So, it’s the week everyone in wrestling waits for. It’s Mania week. Whether you’re one of those lucky bastards that gets to spend the week in Orlando, or you’re one of us stuck home trying to consume as much content as possible this weekend or an ex-fan who might as well check out the big event because, well, “It’s Mania.”, there are a lot of people who will have their eyes on the big card this weekend. Is it going to go down in history as the greatest ‘Mania of all time? No. It’s not. Are there some matches that are going to surprise us? I think so. I decided to make a list of my own for the Grand-Daddy of All. It’s not a list of the greatest matches of all time. It’s not a list of my favorite moments. It’s a list of the matches I’m excited for from the most excited to the least excited. Here goes.
- Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: The Club (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) © versus Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy versus Sheamus and Cesaro
I’m all for a ladder match at Mania. The IC Title Ladder Match has been a fun way to get deserving guys on the card, and it provided my only mark-out moment last year when Zack Ryder shockingly won. However, if I have to rank championships across the shows, the Raw Tag Team Championships are the ones I’m least interested in. The Usos and American Alpha had an incredible tag title match on Smackdown two weeks before mania, and they’re relegated to the Battle Royal. Give me a break. There’s seriously only about one guy in this match who I’m interested in seeing in a ladder match, and that’s Cesaro. Enzo with a ladder gives me the heebeegeebees. Seriously. Unless this match has the anticipated run in from the Broken ones, I think it’s going to be spectacularly lackluster.
- WWE Universal Championship Match Goldberg © versus Brock Lesnar [with Paul Heyman]
I knew since November this match was going to happen. The build up to it has been fine. Why in the world does it need the title? It doesn’t. It bothers me, a lot, that two part timers are going head to head for the top championship on the top brand. It’s kind of ridiculous. I get the nostalgia match. I really do. Under no circumstances did this match need the championship.
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match Bray Wyatt © versus Randy Orton
The night Orton turned and set the Wyatt Compound on fire, I was really interested in this match. You had the diabolical arson heel, Randy Orton, taking on the now vulnerable underdog babyface who saw the grave of his mother figure defaced. Then I realized that crack pot Vinny thinks Orton is the babyface and Bray is the heel. We saw this man weep in the ring. In what universe is Randy the good guy? In what universe is Bray the bad guy? “God damn pal, in the WWE Universe, of course”! It’s just so asinine, and what’s worse is I have a sinking feeling Randy is going to go over. Way to screw up Bray Wyatt some more.
- Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Some people are probably perplexed as to why this one is so high. It’s on the pre-show after all. This is my logic. This can and BETTER be a star making experience for Braun Strowman or Sami Zayn. When you have two guys who have spent most of the year in the main event picture on Raw competing in the G.D. Battle Royal, you better have a plan to make these guys look like stars. Is Joe going to be involved? It just has potential to get the rub of being significant for the first time ever if they actually take the time to take it seriously.
- WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match Neville © versus Austin Aries
I love 205 Live. I think they do a great job on that show of getting characters over and telling good stories. The rise of Neville as the King of the Cruiserweights has been awesome to watch. He is a great heel champion with a lot of potential babyface challengers like Rich Swann, Jack Gallagher, Akira Tozawa, and Prince Mustafa Ali, but Austin Aries? Don’t get me wrong. Austin Aries is great in the ring. He was a phenomenal addition to the announce team, but this idea of him being the top babyface against Neville is just kinda meh. I wanted the Cruiserweight Championship to be defended in a ladder match at Mania, but if it had to be one on one, I personally think it should have been Mustafa Ali.
- AJ Styles versus Shane McMahon
When I first heard that this match was possibly on the board, I really REALLY didn’t like it. I have to give major props to AJ Styles for instantly selling me on this match with a promo. Surprising, isn’t it? I agree with what AJ said on Talking Smack this week. He is better than the Best in the World. He has taken a match I didn’t think I could possibly care about and made it more intriguing. This is the first match I can think of where Shane McMahon has had to compete in a straight match. It’s a cool story that increased my intrigue and stock in this match considerably.
- John Cena and Nikki Bella versus The Miz and Maryse
I really have to give WWE props on this one. This has been an entertaining angle, and it makes perfect sense. Miz has had one of the best years since the brand split started. I had been wondering since the very beginning where the whole thing with Miz and Bryan was going to go from Talking Smack. Obviously, DB isn’t going to work. While this isn’t what I saw coming, it’s really the only thing they could do to give the story any sense of closure. I just have to say that everyone has done a nice job during the build to this. I loved Cena’s notion that Miz is best when he’s pretending to be someone else. Some of the other shots have felt rooted in reality. This is actually an exciting match for me. I wasn’t crazy about the language Cena used on Smackdown, but I thought it was a passionate promo.
- WWE Raw Women’s Championship Fatal Fourway Elimination Match Bayley © versus Charlotte Flair versus Sasha Banks versus Nia Jax
I’m a big fan of all four of these women. I was so excited about the “Women’s Revolution” when it first started. Some of the best wrestling matches in the past few years have involved women. That’s why this match annoys me so much. It’s a classic throw everyone into the match to get them on the card gimmick. This match should’ve been a Women’s Champion Charlotte defending her championship and her PPV undefeated streak against the wily underdog, Bayley. The story they’ve decided to tell instead is extremely lackluster. I’ve felt they’ve gone for more shock value and marquee matches at the expense of good stories with the Raw Women’s Division. The Smackdown Women’s division doesn’t, in my opinion, have the same level of talent, but they do a much better job of story development and having actual feuds. Bayley is probably my favorite babyface on the main roster, regardless of gender, but I’m not sold on this match.
- WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Six Pack Challenge Alexa Bliss © versus Becky Lynch versus Natalya versus Carmella versus Naomi versus Mickie James
The Smackdown Women’s situation doesn’t bother as much as Raw’s. Don’t get me wrong. It still bothers me because I would prefer a 1 on 1 story to a six women match, but at least this story sort of makes sense. I know they are hoping to give Naomi a moment at Wrestlemania, but I really wonder what percentage of wrestling fans at Mania are actually going to be from Orlando. It’s not like it’s going to be a true hometown crowd. With people from 70 different countries coming or whatever and people from all over the United States, I don’t think it’s going to be a true Orlando crowd. I do think all of these women deserve to be on Wrestlemania though, so I am actually kinda happy that they’re all going to be in the fray. I don’t think it’s going to be very long, and I’m a bit concerned about the quality with some fairly green girls in there, but I think it should be fun to say the lease.
- WWE Intercontinental Championship Dean Ambrose © versus Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin is easily in the top 5 beneficiaries of the brand split. He’s a guy who has also benefitted from Talking Smack. He, along with Braun Strowman, has put himself in top guy contendership conversation. Dean Ambrose is kind of on a slope. It seems like ever since his run in with Brock Lesnar, he’s been on a bit of a downward spiral and people have cooled off on him. I thought his feud with The Miz had a lot of potential, but the follow through has left a lot to be desired. I’m not sure if playing to his real life relationship with Renee has helped or hurt The Lunatic Fringe, but it sort of seems like a story that was just dropped. I fully expect Corbin to come out of this match with the IC strap. I think it will be a fun match.
- The Undertaker versus Roman Reigns
I’m probably more excited for this match than a lot of people. Has the story blown me away? Not even a little bit. I just think it could be a good passing of the guard type story. I really don’t think Roman has what it takes to be the face of the company, but I could see him in The Undertaker’s role. I think he could be the respected veteran who always delivers and fans get excited for. When you think about, The Undertaker was never THE GUY, but he was always one of the guys. He has to be among the most recognizable wrestlers of all time. I think Roman could end up in a perennial iconic role like that. He has the mechanics. He has the look. He has the size. I think a passing of the torch match could be the impetus of Roman being the new gatekeeper of the WWE.
- Non-Sanctioned Match: Seth Rollins versus Triple H
1 and 2 are really close for me to be honest. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens are my two absolute favorite guys on the WWE roster right now. I’ve been a fan of Seth Rollins since he was Tyler Black back in Ring of Honor. I’ve loved watching him come up from being NXT Champion to The Shield to WWE Champion to returning from a career threatening injury to feud with Triple H. It’s been a fun angle, and I marked out so hard when he crashed the party at NXT Takeover. I honestly think these two could have the best match on the card. We both know they’re capable of delivering on the big stage, and I think they stipulation will cause them to go all out. I’m excited that Rollins is getting the opportunity to stand out on a stage like this. I think they will have a very exciting match.
- WWE United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho © versus Kevin Owens
What do we have here? A story? Two charismatic guys? Two great wrestlers? Check, check, and check. I’m so excited for this match. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho had a feud that started from one of the most entertaining tag teams in a long time. They made the main event stories very interesting. Chris Jericho’s place as one of the greatest of all time won’t truly be judged until he’s done. Kevin Owens is showing his stock rising as he continues to make the best of whatever is given to him. He’s unarguably the best non-native English speaker on the microphone. He has great matches. He has a physique that isn’t typical on the WWE roster.