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WrestleMania 30: Under the Microscope
April 5, 2014

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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Allow me to give you a little insight into my “process” for these columns. Given how important WrestleMania is to one of my favorite hobbies, I always try to put a little more effort into my previews than the weekly recaps. To get me in the mood, I listen to a song that rushes my blood and gives me energy that, I hope, can be seen in the words I choose.
For the past few years, I've used whatever song WWE deems the “official” WrestleMania song. “I Made It,” “Written in the Stars,” “Invincible,” and “Coming Home” were all really good to me, and sound excellent with loud bass. This is the first year in five, however, that I've had to change tactics, because “Celebrate” by Kid Rock is awful, and isn't growing on me at all.

Instead, I'm rocking out to “We Own It,” which was WWE's theme for the Royal Rumble this year. It just instantly was awesome to me, and even for my Royal Rumble columns, I was bitching that they should have saved it for WrestleMania instead. But whatever; at least I've got a good song, regardless of whether it was placed with the wrong pay-per-view.

And hey, it's indeed giving me energy! Let's get to the preview so I can get my mind off the pain of this stupid abscessed tooth of mine. As always, the preview is in reverse order of what I feel are the most important matches, not necessarily how WWE will air them. Hopefully, even if you're a lapsed fan, my column will completely prepare you for what's in store on Sunday.

Randy Orton (c) vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan and/or Triple H

Match type: Triple threat (or possibly fatal four-way; see below)

What's on the line: The WWE World Heavyweight Championship

How we got here: John Cena became the WWE Champion after winning it from The Rock at WrestleMania 29. In the weeks leading up to SummerSlam in August, Cena was given the chance to handpick his opponent, and he chose to face Daniel Bryan.

Randy Orton won the Money in the Bank ladder match at the titular pay-per-view in July. He cashed it in a month later at SummerSlam to beat Daniel Bryan, who had just won the WWE Championship against Cena. Orton's victory was guaranteed due to Triple H turning heel by attacking Bryan with a Pedigree immediately after the title match.

Cena meanwhile picked himself up from his loss and, at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in October, beat Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Orton and Cena both defended their respective titles at Survivor Series in November; the last image of Survivor Series showed Cena and Orton in each other's faces as they posed with their own belt.

We fans were thrown for a loop the next night when WWE pretty much announced out of nowhere they were unifying the top two belts (predicated on Cena making the title-for-title challenge for no reason), which had been separate since the WCW buyout in 2002. (The buyout itself was in 2001, but the title was unified for about a year before being split again.) Dedicated fans have been irritated for a while about the two-title situation since we're many years removed from the company having a roster deep enough to justify it, especially when the WWE Championship was always more “valuable” and prestigious than the World Heavyweight Championship. The brand split was effectively over as of 2011, so by unifying the titles, it finally signaled an end to the very concept of the brand split entirely.

Unfortunately, the unification match was the billionth chapter of the Cena/Orton rivalry. It was Orton who came out on top at TLC, and he now carries both title belts while calling himself the “WWE World Heavyweight Champion,” combing both title names.

At the time, there was a question as to why they would make such an announcement for a relatively minor pay-per-view. Cena and Orton won their respective title matches at Survivor Series; their unification match was set for TLC in December, rather than Royal Rumble in January or even WrestleMania itself. Seemed weird, right?

I argued, and still believe that I'm right, that the reason they made it happen for TLC was because it was dealing with two guys who are considered the #1 and #2 guys of the company. WWE probably wanted the ratings boost from the casuals who would show up for that match-up, and it saved a “real” title match for WrestleMania. That is, I figured, why would they burn the unification match on WrestleMania when you also had the extra factor of the Royal Rumble winner on top of it? It made way more sense to me to unify the titles before WrestleMania so everyone could get used to the idea, then do something special or different for WrestleMania.

WWE interpreted that as gifting the Royal Rumble win (and the right for a WrestleMania title shot) to Batista, who redebuted to WWE after doing his own thing since 2010. The only surprising thing about that was that there were no surprises: Batista's return was leaked in December, so rather than WWE trying to pretend it would be a surprise, they just hyped him. He came back, and there were cheers, and he won the Royal Rumble. All's well, right?

Nope: those cheers lasted one night, specifically the night of his return. He technically returned as a face, but during the Royal Rumble, the fans rebelled. Part of it was that fan-favorite Daniel Bryan wasn't in the Rumble at all, and the fans were already sick of Batista's generic return. They booed the crap out of him after the Rumble win, just as they continued to boo Orton. The fans rebelled so hard that Mick Foley, unintentionally speaking the minds of the average fan, wrote a short diatribe on Facebook bemoaning that Bryan wasn't going to be a part of the WrestleMania title picture.

Daniel Bryan spent most of 2013 confounding WWE management. In a move similar to what CM Punk experienced a few years ago, Bryan's popularity soared through the roof despite him not having the “classic look” that Vince McMahon is so fond of. One of Daniel Bryan's stories involved him getting bullied by the debuting (and incredibly over) Wyatt Family, until one night Bryan was able to get the Family's leader, Bray Wyatt, alone in a cage. It was an emotional moment for the story, but it resonated so deeply for the fans that literally everyone in the arena started doing “Yes!” chants to Bryan. And the fans were so incredibly in sync that you could hear dead silence between each “Yes!” shout. It was 18,000 voices screaming in unison, and they tore the roof off the place as Bryan beat the crap out of Bray Wyatt and put that feud to bed with a win.

The fans' reaction that night was not a signal that could be ignored. Since then, Daniel Bryan feuded with Triple H, the latter of whom kept throwing assaults and wrenches into Bryan's plans. Since SummerSlam 2013, Triple H's interference cost Bryan title chance after title chance. Though it seemed like just another day in a professional wrestling storyline, the fans rebelled against it, and no matter how many times Bryan lost, his popularity simply grew.

After the Wyatt feud, Bryan started in with the “Yes Movement,” which started off as a cute little hashtag as he kept lobbying for more chances. With Triple H (the character) not willing to play along, Bryan started lobbying for a match against Trips himself. Trips kept declining until the March 10 episode of RAW, when Bryan's Yes Movement stopped being a hashtag and took the form of civil disobedience. Nearly 100 fans joined Bryan in the ring, all wearing “Yes!” shirts, as Bryan declared that he would get his match, or they wouldn't let the show continue. Trips agreed, but Bryan added one more caveat: that if Bryan won, he would be included in the main event. Trips lost his mind, but he agreed.

In the March 17 episode of RAW, the night started out with Batista and Orton complaining that Trips would assent to Bryan's demands. Trips couldn't take their bickering on top of everything else, so he said that he would absolutely beat Bryan at WrestleMania so it wouldn't matter. When Batista and Orton kept bitching, Trips finally said that not only will he (Trips) win, but then he would join the main event too. In other words: whoever wins between Trips and Daniel Bryan would go on to be the third man in the title match.

In one stroke, this solved several of the fans' desires: not only is Bryan all-but-guaranteed to be included (see below), but he'll also get a chance to beat the hell out of Triple H beforehand. Suddenly, even the rebellious fans have a reason to care about the main event.

What's expected: Given that Batista hasn't been back long and Orton hasn't really done anything of major note story-wise lately, there isn't that much heat for either guy. Make no mistake: this is the Daniel Bryan show, all but guaranteeing that he'll (probably) win his match against Triple H.

It's necessary. Of the four, Daniel Bryan is the only face. Batista turned heel after WWE gave up trying to convince the fans to cheer for him. No matter how you slice it, if Bryan isn't involved in the main event, the fans will rebel. Super-hard. And WWE won't want that for WrestleMania.

It's great for workrate too. Bryan is an insanely good wrestler. Not a sports entertainer, though he's pretty good at that too. But his varied moveset, his myriad submissions, and his explosive speed combine for an immensely fun-to-watch competitor. He also knows when to kick it into that extra gear for special moments; WrestleMania won't be any different. If anything, he'll get his “WrestleMania moment” during the main event. It's no surprise that he was trained by Shawn Michaels.

On the other side of the ring, Batista hasn't really lost a step and is still pretty good in the ring. Trips hasn't had many matches since semi-retirement a few years ago, but he can still bring it. And Orton is... passable. And watchable. It'll be a good match, and with at least three guys involved, the pace can be kept nice and high for 95% of it, until things need to get dramatic. Also given that Bryan doesn't have the “classic look,” he's going to be the underdog. The whole thing makes for a special match that has all the right pieces to be a classic.

My prediction: There's a reason I've been saying “at least three guys.” Officially, the match is a triple threat. But putting Triple H in the main event with Daniel Bryan means there's yet another layer of drama and storyline going on with the main event. There's no question that Bryan will make it, but it would not surprise me if Trips makes it a fatal four-way at the last moment thanks to some shenanigans with their singles match.

Either way, WrestleMania is all about fans going home happy. Nowadays, WWE only very rarely pulls a super-swerve and has a heel going over to close out the pay-per-view. There are two ways this can end happily for the fans: Bryan wins and celebrates with the title, or Bryan doesn't win but beats the shit out of the winner after the match. WWE will want a reason to throw confetti everywhere though, so... I predict Daniel Bryan wins the WWE World Heavyweight Title, whether he has to go through two opponents or three.

We, as fans, can't know exactly what's going through WWE's collective mind. Reports state that in real-life, behind the scenes, guys like Vince still don't “get” Bryan's appeal. And WWE has returned to its 80s mentality of “Vince's way or the highway” for the most part, so it's something of a minor miracle that WWE has conceded to getting this far with Bryan in the first place.

I bring this up because WWE may not want Bryan to be the face of the company. The title may not be “real” in the sense of a trophy for a legitimate contest, but the WWE Champion isn't just some figurehead position. The WWE Champion is, by far, the one who represents the basic direction of stories and attitude, not to mention the guy who gets plastered on advertisements everywhere. If WWE really doesn't want Bryan in that position, then they can always find a way to make him drop the title shortly. The fans will be pissed, but hey, what are we going to do?

Or maybe WWE will finally take a shot on the guy. Either way, WWE has so many outs, and they've painted Bryan as such an underdog, that I have no doubt they will let him have his moment. The fans will go ballistic, headlines will be made, and Daniel Bryan can debut a sweet-looking new title belt the next night as we enter a new champion era. This is especially true if Bryan beats Trips specifically: that will end their feud decisively, while Batista and Orton will each have arguments since they lost the match despite not being pinned or forced to submit. Bryan can then defend it against them in singles matches for a few months before losing it. There are so many interesting ways they can go as long as Bryan wins at WrestleMania, and if he doesn't... well, things will be a lot less interesting.

Bryan has to win it. WWE can't afford to have him not to at this point. I have no idea how long they'll be willing to let him keep it, but he needs it now. WWE as a company, and more importantly the fans, is ready for Bryan to have a chance to carry the ball.

Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H

Match type: Standard singles

What's on the line: Entry into the main event

How we got here: Daniel Bryan spent most of 2012 and 2013 working with Kane as the stupidly named “Team Hell No.” They, with Randy Orton, were able to stop The Shield's “undefeated” streak on a random episode of SmackDown, and it was mostly due in part to Bryan's ability to flip a switch and be incredibly explosive with his speed and moves. It was the first time you could sense that Bryan was destined for something a little different than the midcard.

Shortly after WrestleMania 29, Team Hell No lost the Tag Team Titles, and Bryan wanted to prove he wasn't the weak link of the team. The team broke up at that point, and Bryan pursued singles matches. Bryan's popularity continued to grow, which caused then-WWE Champion John Cena to personally handpick Bryan as his SummerSlam opponent.

This kicked off the basic, tried-and-true premise that those in charge (specifically Vince McMahon) just didn't like someone who didn't “fit the mold” to risk getting ahead. It smelled of the legendary feud between Vince and Stone Cold Steve Austin from the Attitude Era, but while Austin still had a certain bad ass look and demeanor, Bryan was just “weird” with his long beard and irregular move set.

And the premise worked just as well as it did back then. Triple H at the time was on Bryan's side, attempting to defend him against Vince's shenanigans, such as booking Bryan in a gauntlet match where he (Vince) threatened to fire anyone who game to Bryan's side. Kane got involved by turning heel against Bryan later, but it didn't deter Bryan from facing Cena for the title at SummerSlam.

Triple H assigned himself as special guest referee for the Cena/Bryan match. Bryan won it and the title, but was attacked by Triple H immediately after Orton, who had won the Money in the Bank ladder match for RAW, cashed in his title opportunity then, and won the WWE Championship.

Vince, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon collectively called themselves “The Authority,” and approved Orton as being the face of the company. With Cena on the sidelines due to legit injuries, Bryan took over as the #1 face in Cena's place, and it kicked off the feud as he chased Orton for the title. Vince stepped away from the spotlight, leaving Triple H to continually make matches and other situations that kept Bryan down. It didn't help that Shawn Michaels, a guest referee for Bryan's title match against Orton at Hell in a Cell, served as the guest referee and superkicked Bryan to allow Orton to win. Even the legendary Michaels was booed for attacking Bryan, pretty much solidifying Bryan's ascent as strongly as possible.

But WWE still continued to keep Bryan down. Bryan became involved in a short feud with the hugely over Wyatt Family starting in October. Although the fans were behind Bryan, they became increasingly agitated that Bryan wasn't getting top shots. It came to a head at the Royal Rumble in January, when the fans rebelled against Batista's re-debut and the fact that Bryan wasn't allowed to even participate in the Rumble. Bryan did have a chance to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber in February, but Kane (who by then had joined The Authority as well) interfered and cost him the shot.

Since then Daniel Bryan had lobbied to face Triple H in the ring at WrestleMania. Trips continued to deny his requests until the “Yes Movement” came to a head, with the aforementioned fan takeover of the ring in the beginning of March. He incensed Triple H enough that Trips agreed to his demands. But Bryan paid for it: two RAWs ago from this writing, Trips orchestrated an attack on Bryan by having him handcuffed and beating the crap out of him with a ferocity not seen since the Attitude Era, including a sick spot where Trips put Bryan's head against a ring post, then smashed it with a chair. Though Bryan had the last laugh on the last RAW, he's beaten up, while Trips is pretty much fresh.

What's expected: I honestly believe that this match, in a vacuum, will likely be forgettable. (Not by hype of course, since the crowd will be rabid, but by workrate.) Since one or both guys is going to do double duty, this isn't going to be a 20-minute epic. It will probably be the opener (or maybe the second match) just to bleed the drama over the outcome. Hell, Bryan could win it and just get the crap beaten out of him between every other match on the card by the Authority until the main event.

Regardless, the point is, this match will be full of emotion but likely not be full of workrate. It'll be good, don't get me wrong; I just don't think it'll reach the level of a weekly main event, let alone a pay-per-view undercard match.

But that's not because of any lack of workrate between either guy. Bryan is an entertaining and skilled worker, and Triple H doesn't seem to have lost much despite his age. These guys could have an epic. But because this match will serve as a smaller cog in a larger machine, I think they'll go “good” rather than “great” and save the best for the main event.

My prediction: I think it's infinitely more interesting for both guys to make it to the main event, so I predict this match will be a non-finish or double-finish draw. If not, then Daniel Bryan has to win due to my stated reasons in the main event entry. It would be absolutely insane not to, unless WWE really wants to hear the fans boo from 10:25pm to 11.

Hulk Hogan is the host of WrestleMania 30, by the way. We know from WrestleMania 27 that “the host” (at the time The Rock) has general manager powers for no logical reason, so it wouldn't surprise me if Hogan somehow involves himself in the finish. Maybe it's a Dusty Finish and Trips “wins” by grabbing the tights or some other stupid thing and Hogan reverses it? Maybe Hogan just suddenly reverts to 1987 form and body slams Trips so hard that it explodes his quad again so Bryan can have an easy win? Maybe Trips wins and just injects Bryan into the main event for the hell of it to pop the crowd and renders this entire match moot? Who knows.

More importantly: who cares? This match serves one purpose: get Daniel Bryan to the main event. And it's going to be a fun ride.

Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

Match type: Standard singles

What's on the line: Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak, currently standing at 21-0

How we got here: As with the previous several years, Undertaker has basically been absent from television, not counting a surprise one-shot appearance where he teamed with Kane and Daniel Bryan to face The Shield in late April. Though Taker lost that tag match on RAW, he beat Dean Ambrose later that week on SmackDown... then disappeared entirely.

Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar has had on-and-off appearances. He beat Triple H in a cage match as the Extreme Rules pay-per-view in May, then attacked CM Punk (thus turning Punk face by proxy) in June. Lesnar and Punk faced each other at SummerSlam in August, and Lesnar walked away with a win from that one too.

Lesnar's reign of non-continual dominance was furthered at Royal Rumble when he beat Big Show, making only three pay-per-view appearances in a year, which granted it still more than Taker's. Not that it really matters: Lesnar is entertaining while he's there, and his freakish size and speed makes him fun to watch. Not to mention that he makes for an excellent dominating heel, especially since it's Paul Heyman who cuts his promos for him.

Heyman, on behalf of his client, stated that WWE in February offered Lesnar an open contract for WrestleMania. But because that contract didn't include the possibility to face the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, they weren't interested; Lesnar only wanted to “make history.” That's when the Undertaker made his way down to the ring.

Lesnar couldn't resist trying to break The Streak, so he signed the contract, and invited Taker to do so as well... by shoving the pen against Taker's chest. Taker pulled a Virgil Sollozzo by stabbing Lesnar in the hand with the pen before signing the contract and chokeslamming him through the table it had laid on.

Since then, both Lesnar and Taker have had sporadic appearances on the weekly shows. In general, it was vague threats by Lesnar and mind games by Taker, which generally didn't get anywhere until this last RAW. It was their first physical confrontation, and Lesnar got the best of it by hitting Taker with an F5 in the middle of the ring. Taker glared as Lesnar as Lesnar danced away with a smile.

What's expected: A few years ago, I gave up predicting what exactly Undertaker can do in the ring, since I keep underestimating the guy's abilities. Lesnar is still a beast, so there are no worries about what he can or can't do.

For what's really expected, we have to take a step back and understand something about Undertaker. Or more specifically, we have to understand something about the guy who plays him, Mark Calaway: the dude is a huge MMA fan. When Lesnar was still fighting in the UFC, Calaway attended a lot of the events not just to support him, but because he loves the sport. It's one reason why he adopted a triangle choke, which he calls Hell's Gate, into his WWE arsenal.

While a younger Undertaker focused on some speed (especially for a guy his size) and “clubbing blows,” Taker for the past few years has been more of punchy-kicky guy. The commentators always talk him up as being the “best pure striker in WWE,” and he tends to take a legit fighting stance in WWE matches. Combined with Lesnar's UFC experience, I think this is going to wind up looking more like a mixed martial arts contest more than splashy moves.

Well... at first. It wouldn't be WWE without some suplexes, Undertaker's Old School move, and so on. Still, this isn't going to feel like the “pure” matches when Taker faced Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 and 26, nor do I think it'll look like the more brawl-based matches when Taker faced Triple H at WrestleMania 27 and 28. If anything, it'll be a mix, like when Taker faced CM Punk at WrestleMania 29, except with more focus on striking.

And I think it'll work. Given Taker's rep and Lesnar's real-life experience, these are two guys who can just punch each other for 20 minutes and make it look good. And they're going to have to, since there are no special stipulations to the match; they won't be able to use chairs and tables to break momentum and throw variety into the proceedings.

The only thing I'd be wary of is whether they want to throw in some submissions at random intervals. If submissions and rest holds are used too often in American-style professional wrestling, it tends to look boring; and make no mistake, this match exists for the sizzle, not necessarily the steak. I think we'll see more submission attempts than a standard Undertaker match on both sides (since Lesnar is one of the few who has the credibility to make attempting a submission on Undertaker not look ridiculous and vice versa), but there is line they've got to stay behind where this doesn't turn into a submissions match.

Of course, I don't think we're going to be anywhere close to that; I'm pretty much playing devil's advocate with myself. This one is going to focus on strikes first, trademark moves second, some professional wrestling moves third, and submissions a distant fourth.

Regardless: I've long since admitted and refused to apologize for the fact that I'm a huge mark for Undertaker. He's in my top-3 favorite sports entertainers of all time, and to me, the Streak sells itself. I understand and respect the opinions of those who are sick of Taker, the Streak, or both. That's fine; I'm a reasonable guy, opinions are just that, and I won't try to sway anyone to change their mind. But at the same time, I won't ignore the fact that Taker's entrance entire demeanor still cause me chills, and I still long to experience his entrance in person even though the window is quickly closing shut on that chance. I won't give a shit if the match is a total train wreck, because I will be on the edge of my seat and forgetting that I shouldn't scream at the top of my lungs since my downstairs neighbor is a Marine who will come upstairs and shoot me in the face if I start stomping my feet.

My prediction: Even though it had been rumored for a while, I didn't initially put much thought into this match; for better or worse, I don't fantasy book too often or too deeply. Regardless, when the match was first initially announced (complete with hand-stabbing), I had a knee-jerk reaction that Lesnar could break The Streak.

But that's nonsense. The Undertaker wins and extends the Streak to 22-0. As I've mentioned in years past, if the Streak is ever snapped, it stops being “the Streak” and turns into “a Streak,” which turns it from a milestone to a thing that was just really cool for a short amount of time.

If the Streak is ever broken, it needs to be broken by someone who is young enough to take advantage of it on his WWE resume, but old enough that his experience isn't in doubt. If I could shuffle the card, Daniel Bryan would be a decent candidate: he's only in his early-30s, he has the crowd on his side, his skills give him the credibility, and he can ride that horse for a decade or so if his body holds up.

I saw an interview where someone suggested to Roman Reigns that he could break the Streak next year, and I'd be totally down with that. Reigns is hugely over, and he's got the power to make himself convincing if he's given the chance.

But those are the only two I can think of right now. Lesnar may be seriously over but a win here gives him nothing. Lesnar will never be a full-time wrestler again, and he doesn't need it. He's got his title history, his ability to be incredibly deadly in the ring, and anyone just has to say “UFC World Heavyweight Champion” to give him all the credibility he needs. Frankly, that sounds more impressive than even “snapped the Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania.” Lesnar's credibility is high enough that the fans wouldn't riot if it happened, but since it does nothing positive for anyone, the chance Lesnar will come away with a win is ludicrous. The only scenario I can think of is that something goes so tragically wrong in the ring that Taker has to retire the hard way in the middle of the match and giving Lesnar a default win is the only way out. And even then, Taker—or rather, Mark Calaway—is such a tough SOB that I'm pretty sure he could be legitimately a quadriplegic and still somehow cause Lesnar to tap out.

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

Match type: Standard singles

What's on the line: Nothing

How we got here: Just as a reminder (in case for some reason you skipped my previous 4000 words to jump to this one for some reason), John Cena won the WWE Championship from The Rock in April, lost it to Daniel Bryan in August, won the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio in October, and lost it to Randy Orton in December. Needless to say, Superwigger has had a busy year.

Cena's last attempt at the title came in February at Elimination Chamber. He was eliminated and, the next night, got the crap beaten out of him by the Wyatt Family. The Wyatt Family, led by Bray Wyatt and backed by Luke Harper and Eric Rowan (all of whom have more facial hair than the rest of the roster combined), debuted in July. Their creepy cult-like gimmick, led by Bray's amazing ability to cut a batshit insane promo that actually somehow makes sense, has gotten them hugely over with the fans.

And I mean hugely. I honestly can't think of any recent wrestler who rocketed to the top so quickly and so completely who didn't already have some sort of history with WWE in particular or wrestling in general. Granted that Bray Wyatt is formerly “Husky Harris,” but at this point, that's like pointing out that John Cena used to be “The Prototype.”

Though Harper and Rowan are both still green and have to prove themselves in the ring, Bray has proven himself in the ring. With a slick finisher (a twisting neckbreaker drop he calls “the Sister Abigail” for reasons I'm not going to get into here), and some bizarre in-ring ticks like crab-walking after staring upside down at his opponent, he is so different that he commands attention. Even his entrance music, specifically chosen by Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt) because of its disconcerting tones and borderline psychopathic lyrics, just mesh so perfectly with his persona that it commands you to watch.

The Wyatts have had a few feuds since debuting, including against Daniel Bryan in December and January that even resulted in Bryan temporarily turning heel (before WWE called off the turn due to the fans going apeshit for previously stated reasons). The Wyatts closed that feud with a loss, but rather than seek revenge against Bryan, they just beat the hell out of Cena on RAW after Elimination Chamber for no reason.

And that's when the backstory to this feud goes off the rails. Through Bray's crazy monologues, he's essentially calling Cena out for being a poser and will “prove” to the fans that superheroes do not exist; that in fact, Cena is a wuss.

If that's where they left it, then even casuals could get into it. The story of the dominating good guy getting stopped by the bad guy who thinks the good guy isn't nearly as good as he could be... that's a premise that is absolutely fantastic and can be built off in several ways. Does Cena think he's not good enough? Does Bray see a weakness? CAN THE FANS RALLY BEHIND THE HERO IN HIS DESPERATE HOUR OF NEED???

...We have no idea, because WWE chose to make it about Cena's “legacy,” whatever that means. Other than possibly a cheap ploy to shoehorn Eminem's song “Legacy” into the pay-per-view, Bray's thesis here is that by beating Cena, he's going to prove that Cena's entire being “is a lie,” which makes the opposite of sense.

I can suspend my disbelief hard. Like, to the point where only a clinically depressed over-imaginative fiction-writing videogamer can reach. But when you start saying that one match can somehow “erase” what the loser has done since 1999, you lose me. Does the Steelers' 8-8 record in 2013-14 erase their six Super Bowl rings? Hell no. Because your historic “legacy” is set in stone, and besides, any non-historic legacy isn't even set by the results, but the fans themselves.

My point? That it doesn't matter what Bray does or doesn't do in the ring, nor who wins the match. Cena doesn't lose a thing from this match, win or lose, unless this is somehow turned into some sort of damage to his in-ring character. Which it won't.

What's expected: Cena and Wyatt have spent the weeks of their feud mainly playing mind games with each other. Cena has said he's “scared” of the Wyatts but at this point, you can make the argument that Cena was just lying when he said it to throw the Wyatts into a false sense of security. The point is, since they haven't really traded blows or had any “tune-up matches” with each other, we don't know how well they're going to click.

So I'm going to go back with Bray. Bray's offense, as weird as parts are, is incredibly grounded. The dude is well-trained and is one hell of an athlete, a guy who can move fast and do limited flying despite his relatively larger size. Any flaws he may have are hidden by his strange ticks, not to mention that none of his matches have asked for 20 minutes.

And Cena... well, fans may love to boo him, but the guy knows how to wrestle and is a solid ring general. He's well experienced and has had solid matches with just about every style of wrestler you can think of. And in his matches with CM Punk, we see that he's got tricks up his sleeve that WWE simply doesn't let him do most of the time. I doubt the handcuffs are completely off for this one either, but Cena is that type of wrestler who could probably make me look like a million bucks. I have no doubt this will be a good-quality match, though its place on the card is justified.

My prediction: At the risk of making my picks too face-heavy, I predict Cena comes out with a win. And I honestly would not have gone that direction if they hadn't made this about his bloody “legacy.”

With Eminem's admittedly awesome song playing in the background, they're framing this as the fact that if Cena loses, he loses his history too. And make no mistake: regardless of who holds WWE's top title, Cena is the alpha male and will be until he hangs up the boots. Modern Era WWE plays things way too safe to take Cena in a bizarre direction, and that's exactly what would happen if they actually try to make us think that “Cena's loss of legacy” would change how he behaves in the ring.

I'll be honest: if WWE grows a pair, I'd mark out. Pretty much everyone over the age of 14 agrees that Cena needs to be freshened up, and seeing a weakened and scared Cena who starts doubting himself and losing like crazy would be a nice change of pace. Then again, they pretended that Cena was in that state in 2012 (after losing the first time to The Rock), and no one cared.

I would love to WWE take Eminem's song as a premonition rather than a thematically appropriate match; let Cena “take part in a weird experiment” and become altered and brainwashed by the Wyatts. Let him turn heel and start beating the crap out of everyone. Let someone like Daniel Bryan try to “save Cena,” since that would make a cute little hashtag.

But it's not going to happen. Cena wins, the Wyatts move on.

The Shield vs. Kane & The New Age Outlaws

Match type: Standard six-man tag match

What's on the line: Nothing

How we got here: The Shield (comprised of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) debuted in 2012. They used the thin veil of “justice” as justification for beating the crap out of faces, culminating in unfair assaults and powerful moves (such as their trademark triple powerbomb) to punish who they deemed to be needing a lesson.

Between their incredible chemistry in the ring with each other, their dominating moves, and their ultra-cool black “tactical gear” ring wear, they've managed to stay incredibly hot since the day of their debut. But it was only in the last few months when they started turning face... not because WWE wanted them to necessarily, but because the fans simply demanded it.

The main turning point was at the Royal Rumble, when Reigns broke the record for most superstars eliminated at 12, plus was one of the final two (with Batista). The fans, eager to rebel against the fact that WWE didn't book Daniel Bryan into the Royal Rumble, started booing Batista hard and cheering (and chanting) for Reigns. The dominating performance prior to that didn't hurt, nor did the fact that Reigns was the last man remaining during his team's match at Survivor Series.

Rollins meanwhile is an incredible in-ring competitor, with the ability to put his body on the line and hit physics-defying moves that he incredibly lands safely from; he's always in control. It's no surprise that Rollins and Reigns held the WWE Tag Titles for most of 2013, though they lost them in October on RAW thanks to a no-disqualification match.

It was after that (in November) when Dean Ambrose, United States Champion at the time, starting bragging that he was the best member of The Shield since he was the only one still holding a title. That led to bickering among the trio, especially since the Royal Rumble would be every man for himself. Reigns eliminated both Rollins and Ambrose among the twelve.

Still, though Ambrose and Reigns bickered like an old married couple, it was Rollins who walked out on the team in the middle of a six-man tag match, causing them to lose it. Rather than letting that break the team up permanently, Ambrose and Rollins just punched each other in the face a few times, and all was forgiven. The fans had hoped for a split—probably just for justification to cheer for someone—but they stayed united.

However, their status as heels didn't last long. Kane, since allying with The Authority and becoming their “Director of Operations,” started demanding more and more from The Shield. His final order came the week after Daniel Bryan's “RAW takeover” (which led to the title situation), which happened to be in an arena in Memphis. The week after the takeover, Kane ordered The Shield to assault Jerry Lawler, pointlessly blaming him for causing the mess in Memphis. The Shield teased they would, but then attacked Kane instead, even taking him down with a triple powerbomb.

Kane would get his revenge by booking Ambrose and Rollins in a fatal four-way tag match against three heel teams. Though the match seemed legit, the New Age Outlaws (who also turned heel and allied with The Authority since Triple H is their bestie), who were involved in the match, threw out all pretense of fairness by attacking The Shield illegally. Between all three heel teams and Kane, The Shield suffered a 7-on-3 beatdown, the first time they suffered to their own “outnumbered” tactics.

The three heel teams got their “reward” for helping Kane by getting a title shot at WrestleMania (see below). But since The Shield wasn't going to just let that go, Kane and the NAO challenged The Shield to a six-man tag match at WrestleMania.

What's expected: The Shield, as a unit, simple has not had a bad match. I daresay they haven't even had a mediocre match. When The Shield is being “meh,” they're still better than 90% of the roster. Their team chemistry is a booker's wet dream, made even more shocking by the fact that they didn't work with each other prior to the formation of the group in WWE.

Kane, despite not wrestling as often anymore, still has all his power and his chops. Road Dogg hasn't lost a step since coming back, and Billy Gunn looks even better in the ring since the Attitude Era. He may have a receding hairline, but as far as workrate goes, the dude is in a Benjamin Button situation.

This all adds up to one hell of a fun match. The crowd will be insanely hot; they love The Shield, they despite (for the right reasons) that Kane is a bad guy, and they feel betrayed (again for the right reasons) that the NAO would turn heel. Given the fact that everyone is healthy, everyone is good, everyone has solid chemistry, and having six men allows for very few if any rests, this adds up to being one hell of a fast-paced incredible match. I know where this one ranks on the card, but I'm honestly looking forward to it more than Cena/Ryback.

My prediction: That all said, it would be way too “neat” for The Shield to win here. Though this isn't the first chapter of the feud it is the first time they're getting Kane directly without having to go through shenanigans. It would be too easy and too nice for them to close it already... so I predict Kane's team will win by pin, or lose specifically by intentional DQ.

There are several ways they can go about this. A straight defeat seems unlikely; it's not The Shield's MO to lose clean, and especially not to Kane being a cheating bastard. It may be a standard singles match, but the ref will have his hands full, and the NAO are well-versed in being jerks behind the ref's back.

Still, I don't think it'll even be that simple. It's unlike WWE to feature a team teasing a breakup only to suddenly play nice for a long time. I confess I've been watching old WrestleManias, and I think back to WrestleMania 10, when Bret Hart and Owen Hart go upset at Survivor Series, made nice by Royal Rumble, turned on each other, then beat the crap out of each other at WrestleMania.

Dean Ambrose has so far been the instigator and most heelish of The Shield. I can totally see Dean turning on his buddies and drawing tons of boos; it would be totally within his character to do so just to get something from Kane. It doesn't even have to go that far though, as Dean can simply inadvertently cause the team to lose, especially if he gets in the way of a Reigns-delivered spear or something. Reigns, being the most over, can't turn on The Shield since the fans will just cheer for him regardless; if someone is turning, it's got to Ambrose.

I don't believe that will happen so bluntly, though. The Shield just turned face on March 7, meaning they will have been full face less than a month, which is a quick turn around time by professional wrestling standards. I'm not even sure WWE would hint at it, which is why I think Kane's team will win (dirty) without The Shield necessarily having interpersonal problems (for now). But I sense a break up coming sooner than later (certainly before 2014 is over, probably around SummerSlam at the latest) to allow Reigns to possibly challenge for a middle belt. Hell, Dean Ambrose still has the United States Title... it would be some sweet “justice” for Reigns to chase that belt.

I think the first step of that inevitable feud is going to happen at WrestleMania. And if it does, it can't start with The Shield getting a win (clean or otherwise) over Kane and his cronies.

AJ (c) vs. Everyone

Match type: “Vickie Guerrero invitational,” whatever that means. So far from what's been announced, it seems to be a 14-diva free-for-all, and whoever makes the first pin wins.

What's on the line: The WWE Divas Title

Who's involved: 14 divas total. Alphabetically, they are: AJ, Aksana, Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Cameron, Emma, Eva Marie, Layla, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, My Rosa Mendes, Summer Rae, and Tamina Snuka

How we got here: AJ has been an enigma. She turned heel shortly after WrestleMania 29 by “embarrassing” her best friend Kaitlyn in the stupidest way imaginable. It's so stupid, in fact, I'm not going to dignify it with details. It culminated in AJ winning the Divas Title at WWE Payback, which took place on June 16. Being AJ's first title in WWE, she had the date tattooed on the back of her neck. Surprisingly, this is actually relevant.

AJ solidified her heel turn with some random matches against Kaitlyn (who left the company shortly after to pursue other interests), but didn't really do much with the belt. That changed in late August, when AJ cut a promo against pretty much the rest of the roster that rather divisively split the crowd.

See, the other divas are starring on a show by tabloid-spewing and all-around cesspool of a television network “E!” If you haven't heard of E!, let me assure you that I'm spelling it correctly (and not having a mini-stroke at my keyboard), and it's total shit. Total Divas is a show that somehow turns professional wrestling into looking like Shakespeare, as it follows the “lives” of the divas as they do scripted things that they pretend are reality, all with the overall theme of “Bitches be crazy!” and expecting us to be entertained by screaming and backstabbing. I confess I haven't seen it other than the trailers, but I'm pretty sure that's all I need to know. It's so bad that Rick refuses to acknowledge its existence; rumor has it that if you try to pay any attention to it, even ironically, Rick shows up at your door and slaps you with the discarded half of his pancreas.

I am not the only one who feels this way, for AJ decided to cut a promo against the other women for participating in the bullshit. And boy oh boy, what a promo it was: it called them all out for being Barbie doll-wannabes who cared more about boys and clothes than, you know, wrestling. It intended to be a heel promo, especially since WWE tried to push Total Divas down everyone's throat and the commentators basically sold the show as the greatest entertainment ever.

But the fans aren't stupid. AJ's promo opened the same wounds by CM Punk's “Promo Heard 'Round the World” a few years ago. That wasn't exactly coincidence: AJ may be a gorgeous and adorable woman, but she always wanted to be a part of WWE to wrestle, not just be someone's arm candy. The Divas Title, as I said, was such a proud moment of her life that she got the date of her win tattooed on her neck. She doesn't use the belt as jewelry; it's an actual, professional accomplishment of hers. And she is insulted by the other divas' insistence on parading around television.

I don't know how much of that promo is a work and how much is a shoot. I don't know how much the real AJ may have (my guess is zero). But I do know that the fans go on board, and they started cheering her by the time the promo was over.

WWE panicked. Starting the next week, AJ's promos became more vague and stopped targeting about the show. Instead, she focused on just attacking the other women's looks, which sounded even less sincere. I certainly didn't buy it, and I can't be the only one; you can hear in her tone that there is at least a little venom that the other divas aren't, you know, actually wrestling.

I'll try not to get on too high of a soapbox, but I really do love women's wrestling. For all my “infatuations” I write in my recaps, it's just an exaggeration. No doubt the women are hot and I wouldn't mind a formal dinner with any of them (especially Rosa Mendes, who has to date has not accepted “My” status and refuses to return any of my calls just because she doesn't know I exist and that I've only called her in my imagination). But I watch women's wrestling for the wrestling, because it's different from the men and focuses more on speed and technique than power when done right, yet another reason I need to just shut up and start buying SHIMMER DVDs.

Anyway, AJ has a point, and the fans got behind her. Add that to the fact that WWE is trying to make all the other women faces (to sell their stupid show), matches have been tepid because no one is winning the title and there are no feuds. It's just random pairings like hitting the “?” option in the player select screen of WWE 2K14.

Now, this is not to say some of the women aren't talented. Natalya is probably the most ring-capable woman on the roster, Naomi is probably the purest athlete, Brie has improved like crazy, Nikki is very solid (sometimes), Tamina is a powerhouse not seen since Beth Phoenix left, and so on. But the bookers continue to give the women practically no attention, certainly no stories, and matches that rarely last over 90 seconds. Yet they wonder why the crowd doesn't care, or why people have gotten behind AJ.

Ironically, it's probably because of the show that AJ has held the title as long as she has. With Total Divas taped in advance, they probably don't want to screw with continuity by having a diva win a title on WWE and then suddenly appear without it (and complain about wanting it) on E!

Still, AJ holding the title is credible. With her bodyguard Tamina behind her, she's managed to retain for nearly a year just because Tamina makes sure no one can score a pin. AJ may play the chickenshit heel but she's no slouch, as she can back it up with a sick submission and explosive offense. She's been heavily booked into heelish tactics, probably so the fans are supposed to boo her. However, if the fans are trying to make her a heel, they're doing so slowly; it seems at best, she still gets cheers, and at worst, she (and the rest of the divas division) gets apathy.

Without a real story to go on, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero randomly booked AJ against everyone else, including Tamina. Ostensibly, this is “punishment” for AJ insulting Vickie (which hasn't been relevant since 2012 or earlier), and possibly to give the other divas a fair shot at the belt without Tamina interfering. In reality, the entire premise is stupid, but I'm not going to complain about having all 14 women get a WrestleMania pay day.

What's expected: But I will complain about the format. In my college business classes, we learned that having too many employees working on a task can be just as problematic as too few, since employees will resort to having nothing to do, and it lowers productivity. I can't remember the exact term for the phenomenon, but I at least called it “common fucking sense.”

Wrestling is no different. Triple threats and fatal four-ways are fun. Royal Rumbles are fun because they're controlled. But the opening moments of a battle royal are not fun, which is why they eliminate 50% of the participants in 30 seconds.

And this hot mess isn't even a battle royal; it's 14 women beat the crap out of each other until someone makes a pin. The implication is that the women can't leave the ring, which makes it even stupider, unless my brain just invented that rule and it has no bearing. How the ref will keep control is beyond me, unless there is a “finisher clusterfuck” sequence in the first minute, which sort of defeats the purpose. And the finish is supposed to somehow convince us that 13 of the women will be down simultaneously while someone else makes a pin? Like I said before: my suspension of disbelief in fiction only goes so far.

If this was elimination style, especially a Falls Count Anywhere kind of thing, I could dig it, You could eliminate the four or six worst in-ring women off the bat, eliminate the next four slowly, and be left with a “final four” that start busting out finishers and counters or whatever. You know: a thrilling match.

Instead, it's “one fall to a finish.” And there are so many idiotic things they can do with that stipulation that I don't even want to consider them, much less type them, but I'm masochistic, so I'll do that shortly. All I know is, it's going to be stupid. Each woman will likely get a spot or sequence so the camera can highlight them in turn, but probably no more than a couple will get any sustained offense.

Tamina is the only X factor in the match, by the way, since it's pretty much 1-on-12 otherwise. Tamina has shown hints that she relishes the chance to get the title, but at the same time, she's still defended AJ. With AJ straddling the line between alignments, I'm not sure how the general public would react to her turning on AJ. But given that AJ pretty much has said nothing about the cesspool network, and instead continues to restrain her comments to vague insults, I doubt the fans will really be on her side. Tamina attacking AJ would more likely turn Tamina heel rather than solidifying AJ as a face, but I can dream.

My prediction: Given 14 women and one fall to a finish, this is going to be a short match, which is sad. It saddens me that WWE continues to treat the divas as little more than non-wrestling eye candy, and it saddens me that AJ, who genuinely loves wrestling and wants to be a wrestler, has to put up with this shit. Natalya and Tamina are likely in the same boat, and I'm sure others on the roster would love to actually wrestle too rather than just frolicking on reality TV.

So: if we have 14 women, if we want a quick finish, and if we want to lose brain cells as quickly as possible, the only out is to have all 13 women pin AJ at once (or have all 12 women pin Tamina and AJ together), thus resulting in a 13-way tie that effectively vacates the belt so AJ can lose it and everyone else can have a tournament so some such nonsense. And I would hate that so very, very hard.

So I'm going to think positive thoughts and try a different, more logical conclusion: AJ wins and retains against all odds. WWE enjoys putting wrestlers (faces and heels) into insanely impossible odds, then coming out ahead by doing some wacky bullshit. Maybe Tamina decides to throw herself on the sword and allows AJ to pin her? Maybe Tamina holds everyone off and lets AJ pin the weak link? Maybe AJ pulls a Daniel Bryan and drives her fist through the other women's jaws? Hell, it's “one fall to a finish” and “submissions are allowed.” We could see a revitalization of the Finger Poke of Doom where AJ flicks Tamina's nose and she immediately taps out.

Whatever happens, I refuse to believe WWE would be willing to job out one of its titles, no matter how undervalued it is, with absolutely no build-up in a clusterfuck of a match just because they need to sell Total Divas for being something besides a pile of milky horseshit. Prove me right, WWE. Please. For once, prove me right.

Andre the Giant Memorial 30-Man Battle Royal

Match type: 30-man over-the-top battle royal

What's on the line: A statue commemorating the memory of Andre the Giant

Who's involved: Twenty-seven superstars out of the thirty have been announced as of Friday. Those last three will probably be surprise guests, and while I can guess all day and still probably be wrong, I won't even try.

The twenty-seven announced are, alphabetically: Alberto Del Rio, Big E, Big Show, Brad Maddox, Brodus Clay, Christian, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Dolph Ziggler, Fandango, Drew McIntyre, Goldust, Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, Justin Gabriel, Khali, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Sheamus, R-Truth, Santino Marella, Sin Cara, Titus O'Neil, and Zack Ryder.

How we got here: Hulk Hogan, host of WrestleMania 30, got bored and randomly announced this match.

I still don't really know why this match exists (from a legit perspective), but I do know that WWE usually tries to work everyone into the card. The fanbase got pissed a year or two ago when they bitched that someone (was it Drew McIntyre?) was left off the card, and WWE responded with a statement that amounted to, “Just because it's WrestleMania doesn't mean everyone has to be there.” It seems WWE did a 180 of that attitude this year, and I'm not complaining.

Look, I get it: they're a company, they should save money, whatever. And it's not a great idea to force a bunch of last-second stories onto us; large messes of matches (this one and the 14-diva match) aren't great, but they're a middle ground of getting everyone on the card without nonsensical feuds. And besides: IT'S WRESTLEMANIA! I have no problem with this, and the wrestlers are earning paydays even if they appear for 15 seconds.

As long as they don't make a habit of throwing 90% of the roster into pointless matches for every pay-per-view, we can all forgive it as an annual tradition.

What's expected: A mess. But a fun one.

Battle royals are always a mess until about two-thirds of the competitors are gone. And given that three competitors are secret (and will probably enter the ring last), I'm sure those three will be among the ten finalists. But I also would guess none of them will win, unless someone is coming back on a semi-permanent basis.

My prediction: Okay, so I lied: I'm hoping Chris Jericho is among the surprises. I doubt he'd win it, but he could credibly do so and rub it in everyone's faces for the next few months, whether he decides to be a face or a heel.

Also: I want CM Punk to come back, and I hope he's one of the surprises. But I also hope I discover I have the superpower of turning my Taco Bell farts into diamond-encrusted gold bullion. I'd rather burn my paycheck than take either bet.

How about Rob Van Dam? He's still got it and can have some fun as a one-off.

As far as the winner goes... eh, it doesn't really matter. I'm a firm believer (as old-school as this may make me) that any given wrestling match or stipulation should exist as a reason to give a wrestler a bit of an upgrade. The winner of this match should be able to use this win as a reason to get a push, which means (by definition) he doesn't have that push already.

If we assume that none of the surprise entrants win, and if we assume that whoever wins gets a push that makes sense and is credible, then that pretty much limits the list to Del Rio, Big E, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Dolph Ziggler, and maybe Sheamus.

And of that list, I highly doubt Sandow is getting any sort of push any time soon, given that he hasn't been on TV. I'm also throwing out Cody Rhodes since this match can set up the start of a feud between him and Goldust, which is coming sooner than later, and would probably be good for both of them. Sheamus doesn't need much due to being one Brogue Kick away back into relevance (not to mention the main event), and Del Rio is in the same boat with the Cross Arm Breaker.

That leaves... Big E and Dolph Ziggler. Big E's star is certainly on the rise, but he's got the Intercontinental Title and doesn't need a trophy to lug around. But Ziggler? Now that's intriguing. Ziggler has been in a bit of limbo the past year, and I wouldn't mind seeing him being “the show off” as he brandishes the trophy everywhere. Dolph may not have the strength to make incredible eliminations, but he can be “clever” (read: sneaky and cheating) and still sell it.

All I know is, with Big Show's total domination of other wrestlers in the lead-up to this, he's not going to win. Professional wrestling is not in the business of taking a person and making them infallible (unless your name is Goldberg and it's the late-90s). By the same token, it looks like The Miz would win based on the fact that he's gotten his ass handed to him for several weeks straight, but I simply can't foresee him doing anything important with the win to make it worth it.

I'm calling Dolph Ziggler, even though I readily accept that the chance is low. This is one of those matches that they can go a bunch of different ways, which would be intriguing if there was any buildup to this match other than random meaningless “eliminations” in non-matches (such as impromptu unofficial 14-man battle royal that erupted on Miz TV) and other wrestlers talking up or down some of the participants.

The Usos (c) vs. Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans vs. Rybaxel

Match type: Fatal four-way tag match

What's on the line: The WWE Tag Team Titles

Special note: This match will be on the “pre-show.”

How we got here: The WWE Tag Team Championships have bounced around a few teams in 2013. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) currently hold them after beating the New Age Outlaws on a random RAW in early March.

The Usos have been entertaining and awfully hot in all their tag matches, but only in the last month got the chance to hold the belts. They've successfully defended them once against Los Matadores, but otherwise have simply held them without problems.

The Real Americans (comprised of Jack Swagger and Cesaro) and Rybaxel (comprised of Ryback and Curtis Axel) were the other two teams (along with the New Age Outlaws) who attacked The Shield in the middle of March on Kane's orders. Kane rewarded both teams by allowing them this match. Los Matadores, who are faces, have no real reason to be involved, but they're fun to watch, so... whatever.

What's expected: There's a reason this is a pre-show match. Rybaxel just isn't clicking with the crowd or each other; Curtis Axel himself tends to be the whipping boy in any match in which the team is involved. Ryback is fun for some power offense, but his limited move set doesn't exactly make him a workrate darling.

The Real Americans are a good team and are quite over, especially Cesaro, whose Giant Swing and giant nipples seem to capture the fans' attention. They're ostensibly heel, especially when manager Zeb Colter starts cutting thinly veiled racist promos, but they have most of the arena singing along to their “We, the people!” catchphrase and Cesaro's bizarre, powerful offense. They're not the best workers on the roster, but good lord are they fun to watch, and they seldom disappoint.

Los Matadores (formerly Epico and Primo, though WWE isn't acknowledging they're the same guys) have great team chemistry and always zip around the ring with speedy offense. Their “mascot” (read: midget in a bull costume), El Torito, is a fun distraction too, especially when he interacts with opposing managers. They're a treat to watch, but they're not nearly over enough to hold the titles.

The Usos are everything awesome about professional wrestling. They're fast-paced, work hard, fly high, have a killer entrance, and are super over. Their “When I say 'Us,' you say 'Oh!'” shtick took a while to catch on, but the fans are singing along, and they keep the cheers from start to finish in a match. They have remarkable team chemistry and their moves are just crazy enough to look like they're out of control half the time. They're unpredictable within parameters, and their moves are sure to pop the crowd.

All combined, this will be an excellent match to watch... but it's not going to turn any heads or convert non-fans. Its place on the card is deserved, but that's not a knock against of the eight men involved.

My prediction: Two things: this match was pretty much randomly thrown together, and it's the flippin' pre-show. Know what that means? The Usos win and retain. You don't want to start the crowd off unhappy, so you make sure the faces retain. If Los Matadores were more over, or if the Real Americans were faces, I'd be a little more indecisive. But Los Matadores don't deserve the titles (yet), the Real Americans are heels (no matter how many cheers Cesaro gets), and Rybaxel is... not a good team. Usos win, the crowd is warmed up, and everyone is happy.

Prediction Summary

  • The Usos retain the Tag Titles

  • Dolph Ziggler wins the battle royal

  • AJ retains the Divas Title

  • John Cena defeats Bray Wyatt

  • The Undertaker defeats Brock Lesnar

  • Daniel Bryan draws with Triple H

  • Daniel Bryan wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Final Thoughts

I'm pretty sure we're missing a match here. We've only got six matches on the card, and given that's supposed to cover four hours, I can't imagine there won't be anything else. Maybe an impromptu match for a different title? I hope WWE's answer to this isn't to pack the show with filler. There's always a lot video packages for WrestleMania to catch lapsed fans up with the stories, not to mention Kid Rock will probably screech some stupid lyrics, but hopefully that doesn't turn into a fifteen-minute medley like Cee Lo Green's moment, whichever WrestleMania that was.

This will be the first time in about a decade I won't be able watch WrestleMania with my mom. It may make sound like a “mama's boy” or whatever (do adults still concern themselves with calling each other than name?), but it still sucks. Thanks to the WWE Network though, she's promised to catch the replay with me, but I know it won't be the same since I'll know all the results ahead of time.

I will have a small group over, but it just won't be a big party like I usually like. I used to do WrestleMania right: snacks, sodas, booze, pizza, and everything artery-clogging. WrestleMania used to be one of my three “nothing healthy” days, where the rule of the house was that if it doesn't double your cholesterol, it doesn't go into your throat. Bringing a salad to the party was punishable by Taco Bell farts. (Mom got a pass since she brought cheesecake.)

Instead, it'll likely be my roommate, one of my friends, and maybe one coworker here. Maybe. Small parties are fine, and I'm taking advantage of a nearby Walmart's “Make Your Own Six-Pack.” Maybe a pizza. But it'll be a little subdued.

That's not to say I won't enjoy it. WrestleMania is the one night of wrestling every year that I try really, really hard not to overthink things despite these super-columns of mine. And given that WrestleMania is only costing me ten bucks this year, I really can't complain in good conscience even if the show is a travesty.

But it's still real to me, damnit, and I don't approach WrestleMania in a bad mood. Individual matches may be a let down, but the night will be fun, and after the month I've had, decompression is awesome. (Plus, I've got the three days after WrestleMania off work, so I don't have to worry about getting a little snookered!) I'm looking forward to Sunday, and you should be too.

Enjoy the show, and shortly after it ends, return to Online Onslaught for Rick's recap of WrestleMania 30! He'll have the RAW recap the next night, and I'll... probably have the SmackDown recap next week. I still need to get my tooth looked at, so depending on the timing and severity of that, I may miss a recap, but we'll see. You guys will be among the first to know if I have to miss one, but something would have to seriously go wrong if I miss more.

Either way, I'll see you when I see you. Enjoy WrestleMania, everyone!


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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