Once dubbed "Bigger. Badder. Better." lately, WWE may want to adopt the tagline "Longer. f***ing. Longer." if things keep going the way they are. Including the pre-show and one yet unconfirmed match (I have a lot to say about that one) there are 14 matches scheduled. Last year there was 13. 12 the year before that. 9 the year before that and 8 the last time they were in New Orleans for Wrestlemania 30. Shit, I remember when people thought Wrestlemania 15 was over-booked Russo garbage because it had 12 matches (2 on HeAT, rest on the main card)
Alright... There's a lot to get into so let's get started with the Battle Royals.
André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The first of WWE's "let's get everyone on the card for the sake of getting everyone on the card" matches. I think it's weird how Matt Hardy had the Ultimate Deletion blow-off with Bray on Raw a couple weeks ago and now all they have for him is this. Like usual it's a geek battle royal full of geeks. The winner means nothing. Nothing happens. I'm sure 90% of you don't even remember who won last year off the top of your head. I wish this pre-show bullshit was at least the prelude to a push, but its now. So, with all that said its hard to pick a winner especially since we don't even know everyone in it.
My pick: "Woken" Matt Hardy. Ironically since this is the Andre "The Giant" Battle Royal it pretty much comes down to who is the tallest midget in the match. Your guess is as good as mine. For those who forgot, Mojo Rawley won last year. It's a crap shoot. Someone is going to win and they're going to come out with that cheap looking trophy until it is destroyed on TV and it'll never be mentioned again.
Wrestlemania Women's Battle Royal
Originally the "Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal" for about 3 days until WWE was forced to change it largely because Snickers got wind of the backlash. Much of the same can be said that I said about "The Dre" above. I think this match was originally going to be on the main card until the Moolah backlash and since then it hasn't been put over as that big of a deal. Again people are just thrown in this to get them on the card. Bayley and Sasha should have a singles match to cap off or at least continue their feud, but they need bodies in this match and there's only so many women on the roster.
A lot has been made about the trophy, too but seriously. I don't blame WWE for trying to get one past their fans. I'm sure they were more shocked than anyone that their fan base is that familiar with the female anatomy.
My pick: Bayley - The next best thing to them having a match would be if this match came down to Bayley and Sasha Banks. Bayley will one-up her "friend" and that will further fuel their feud going forward. That's how I'd book this anyway.
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali (Tournament final for the vacant WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
Since the release of Enzo and Triple H taking control of 205 Live I've heard there's been improvements to this show. Here I guess you're getting two happy babyfaces who are just going to have a match and there will be your new purple champion. There's been a mild outrage about this being a pre-show match, but whatever. I've seen worse, like the IC, US and Tag Title all being relegated to the pre-show at one time or another. To put this on the main show, you need to cut someone else's match and other than the unannounced Cena vs Undertaker match, the Rousey match and the Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn match the rest are all championship matches so what goes or gets its time cut? Having it here is better than nothing.
My pick: Cedric Alexander - He seems to be the one that they want to get over but the dude needs to get some personality injections fast. Being a generic named wrestler with a generic look who smiles isn't going to get you TV time like Enzo was getting when he held the Cruiserweight title.
The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Triple threat tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
The Usos' main card Wrestlemania debut believe it or not. A fact I wasn't even aware of until they brought it up in a promo. Well, good for them, I guess. It's been quite the resurgence for the Usos. Paul Heyman recently praised them as the OMG BEST TAG TEAM OF THE LAST 10 YEARS OMG!!! I mean, whatever. I like them but pump the breaks. They're good promos, but unlike Heyman I don't think they are that innovative or "progressive" at all. Are they better or more innovative than what Enzo was doing every week? They're being themselves and cutting promos like normal people would. It's a style we started to see a lot of at the dawn of the Attitude Era. Instead of being colorful face painted stereotypes, they became real people and became stars once the fans saw them beyond being WWE homogenized 2 dimensional gimmicks. We all love the Usos now, but... relax Paul. Let's not over-rate them now.
All that being said... My pick -- The Usos. I think their run continues. The Bludgeon Brothers have potential, but their inclusion in this match feels forced, again like much of the matches on this card, just to get people on the card. The hot feud is Usos vs New Day. I don't see this ending in a triple threat even though it is Wrestlemania.
Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev (Fatal four-way match for the WWE United States Championship)
This time a Fatal Four Way on a card with battle royals and Triple Threats and Fatal Four Way and Clusterfuk Five Ways and Six Pack Shit Shows... Probably the main card match I'm least looking forward to.
My pick: Rusev. Eh... why not. The crowd is going to be most hot for him. Might as well.
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax (Singles match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship)
This feud has been okay and feels a bit rushed. They're going with this bully story line which makes me think Nia is winning, but this feud has just been a quick tiff to get the Women's Championship to Wrestlemania. Normally, I'd pick Alexa to win since Nia really hasn't done much to earn a title shot. She lost to Asuka a couple times. Asuka chose to challenge Charlotte over on Smackdown and Nia gets a title match because Alexa was caught talking shit about her backstage a la Paul Bearer and Jerry Lawler 20 years ago.
I guess they will go for the feel-good ending here, so my pick: Nia Jax. I think it is a bit soon for her and Alexa still has so juice as champion but whatever. It's WWE. For all I know Alexa could win the title back at the next PPV or at the next night on Raw even. Here, I say Nia wins though.
The Miz (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor (Triple threat match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship)
Isn't it weird how in this era former world champions hold and challenge for the IC and US Championships? Back in the day wrestlers used to "graduate" from this level once they got past it. Not anymore. I guess it's nothing new. It's pretty much always been that way in the 2010's. It's also funny that people (NOT ME! NOT ME!) thought the brand split would give midcarders who are usually lost in the shuffle more shots at titles like this. Nope! 3 former world champions here, two of which that were Wrestlemania main events at one time. Look who has held the IC and US titles, too since the split. Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles to name a few. Also I could mention other former world champions like Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, but they'll probably always just be at this IC level.
I guess it's the result of having a bloated roster. Guys are naturally going to get lost in the shuffle and when you split the rosters and half and cut the star power in half you gotta keep these main eventers busy doing SOMETHING when they aren't having to put over Roman Reigns or reforming factions just for the sake of having him get a pop by association.
Yeah whatever, I know I'm ranting. My pick: The Miz to retain. Should be a good match.
Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. Braun Strowman and TBD (Tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
I'm not sure who Braun's partner will be. I would guess Samoa Joe, but the current rumor is that Joe is going to be Roman's first feud after he wins the title against Brock (yeah, sorry for the big spoiler in my prediction there...) It could be Big Show who recently signed a new multi-year deal, but... eh... Come on. Maybe it will be Shawn Michaels' recently released pony tail. Based on the response online it's already more over than anyone else available for Braun to pick.
My pick: Braun Strowman and Mr. Someshit - This one seems obvious enough. Braun is going to reveal his partner. I guess part of this Wrestlemania is going to be a last minute surprise for the fans. The match will probably be relatively short by Wrestlemania standards and we'll have new Raw Tag-Team Champions.
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka (Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship)
If given enough time, this could be the match of the night even though the hype hasn't been that great. Part of that is because it's another babyface vs babyface match and there's no real heat. The heat is in Asuka's streak and knowing these are two talented workers. The promos are what they are. I actually like Asuka's delivery even though her English isn't great, she's still able to ooze with personality. Charlotte is a horrendous babyface promo. She's such a better heel and it's not even close. Her babyface promos are just bland, monotone garbage. However... like I said, this match is all about what happens when the bell rings. Give these girls 25 minutes and we could be talking about the best women's match in Wrestlemania history.
My pick: Asuka -- the streak continues.
Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon (Mixed tag team match)
The weird thing about this match is while they want to make money off Ronda's stardom that she developed in her years prior to joining WWE officially this year, they also want to put over Stephanie McMahon. By "put over" I don't mean she is going to win, she's not and she shouldn't, but the WWE wants to put her over in the sense of being a mainstream name. So she is going to "play a bad guy" like her bio on Twitter says. They're gonna get that shot of her tapping and screaming to Ronda and then she's gonna cross her legs and chit-chat with Kathy Lee Gifford or some bullshit and talk about the "women's evolution" and how she allowed this all to happen and now suddenly women have the right to wrestler all because of her.
Yeah. It sounds like shit, and it is, but it's true shit. They could have easily had Ronda in there with, ya know, an actual wrestler, but no-no her first match is going to be on the biggest stage against the owner's 41 year old non-wrestling daughter because SHE'S A TRAILBLAZER or whatever bullshit they're trying to indoctrinate the public with.
My pick: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey -- Ronda wins via tap out. Don't over-expose her lack of pro-wrestling skills too much just yet. Bad enough they already spent a month exposing her as a sub par promo.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Singles match for the WWE Championship)
Another "match of the night" contender. Many fans know about their great bout in Japan and have set expectations. The feud itself has been okay as far as babyface vs. babyface feuds go. Throughout the years if a McMahon is at Wrestlemania... or any PPV for that matter, that gets the bulk of the hype and attention. This is no different. The match involving Shane McMahon has gotten much more hype and build than the WWE title match featuring two great workers. It's just the way it is, but I don't blame fans for caring about that match more since Daniel Bryan is returning. I might be most interested in that than anything else on the card, actually... but if Shane wasn't in that match this one probably would have got equal or more creative attention to Bryan's return match.
My pick: AJ Styles -- Styles retains. I'm not sure how confident WWE is in Nakamura right now. I think this match was booked more to please the wrestling purist fan and not so much to try and get one guy over. They'll come off as equals in skill, but in the end AJ will win a great match and the fans will eat it up.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (Tag team match | If Owens and Zayn win, they will be rehired to SmackDown.)
Daniel Bryan's first match in a few years. To me that is what made this worth while since this feud has been really drawn out. Everyone is ready for it to end. For that reason I don't see a turn by Shane and especially don't see one from Bryan.
My pick: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon -- What does this mean for Owens and Zayn? Uhh... It's wrestling. They aren't really fired. They were on Smackdown this past week and cut a promo in their WWE gear. If they lose, they can just be brought back by Vince who over-rules Shane and Bryan or... They could show up on Raw the next day after Wrestlemania since they were "fired" from Smackdown. Firing angles are weird. Under normal circumstances I'd pick KO and Sami to win and get their jobs back, but I don't see Bryan losing his first match back. Even if Shane takes the fall, I think the right thing to do would be to just please the fans by having Bryan hit his signature spots and pick up the win and then let Owens and Sami ham it up for the crowd after losing. Turning Bryan wouldn't work. The fans will never boo him and since his return promo he's one of the biggest pure babyfaces ever in an era that truly lacks likable babyfaces so they shouldn't turn him. As for Shane, I'm sick of heel McMahons doing the same shit they've been doing for 20 years so, nothing interests me about seeing Shane turn heel on Bryan.
John Cena vs. The Undertaker (Assumed Singles match)
I guess part of my prediction is that this match even happens. I've hated the build to this. I think much of the intrigue of Cena vs Undertaker went with the streak when Cena was still booked as pretty unstoppable and Undertaker was unbeaten at Wrestlemania. However, it's still two very big names and... this is it. Absolutely no mention of The Undertaker. Lame.
There's been much made about Kid Rock's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame being somewhat a prelude to him playing out Undertaker as the American Bad Ass at Wrestlemania. If that's what you want, I think Undertaker not showing up at all is a good sign that he will appear as that character for the first time in about 16 years. I still say they should have done something. If you're thinking "Well, Candyass if he's the American Badass he can't do the same old Undertaker imagery" and you're right but do you remember when he debuted this gimmick? He had the video of the young girls saying things like he's "back from the dead". The lights would flicker during matches.It was something that signified his arrival. On the go-home to Raw they could have done something subtle like that. Mayne even reference those old Judgement Day vingettes. Some little wink and nod to tell the fans he will be there... but they did nothing.
It's a weird promotional tactic and I don't think it has worked in WWE's favor, but maybe it doesn't matter since they have a Network now and they already have your money and for new subscribers they give it away for free. I have friends who are just casual fans. They watched the last Raw before Wrestlemania because to them go-home shows still mean something (I wish they still did to WWE) and I got questions like "why isn't Undertaker wrestling at Wrestlemania?" The casual fans think he's not even going to be there and even the avid fans are questioning if the match is going to happen. To me that's poor promotion. Yes, people are talking about it, but most fans think the match isn't even going to happen after literally NOTHING happened on Raw this past week.
Even if Undertaker hinted his arrival I think this feud has been shit. I would have liked one segment where Undertaker and Cena went toe-to-toe where Undertaker shot back in a cutting promo, but no. We got a month of Cena basically saying "I'm a loser and Undertaker is my last resort so... I challenge him" and then cuts silly, hokey promos and tries to lure him in by posting memes and saying he has no balls. I also love the bit about him saying he's not old when during his feud with Roman he downplayed Roman's victory over The Undertaker by calling him "an old man with a bad hip". It wasn't that long ago. Fans still remember especially its from a promo segment that WWE heavily promoted afterwards. The go-home Raw furthered Cena's absurdity when he said he didn't want to go in the Andre 'The Giant' Memorial Battle Royal because then he would be "taking a spot from someone who busted their ass all year to get on the card" so... he's going to pass up a pre-show spot for calling out Undertaker in a main card spot? I wonder if any of those full time whippersnappers who bust their ass all year would trade their spot with Cena? Just curious.
My pick: The Undertaker -- well, I guess after a month of Cena calling him a ball-less bitch Undertaker has to win to at least have some dignity. The only thing I cared about with this feud at this point was going to be the promos. Now, I just hope the match goes no longer than 10 minutes. Undertaker can't go anymore. I don't give a shit how good he looks on Instagram. Hulk Hogan looks great on Instagram too but if he tried doing a leg drop today his ass would break apart like a sand castle. The guy is a near 7 foot/300 pound man who is 53 -- FIFTY-THREE(!!!) years old! On top of that he's been taking bumps in a wrestling ring his entire adult life. He's a beat up big guy and Cena, who has never been a great worker (yes, I know he has had great matches with some of the most elite talent WWE has ever had like HBK, CM Punk, AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan) also looked pretty rusty last time he was in a ring and I don't see two middle aged clunkly workers having a great match. You want to compare this to Rock vs Hogan? Not even close. I would also argue that 2002 Hollywood Hogan was in better ring shape than 2018 Undertaker is today. The Rock was also 29 years old (a month away from 30, I know but still) at the time of that Wrestlemania 18 match with Hogan and in his prime as a worker. He could easily carry Hogan to a classic. Cena is the "young" one here at 40 and a few short weeks away from turning 41 already winding down to a part-time in-ring career. Yeah... don't expect a pretty match and don't expect a Rock/Hogan type moment or that level of sustained heat between bells. I think the fans would be just fine if Undertaker makes his entrance, does his signature spots and pins Cena in the middle in 5 minutes.
Oh... and the return of the American Badass likely means he will have another match as the Deadman because I don't think Vince, who was never a big fan of the ABA would allow that character to be the last image of The Undertaker that the fans get to see in a real match.
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns (Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship)
Another feud that I don't think has been great. You have two guys that neither of the fans really like right now and everyone knows who is going to win. The feud has had moments of hilarity maybe from Roman's pathetic "worked shoots" that are supposed to be good because he calls Brock a "bitch". OOOOOH! Of course the funniest moment I wrote a whole column about and that Roman referring to Brock as "Vince's boy". Go find my column on that called "Vince's Real Boy" if you want my full thoughts on that ridiculous piece of the angle.
I think it was dumb of WWE to advertise Brock for shows and not deliver him with worked no-shows. They did this two weeks in a row and then pretty much killed the gimmick by having him appear at house shows and compete in short matches. Way to sell the "Lesnar doesn't show up to work" angle. I feel what they did with Undertaker they should have done with Brock. It's almost like WWE got cold feet and felt they had to have Brock actually get heat on Roman in some effort to get sympathy on him. It probably would have been better to keep Brock off Raw and only have Paul cut a couple promos on Brock's behalf. It probably would have pissed fans off having Brock not show up, but instead the fans got what a lot of them wanted and that's the image of Brock beating down Roman Reigns and of course it didn't do much in gaining him sympathy and who is going to feel sympathetic towards Roman? We know he's Vince's real boy.
My pick: Roman Reigns -- One of the easier picks. This has been their plan for a year. I remember Dave Meltzer reporting this would be the main even of Wrestlemania 34 as early as last May. A month after last year's Wrestlemania. Brock has held this belt all year just to put Roman over. The match will probably be okay. It depends on how much Brock really cares about putting on a good match. There's also the chance that the fans reject this similar to the Lesnar vs Goldberg match at Wrestlemania 20. Especially now so more than ever with Dana White saying that Brock will return to UFC at some point but said he didn't know when... but since Brock has fought in UFC while under contract with WWE already I don't know if that means that Brock is necessarily even leaving WWE after this match, but the perception and feeling with most fans is that he is and they also still don't like Roman so, the crowd is going to be interesting during this match. Even if Brock re-signs I'm not sure what's left for him. He's faced all the big names. He became a world champion. He (will) put over the company's new boy. I would have said 'Golden Boy' but "golden" implies that he's making the company money. What's next? Another 50+ year old big name needs to come out of retirement just to be WWE's latest nostalgia Band-Aid? Ehh... Whatever. Like I said, the crowd is what should be interesting here. The outcome is obvious as the day is long and few truly care about yet another coronation for Roman Reigns to a flashy fireworks display over a chorus of drowning boos.
There's my preview and predictions for Wrestlemania 34. If you're new to Planet Kayfabe thanks for joining me and I hope you check out my review after the show. Also follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe and let's talk about wrestling there. Also keep NoDQ buzzing by starting a conversation in the comments section below. See? I don't ask for much.
Until next time, I'm Paul Matthews for Planet Kayfabe on NoDQ. Enjoy the Hall of Fame ceremony. Enjoy NXT TakeOver. Enjoy Wrestlemania 34. Should be a great weekend on the wrestling calendar. Take care, everyone.