By James Stewart, 98.5 The Sports Hub
BOSTON (CBS) — Expectations feel low for Wrestlemania 32, which will take place on Sunday AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. However, last year felt the same way and I felt like the WWE, with their backs against the wall, delivered. My bias (as an attendee) tells me that they’ll figure it out, and put together an amazing show.READ MORE: Former Celtics Player Jabari Bird Admits To Attacking, Choking Woman In 2018
Here are my predictions for the show on Sunday:
Team Total Divas will win the 10-Diva tag team match over Team B.A.D. & Blonde.
The Usos will beat The Dudley Boyz.
Kalisto will retain the U.S. Championship by beating Ryback.
Bray Wyatt will win the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Bray right now isn’t listed on the card in any form. If he’s being programmed with Brock Lesnar in the future, this would be a good first win for him. A member of the WWE staff told me a month ago Bray was in strong consideration for a run with the WWE Championship.
If WWE wanted to make a major splash, Hulk Hogan would be a surprise entrant and win. If WWE wanted to be “safe,” Kane winning the battle makes the most sense.
My winner: Bray Wyatt
WWE Winner: Kane
Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz vs. Stardust
It’s KO-Mania and he should retain the Intercontinental Championship. Kevin Owens, since he hit the main roster on May 18, 2015, has been the best week-in/week-out wrestler. It should be a slam dunk that he retains, continuing his run with the IC title. I could see the WWE putting the title on Sami Zayn. Sami would add some new blood to WWE TV and heat up another feud with Owens that was so good for nXt.
My winner: Kevin Owens
WWE Winner: Sami Zayn
The New Day will beat The League of Nations in a 3-on-4 match.
The biggest question going into this match will be if New Day shows up flying in on unicorns.
AJ Styles will beat Chris Jericho.
I consider AJ Styles as one of the best wrestlers in the world. I don’t think WWE agrees with my opinion but for some reason, they signed him to a six-figure contract. From the time he debuted on the Royal Rumble, the focus wasn’t on him. Rather than fully show his entrance, they showed Roman Reigns reaction. (Because that makes Roman look really strong.)
You might know his career resume but here it is anyways. He was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion for 307 days over the course of two title reigns since May of 2014. His resume for me starts when I first saw AJ Styles wrestle in March of 2003 in a National Guard Armory for the Ring of Honor Tag Team championship, which he won, in the main event.
I saw him go toe-to-toe with Samoa Joe at Framingham State College in November of 2003. He used a move called the Styles Clash in both of those matches. It’s an amazing finishing move that the crowd knows and loves. Nope, he can’t use it in the WWE. Oh wait, he did once but Chris Jericho kicked out of it.
There is a lot more money to be made with AJ Styles and this will likely be it for Jericho for a few months. Styles NEEDS to win and win big!
My winner: AJ Styles
WWE Winner: AJ Styles
No Holds Barred Street Fight
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar
They really need to bleep or get off the pot with Brock Lesnar. He’s either in the WWE title hunt or he’s elevating other talents. He’s a part-time wrestler with a main event/big match feel, and he should have been part of the WWE Championship match. Who knows, maybe by the end of the night, he will be.
Dean Ambrose should also be in the WWE Championship Match but he’s also not. In a street fight, Dean has a chance to win. It’s not a big chance but it’s a chance. I would have Dean win and continue the strong momentum that he has right now. If WWE is planning for Dean and Roman to feud over the WWE Championship in the future, a Dean Ambrose win makes a lot of sense here. I can see a Wyatt family run-in during this match as well. I just don’t think the WWE would have Brock lose on this stage to Dean.
My winner: Brock Lesnar
WWE Winner: Brock Lesnar
Triple Threat match for the WWE Divas Championship
Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
This is the match I’m most looking forward to. I mentioned above how Kevin Owens has been week-in and week-out the best wrestler on WWE TV. Well, the Women’s/Divas division has been the most entertaining week-to-week program since Charlotte beat Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship on Sept. 20 at Night of Champions. The story of Charlotte aligning with her father, Ric Flair and turning on her friends like Becky Lynch has been simple and compelling TV.
If you liked ’80s WWF programing, this has been the storyline that should hook you. Add in Sasha Banks and we’re only a Bayley away from having the “Four Horsewomen” make an appearance on WWE TV.
If this match is given the time, it can be as good as the Banks vs. Bayley match from nXt Take Over in Brooklyn. Sasha Banks has the complete package and I would expect her to win.
My winner: Sasha Banks
WWE Winner: Sasha Banks
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Last year, as a preview to the Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns match, I wrote:
“It’s obvious that Roman Reigns will walk out as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion on Sunday night. WWE invested a lot of time and money into the Roman Reigns push to the top.”
That statement still holds true today but in a year, nothing has changed. The fans still boo Roman Reigns for whatever reason. The reason at this point doesn’t matter; they can’t have him win the WWE Championship as a good guy and get booed out of Dallas. They HAD Roman “over” for a 48-hour period in Boston and Philly back in December, then it fell apart. Short of a heel run, it’s being proven he’s NOT the next franchise player for WWE to build around.
If they do have Roman Reigns win the championship, the post-match celebration should include Dean Ambrose coming out as well as The Rock. During the celebration, Roman should spear both of them, thus allowing fans to boo more and establishing Roman Reigns as the No. 1 bad guy in WWE. It’s really the only way to save the Roman Empire from crashing down.
I’m on the Triple H-should-retain bandwagon. A feud with Triple H and Shane-O-Mac for the summer feels more interesting to me. While they can do that without the championship, it would be more interesting with the championship. Shane can’t throw Triple H off RAW if he’s still the WWE champion. If they have Triple H defend the title week after week on RAW, it helps everyone. Challengers get to work with Triple H every week in the same way John Cena worked with everyone during the U.S. open challenge. It made the U.S. Championship important. Then, when healthy, Seth Rollins answers the challenge and wins the WWE championship, which he never lost.
My winner: Triple H
WWE Winner: Roman Reigns
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
Hell In A Cell match; if Shane wins, he will get control of Raw, and it will be Undertaker’s final WrestleMania.
This should be the final match of the show, with logic flaws everywhere in why this match is happening and the stipulations around it. I just don’t know how the crowd boos the Undertaker at Wrestlemania in his home state of Texas. Short of that, this match has a strong buzz with tons of questions around what to do.
I told my idea for what I would do as the finish to this match to a few people. One active wrestler told me “that’s an amazing finish.” One active local wrestling promoter told me “that’s terrible”.
Here’s my idea for the finish: Undertaker hits Shane with the tombstone piledriver, at the two count, lights go out, when the lights come on, standing in the ring, with Undertaker (standing) and Shane (still out from the piledriver) are, Finn Bálor, AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows, the former Bullet Club, now called the Bálor Club. They lay a beatdown on the Undertaker that allows Shane McMahon to win the match and control Monday Night Raw.
Shane McMahon now has a new group to lead his vision of Monday Night Raw.
I don’t feel like the WWE has the confidence to go with an idea like that. The WWE roster has so much talent and depth but 50-50 booking has not helped get anyone over. The run-in by the former Bullet Club would create new stars instantly.
I wouldn’t be shocked if John Cena or Steve Austin made an appearance during this match.
My winner: Shane McMahon
WWE Winner: Undertaker
This is WrestleMania. We all watch with our hardcore friends and our casual friends and from my scorecard, every year we’ve come away with a favorite moment or match. I’ll be in Dallas all weekend capturing mine.
Enjoy Sunday. For wrestling fans like myself, this is our Super Bowl.
James Stewart is the executive producer of the Felger and Massarotti Show, which airs 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Find him on Twitter @IAmJamesStewart.