It seems like WrestleMania comes sooner every year. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that we were shaking our head in disbelief at the bloated booking that plagued WrestleMania 32? Now, WrestleMania 33 is right around the corner. It’s close enough, in fact, that we can start making predictions regarding which matches are going to fill the biggest wrestling card of the year. For the most part, that’s a joyous conversation that involves hopeful debate regarding fantasy booking and dream matches This is the magical time when we all start building that perfect WrestleMania card in our heads.
Unfortunately, it’s also that time of year that we come to terms with the reality of the situation. How often do those dream WrestleMania matches we all hope will happen actually happen? Occasionally, one comes to fruition, but more often than not, the matches that you dread will happen are exactly the ones that do. This year is no different. Already, it looks like WWE is laying the ground for a few matches that are obvious, but not the best options. As for those dream matches, we just have to keep hoping. Here are the eight WrestleMania 33 matches that need to happen but won’t, and the seven matches that will happen but shouldn’t.
15 Needs to Happen: Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar
Samoa Joe isn’t in his prime anymore, but that doesn’t mean that WWE can’t maximize his last few years as an active competitor if they start now. While there are many ways to establish Joe as the monster he can be, there are few options better than pitting him against Lesnar himself at WrestleMania. Thus far, WWE has been hesitant to use Lesnar to get new people over. The closest we’ve come to that was when he took on Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania 32, but their inability to work together sunk that opportunity. WWE should learn from their mistakes and let Joe show that he can go toe-to-toe with Lesnar on the biggest stage of them all. It’s a longshot, but it would be a hell of a spectacle.
14 Will Happen: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
So what will WWE do with Brock Lesnar? Most likely, they’re going to have him stare down Bill Goldberg in the ring once more. As dumb as it seems to have these two face off again now that the first match has sucked away much of the novelty, it’s doubtful that these guys are going to settle their differences at the Royal Rumble. Most likely, they’re going to somehow screw each other out of the victory and end up with a match sometime down the line. Since there’s no way that WWE is going to use that match for a February PPV, so it seems likely that WrestleMania will host the final showdown. If that is the case, it’s going to be a shame. Both of these guys can do so much more.
13 Needs to Happen: Goldberg vs. Finn Balor
What can Goldberg do if he doesn’t face off against Lesnar? Quite a lot, actually. While you’re not going to get a five-star match out of Bill Goldberg these days (or ever for that matter), there’s something to be said for pitting him against a younger guy who is able to get more from a match with Goldberg than a quick and furious beating. On paper, Finn Balor isn’t that guy. Instead, it’s far more likely that he’s going to get a Universal Championship match. Why rush it, though? Why not have someone like Finn Balor come along and somehow provoke Goldberg into a match? Balor’s demon vs. one of the most feared wrestlers ever known is a match-up of personalities that can work.
12 Will Happen: Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor (WWE Universal Championship)
It’s possible that you can sub Kevin Owens for Roman Reigns (or even insert Roman in a triple threat match), but this is seeming like the most likely option at this point. Again, the problem here isn’t so much that the match itself would be bad, but rather that the entire premise is boring. From the moment that Finn Balor succumbed to injury, it seemed pre-determined that he was going to get a rematch at WrestleMania. The problem is that he might not return until weeks prior to WrestleMania. That doesn’t leave much time to build a story that goes beyond “You have the belt and I want it.” WrestleMania title matches deserve more story and build than what this title match can offer. This can always happen later.
11 Needs to Happen: Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Universal Championship)
You know, there is a chance that this match might actually take place at WrestleMania. However, given the greater likelihood of certain encounters we’ll be talking about soon, it seems much more likely that WWE is going to go in a different direction. This is one "friends who turn on each other" story that WWE has actually done an incredible job building. They’ve done such a good job, in fact, that the only right way to blow this story off is with a match at WrestleMania. Preferably, it would be a match for the title. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho would be able to put together a different kind of match that would surely feature a lot more story and intrigue than the standard title encounters WWE sometimes rely on.
10 Will Happen: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
On the other end of things, we have a “friends that turn against each other” storyline that shouldn’t be blown-off at WrestleMania. Nobody thought that Randy Orton joining the Wyatt Family could work, but their alliance is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing plots in all of wrestling. The reason that it’s so intriguing, however, is because Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are actually getting along. Randy hasn’t reluctantly joined the Wyatts; he’s used their bond to reinvigorate his career. It’s the kind of relationship that doesn’t need to end with a typical blowoff match. No, this one either needs to last a little while longer or otherwise not be ended with a fight at all. Most likely, though, we’re going to get an expected conclusion to this story at WrestleMania.
9 Needs to Happen: Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose
There aren’t a lot of great WrestleMania options for the SmackDown main eventers at the moment. Right now, the smaller SmackDown roster is causing a little matchup fatigue. We’ve seen the same combination of performers for months now in the same main event matches. That being the case, what WrestleMania needs more than anything is a SmackDown match that feels fresh. So far as that goes, this is one of the better high-profile options available. Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose both have similar styles that would play well off of each other. The same goes for their characters which are both unhinged madmen. This could be an instant classic of a match that either involves the Wyatt Family or simply sees the two battle over the #1 contender spot.
8 Will Happen: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
This one isn’t so much a match that is certainly going to happen as it is a match that could very well happen and definitely shouldn’t. Right now, the SmackDown title match at WrestleMania is going to involve some combination of AJ Styles, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Dean Ambrose. There could always be a darkhorse contender inserted into the scene, but those are the likely candidates. Of the possible matchups, it would be a shame if WWE just dipped into the Dean Ambrose/AJ Styles well so carelessly. Randy Orton/AJ Styles would be a better option as would the previously mentioned Randy Orton/Dean Ambrose. John Cena will likely be tied up with other things, so this would be the most likely and least appealing rematch leftover.
7 Needs to Happen: Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Asuka
Much like the SmackDown main event scene, the RAW’s women’s division is in desperate need of some matchups that we haven’t seen time and time again. To be honest, the SmackDown women’s scene is in a similar position. The only saving grace with the latter is that the SmackDown creative team has been a little more patient with their match builds. What the entire women’s division needs is a unification. It’s doubtful that it would ever happen, but the best possible WrestleMania option would be to have the SmackDown champion face the RAW and NXT champion at WrestleMania. Granted, a one-on-one between any of these women would also be a good option, but WWE could use this match as an opportunity to refocus their women’s division efforts and get it right this time.
6 Will Happen: Sash Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Bayley
So if the above triple threat match doesn’t happen, then this is most likely the obvious substitute on the RAW side of things. It’s also entirely possible that it will just be Bayley vs either Sasha or Charlotte, but given how often Charlotte and Sasha have been swapping the title, it’s doubtful that WWE is going to have that mess sorted out by the time that WrestleMania rolls around. The sad thing is that unless they’re willing to pull out some kind of currently unforeseen option, they really don’t have a better alternative than to pull off a match like this. Nia Jax is the closest to being ready for a main event shot, and she is not ready to have this kind of match at WrestleMania by any means.
5 Needs to Happen: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles
While the WWE draft is likely going to become the biggest staging point for NXT call-ups moving forward, it’s quite possible that we will see some names make the jump at the Royal Rumble or in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania. Of those names, the most likely candidate is Shinsuke Nakamura. Assuming he won’t win the title back from Samoa Joe, it’s likely that Nakamura is going to find his way to the SmackDown brand. If that does come to pass, then there is no reason why he shouldn’t find himself immediately in the title picture. If you’ve never seen Nakamura and AJ Styles face off, just know that they are capable of putting on the type of match that will not only make Nakamura an overnight star but create a moment that will live on forever.
4 Will Happen: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
Oh yeah, this match. It seems like a guarantee at this point that Seth Rollins is going to face Triple H at WrestleMania in order to get his revenge over that whole pedigree incident. If this entire angle had been built differently, or if Rollins injury last year hadn’t completely disrupted whatever plans WWE had for him, this contest could have been something special. As it is, there’s just no magic to this match. Does anyone believe that Triple H is going to beat Seth Rollins? Is anyone really clamoring to see Seth Rollins get revenge after months of this story simmering on the backburner? This whole thing has been mismanaged from the start, and WWE doesn’t need to tie up a WrestleMania match spot with a match that lacks so much heat.
3 Needs to Happen: The Undertaker vs. John Cena
This might seem like a sure thing, but it’s far from it. Believe it or not, WWE has been trying to make this match happen for the better part of the last few years. Between injuries and last-minute changes of heart, however, the match has fallen apart several times. There are times when it seems like this seemingly inevitable clash between two of WWE’s biggest names is just doomed to never happen. Hopefully, all possible roadblocks are put aside this year and WWE just get these two together in the ring where they belong. How likely is that to happen? Well, given that Goldberg/Taker is still on the table and Cena may still compete for the WWE Championship, it may yet fall through again. Please WWE, just do this match already.
2 Will Happen: The Big Show vs. Shaq
As a nice change of pace, here is a match that is actually seemingly guaranteed to happen. This was the first match announced for WrestleMania 33, and it hopefully does not set a precedent for what is to come. The thing about WrestleMania celebrity matches and appearances is that they are always better when the celebrity in question has some ties to the world of professional wrestling or professional fighting. Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Ronda Rousey…the best appearances have always had something to do with combat athletes. All due respect to Shaq who is one of the greatest basketball players ever, but how does it make any sense for him to be stepping into the ring? What possible entertainment value can a match between Shaq and The Big Show really have?
1 Needs to Happen: The Rock vs. Roman Reigns
Now, here is how you insert a celebrity into WrestleMania. The Rock is going to make a WrestleMania appearance. While WWE could do what he did last year and just have a painfully long in-ring segment capped off by the burying of Eric Rowan, it seems more likely that he might actually be involved in a match this time around. There are plenty of options for who will face The Rock, but is there really a better one than Roman Reigns? The alternative for Reigns is to insert him into some forgettable U.S. Title encounter or shoehorn him into the main event. Reigns would be much better off facing The Rock over the matter of legacy and the future of WWE. It’s unlikely that WWE would ever do something this bold, but it would be great.