WrestleMania 33 is less than two months away, and let’s face it: things aren’t looking good for this year’s Showcase of Immortals. On the plus side, there’s plenty of time for WWE to right their wrongs and turn the upcoming WrestleMania into a show worthy of the brand. Unfortunately, given how things went last year, combined with the ending of the Royal Rumble, not to mention who holds the gold going into the show, there’s little reason for fans to have hope the 33rd WrestleMania will be anything but a complete bomb.
Again, two months is a long time, and WWE could surprise us along the way. Alternatively, WWE could be the ones getting surprised—Seth Rollins’ latest injury throws one of their most heavily rumored matches in jeopardy. There are still plenty of other rumors out there, with the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reporting nine matches on top of that one that form the basis for our opinions thus far. In addition to those ten matches, there are also a handful of outside possibilities have been considering, or at least crossing their fingers for, and unsurprisingly these are the ones we have the most hope could deliver if they actually happen. For better or worse, keep reading to see our ranking of 15 potential WrestleMania 33 matches from worst to best.
15 John Cena vs. Randy Orton
The only good news about WWE hyping John Cena v. Randy Orton as the potential headliner for WrestleMania 33 is that most rumors indicate this is simply a red herring. With Cena winning the WWE Championship for a record tying 16th time the same night Orton won the Royal Rumble match, it seemed like the obvious conclusion that the two would meet at the Grandest Stage of Them All. The collective groan you heard at that announcement was related to the fact they’ve wrestled well over 100 times at this point, each time with diminishing returns, draining the crowd more and more with every subsequent encounter. There’s nothing these two can deliver together they haven’t given fans more times than they wanted already, and trying to cram it down their throats again could mimic Orton’s last WrestleMania main event, with the crowd either sitting on their hands or leaving en masse.
14 John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
So, with the rumor mill is saying John Cena probably won’t be facing Randy Orton at Mania, that must mean whatever WWE has in store for their franchise player should be pretty awesome, right? Try again. Rather than using Cena to elevate a new star or at least deliver a must-see match, he’s apparently giving Nikki Bella a career send-off WrestleMania moment, teaming with her in a mixed tag match against The Miz and Maryse. On one hand, Miz and Maryse make a great team, and it would be fine if they had a match against almost any other couple. Putting them against Cena and Nikki, for Nikki’s send off, makes it obvious the wrong team is going to win. The rumor also implies Nikki’s retirement is based on her longstanding neck problems, which would indicate the match probably won’t be that great to watch, either.
13 Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
Regardless of his opponent, it’s hard enough to get excited about The Undertaker making his yearly comeback now that The Streak is over. The Shane McMahon match was a hit-or-miss spectacle that might have worked depending on one’s definition of sports entertainment. The encounter with Bray Wyatt the year before was kind of pointless at the time, and especially in retrospect. Vince McMahon notwithstanding, we’re hard pressed to find anyone who wants to see The Dead Man revive to take on the most hated babyface in WWE history. The one true positive this match can offer is ensuring no other wrestlers will be wasted on either Reigns or Undertaker. There’s also the bonus that it could answer the social experiment of how much a crowd can possibly hate a match.
12 The Big Show vs. Shaquille O’Neal
Although it has yet to get mentioned on WWE television, Big Show and Shaq was technically the first bout announced for WrestleMania 33. The two men met and exchanged words at the 2016 ESPY Awards, ending with Shaq agreeing to a match in Orlando. Because it hasn’t been announced on Raw or SmackDown yet, it might be fair to question if the McMahon’s changed their minds on this one, and yet the rumors insist it has a firm chance of happening. The thing about a match like Big Show-Shaq is that it will be pure spectacle, with the fact the two men won’t do any real wrestling at all virtually serving as the selling point. Shaq is definitely a huge celebrity, and we understand why WWE would want the mainstream attention putting him in the ring would bring them. That said, we’re also not sure who actually wants to see this match, and it’ll probably just serve as Big Show’s latest loss to a large celebrity, no more, and no loss.
11 A.J. Styles vs. Shane McMahon
Even Vince McMahon found himself admitting A.J. Styles was the most talented wrestler on his main roster today within nine months of the Phenomenal One finally making his WWE debut. This isn’t the only time A.J. is going to appear on our list, but it is the one the Wrestling Observer finds most likely to actually occur. We don’t deny Styles could work some magic with just about anyone, but there are endless options for his opponent better than his boss’s son. Approximately 16 years ago, Shane McMahon was responsible for a handful of unique spots in specialty matches, and he could probably pull off another cool spot or two with A.J. However, A.J. could easily pull off a full masterpiece of a match with almost anyone else, and WWE choosing not to do so deprives everyone of a classic.
10 Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
12 years ago at Madison Square Garden, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg wrestled one of the most bizarre matches in WrestleMania history at the show’s 20th version annual event. Both wrestles were poised to leave WWE for outside endeavors, Lesnar wanting to try football, and Goldberg ultimately leaving the spotlight altogether. Fans were bitter both were on their way out, and the build was a bit too rushed, leaving to loud boos whenever either man did just about anything. Enough time has passed that WWE was able to completely redo the build and make it seem like Goldberg is even more of a killer than before, and yet we’re not sure what changed about where things could go from here. It’s unlikely victory could lead either to a huge run, and we don’t really want it to in the first place. It’s just another specialty celebrity match like Shaq-Show, with the slight advantage that they could deliver in the ring, albeit they may not be allowed to.
9 Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
Having Randy Orton join The Wyatt Family was an inspired move that could have reinvigorated his career and empowered Bray Wyatt to become the main event star fans have been desperate for him to be for years now. Instead, what WWE has delivered so far has been a confusing mess where both Orton and Wyatt have gone from the stars they once were to midcard tag team wrestlers. Orton winning the Royal Rumble didn’t shoot him back up the main event, if anything it forced WWE to retcon the past few months of Orton’s career and pretend he’s remained a top name all along. There is an upside here in that Wyatt could finally get elevated with a huge win over Orton, although the downside is that a loss could kill his potential once and for all, and that might be more likely to happen.
8 Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The entire concept behind the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is still fresh, with only three having taken place thus far. The inaugural winner Cesaro has kind of turned out to be a bust, with more potential than WWE knows what to do with. Year two was a wash with Big Show, who didn’t need it, and the latest winner, Baron Corbin, is stuck in the same path as Cesaro. There’s still plenty of potential with the match, the initial moment the winner is presented with his trophy alone offering boundless possibilities for how WWE could turn them into a star. The Battle Royal is also a regular source of surprises when it comes to entrants, leaving fans something to be happy about no matter who wins. That said, more than in any other match, the winner really defines whether or not this one will be a hit, and with no rumors to speak of on that front, all we can do is place it in the middle.
7 Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Nia Jax
One of the most questionable recent trends in WrestleMania has been to shove as many wrestlers as possible into single matches for lower level titles, like the Intercontinental or United States Championship. The impulse makes sense, wanting to give everyone a big payday and make sure the crowd gets to see absolutely all the wrestlers they can, but it also tends to muddy the waters on storylines that would be better with less people involved. This year, they look to be doing it to the Raw Women’s title, and they’re depriving Bayley in particular a huge moment in doing so. Sasha Banks is also a great wrestler, and Nia Jax has a strong enough character to cover her weaknesses, but the fact of the matter is that the women on Raw don’t need this many smoke and mirrors, they have something big enough for Mania already.
6 Charlotte vs. Bayley
With that last match out of the way, let’s focus on what WWE should do instead of a four-way for the Raw Women’s title – a singles match between Charlotte and Bayley. The entire women’s scene on Raw has been in hyper drive since the brand split, with Charlotte and Sasha Banks trading the belt enough having multiple reigns with the thing is meaningless to begin with. Charlotte has come out of the feud with Banks as the only woman in the division to look strong, which is fine considering she’s a conceited heel with a natural babyface foil, the optimistic underdog, Bayley. Add in that Charlotte has never lost on Pay-Per-View, and having Bayley be the one to finally slay the beast at the Grandest Stage of Them All sounds like a clear path to a WrestleMania moment.
5 Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we’ll be honest and admit there’s just about zero chance of it happening. The Wrestling Observer rumor states Seth Rollins was in line to face Triple H at the show, until Rollins re-injured his ACL during an altercation with Samoa Joe during Joe’s main roster debut. Not only did the accident ruin Rollins’ chances of appearing at Mania whatsoever, but the segment itself also caused fans to instantly realize there was a match we all wanted to see much more than another pointless half hour of Triple H stroking his ego. Rollins and Joe have known each other for over a decade and could provide an absolute classic Triple H could only dream of at this point, and yet it looked like WWE was going to blow it at Fastlane.
4 Fínn Balor vs. A.J. Styles
Much like with Seth Rollins, all speculation surrounding Fínn Balor seems kind of a moot point, but that hasn’t stopped fans from hoping. The inevitable Balor-A.J. Styles dream match has been in the back of wrestling fans minds since Styles took the man then known as Prince Devitt’s position as the leader of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Bullet Club. Up until the Royal Rumble, a few people still had their fingers crossed that Balor would make an early comeback from his shoulder injury and challenge Styles for the WWE Championship when he won. At this point, it’s obvious neither of those things happened, and considering Balor’s injury, it doesn’t seem like the match could happen under any other circumstances, either. If it turns out Balor actually does get cleared to compete right before the show hits the air, Styles would be an easy program for him to slide into, and fans would accept just about anything that caused it to happen.
3 Women’s Money In The Bank/Multi-Person Ladder Match
For all the talk of a women’s revolution in WWE, the company has yet to promote a ladder match between female competitors. They’ve also never had the ladies compete in a Money in the Bank ladder match either, with upwards of five or six challengers at once. WrestleMania would be the perfect place to let the women in on the action and show their stuff from a 20 foot ladder, and it would instantly elevate whatever hodgepodge of athletes they throw out there for the SmackDown Women’s title into something special. Alternatively, if WWE feels set in their ways about the four-way Raw Women’s title match, adding a ladder would at least justify taking away a special moment from one of the competitors. On the downside, it might be too dangerous for the company to even try.
2 Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
This list has admittedly been pretty negative about WrestleMania 33’s chances at entertaining the masses, so allow us to acknowledge there is at least one match on the show that might deliver in the ring and on the microphone. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens have been best friends for several months now, with a low simmering resentment between them leading fans to believe a match has to happen between them eventually. They’ve been great as a team and individually, playing off one another’s strengths to constantly create great television in dire times. There is one negative, in that the up-and-coming star Owens absolutely needs to win this match, or else it turns into yet another reminder that older wrestlers and part timers are the only people who can succeed at WrestleMania. Jericho might be doing great work as always, but with another Fozzy tour around the corner, he really has nothing to gain from victory, and him winning would kill the match.
1 A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Shortly before Dave Meltzer and his newsletter reported the rumored WrestleMania 33 card, he also alleged WWE was considering a knock-out classic match that would one up New Japan Pro Wrestling’s January 4 encounter between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. While there was never any confirmation on what exactly Meltzer meant by that, one option was reliving a NJPW classic from last year, A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. As it stands, this has almost no chance of happening at WrestleMania 33, and yet we still feel adamant it’s the best match WWE could possibly put on at the show. There’s still time for them to do it, too, as all they need is to call up Nakamura and have him attack Styles. It doesn’t need to be the main event, and in fact it probably shouldn’t be – this is the show-stealing classic that makes two legends for life. That is, if WWE lets it happen, which they won’t. After all, Roman Reigns, John Cena, and Triple H need the time to soak in the praise only Michael Cole can give while 70,000 people boo the crap out of them.