So, Sunday is Wrestlemania XXX. (Do. Not. Think. About. That. Joke. Hulk Hogan!) We have the WWE Network at home, but since I am in Russia, that does me little good. In fact, I’ve watched zero wrestling since August. However, I have been keeping up with things via written recaps, so you may consider the following wild ass guesses to be AUTHORITATIVE wild ass guesses. They will almost certainly add another match or two, unless they don’t. See? AUTHORITATIVE!
Pre-Mania match: The Usos (c) vs Los Matadores vs The Real Americans vs Rybaxel
Likely quality of the match: *** (out of five). The Real Americans (Cesaro and Jack Swagger) and the Usos are fantastic. Los Matadores (Eddie Colon and a cousin of some sort) are good high flyers. Ryback and Curtis Axel are reasonably athletic. A lot depends on the actual rules — if it’s 1 v 1, with people tagging in and out (including the ability for other wrestlers to tag themselves in), it might be a clusterfuck and thus less good, on the whole. None of the wrestlers are actively bad (Ryback might get gassed, but probably not).
Build: *. The tag team division is slipping a bit, and most of this was thrown together at the last minute. Hence, pre-show.
Probable winners: Okay, pro wrestling logic 101 here: faces win on the pre-show, because it’s mostly for the live crowd, and they like it when faces win. That means the Usos or Los Matadores. Eddie Colon’s father is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, so there’s a better than average chance that they’ll win, but the Usos haven’t held the belts for long, and they’re tremendous. Usos retain.
Who I want to win: The Usos, but Cesaro’s Giant Swing launches El Torito (the tiny bull mascot — did you forget this is professional wrestling? — of Los Matadores) into orbit.
Daniel Bryan vs. HHH — winner gets into the main event
Likely quality of the match: ****. HHH has good matches with good opponents, occasionally great matches with great opponents, and average matches with bad opponents. Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler in the WWE, from a purely technical standpoint. However, see my official prediction here in a bit.
Build: *****. It’s the heart and soul of Wrestlemania right now: Daniel Bryan vs. HHH, the evil guy who borked the owner’s daughter and effectively inherited it. The Authority has done everything they can to fuck over Daniel Bryan, and HHH must get his comeuppance. But will he?
Probable winner: This is an incredibly difficult call, believe it or not. There’s no way Daniel Bryan doesn’t win somehow. But how does he win? HHH goes apeshit and beats the bloody piss out of him with a sledgehammer? A wrestling classic for the ages? Tons of outside interference? Who knows? Here’s what I think happens: No contest. Either the match effectively doesn’t happen, or there’s a bunch of ambiguity. Both HHH and Daniel Bryan get into the main event, somehow (double DQ could also work). HHH doesn’t go over Daniel Bryan clean; of that I’m almost positive.
Who I want to win: No contest. The main event, as a Fatal Four Way, would be epic. I’ll talk about why a bit later on. The one thing that can’t happen is a clean win for either HHH or Daniel Bryan, in my eyes. You either cause a possible riot in New Orleans if HHH wins, or diminish the pop later on in the show if Bryan wins. There will be shenanigans of some sort.
New Age Outlaws and Kane vs The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins)
Likely quality of the match: **1/2. All of the great wrestlers are all on one side (the Shield). Kane is competent, even a bit underrated, but the Outlaws are old as hell (50s for both of them). The Shield will do their damnedest, but I think they’ll come up short.
Build: **. Booking is a bit schizophrenic, because they’ve been teasing The Shield split for a while, and Roman Reigns has a rocket strapped to his ass (with his stablemates equally awesome but not quite as ripped). This also reeks of “thrown together at the last minute match.”
Probable winner: The Shield. They just turned face (as a group), they’ve been consistently outstanding, and the New Age Outlaws are probably done in the next couple of months.
Who I want to win: The Shield. These guys are going places and they need the Wrestlemania moment.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (30 guys I’m not going to list)
Likely quality of the match: ***. It’s a Battle Royal; they’re really hard to screw up and are rarely all time classics.
Build: ***. Driven by Hogan, it’s been built up as kind of big deal on RAW and Smackdown.
Probable winner: The Big Show. Why not book the guy who was unofficially Andre the Giant’s son?
Who I want to win: Wade Barrett. Nobody is predicting him as the winner, and I’m not even sure he’s in the match, but he’s big, tough, and one of my favorite wrestlers. “Bad News” for the rest of the roster, maybe, but Wade Barrett has never had that high profile victory he needed to get to the next level; this could be it.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Likely quality of the match: ****1/2. John Cena is awesome when motivated, and he should damn well be motivated for this one. Bray Wyatt is by far the more talented son of IRS and amazingly quick for a guy of his stature. Could be the Match of the Night.
Build: *****. Bray Wyatt, along with the Wyatt Family, have gotten the better of Cena and the promos have been amazing. It’s a midcard match that could be a main event on any other card.
Probable winner: John Cena. It is really, really hard to bet against John Cena at Wrestlemania. He’s a great company guy, and will put Wyatt over if asked, but I think this feud continues after Wrestlemania; maybe Cena wins by DQ, but I think he wins.
Who I want to win: Bray Wyatt. I never liked Husky Harris one bit, but sometimes, every once in a while, a character repackaging works out. It’s even reasonably likely.
Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
Likely quality of the match: ***. The Undertaker is the Undertaker, but I really have my doubts about his ability to work with Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is an incredible athlete, but for his offense to work, Undertaker needs to take some big bumps. I don’t know if he can.
Build: ***. Paul Heyman has done a great job, but Brock has just not looked like a monster because he hasn’t dominated Taker.
Probable winner: Undertaker. Brock Lesnar can’t win this match. A part timer won’t break the streak.
Who I want to win: Undertaker. See above.
Divas 14 person match for the title
Likely quality of the match: **. I’m feeling charitable. Some of the divas are really talented wrestlers. Most are not. The addition of relative newcomers Summer Rae and Emma will help a lot.
Build: *. Unless Total Divas counts. Then it’s *****.
Probable winner: Okay, the match is a piss break, but actually has the possibility for at least some quality wrestling. Assuming a Total Diva needs to win the belt (and I think it’s all but guaranteed), it almost has to be a Bella doesn’t it?
Who I want to win: I’m going to keep the Total Divas requirement — if I didn’t I’d pick Emma in a heartbeat — but offer a crazy idea: Summer Rae. Apart from Natalya, she’s the best wrestler on the show, easy on the eyes, and has some credibility. You’d need to turn AJ or Summer Rae face for an extended feud (probably Summer), but it might work.
The Main Event: Randy Orton (c) vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan and/or HHH
Likely quality of the match: ***. Daniel Bryan is an amazing wrestler. HHH and Randy Orton are very good. Batista is channeling new Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior in getting gassed really, really quickly. Batista should not have won the Royal Rumble; hell, virtually anybody else would have been a better fit.
Build: ****. The Randy Orton vs Batista vs HHH part of the feud was only recently developed, but the Evolution angle writes itself.
Probable winner: They’ve done a good job making everybody look a possible winner here (except maybe Orton, but hey, he’s the champ after all). Wrestling booking 101 has an obvious answer here: the only face – Daniel Bryan.
Who I want to win: Daniel Bryan.
Who I do not, under any circumstances, want to win: Batista.
Other generic predictions:
RVD will be part of the Battle Royal. He’ll do well, but not so well you’d think he had a chance to win the whole thing.
CM Punk returns in some capacity, or he doesn’t come back in 2014. If Punk is face, he helps Bryan in his initial match; if he comes back as a heel, he screws Bryan over after the title win, somehow. I actually don’t think Punk returns at all, in all honesty, but the possible outcomes of Punk returning are just too good for even HHH to let this one slide.
Sting doesn’t appear in a recognizable form. I’m relatively confident Sting shows up, but he’ll do so very cryptically. How do I know this? A true Sting sighting would get the pop of the night, and I don’t think WWE wants that to go to anyone but Bryan. Maybe the bat and trenchcoat?