With SummerSlam behind us and 2016 rapidly entering its closing stretch, wrestling fans' eyes across the world are already looking towards WrestleMania 33. Not only will this year’s WrestleMania be particularly interesting as it’s the first brand-split WrestleMania in some time, but in the minds of some, it will need to be an absolute smash hit in order to make up for the less than impressive effort that was WrestleMania 32. While there are a lot of things that can help WrestleMania 33 surpass this year’s show (most notably less time spent on flamethrower entrances for The Rock) ultimately, it comes down to whether or not WWE can book the right matches.
That’s where we’d like to throw our two cents into the ring. It might only be August, but it already feels like it’s time to start dreaming of the perfect WrestleMania card. At the same time, it also feels the right moment to start making it very clear which matches should not come anywhere close to making it on the biggest card of the year unless WWE are trying to build the worst WrestleMania ever. It’s why we present to you the 8 matches we want to see at WrestleMania 33 and the 8 matches we don’t.
16 Want: The New Day vs. Enzo and Cass
It remains to be seen whether WWE can hold off on this match long enough to save it for the WrestleMania date it deserves, but if they can, then this should absolutely be Raw’s Tag-Team Championship match. There is a decent chance that The New Day are going to ride their record championship streak all the way to WrestleMania and, if they do, it should be Enzo and Big Cass that dethrone them. Although The New Day’s popularity with the live crowds is starting to wane a bit, the smart money says that WWE will likely turn them full-blown heel before this match just to ensure that nearly everyone is on the side of Enzo and Cass. Most importantly, you have to remember that Enzo and Cass never got to hold the tag titles in NXT despite being the division’s most over act. That fact alone means that they’ve earned this WrestleMania moment.
15 Don't: Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are two extremely gifted wrestlers that have been stealing the show together ever since they broke into the business. When they joined WWE, many of their fans immediately pointed to their own WrestleMania sign in the sky and started dreaming of a clash between these indie legends on wrestling’s biggest stage. While there is certainly an argument that these two deserve that WrestleMania moment, it feels like WWE’s chance to pull this match off would have been at WrestleMania 32 when the two participated in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship.
Since then, however, Zayn and Owens have put on a stellar series of matches that have removed some of the main roster novelty of their conflicts. WWE is going to be tempted to dive back into this well if Zayn and Owens are left with nothing much else to do, but it would be best for everyone if they resisted that urge. They should probably save this one for a couple of years down the road.
14 Want: Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles
It’s hard to believe that Samoa Joe won’t get called up to the main roster before the end of the year, and it’s equally hard to believe that he won’t make his way to SmackDown when he gets there as that brand is in the best position to utilize his skills and services. Put all that together, and you’ve got Samoa Joe’s almost inevitable clash with AJ Styles coming at some point. WWE could, of course, pull the trigger on this early, but they deserve a WrestleMania match. It’s been a long time since they’ve got to have a decent match against each other given what happened to TNA towards the end of their respective runs, and a WrestleMania showdown would not only be a great way for WWE to show their respect to both performers, but it would lead to what is sure to be a show-stealing match.
13 Don't: Braun Strowman vs. The Undertaker
Yes, even though this rumored WrestleMania 32 match was nixed at the last minute due to lack of fan interest, there are still rumors floating around that WWE may very well try to do this match once again at WrestleMania 33. Just to be clear, then, that decision would still be an awful one. WWE may be doing a pretty good job of building up Braun Strowman as the next intimidating big man by having him squash local talent every week on Raw, but there are limits to how far Strowman can realistically go. Those limits include a WrestleMania match against The Undertaker as it would be impossible for anyone to believe that Strowman would ever go over The Undertaker at WrestleMania no matter how many jobbers he beats, and it’s highly doubtful that these two would be able to put on a compelling enough match to justify the inevitability of the finish.
12 Want: Cruiserweight Lader Match
Given that RAW’s cruiserweight roster is a giant question mark at this point, and there are not nearly enough hints available as to who might be appearing on the show, it’s difficult to predict with certainty who might be in cruiserweight contention by the time that WrestleMania 33 rolls around. So, while a match like Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Cedric Alexander might very well be in the cards, at the moment, it seems more realistic that we might get a multi-man ladder match on the biggest show of the year. WWE usually tries to work in at least one ladder match into every WrestleMania card since Money in the Bank got its own PPV, and it’s easy to imagine that the cruiserweights might get the honor of climbing the ladder this year due simply to the fact that many of the rumored guys going to this division would be able to utilize that stipulation to do something special.
11 Don't: Randy Orton vs. John Cena
Surely WWE wouldn’t do this, right? Well, don’t be so certain. Although it’s a bit too early to be calling for John Cena’s retirement just yet, it’s become increasingly clear over the last year or so that Cena is in the twilight years of his wrestling career. As such, you really need to start looking at his return as the start of a John Cena farewell tour that is going to likely end sometime in the next couple of years. As part of this tour, it’s likely that John Cena is going to be playing some of his greatest hits by revisiting classic matches. All that’s fine, but it still doesn’t mean that a Cena WrestleMania match should be wasted on another encounter with Randy Orton. These two being in the same brand only raises the likelihood it could happen, but hopefully, WWE will be smart enough to save it for another show.
10 Want: John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose
So what should John Cena do at WrestleMania? Well, there’s a few ways WWE can go with him. One of the most popular suggestions from the last few years has been to have Cena face-off against The Undertaker and, while that match would have felt more meaningful had WWE kept Undertaker’s streak alive over the years, you still have to imagine it’s coming at some point. As we’ve got another opponent in mind for The Undertaker, however, the next best option seems to be Dean Ambrose. These two have had a throwaway match when Ambrose challenged Cena for the US Title, but they’ve never had the chance to work a proper PPV bout.
Working under the assumption that Dean Ambrose is going to be champion by the time that WrestleMania rolls around (which is not a given) there is even the added drama of Cena going for his first World Championship shot in some time.
9 Don't: American Alpha vs. The Usos
If you look at SmackDown’s tag team roster, you’re not going to be happy with what you find. As it stands, the only tag teams on the SmackDown brand are American Alpha, The Ascension, The Usos, The Vaudevillains, and Tyler Breeze and Fandango. All due respect to the wrestlers involved in the division, but that isn’t exactly a hall of fame lineup. It seems inevitable that American Alpha will emerge as the champions prior to WrestleMania and unless WWE decides to call up The Revival or another young team, the only real possible contenders on the brand right now are The Usos.
The Usos are not nearly as bad as some fans like to say they are, but American Alpha are just as good as most people say they are and they deserve to have a WrestleMania match against a team that’s able to showcase what makes them so unique.
8 Want: Asuka vs. Sasha Banks
Given that RAW’s women’s division has Charlotte, Bayley, Dana Brooks, Nia Jax, and Sasha Banks, it kind of makes sense that Asuka would head over to SmackDown just to balance the rosters a bit. If that is the case, then a bout between her and Becky Lynch would probably be more likely. That being said, you can expect that there are going to be some inter-brand matches and, so far as the Women’s division goes, this is the most exciting option out there. Fans have been talking about the potential of a Sasha Banks vs. Asuka match ever since the latter entered NXT, but Sasha Banks' quick exit from NXT following Asuka’s arrival deprived us of the pleasure. Rather than wait another year for these two to end up on the same show, it may be best to strike while the iron is hot and have these two put on a clinic at WrestleMania.
7 Don't: Becky Lynch vs. Nikki Bella
So, if Becky Lynch doesn’t get her SmackDown showdown with Asuka at WrestleMania 33, then who would she face? Well, if we’re going off of the current roster, then there are two names that currently stand out from the rest are actually Eva Marie and Nikki Bella. Just a few weeks ago, the worst name would have been Eva Marie by a considerable margin. Now, however, there is a darkly amusing entertainment value to the possibility that WWE could extend Eva’s refusal to wrestle storyline all the way to WrestleMania where she could worm her way into a WrestleMania match. If so, then that could actually be interesting.
It’s much more difficult to justify Nikki Bella’s appearance on the WrestleMania card. Nikki’s getting good reaction lately since her surprise return, but it’s doubtful her heat could last all the way until next year's WrestleMania, meaning that it’s that much more difficult to justify her in such a big role.
6 Want: Brock Lesnar vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Fun fact: Brock Lesnar and Shinsuke Nakamura have actually had a match against each other way back in 2006. That was before Brock Lesnar became the name he is now, though, and well before Shinsuke Nakamura became the highly charismatic performer that he is today. As such, this match is still something of a novelty. There’s enough of a novelty to the match, in fact, that it could help make up for Lesnar’s own dwindling novelty. More than anything, however, the real reason that this match needs to happen is because it would put Shinsuke Nakamura in the kind of position that would allow him to reach a wider audience than any other match possibly could. Nakamura is the kind of guy that you can’t take your eyes off of until you figure him out, and WWE needs to put him against someone like Lesnar that’s going to put as many eyes on Nakamura as possible.
5 Don't: The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar
There are a few, very early, rumored Brock Lesnar opponents for WrestleMania 33 at the moment. Some (like Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and Finn Balor) have The Beast set to face a younger, full-time star. Others, however, involve part-time or guest stars like The Rock and Bill Goldberg. At the moment many people are thinking it’s going to be The Rock given that WWE will want to put him in a WrestleMania match since WrestleMania is in his home state of Florida. Regardless of who the guest star may be, the point is that Brock Lesnar needs to face-off against a full-time wrestler at WrestleMania. WWE needs to realize that they may be running low on Brock Lesnar appearance dates and maximize the few that they have left by putting Lesnar against someone that might benefit from the exposure he brings. If there’s one thing The Rock doesn’t need, it’s additional exposure.
4 Want: Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
Not too long ago, this match would have been nothing more than the highest order of desperate internet speculation and fan wishing. Recently, however, something pretty amazing happened as Daniel Bryan became involved in a much-publicized angle involving The Miz that actually made reference to the fact Daniel Bryan would still be wrestling if WWE said he could. Following that angle, a few news outlets began to report that sources within WWE have claimed that the company is open to the possibility of Bryan working one more match. Taking all that into account, it’s hard to not get at least a little excited about the possibility of Daniel Bryan getting a proper final match by bringing a red hot angle involving The Miz to a close at WrestleMania. Is it likely? Maybe not, but, if we’re talking about most wanted matches, then this is right up there with anything else.
3 Don't: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
This represents the other end of how WWE can go with The Miz storyline. It’s possible that they will work an angle that sees Daniel Bryan choose a wrestler to act on his behalf against The Miz, and Dolph Ziggler seems like a likely candidate to fill the role. Even if that doesn’t happen, looking at the SmackDown roster as it currently stands, Dolph Ziggler is one of the only viable contenders for Miz’s soon to be prized Intercontinental Championship. It would be a shame if WWE doesn’t find someone else to fill that role.
Dolph Ziggler isn’t a bad wrestler whatsoever, but putting him in such a position feels like another case of WWE simply not knowing how to build new stars using the IC title. If an emotional end to The Miz’s feud with Daniel Bryan isn’t in the cards, then at least put him against someone whose best years are ahead of them.
2 Want: Finn Balor vs. The Undertaker
As mentioned earlier, there is always the possibility before every WrestleMania season that WWE will pull the trigger on that John Cena/Undertaker showdown. After all, it’s usually the one Undertaker WrestleMania match that finds its way to the top of nearly every fan’s wishlist. This year, however, a new option has presented itself in the form of Finn Balor. Let’s be honest about The Undertaker for a bit. He is an all-time great who, at best, has maybe three WrestleMania matches in him, if he's lucky.
Undertaker WrestleMania matches are a precious commodity, and WWE must use one of them to have The Demon face off against The Deadman. The Undertaker’s WrestleMania matches are all about spectacle at this point and, with the exception of John Cena, the only wrestler on the roster that could maximize that spectacle is Finn Balor. The entrances alone would make this match worth it, but the bout itself should also be pretty great as well.
1 Don't: Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns
More likely than not, Finn Balor is going to find his way back into the Universal Championship picture by the time that WrestleMania 33 rolls around. However, given that he is estimated to be out of action for at least six months, there is a strong chance that WWE is thinking that there is no way that they are going to spend all that time not building towards a WrestleMania match. If that is the case, then it’s looking like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns might just be the company’s backup plan. It would be a real shame if that came to pass. Seth Rollins is still trying to reclaim the buzz he had prior to his injury, and Roman Reigns…well, let’s just say that Roman Reigns’ chance to be the next big thing is well behind him. There was a time when this match could have easily headlined WrestleMania. That time is not now.