Freelance: Preview- WrestleMania 33
WrestleMania 33 Pre-Show
Neville vs. Austin Aries for the WWE cruiserweight championship
Following a legitimate injury after taking a kick to the face (see the graphic photo here), Austin Aries has returned. Neville has gained popularity thanks to his “King of the Cruiserweights” shtick, and with it being so recent it would be sad to see it come to an early end thanks to the Ring of Honor/indie veteran known as “A-Double.”
The storyline originated when Aries, serving as a commentator for the all cruiserweight 205 Live program, attacked Neville during an interview on Raw, coming off as a hungry contender. He then won a No. 1 Contender Fatal 5-Way match to put him in his present circumstance.
A title change is an immediate way for the returning Aries to gain momentum and with match being on the pre-show it should help get fans excited for the rest of the night from the get-go.
Predicted Winner: Austin Aries by pin
The Fourth Annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The full list of competitors for this match can be viewed here. To sum it up, the only name of note amidst a plethora of mid-card talent is that of Braun Strowman. Cousins Primo and Epico are busy being the time share-selling Shining Stars duo, same for the poor comedy act of The Golden Truth (Goldust and R-Truth) with the others in the match also just…being there.
Meanwhile, former Wyatt Family member Braun Strowman built up a win streak consisting of squash matches against local wrestlers (aka jobbers) before becoming involved in a sub-feud of sorts with Roman Reigns. Strowman attacked him on multiple occasions and has been interfering in his major WrestleMania feud with The Undertaker.
With “The Deadman” nearing the end of his career it seems likely that he would put over the heir apparent to John Cena in Reigns. A rivalry with Strowman as the primary heel target could come early post-WrestleMania as previous winner Cesaro and Baron Corbin received bigger pushes from WWE following triumph in the match.
While Strowman should be considered the heavy favorite, a plausible second pick would be the underdog “King of the Underground” in Sami Zayn.
Zayn has also been on the wrong side of beatings from Strowman, has had multiple confrontations with on-screen Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon, most recently fighting to keep his job (which he did-obviously) on the final edition of Raw prior to WrestleMania 33.
Predicted Winner: Braun Strowman by pin
WrestleMania 33 Main Card
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championship (Triple Threat Ladder Match)
The Club/The Bullet Club (Gallows and Anderson) have been the primary antagonists for Amore and Big Cass and they will be the focal point of this display of violence with the odd couple of Cesaro and Sheamus off to the side.
It’s simple: The brawling artists in The Club attack the crowd favorite Amore and Big Cass simply to show dominance. Cesaro and Sheamus also captured the belts from The New Day at Roadblock: End of the Line along the way to throw them into the mix. The Club took them at the Royal Rumble.
The ladder stipulation was added after Sheamus took a ladder to the head from The Club, requiring 15 stitches last Monday night (3/27.)
The Club are doing what they do best by being purely physical after spending the first months of the WWE as a comedy act. With the roll they’re on with fans, they should at least retain through WrestleMania with Amore and Cass becoming champions at Payback.
Predicted Winner: The Club (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson)
Alexa Bliss vs. the Smackdown Live women’s roster for the SmackDown Live Women’s championship
Simply put, either WWE wants to get this championship off of Bliss or make her look unbeatable. NXT call-up Becky Lynch originally won the belt with Naomi (previously of Brodus Clay and the Funkadactyls as well as the wife of Jimmy Uso away from WWE.) Naomi then suffered an injury that necessitated her giving up the championship—albeit reluctantly.
Bliss became the face of the division and took the strap by powerbombing Lynch through a table at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. Bliss also had help from the returning Mickie James for a time before that relationship fell apart.
In a move to show “blue brand” superiority/female equality on the biggest show of the year, on-screen SmackDown Live general manager decreed that Bliss would face every member of the shows female talent pool.
Fun fact per WWE: Should Bliss’ former ally in Mickie James win this Sunday, she will tie WWE Hall of Fame member Trish Stratus’ record of seven women’s championship regins.
Predicted Winner: anyone’s guess
Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin for the WWE Intercontinental championship
This bout feels lost in the massive card. As former André, the Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner Baron Corbin continues to rise, it seems that former WWE champion and current WWE Intercontinental champion Dean Ambrose continues to fall. Expect Corbin’s first title win.
Predicted Winner: Baron Corbin by pin
Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE United States championship
The hottest comedic angle of the year started with Chris Jericho and then-WWE Universal champion Kevin Owens as friends. Jericho would find ways to interfere in matches to help Owens retain the belt, but losses created friction. Owens later attacked Jericho at their “Festival of Friendship” and was on his own once more.
Owens then made “The List of Jericho,” a hit list/future victims list of sorts leading to this match on the Mania stage. With the veteran Jericho only working sporadic part-time runs and as an upholder of tradition, it’s probable that he will drop the U.S. title to his younger, real-life friend.
Predicted Winner: Kevin Owens by pin
Bayley vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s championship (Fatal Four-Way Match)
Charlotte and Sasha Banks have already had multiple short-term reigns as Raw’s Women’s champion and the reign of Bayley (a similar underdog to Sami Zayn) has only just begun. Nia Jax doesn’t seem ready to carry the division due to her limited in-ring ability and Bayley and Banks already had a great rivalry with Banks as the heel in NXT.
The duo put on two-separate match of the year candidates while in developmental and it would be very easy to have “The Boss” turn on her friend Bayley to capture that magic again on the main WWE roster.
Predicted Winner: Bayley by pin
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Smackdown Live commissioner Shane McMahon is taking on fan-favorite heel AJ Styles after multiple call-outs and a backstage attack that left McMahon bloody after having his head put through a car window. Frustration has been building for Styles since he lost the WWE championship and his match with McMahon came about after he was angered further by previously not having a match on this year’s WrestleMania card.
Although a win for the good guys by McMahon would be nice, expect the part-time talent to take the loss to the active roster member in similar fashion to his loss to the legendary Undertaker last year.
Predicted Winner: AJ Styles by pin
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (Non-Sanctioned Match)
This contest takes only a few lines to write about given its (good) predictability. Seth Rollins has been WWE executive Paul Levesque’s (Triple H) real-life protégé ever since becoming the first world champion in Triple H’s NXT developmental system. Rollins even replaced his finishing maneuver with “The Game’s” trademark pedigree.
With Triple H playing the “bad guy” authority figure as he has for years, bringing in then heel Rollins to mentor on-screen as well only to turn on him. A win for Rollins is the natural ending—justice.
Predicted Winner: Seth Rollins by pin
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
In what should be practically a no-contest, WWE’s current king of the mountain in 16-time world champion John Cena and real-life girlfriend Nikki Bella should undoubtedly come out on top.
The storyline is based around true-to-life issues that Maryse (the real-life wife of The Miz) had with Bella and her retired sister Brie over contracts/Maryse’s return to WWE following her 2011 departure as seen on WWE’s Total Divas reality show. This seems like a nice chance for both legitimate couples to work together as Cena and Bella are finishing their careers, but expect the same invincible Cena act that has garnered his so much criticism with fans despite all the revenue he brings in for WWE.
Predicted Winner: John Cena and Nikki Bella by pin (from Cena to The Miz)
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
Not much can really be said about this pairing as it just happened out of thin air as do any storylines with The Undertaker now given that he is 52 years old and works in-ring exclusively at WrestleMania. “Big Evil” has wins over Bray Wyatt and Shane McMahon since his 21-match WrestleMania victory streak was ended by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30.
The Texan in ‘Taker is a ring-general and backstage authority figure with the black cloud of retirement having loomed over him for years. It is a tradition in pro wrestling for elder or retiring performers such as he to lose in their final match, which could possibly be against WWE’s poster boy in Reigns this Sunday.
Predicted Winner: Roman Reigns by pin
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal championship
What started as a simply marketing ploy to plug Bill Goldberg (surprisingly, the current WWE Universal champion after a 12-year absence from the company) as the pre-order bonus superstar for the WWE 2K17 videogame now has many fans furious.
This feeling dates back to this year’s Survivor Series pay-per-view as viewers were outraged that WWE was relying on the big names of Brock Lesnar and the nostalgia of former WCW world champion Goldberg to draw money and ratings rather than the current roster. This match is almost as controversial as their class at 2004’s WrestleMania 20 after fans discovered both men were leaving WWE following the event and reacted accordingly.
When he returned to in-ring action at Survivor Series, Goldberg (a performer with a limited move set even during his prime in WCW and first year-long WWE run) took out the former UFC heavyweight champion with his signature spear shoulder tackle and finishing jackhammer suplex to add to Lesnar’s loss at Mania in 2004.
Logic should say that if WWE wants to make Lesnar look like a beast once more, Goldberg loses on Sunday. However, there is a rare element of unpredictability as the company just signed Goldberg to a contract extension per public information.
To have Lesnar look strong, a tap-out by Goldberg to Lesnar’s kimura lock (a legitimate martial arts submission modified for show in the case) also seems logical, but Goldberg most likely would object.
Predicted Winner: Brock Lesnar by pin
Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton for the WWE championship
Randy Orton wanted to get back on the hunt for a major title and did so by aligning himself with “The Eater of Worlds” Bray Wyatt just after the reborn No Mercy event. Wyatt won the WWE championship at Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and Orton won the Royal Rumble, securing his spot in a title match at WrestleMania. The Rumble victory was the catalyst for the slow deterioration of the pair’s alliance.
While Orton has experienced a resurgence thanks in part to the popular “RKO ‘Outta Nowhere” internet memes, fans generally grow bored with him as champion as with John Cena. Wyatt is another favorite and is also part of the next generation. Plus, his reign is less than a month old
Retaining the championship over “The Viper” would be more than a big win—Orton means credibility.
At the time he won the title Wyatt told ESPN, “This is something that cements my legacy." This is something that I've accomplished -- but I want to accomplish more. WrestleMania is right here."
Additionally, Wyatt’s character represents an element of real life: Sometimes the bad guy wins. Will that happen in the main events of WrestleMania 33?
Tune in and find out!
WrestleMania 33 will proceed NXT Takeover- Orlando (April 1 at the Amway Center) on Sunday, April 2 beginning with the pre-show at 5 p.m. ET and the main card kicking off at 7 p.m. ET.