WrestleMania 33 is not until April, and it won't be until late-January before we have any kind of an idea about where the company is headed. But let's be honest, this is Vince McMahon we're talking about: Apart from Rock vs Cena, when has Vince ever had a WrestleMania main-event planned out months in advance and actually stuck with it? At one point, in early 1999, Steve Austin vs Big Show was planned to main-event WrestleMania 2000. Ted DiBiase vs. Hulk Hogan was going to top the bill at WrestleMania V. The Hart vs. Michaels Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII was supposed to be the first round, with WrestleMania 13 providing round two (and if that had gone well, the rubber match was going to be saved for WrestleMania XIV).
Vince changes his mind is all I'm saying.
So while it's very likely that there is, scribbled on a notepad somewhere in Titan Tower, a list of planned matches for WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, it's also just as likely that those plans will be scrapped, rewritten, re-rewritten and shredded into tiny pieces and taped to a wall so that darts could be thrown at it.
I'm not saying my guesses are as likely as Vince's plans, but I am saying that it's not unheard of to look at the current storylines, plus consider past road to WrestleMania histories and make an educated guess about where things may end up come April 2, 2017.
Keep in mind that the show is likely to be long this year. WrestleMania 32 was an exhausting eight hours for the live audience present at AT&T Stadium (I was there) and WM33 promises to continue the tradition. So with all that time to burn, we're likely to have a lot of matches, which is good since the roster is expanded.
Let's get to predicting...
1 15. PRE-SHOW BRUHAHA: NEVILLE vs. BARON CORBIN
Last year's WrestleMania pre-show was two hours long (most of which was commercials) and featured three matches of little import. It's mostly an opportunity to work in the lesser tier guys and others that "creative had nothing for" so that they could get a paycheck and a chance to work the biggest show of the year. This match would be, for all practical purposes, a repeat of the Ryback vs. Kalisto match from last year's pre-show. The difference here is that it would be an inter-brand competition, so perhaps that comes about by way of a tournament on their respective shows. Maybe the winner could get a mid-card title shot? Something to give the match some stakes.
A staple on many big PPV pre-shows is the "throw the left-overs in a match" match. Here we're predicting that a bunch of tag teams from RAW and SmackDown go at it. The fact is, there are too many titles floating around for them all to be featured at WrestleMania (when you account for all the big non-title matches that hog up whole hours). Something's gotta give and this time it's the RAW tag belts. By the time Mania comes around, I suspect New Day will have finally dropped their titles and the division will be in sort of a rebuilding mode.
As with the previous match, the Smackdown Women's Title also is forced to miss the main show, but in this scenario, champion Becky Lynch accepts a challenge from Charlotte in an inter-brand match for something-something women's brand superiority or such. The two had a few one-on-one matches during their time on NXT and later on RAW, but they never really locked horns in a major match (one-on-one that is).
After years without the show-stealing Money in the Bank matches at WrestleMania, the company brought back the frenzied, frantic tradition of a Mania ladder match a couple years ago. For the past two Manias the Intercontinental Title has been on the line, but now---thanks to the restored Cruiserweight division---a better choice would be to have the sub-205 lb entertainers throw their bodies around. Doing so would serve multiple purposes: It would continue the tradition of having a big, high-energy ladder match on the show, it would free up the mid-card performers to work their own storyline-driven matches as well as appear in the Andre Battle Royal, and it would showcase the Cruiserweights on the biggest stage.
This one is a little out on a limb, but it seems like Joe's NXT days are wrapping up, having just dropped the title back to Nakamura at a taping in Japan. He may not be called-up by the time Mania comes around but this would be a great way to transition him to the main roster, the way Kevin Owens split time between the two (as NXT Champion, no less) in the summer of 2015. Imagine a scenario where Joe regains the title at the January Takeover event, then appears in the Royal Rumble the next night. He can appear on both SmackDown (please) and NXT in the run-up to Mania, and be slotted in an inter-brand match with Sami Zayn.
This is pure fantasy booking right here, but if there is any tag match that deserves 15 minutes at WrestleMania this is it. American Alpha have been a little too under the radar since getting called up, despite having all the tools necessary to be huge with the main roster. They are over right now, but with a little sustained push they could be gigantic. Meanwhile there's The Revival, who might just be the best pure tag team in the game today. They've done all that can be done in NXT and deserve a call-up immediately.
Most would probably predict that Finn Balor vs Kevin Owens would be the big Universal Championship match, but that's predicated on Balor being back in time. Let's assume he is, though: can we really predict that Vince will go with that as his big RAW title match? It feels more like a SummerSlam match. It seems more of a "Vince McMahon" thing to do to finally pay off the Owens/Jericho story on the stage where stories like that were meant to be paid off. The real question is who would be the heel and who would be the babyface?
Here's another match that should be a lock for Mania. Ever since Bayley was called up to the main roster the prevailing wisdom regarding her place in the RAW Women's division has been "patience." She was never going to get the instant push that Charlotte and Sasha got, as WWE seemed to understand the potential they have in her to be the "female John Cena." With Sasha and Charlotte swapping the Championship back and forth a few too many times, the WWE Universe seems more than ready for some new blood to inject themselves in the title picture.
This year's Andre Roussimoff Memorial Battle Royal (ARMBAR to some fans) will be able to serve a few different needs. It will provide an easy inter-brand match that the 'Big Four' shows each year promise to highlight. It will also give a stage to the wrestlers that were too good for the preshow but not good enough for a marquee match. There's also those guys who are big and important enough for a solo match but will instead be used here to give the match some sense of importance.
This one seems like it's been penciled in for WrestleMania 33 since WrestleMania 32. Fans know to expect a big Triple H match every year and Rollins had been a loyal stooge to Triple H for a long time to that point. As everyone knows, Triple H is the worst friend in pro wrestling history so it wasn't hard to put two-and-two together. When Triple H returned in August to cost Rollins the Universal Title the writing was on the wall. Now it's only a matter of working out the little details (and the pesky matter of the winner) so that the feud lives up to the standards of past Triple H feuds.
The Survivor Series match was easily one of the most surprising finishes in pro wrestling history. Most predicted a Brock Lesnar win and while some were willing to concede that Goldberg might take it, no one in their right mind could have guessed that it would have been a Goldberg squash akin to a 1998 episode of Nitro. As it turns out, WWE had a long-term plan in place with Survivor Series being only the first act. Act two comes at the Royal Rumble, where both men have been announced as participants.
Usually late in the WrestleMania show there's a moment of levity to let fans catch their breath, grab some concessions and hit the head. Last year brought us Rock vs Erick Rowan. It was also The Rock...and a flame thrower. A year before that it was Ronda Rousey and Triple H/Stephanie). WrestleMania XXX gave fans a chance to process The Undertaker's loss by throwing the "divas" in a match no one could have cared less about. This year let's give the honor to The Miz. Granted, he's been doing MVP level work on SmackDown so giving him the cooldown spot late in the Mania evening might seem a little undeserved, but I'm imagining a great heel promo followed by an open challenge that is answered by James Ellsworth.
Remember Finn Balor? (Oh I remember). When he was called up, most thought he'd be ruined but instead he was pushed straight to the top, winning the red brand's World Title. An injury derailed his reign but he's expected back for WrestleMania. As previously mentioned, it's been assumed his Mania opponent would be Kevin Owens but perhaps a different opponent could be arranged. The reasoning is AJ Styles needs a big opponent and John Cena (Styles' presumed challenger like Owens is Balor's) will be preoccupied. So kill two birds with one stone and let RAW's Finn Balor challenge SmackDown's Styles for the WWE Title.
Pesky Undertaker. Without him these final two matches would be easy: Balor vs Owens and Styles vs Cena. But how many more Manias are you going to have with Undertaker (or Cena for that matter)? You have to make hay while the sun shines and this is arguably the only must-see Undertaker match left. Based on Taker's appearance on SmackDown recently, it seems that the 51-year-old vet is in good shape and if not, John Cena is more than capable of literally carrying him through the match. This isn't just the biggest Undertaker match left on the table, it's the biggest matchup WWE has at its disposal, bar none.
If both guys are available---and it seems they will be---this has to be done, and it has to main-event. Nothing else could come close to the drama, pageantry and "showcase of the immortals" feel that WrestleMania is built on than The Undertaker vs John Cena.
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