WrestleMania is the Grandest Stage of Them All for any performer in the wrestling industry and many wrestlers work tirelessly on the independent scene for decades before making it there, aiming for their signature 'WrestleMania moment', with the last incarnation being the first appearance for beloved indy darlings such as Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles.
With that being said, the only greater honour than a WrestleMania moment is to win a championship on the Grandest Stage of Them All, as many significant championship victories by men such as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, John Cena and Seth Rollins go down in history as the greatest of all Mania moments and helped cement their legacies among the greats in history. Although championships do not make or break a wrestler's career (take Mick Foley or The Undertaker for example), WWE giving a performer the ball and the chance to run with it in the form of a Mania championship victory can be the difference between a regular superstar or one who will go down in the history books as a legend in the business.
WrestleMania 33, which will take place in Orlando, Florida, promises to be a true Showcase of the Immortals, with hopefully a healthy roster and another fantastic NXT Takeover. Between now and WrestleMania 33, however, many things can change: new signees, NXT call ups, returns and, as witnessed in the lead up to this year's 'Mania, the injury plague can strike again. Here are the men and women who we believe will have the honour and responsibility of walking out of WrestleMania weekend with championship gold, with the goal of carrying the WWE brand to new heights, and hopefully garner the respect of the fans and their peers in the process.
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8 NXT Champion: Zack Sabre Jr.
While Sabre has not officially signed an NXT contract, he is expected to compete in the upcoming Global Cruiserweight Series, where he is sure to amaze the WWE Universe, especially those who have not witnessed his technical prowess on the European and, more recently, American independent scene. Signing a contract after coming up short in the GCS, Sabre will wow the NXT faithful and earn a title shot at reigning NXT champion Hideo Itami (if he's finally healthy) at NXT Takeover, and will put on a technical showcase with the former KENTA, signalling the end of his time in developmental, and ushering in a new wave of independent talent who will lead the next generation of NXT talent.
7 NXT Tag Team Champions: TMDK
One of the newest acts signed to NXT are the pair Mikey Nicholls and Shane Veryzer, better known to audiences of Pro Wrestling Noah, NJPW and ROH as The Mighty Don't Kneel. Debuting in mid 2016, the tag team specialists will be built up slowly away from the titles, much like American Alpha, and will receive their title shots at the December Takeover Event and be victorious. Similar to Sami Zayn, American Alpha will then compete in a farewell match at WrestleMania weekend, in a losing effort to TMDK, cementing the Australian duo as the future of the NXT and WWE tag team divisions.
6 NXT Women's Champion: Nia Jax
Nia Jax has been built as one of the most dominant female wrestlers to step foot in an NXT ring and, after a long title reign from Asuka, a matchup will be set between the two in Orlando, with help from Nia's friend Eva Marie. Crowd favourite Asuka will still be undefeated heading into the match, leading no one to believe Nia can knock 'The Empress of Tomorrow' off her throne, but with an assist from perennial heat magnet Eva Marie, Nia will come out victorious and begin a path of destruction all her own, destroying any woman that stands in her way.
5 WWE Intercontinental Champion: Samoa Joe
Despite many feeling TNA main stay Samoa Joe would never step foot in WWE, he made his debut in 2015 and a recent vicious heel run sees him on the cusp of the main roster, which is sorely lacking true heels. With a victory over defending champion Cesaro in a grappling masterpiece, Joe will cement his position as one of the top heels on the main roster for years to come, and will signify the beginning of the rebirth of the IC title division, which WWE have been desperately seeking.
4 United States Champion: Sami Zayn
Death, taxes and Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens. These two seem like they are destined to fight forever, and in NXT country, WWE would be wise to book another epic encounter of this friends turned enemies story, as it could be the hottest rivalry of this entire generation. Competing in a 30 minute iron man match, Sami would do the unthinkable, and pin Owens clean in a singles match for the first time ever, to an absolutely thunderous ovation, leading him to be seen as 'the next Daniel Bryan', which WWE have been seeking since his emotional retirement.
3 WWE Tag Team Champions: Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Debuting the night after WrestleMania 32 are the 'acquired taste' of 'The Realest Guys in the Room', but from the early receptions, it seems like they will be a key ingredient in the tag team division for many, many years. Defeating New Day at Survivor Series, Enzo and Cass will defend all the way until WrestleMania where after two over the top entrances, and weeks of the hottest segments and promos on Raw, they will put the rivalry with New Day to bed for good with a clean, decisive win and prepare to face their next challenge: American Alpha.
2 WWE Women's Champion: Sasha Banks
After unfortunately missing out on her Mania moment in a true match of the night candidate in Dallas, Sasha will claim the championship throughout the year, only to lose it to life long rival Bayley, setting up the fourth instalment of their epic rivalry where it all started, Orlando, the home of NXT. After a back and forth, epic story telling encounter, Sasha will submit Bayley with her signature Bank Statement and finally gain the universal respect from peers, fans and Vince McMahon alike, which the women's division deserves heading into the future.
1 WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins
The Shield Triple Threat has been a story two years in the making since Seth turned on his brothers, and whether WWE likes it or not, Seth will return as the biggest baby face in the company once his injury has healed. This sets up the most anticipated match in recent WWE history, which will see a universally hated Roman Reigns defend against his two former brothers. After a 30 minute hard hitting classic, fans will see the return of the Curb Stomp as Rollins pins Reigns at Mania again, making him the biggest babyface in recent memory, and giving fans another epic Seth Rollins moment.
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