himself, both on TV and in reality, as the top star on Smackdown, his ascension to WWE World Heavyweight Champion seems all but inevitable. And who better to put an end to his reign of arrogant terror than the man who has already shown he can beat Styles when it counts? Having Nakamura debut and feud with Styles leading into WrestleMania is literally a no-brainer, and you know that Vince’s eyes turned into giant dollar signs when he saw the reactions Nakamura got at the most recent TakeOver. With both men at relatively advanced ages in terms of providing long-term benefits to WWE, the time to strike is as soon as possible. Also, the potential for a full orchestral entrance (or at least a whole bunch of stringed instruments) for the King of Strong Style gets added to the list of highlight reel entrances that could conceivably take place at this event.
1. Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar
We’re not sure why everyone wants to see Lesnar-Goldberg, but then we remember that not everyone was a wrestling fan over a decade ago to watch them stink up the ring at WrestleMania XX, back when both were far closer to their prime than they are now. Do you really think that thirteen years of not wrestling and getting older has made Goldberg a better wrestler somehow? Anyway, the real money match, which it should have been the first time had WWE not massively messed up Roman Reigns’ character, is in Reigns cleanly beating the Beast Incarnate and becoming the next big main event star, but for real this time. Roman’s already moved off to the side in the current main event scene, outside of existing as a veiled threat WWE can use every time they want to irritate fans into buying a PPV just to see him lose to their favorite guys, and they’ve got several months to turn him into the strong, silent, badass (heel?) that he should be in time to dethrone Brock. Sure, we’d all love Brock to lose to one of “our” guys, but face it, if he’s not facing Goldberg, it’s going to be Reigns, and we can’t say that’s entirely a bad idea.