Last night's grandest stage of them all was not the harbinger of watershed change that I was hoping for, though that's probably my own fault for having my usual #IrrationalIdealist expectations.  We got the distinct impression from Wrestlemania that this is still Vince McMahon's company and, with minimal exceptions, what he says goes.

Doesn't mean it wasn't an enjoyable show to end an enjoyable weekend, though.

Come with me, NAIborhood, as the Pope of Positivity walks you through his personal list of favorite moments from Sunday's Wrestlemania.

 

Kalisto vs. Ryback

Full disclosure: I was doing a food run during this match, so I can't preach too much about the positivity of the match itself, but Kalisto is still our United States champion.  Nothing wrong with that.  I also heard that Ryback might have gone full heel following the match, which is also a good thing.  I imagine this feud will continue throughout the spring, and while I'm not wild about it, I also don't detest the idea as much as I thought I would.

 

Ten Diva Tag Match

This match was way more enjoyable than it really had any business being - I was engaged from start to finish.  I feel like these women knew about the changes coming to their division and decided to step things up.

Let's talk about Lana for a second.  She didn't do a whole lot in this match, which was by design. We saw a couple impressive kicks and I just adored how she stood very tall, extended her hand formally and announced that she'd like to be tagged into the ring now.  I'm excited to see where she goes heading out of Mania season.

Also, if this was truly the swan song for Brie Bella, she picked a very nice way to go out.  Daniel Bryan tweeted it and he was totally right, the rolling Yes Lock Brie performed was better than any version I ever saw her husband do.  I've never been a huge fan of either Bella twin, but you can't say they weren't talented.

Really, there was a lot to like from all participants. Paige, Naomi, Emma, Tamina and Natalya all had nice moments.

Who was the real star?  Do you even need to ask?

evamariepose

It wasn't just that she soaked up those boos from the crowd like they were manna from heaven.  It wasn't that she refused to take in Paige, then tagged Natalya via slap.  Even her most hardcore haters admit she knows how to be an uber-heel.

But Eva Marie acquitted herself quite well purely as a wrestler.  In fact, she did pretty good.

She wasn't in the match long, and she wasn't supposed to be, but when she was there, she did her job.  That's all we can ask.

 

The Dudleys vs. The Usos

I loved that The Dudleys, despite being the storyline heels in this match, got cheered exponentially more than their opponents.  So much so, in fact, that Bubba and Devon seemed to forget they were supposed to be the bad guys.  Didn't they come out on RAW a few weeks ago and say they were done with tables?  Didn't seem to be the case here.

Not a whole lot to say about this match, except one last thing - I am positive that I hate the superkick.

 

IC Ladder match

I normally am not a super-emotional person when it comes to pro wrestling, but I have to admit to getting a tad bit glassy eyed watching Sami Zayn make his way to the ring.  Zayn had a TREMENDOUS weekend, coming close to stealing the show at BOTH NXT Takeover and Wrestlemania.  In a fair and just world, Sami just assured himself a main event spot in WWE.

Loved the Zayn and Kevin Owens moment where they are on either side of the ladder, look up at each other, then drop the ladder and just started punching.  This feud is going to be amazing to watch over the next decade.

I don't want this to turn into a Sami love fest but the way Zayn dove THROUGH THE OPEN LADDER and then over the ropes is something I'm going to need to watch at least a half dozen more times.

zaynladderdive

He was an afterthought for a lot of people in this match but props need to be given to Sin Cara for his performance. We expect botches from Sin Cara, yet he did VERY well here, falling off the ladder into a perfect springboard (WHERE NOBODY CAUGHT HIM, I MIGHT ADD) and then his falling splash onto Stardust later in the match.

As for Stardust, the tributes to daddy Dusty were fantastic.  I still don't think we'll see Cody Rhodes again (at least not for a while, still), but the guy from the cosmos who admits his heritage is pretty cool.

Kevin Owens has now lost his IC title, but really, did he ever need it in the first place?  A lot of people were awed by his frog splash, but I was far more impressed with the way he channeled his inner RVD by leaping up to the top rope in the first place.  I tweeted this earlier, but now it's written in stone - Kevin Owens WILL win Money in the Bank this year.

Provided he isn't dead from that awesome half and half suplex onto the ladder.

He is The Miz, and he is awesome!  He didn't do a whole lot in this match but him posing on the ladder at the very end was priceless.  He's so good at what he does.

As for the winner, Mr. Zack Ryder, this was a shocking victory that proved that WWE can and will reward talents for taking a "demotion" to NXT and working hard when there to develop their characters.  We saw it with Tyson Kidd and again with our IC champ.  Congratulations, Zack, you deserve it.

 

AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho

This was one of those matches where I found myself too distracted by Twitter to give it a proper viewing. A lot of people are claiming that it's the best of the series, and that might be true, though I find it challenging to watch the same match over and over again. If they had said from the onset this would be a "Best of" series, I think I'd have had an easier time.

Still, I enjoyed AJ's counter to the corner dropkick - hopping over the ropes and delivering one of his own.  I thought Jericho's borrowing of Austin Aries' rope-drop neckbreaker was an interesting choice.  I could keep going here naming specific moments, but I'm already over a thousand words on this column.  Suffice to say, it was a good match.

styles clash

DC's unpopular opinion - The Styles Clash does nothing for me. I don't find it particularly impactful or visually impressive, and I don't care how many legitimate injuries have been caused by it.  That just makes it dangerous AND unexciting.  Get rid of it.  Between the Calf Crusher, the Phenomenal Forearm and the Springboard 450, AJ's got plenty in the arsenal.

I was a bit surprised by the Jericho win, but I'm OK with it.  In fact, it's exciting.  I'm hoping we see them both move on to face other talents - Jericho would be a great matchup with Sami Zayn or either mid-card champion, and truthfully, I'd be all for a Jericho / Reigns program.  As for Styles, the sky is the limit as well.

Just. . . . Just not Styles / Jericho V. . . . Pretty please?

 

New Day vs. League of Nations

New Day's entrance was entertaining, though (and I might lose my nerd card here) I'm not sure what the costumes were referencing. Dragon Ball Z?  Mortal Kombat?

I had really, REALLY hoped Rusev would drive a tank over that big box of Booty-O's, though him looking like he wanted to stomp every piece of cereal was funny.  Rusev was one of the big stars of this match, I thought, showing off his flexibility and skills as a wrestler, doing some of the most enthusiastic celebrating I've ever seen, then taking a Stunner like a champion.  I'm still super high on the talent of the Bulgarian Brute.

Rusevkick

I think this might be the end of the League of Nations. There seemed to be a feeling of finality to things.  I'm guessing we don't see Bad News Barrett in WWE again, and on RAW tonight, "The Lads" go their separate ways.  It's a shame, since I think they were just starting to fire on all cylinders.

New Day was. . . Fine.  I don't think they got as big of a 'rub' as everyone else seems to just because they shared a ring with Austin, Foley and Michaels for about a minute and a half.  Don't get me wrong - I loved the segment, but I do think this bodes well for New Day.

In fact - #PreDCtion -  New Day loses the tag title to Enzo and Cass TONIGHT on RAW.

HEY NAIBORHOOD - The first person to find me a GIF of Austin dancing wins a shout out in this column!  And. . .um. . . a big thumbs up!

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THANKS TO BAILEY BISHOP (@baileybishop) for finding it!  YAY!

 

Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose

Realistic Aside: If I can be serious for a moment, this match was the most personally disappointing to me.  Again, I blame my own lofty expectations. I really thought this was going to be the Arrival of Ambrose, where Dean ascends to the main event picture full-time, and that was not what I got.  In fact, I'm tempted to . . . .Aw hell, why not?

PreDCtion - Dean Ambrose never main events a major WWE PPV again unless Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns is also a part.

I'm not counting minor shows like Fastlane - These are the big ones.  Unless one of the other, more successful members of The Shield are there to help make it meaningful, Dean never sniffs true main event status again.

I seriously hope I'm wrong. . . But I don't think I am.

Despite this, there were still moments where I can Preach Positivity - I liked that Brock didn't bother with weapons; there was no need for them, obviously.  Paul Heyman, as always, came close to stealing the show, moving into Dean's sight line to gloat and selling the kendo stick shots like he himself was taking them.  Lesnar's cat-like ascension to the top rope was beautiful, and I suppose Dean had a good moment posing with Barbie. . . But yeah. . . That's about it.

Let's move on before I get truly sad.

 

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

My plan is to do an entire column devoted to the women's division, but just so we're clear, I dig the new Women's title. I like that it looks a lot like the World Heavyweight Championship - There's a level of legitimacy to it that many others belts, including the copper penny tag titles, lack.  It's cool.

I finally found a legitimate reason for Snoop Dogg to be part of a WWE show, so that was nice.  Both Sasha and Charlotte had pretty nice entrances for their first Wrestlemanias.  Charlotte's robe was a particularly nice touch.

In fact, this was the first time in AGES that I watched Charlotte and was reminded of the NXT talent that made me so fervently believe that this could be the best female wrestler of all time.  A lot of that had to do with the lack of Ric Flair presence - Charlotte did most of this on her own.  I hope we see more of that from our new Women's Champion.

charlottemoonsault

Becky Lynch stood out as well - Her suplexes are especially impressive and really bring a level of legitimacy to the quality of wrestling we see.  I also love it every time I see a move I've never seen before, and the hammerlock / reverse DDT combo was a new one for me.

If anything, Sasha Banks had the hardest time making a statement in this match.  The dive through the ropes was nice (I really wonder if she realized she wasn't going fast enough so adjusted it into a flip halfway through to make sure she connected), but otherwise I didn't see anything super memorable from The Boss, save for the ending.

I loved the way this ended. I've been railing against Ric Flair's constant interference for months now, I know, but this worked for me.  It was sneaky, it was dirty, it was Horseman-esque, which is what I want from the 16 time World Champion.  Maybe it's because, on the biggest night of them all, Ric Flair realized that this wasn't about him, so for the most part, he let the women shine.  When he did cheat, he made it count (and got out of the way of the camera).   Nice job, Nature Boy.

Trust me, NAIborhood - This step in the journey for Sasha and Becky will make the destination all the sweeter.

 

Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker

This match should have closed the show for a number of reasons, not the least of which was what I (and Liam Stryker) have been saying all along - The fate of the company trumps the fate of the champion.  Had I been forward thinking, I'd have called an audible in my PreDCtion when I realized the Cell was coming down too early, as there was no way Shane would win at 10 PM.

The use of the McMahon grandchildren was a nice touch for Shane's entrance and it was nice to see a Taker entrance in actual darkness.  Note to WWE - No more outdoor shows.

This match reminded me a lot of the Cell match from Wrestlemania 28, in that I found it almost boring until the steel steps came into play.  One Shane was chokeslammed onto the steps, business, my friends, picked up.  A lot of great moments followed that, from the dueling triangle chokes to Shane's Van Terminator, which was special simply because Shane could have travelled another 5-7 feet if he wanted to.

shaneterminator

Then we went outside the Cell.  Loved when Shane had Taker in the sleeper, and everyone in the world knew Undertaker was about to send them both through a table.  Loved that the toolbox exploded when Shane hit him with it.  Loved The Dive, obviously, and thought that the announce team did a very good job of selling the moment.  We give them a lot of grief, but when the time came, they sounded legitimately concerned, which is all we needed.

I've even talked myself into the ending of the match, which I was not a fan of last night.  Once more, I had convinced myself of something that was probably a silly idea in the first place, and I paid for it with disappointment.  Doc Manson was right, Shane was never going to be a long term fixture in the WWE, as much as we all wanted him to be.  He came back for one more night of glory, got the "respectful pat on the cheek" from Taker (which, in my mind, sold the whole thing), and then lost.  As he probably should to arguable the greatest wrestler in Mania history.

Not the best match of the night, but certainly had some all-time moments.  Well done to all involved.

 

The Andre Battle Royal

It is tempting, I believe, to think back on Wrestlemania and see it, in broad terms, as a bit of a slap to the face of the IWC by Vince McMahon.  Damien Sandow got eliminated by Shaquille O'Neal.  What else is that but a middle finger to all those who love him and sing his praises on Twitter?

Still, this match was good for one reason and one reason only. . .Well, two I suppose - It's always nice to see Tatanka.

BoDallasBattleRoyal

Bo Dallas is my favorite wrestler in WWE right now when you consider the ratio of minutes on air to moments of pure entertainment.  Nobody makes me happier than Bo does.  I mean, come on. . . Look at him!

bodallaspose

How can you not love that excitement?

As for the result, this was totally unexpected, which is a positive in and of itself.  I'm not sure Baron Corbin is WWE ready (in fact, him being called up really screws up some NXT fantasy booking I was planning on doing later today), but this is the right way to use this match.  Baron instantly has more reason for being in WWE than a lot of the other recent NXT call-ups.  We'll see if he's on RAW.

 

The Wyatts / Rock and Cena segment

Odd for the host of the show to make his first appearance right near the end, but I guess The Rock is truly one of those eccentric Hollywood types now!

The best part of this entire segment was listening to Rock put over Bray Wyatt, and even moreso, listening to the crowd go nuts for it.  Obviously most fans want to see something meaningful happen for Bray, and while I'm not sure if we're going to get it, at least I can take solace in the knowledge that the feeling is widespread.

I wrote last week that the Wyatt Family, Bray included, was officially dead, and hopefully last night proved it.  Now is the time for a phoenix to rise from the ashes and take his rightful place among the top talent in WWE.  I still Bray-Lieve!!!

. . . Hmm, that doesn't work as well as his brothers' slogan.

 

Roman Reigns vs. Triple H

Triple H's entrance was good.  Not as good as some of his others, but the fact that he didn't adorn himself in skulls for once was a nice touch.  Sensational Stephie was good, too.

Having watched ALMOST all of the Wrestlemanias from my Lost Years (29 wasn't able to keep my interest in the last hours), I have a deeper appreciation for Triple H's talent than I did before.  The guy is good, plain and simple, and last night was no exception.  I enjoyed his role as the cerebral veteran, taking advantage of Roman's youthful exuberance and capitalizing on his mistakes.  Also enjoyed how he isolated body parts, though his choice of some of them left me feeling uncomfortable.

HHH armwork

Roman didn't do a whole lot in this match and actually, I think that was kind of the point.  As Michael Cole mentioned during the entrances, Triple H has been champion a combined three and a half YEARS  in WWE.  That's as long as Roman Reigns' entire WWE career.  This match shouldn't be all that close, and if Roman wins, it should seem to be a fluke, which that match did appear to be.

I do give Roman credit for making the spear to Stephanie look visually impressive while also being adjusted to ensure she wasn't hurt.  Classy touch.

I shouldn't find this as funny as I did, but watching the cameramen scouring the crowd trying to find people happy about Roman's victory, and not being able to do it, was hilarious.

#PreDCtion - Stephanie and Triple H open RAW tonight. Stephanie tries to gloat about still being in control of the company but HHH is having not of it, beside himself at losing the title.  This results in him going off the reservation, as it were, leading to some sort of No Holds Barred gimmick match at . . . Whatever the next PPV is.

---

All in all, Wrestlemania was an exciting show to cap off a fantastic weekend of wrestling.  Could it have been better?  Sure.  There are a lot of questions that remain about some of the events of Wrestlemania, but that just means everyone will be tuning into RAW tonight to see if we get some answers.  In a wrestling world without offseasons, isn't that the point?

 

 

 

Yesterday, my esteemed partner in podcast crime Doc Manson posted an article about the reasons why he was excited for this Sunday's Wrestlemania.  Never one to shy away from borrowing a good idea, I've decided to go ahead and offer my own reasons.  In order to keep the good Doctor from screaming about plagiarism on this week's DDTpod, though, I've ranked the matches in order of my excitement AND I have included the three prospective pre-show contests.

The Usos vs. The Dudleys

As I wrote on the forums last week, this has not been a pretty return to World Wrestling Entertainment for Bubba Ray and Devon, as evidenced by the fact that they are in the pre-show and nowhere near the tag team titles.  They face the main roster equivalent of Blake and Murphy (ie the Biggest Black Holes of Charisma) The Usos, so yeah. . . I'm not on the edge of my seat for this one.

Why I'm Excited: Well, I'm obviously not, though I suppose the wrestling itself will be good.  Plus, I haven't actually watched a Dudley match since they turned heel, I don't think, so that will be nice.

 

Kalisto vs. Ryback for the US Title

While Ryback's slightly-heelish-but-not-quite character change has been better than anything else he has done of late, I'm still not pumped for this contest.  Kalisto became as much of a household name as he currently is by doing crazy things with a ladder - Why not give him the opportunity to do so again at Wrestlemania?

Why I'm Excited: There are few wrestlers in WWE I am continually entertained by more than our United States Champion, and this particular David vs. Goliath matchup will certainly wind up in Kalisto being tossed around like a lawn dart, though it won't be as good as this was...

 

Divas Tag Match

To be honest, I'm actually a little excited for this match.

Why I'm Excited: After all this time, we finally will get to see if Lana can be a capable wrestler.  I expect she won't get a whole lot of ringtime, hence the use of the multi-person format, but it will be more than we've seen so far.  Besides Lana, it's always nice to see Natalya wrestle and it has been so long since Paige has competed on major WWE television that I've almost forgotten what she looks like.

She's the pale one, right?

 

Andre the Giant Battle Royal

Why I'm Excited:  First and foremost, just to figure out exactly how they're going to fill the ring, what with all the talents being used elsewhere on the card.  My main reason for excitement, though, is that a large number of my favorite WWE superstars will be featured here.  Bo Dallas, Damien Sandow, Bray Wyatt (as sad as this makes me), perhaps we'll even get a look at the Ravenesque Alex Riley.  I love the lower card talents, so this match is right up my alley.

 

Triple H vs. Roman Reigns

wrestlemania_32_triple_h_roman_reigns

You might think it's unusual, if not plain old wrong, for me to have this match ranked fifth out of eleven, but really, this is a positive thing.  This Mania is so good from top to bottom that the World Heavyweight Championship match technically ranks in the bottom half.  How cool!

Why I'm Excited - Triple H won't be coming to the ring like a Terminator. . . I hope. . . And even if he does, this arena is indoors, right?  We're not going to make the same mistake twice, are we?

Anyway, I'm excited because I'm expecting big things from Roman Reigns on Sunday.  The last two weeks have been pretty much everything we could hope for and more and there is no reason to expect any different.  Maybe modified theme music, maybe a new outfit (Really, Roman, just ditch the vest.  Make the ladies - And some of the gents - happy!), but his evolution (HA!) concludes this Sunday.

Even when Triple H retains his title.

Full Disclosure: Don't tell him, but this match is ranked so "low" because deep down, I know Doc Manson is right, and I can't be too excited about a match where the outcome is so obvious.  Fingers crossed for some sort of swerve!

 

Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles

I don't understand why so many people have been lambasting this card "on paper".  Look at the talent on this show!  This is like your WWE 2K16 game come to life!  Stop riding the Negativity Narrowboat and climb on board the Paddlewheeler of Positivity - This is going to be FUN!

Why I'm Excited: It's Jericho vs. Styles, and despite the slight letdown of it being part 4 (the inner math nerd cringes when we have even numbered best-of series), this match is going to be pretty tremendous. Earlier today, I listed the "best" matches of the previous Wrestlemanias according to the ratings of Dave Meltzer and Y2J's name appears a couple of times.  While I'm not willing to do the research required, let me just go ahead and assure you that AJ Styles has had some 5 star quality matches as well.  They will not disappoint.

 

League of Nations vs. New Day

wrestlemania-32-new-day-vs-league-of-nations

A lot of people were belly-aching (forgive me, NAIborhood, but it's true) about the fact that this match is no longer listed as being for the WWE tag team championships, but I don't think that's such a big deal.  For one thing, how exactly do 4 people carry 2 titles?  The Freebird Rule is soon going to be a Hall of Fame standard, so that makes sense.  There is no precedent, that I am aware of, for more than three guys holding tag team titles, unless the Villano family did some crazy stuff in Mexico.

I know, I know, that was a deep pull.  I'm proud of myself.

Why I'm Excited:  This match will feature seven quality wrestlers.  All of them are enjoyable to watch, when they feel like giving it their all in some cases, but these guys are going to put on a show.  We've been pretty lucky to have some high quality tag team matches at recent PPV's (especially when you consider the relative weakness of the division) and I don't expect anything to change.

I agree with Doc that the New Day gimmick has started to. . .forgive me. . . sour a bit as of late, but unlike the esteemed Monsieur Manson, I find the League of Nations very entertaining, especially in recent weeks.  No longer tied so closely to The Authority, they can be a bunch of international hooligans, and that's A-OK with me right now.

 

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

wrestlemania_32_sasha_charlotte_becky

Why I'm Excited:  The same reasons you all are - For the first time EVER, the women's title match has a really good chance to steal the show.  Along with looking up the best Wrestlemania matches this morning, I also went ahead and found  the WORST ones, too, and more often than not, the female competitors found themselves on that list.  In fact, I just went back and counted.  They showed up 11 times.  I can pretty much guarantee that won't be the case this time.

 

Intercontinental Ladder Match

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I was delighted to see Miz tweet that he wasn't injured, he was simply acting.  I don't buy it, necessarily, but at least this means he'll be competing in some form or fashion at Wrestlemania.  In truth, him being injured isn't the worst thing in the world, since Miz' entire character revolves around him trying to sneak his way to victory.  Remember when he won the IC title Battle Royal by hiding outside the ring?  Expect more of the same Sunday.

Why I'm Excited:  With the exception of Sin Cara, I enjoy all of these wrestlers, so putting them all together is never going to be a bad thing.  Would I have liked to see Owens vs. Zayn? Of course I would, but I can also understand why WWE would choose to wait for that.  You let that story build on the main roster and the payoff at Mania 33 (or 34, or 35, or 40) will be that much sweeter.

I know Sin Cara won't win the title, and I don't particularly want Dolph to win it (only because there's nothing new he can do with it) but outside of that, I am totally fine with any other competitor in this match being the one to bring down the title.  That's a very good thing.

 

Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar

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I saw somebody tweet earlier that they were disappointed that Dean Ambrose hadn't yet shown himself to be a true challenger for Lesnar.  That's the entire point.  Nobody in WWE right now, and in fact, nobody in NXT either, SHOULD be a challenger for Brock Lesnar.  The man has been booked to exist on an entirely different plane of existence - Dean Ambrose should absolutely NOT be seen as a credible threat.

Which is why, when he wins, AND HE WILL, it will be that much sweeter.

Why I'm Excited:  The no holds barred stipulation (or whatever they're calling it - all means the same thing) is what's going to make this match fun.  Ambrose will wheel his shopping cart full of goodies down to the ring, including the chainsaw, and in between being suplexed, F-5'd and kneed right in the face, he'll use every single weapon in his arsenal to bring Brock Lesnar to his knees.

Dean Ambrose's career leaps forward on Sunday.  I can't wait to see it.

 

Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker

wwe-rumors-wrestlemania-32-matches-shane-mcmahon-the-undertaker-2-670x388

Why I'm Excited: It is rare in the wrestling business to have a match where the entire scope of the product hangs in the balance.  Yes, I know that it's a storyline, and yes, I know that the powers that be will still be when the Cell raises at the end of the night, but regardless, in 170 hours we could be looking at a completely different WWE.  How can that NOT be the most exciting part of Wrestlemania?

Shane McMahon, even at his accelerated age and with his phantom punches, is going to do a tremendous job and take a couple of risks he has no reason to take.  Undertaker, as my column earlier today showed, has done his best work in the last 10 years, so there's few worries on his end.

AND ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!!!  We could see Bullet Club . . . Or Balor Club. . . Or the Redneck Reppin' Crew (shut up, it could happen)  Triple H could get involved.  Kane could get involved.  John Cena?  Why not?  Seth Rollins?  Sure, it could happen!  The Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Sting?  The list goes on and on.

Bold (and probably erroneous) Statement to end the Column:  Since coming back to regular wrestling watching with the debut of the WWE Network, there has not been a main event match. . . or perhaps even a match itself. . . . I have looked forward to MORE than Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker.

Take that.

Monday Night RAW ended in an unexpected fashion as Bray Wyatt (and Family) stood tall over BOTH Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.  Now, history would usually dictate that said ending guarantees Bray will not win the Rumble, as whomever stands tall on the go-home show tends not to do well on the following PPV.  I get that.

But here's the thing - Bray Wyatt SHOULD win the Royal Rumble.

Now, I can see NAIborhood members like Laz and even my very good friend Doc Manson shaking their heads at me again.  "Oh, DC, there you go being that Irrational Idealist again.  Bray Wyatt isn't ever going to be a big deal in WWE."  Perhaps that's true, but I say it again, with conviction.

Bray Wyatt SHOULD win the Royal Rumble.

Here are three reasons why.

One - It spreads out the wealth.

I don't need to tell you this, but I'll do it anyway - Injuries are abound in World Wrestling Entertainment.  Two of the three talents voted in the NAI150 as MVP's of 2015, Seth Rollins and John Cena, are on the shelf, most likely until summer.  Orton is out for who knows how long, and numerous other "minor" superstars are also stuck on the DL.  This Wrestlemania season is going to be thin in the main event tier of talents.  We've accepted that.

Meanwhile, the biggest feud in WWE right now is Roman Reigns vs. The Authority, specifically Triple H, despite the latter not having made an appearance in weeks.  We know that Triple H is going to make some sort of impact at this Sunday's Rumble and we know that, somewhere down the line, he and Reigns are going to have themselves a match.

So why limit yourselves?

If Roman and Triple H is already going to have a main event feel, why does it need a title?  Does the championship make it more meaningful?  Sure, maybe a little, but not to any major extent.  Whereas, if you let Roman vs. Triple H shine on its own merits, you can take the power of the World Heavyweight Championship and give it to other talents who might benefit from its rub a little more.

Like Bray Wyatt.  Sure, you could slide other talents (Lesnar, Owens, Ambrose, etc.) in that mix as well, which is why I have two other reasons for Monsieur Face of Fear.

Two - It rewrites history in an instant.

On our year-end #DDTAwards show, Doc Manson and I gave Bray Wyatt the Career Character Misuse award, which technically isn't a thing, even though it should be.  On this week's NAIpod, the boys discuss the yo-yo booking Bray Wyatt has endured these last years.  That's not even beginning to mention the thousands of tweets I've seen lamenting how Bray's career has gone since swapping Husky for Crow Pants.

Winning the Royal Rumble AND the World Title fixes all of that.

If Bray Wyatt stands tall to end the show this Sunday, it is a declarative statement that he has arrived as a main event player.  While many of you are saying to yourselves right now, "But we've seen moments like that before" - Not this big.  Kidnapping the Undertaker at a "B-level" PPV is one thing - Becoming a World Champion by surviving an epic match at a Big 4 Show is another thing entirely.

And then what happens if he beats Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania?

Ok, now I might be shooting the moon here, but if Reigns and Triple H are locking up, the logical person to fight for the World Title against a champion Wyatt is The Beast Incarnate, especially after Monday night.  Bray vs. Brock is going to be a fantasy matchup of a lot of members of the NAIborhood, myself included.  History may dictate that Bray would once again come up short against his main event opponent, it doesn't have to be that way.

In fact, being the first man to pin Brock Lesnar since snapping the Streak, via help from the Family or not, is an even BIGGER moment for Bray than winning The Rumble would be.  In three short months, you've made yourself an elite talent who can headline shows for the next decade... You know, that little thing we've been all over WWE for years for not doing enough of?  Bray pinning Brock sets up his future, which brings us to our last reason./

Three - It shapes the future. . . While hinting at the past. . .

One of the points I thought was most poignant on NAIpod this week was when . . . Of course now I don't remember who said it . . .  SOMEBODY said that Wrestlemania stories are told slowly - They need time to build.  I couldn't agree more.

Which is why Bray winning makes sense.

We loved the Reigns / Wyatt feud, even if we felt it went a little long, and we marked out when Bray Wyatt told Roman that "they would dance again" at some point in the future.

"But DC," you say yet again, "you just told us that Reigns vs. Triple H was the co-main event to Wrestlemania, and now you're saying it's Roman vs. Bray?"

Not quite.  I'm saying that Wyatt vs. Reigns is a fantastic story to tell AT SOME POINT in 2016.  WWE has to, at some point, start thinking long-term when it comes to their potential arcs and storylines, and Bray Wyatt as champion does that.

For example:

Bray vs. Roman

Bray vs. Harper (or the rest of his family)

Bray vs. Authority

Bray vs. Finn Balor (just to irritate Moltov)

Bray vs. Owens (stop drooling, I know it's a good idea)

Bray vs. a returning John Cena or Daniel Bryan. . . Heck, or Randy Orton. . .

Bray vs. a returning, and face, Seth Rollins

Putting the belt on Wyatt sets up your 2016 and beyond to be a new and magical adventure.

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There's going to be negativity no matter who wins the 2016 Royal Rumble - Just get used to it.  This is the social media world, where we all have opinions that are better than yours and most of us are not shy about telling you why your ideas suck.  In fact, I'm sure I'll get a handful of people who will tell me all the reasons why this is a waste of time article, and Bray Wyatt has absolutely no shot to win the Rumble on Sunday.

And they may be right.  I'll give them that.

But Bray Wyatt SHOULD win the Royal Rumble.  WWE would be a whole lot better if he did.

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What do YOU think?  Be Heard.

Wrestlemania is but a few short days away, which means I can postpone my predictions no longer.  NAIpod this week will be a quick-fire predictions show, so rather than take up valuable airtime that could go to YOU, I’ll stick with the written word to get my guesses for Mania down.

Just to make things interesting, I’ll be selecting who I wish would win and who I predict will win, which are often two separate things.

Tag Title Match: Cesaro and Kidd vs. Uso’s vs. New Day vs. Los Matadores

I wish I could say that New Day had a real chance here.  I wish I could say that despite everyone hating on the bright blue colors and the abundance of energy, the WWE brass sees the potential in this group and wants to give them a shot.  However, I’ve been a wrestling fan long enough to know that even limitless potential, for some people, isn’t enough.

Now might be a good time to plug tomorrow’s “What If Wednesday”, where I look at perhaps the greatest example of wasted potential in the last decade of WWE, Shelton Benjamin

I predict that Cesaro and Kidd retain their titles, and frankly, I’m happy with that.  These two can be division savers if they have the backing to go with it, and right now, defending their titles on the pre-show is as close as we get to backing in the tag team ranks.

I also predict that this match will be one of the more talked about battles from Sunday - KiddAro and the Uso’s have come close to stealing the show before and if we’re adding four other talented individuals, why couldn’t this be a surprise favorite?

Intercontinental Title Ladder Match

I wish that R-Truth would win.  Last week during “Throwback Thursday” I reviewed PWI’s Year End Awards from 2002, and Ron Killings appeared multiple times.  This guy has been a novelty or comedy act for almost his entire career but has proven that when you give him the ball, he can run with it.  Why not let him shock the world, win the IC title and do something with it?

I predict that Ambrose wins, and honestly it’s the best story.  He’s been built as the guy to return prestige to the title, so let him do so.

I also predict that someone’s going to get seriously hurt during this match.  All 7 of these guys want to steal the show and will put their bodies on the line to do so.  The smart money is on Ziggler to do something insane that might also cause injury, but don’t count out Stardust either.

Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton

First, I predict that this match happens early in the card, if only to keep speculation alive that Rollins could recover in time for a MITB cash-in.

I wish AND I predict that Seth Rollins wins, though I’m not sure it’s the clean victory it should be.  If WWE does something surprising (Why not have Sheamus become Rollins’ new muscle, freeing up Mercury and Noble to dominate the tag team division?  Only being slightly sarcastic there. . . ), I’m OK with a dirty win, but if its just Kane or Big Show interfering, I’ll forego my #PromotingPositivity and criticize them for lack of creative booking.

Andre the Giant Battle Royal

I wish that WWE would make this all about Sandow.  I don’t need him eliminating everyone else, but he should be more dominant than we’ve seen him in the past and shrug Miz off like an annoying gnat.  If WWE played their cards right, Sandow could be a legitimate WHC contender by year’s end - That’s how over he is.

I predict that this is the return, both in terms of appearance and of relevancy, of Sheamus.  He’s the last guy to come out, he takes all the dominance that Sandow should have and re-emerges as a viable contender.  Not sure how they turn him heel, though. . . Unless. . .

I also predict that Adrian Neville wins the NXT tournament and he and Sheamus are the last two members of the Battle Royal.  As much as I’d like it to be Miz and Sandow, I see that split happening earlier in the match - Sandow eliminates Miz who somehow cheats to get Mizdow tossed.

If Neville comes out, pops the crowd with his overall Neville-ness, then gets brutalized and tossed by a now-heel Sheamus, that sets up a lot of things.  Neville is immediately a relevant underdog, Sheamus is a bully and Miz and Mizdow settle their feud lower on the card.

John Cena vs. Rusev

Making match order predictions is hard because of all the top names.  Lesnar’s not going to go in the middle, but neither should Taker or Sting - This is really where Cena and Rusev belong.

I wish that Rusev would win handily.  There’s been discussion. . .Well, long before NAIpod. . .about when Cena would start “heading down the mountain”, and this is a prime moment.  Though so was last year. . .And probably at many points before that. . .  Rusev should pin Cena (no more passing out, that’s old already) and have his day in the Mania sun.  If they wanted to keep going to Extreme Rules and do some sort of submission match where Cena wins the US belt, fine.  Doesn’t need to happen at Mania.

I predict that #CenaWinsLOL.  How can you do anything else?  Cena is 7 for 9 in title matches at Mania, and on Sunday, he’ll be batting .800.

I also predict that many fans will treat this as the popcorn / bathroom break, if only because it’s halfway through the card.

Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker

This one is a tricky one to call, mainly because I want both men to win.  2015 HAS to be the year of Wyatt but at the same time, Undertaker has a lot to prove.  I wish this had the possibility of being some sort of non-finish, honestly.  If there were time limit draws in WWE, this would be a great place for one.

Really all that needs to happen is for Bray to. . . Forgive me. . . “look strong” and, ideally, for there to be some symbolic sign of respect between the two.  Having said that, I predict that Undertaker wins, but it takes a whole lot to put Bray down.  Just like when the American Bad Ass fought Jeff Hardy in a ladder match and shook his hand (I think) afterwards, Taker indicates somehow that Bray truly is the future.  That’s all we need.

I also predict that Mark Callaway walks into California with a GIGANTIC chip on his shoulder.  He may turn 50 today (happy birthday, Deadman!) but I expect to see someone moving around like someone 7/10 his age. . .

That means he’ll move like a 35 year old, for those playing at home.  Didn’t your teachers walk you through fractions?

AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bellas

I wish this match had more of a chance of being anything but a filler.

I predict that’s not going to be the case.  8-10 minutes, tops, with entrances.  This will be a time for fans to reset between Taker and Sting.  That’s all.

I also predict that AJ and Paige win, though I really don’t pay enough attention to tell you why.

Sting vs. Triple H

I wasn’t a fan of Sting speaking before Mania, just like Jason Moltov.  Then I watched him on RAW and remember that he spent a good portion of his career, silent or audible, just dripping with charisma.  So now I’m OK with it, though the whirling baseball bat was a little odd.

I wish this match wasn’t so easy to predict.  I didn’t need to see Sting laid out by a sledgehammer or anything, but Triple H has done NOTHING in this “feud”.  Sure, I might be led to believe in some instances that this is a sign that HHH will do the impossible and achieve victory over The Vigilante, but let’s be serious.

I predict Sting wins, and I also predict it’s not that close.  Sting will be in good shape and the match will be of high quality, but I don’t think Sting overcomes 2-3 Pedigrees before winning.  It’ll be easier than that.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WHC

I wish this match would have as much intrigue and excitement as the wrestling community (both IWC and NAI-WC) has given it these last few months.  I think I’ve seen just about every possible ending - Brock squashes, Roman squeaks one out, Roman dominates, here-a-swerve, there-a-swerve, everywhere-a-swerve-swerve.  Heyman’s with Reigns, Heyman’s with Rollins, I think I even saw somewhere that Heyman brings Raven out to wipe the floor with both of them. . .

Ok, I made that last one up.

Still, I think we’re giving this a lot more credit than it should get.  I predict that Brock wins, but not without a fight.  I don’t think the promos from Heyman would have been THAT true to life if Brock hadn’t decided to stick around a while longer.  Plus, its just too good of a deal for him to pass up.

I also predict that Reigns comes closer than any other man to beating the Beast.  Not my greatest “reach” of a prediction here, but it’s true.  Roman Reigns can ascend multiple steps on the WWE career ladder in a losing effort, and that’s what I think happens.

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What do YOU think?  Am I right?  Wrong?  Completely insane?  Be Heard.

Once upon a time, friends, back before the all-encompassing nature of the Internet, many people got their information, their news, their wrestling fix, their  dirt  from magazines.  For those of who young enough to necessitate explanation, a magazine was a series of physical paper pages bound together which contained static images and written columns.  Imagine NAI in a physically tangible form, but MUCH less cooler.

To give you an idea of how archaic this idea is, I remember celebrating the time I received my monthly magazine only to discover they had moved from mainly black and white pages to all-color.  This was a HUGE deal way back in the day.

The standard-bearer of “impartial” magazines (meaning ones not put out directly by WWF or WCW) was Pro Wrestling Illustrated .  I believe you can still find PWI active today, though I imagine their subscriptions are far less impressive than they were back in the 90’s.  PWI was most famous for its annual ranking of the 500 best wrestlers in the world and their “Year In Review”, where they would hand out their annual awards.

In my day, I had a rather impressive collection of PWI magazines.  This past summer while visiting my parents’, they showed me the results of their attic cleaning, and among the detritus of old high school athletic awards and theater props, I uncovered a selection of this collection; the  crème de la crème  of PWI’s. Among these were a number of “special” editions, and on select Thursdays, we’ll be taking a trip in the Throwback Machine to examine certain ones in greater detail.

Our first PWI post-view is the  2002 Year In Review .  As you can see, the wrestler on the cover is one whom I imagine has graced a couple magazine covers in 2014 / 2015 as well, a younger, slightly taped-up BBBrrroooccckkk LLLeeesssnnnaaarrr! (I hope you read that in your head like Paul Heyman - That was certainly my intention.) Lesnar was a double award winner in 2002, winning the title of

Most Improved Wrestler of the Year and (as evident by his place on the cover) Wrestler of the Year.

If you’re a younger fan, it might be funny to think of Brock needing any sort of improvement whatsoever - so long he’s been THE dominant force in WWE.  In the early months of his career, primarily as part of the Minnesota Stretching Crew with Shelton Benjamin, Lesnar had a far more diverse repertoire than we see today - He focused on mat based wrestling (using his amateur background) and even took to the air quite a bit.  The Shooting Star Press he tried to break out at Wrestlemania vs. Angle was a common part of Lesnar’s arsenal.  In ‘02, once Lesnar got to WWE, he began to change into the Beast we now know and love, hence his selection as Most Improved.

As for being Wrestler of the Year, well imagine that rather than wrestling 3 matches in 2014, Brock wrestled weekly.  We’d be talking even MORE about him being the most dominant champion in history if that was the case.

In addition to the wrestler voted to the top spot, PWI also includes the 3 runners-up as well as votes for others.  Couple fun facts from Brock’s two categories:

The three runners-up for wrestler of the year are also, like Brock, still part-time talents: Rob Van Dam, Triple H and the Undertaker.

The only man to be listed in both categories in 2002 is also a member of the WWE roster in 2015.  In fact, he’s going to be taking part in the IC ladder match.  You guessed it, folks - Ron “Truth” Killings was in the running forWRESTLER OF THE YEAR in 2002, back when he was NWA champion.  When I look at that, I have to ask - “What’s Up?”

Let’s move on to other categories.

 Rookie of the Year - Maven

2002 was not the year for new talents, despite this vote being sponsored by Tough Enough.  In fact, to the best of my knowledge, none of the wrestlers listed here are still active competitors today.  For the first runner up,Christopher Nowinski , that’s not entirely his fault, and I think we’d have to say that Nowinski has the most impressive post-wrestling run with his work on concussion advocacy.

As for Maven, his rookie year was really his career peak, as eliminating Undertaker from the Royal Rumble is essentially the only thing he’s known for.

So, where is Maven now?  Well after being arrested for doctor shopping in 2012, Maven took part in WWE’s rehabilitation program.  According to Wikipedia, he’s now a bouncer in New York.

With news that WWE is possibly bringing back Tough Enough, I sincerely hope they have better success with talents.  Has there ever been a really successful graduate of that series?  Ever?

 Inspirational Wrestler of the Year - Eddie Guerrero

This one hurts.  In 2002, Guerrero had finally gotten his life in order after being fired from WWF in 2001 due to drug issues.  Getting himself back into shape, both mentally and physically, Guerrero was rehired and picked up right where he left off, winning the Intercontinental and Tag Team titles.

Eddie’s greatest mainstream success came in the years to follow, which only proves how inspirational he truly was and still is.  It’s a shame we’ve been without him this last decade.

 Note:  We’ll need to do a “Truth Watch”, it seems, since Ron Killings also received votes in this category as well, bringing his total to 3. . . For now.

Comeback of the Year - Hulk Hogan

This was a comeback for a variety of ways.  It was a comeback for the man himself, since Hogan had been absent for a few years ever since his very public falling out with Vince Russo and WCW (which we’ll have to save for another time).

More importantly, at least to me, this is the return of the red and yellow for Hogan, who had been Hollywood for a while by 2002.  That was the bigger deal, since the fans who had been exhausted with him in the mid-90’s were rabidly waiting to welcome him back with open arms years later.

Taking notes, Mr. Cena?

 Truth Watch: This makes 4 for Killings, being the third runner-up for this award.  K-Kwik who?

 Match of the Year - Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock

I’ll paraphrase a line I heard from Jeff Jarrett once in reference to this match. . .

 For those who’ve seen it, no explanation is necessary.  For those who haven’t seen it, no explanation will do.

There are few matches in history that tell a story as well as this one does.  Those who enter the match leave on the complete opposite end of the face / heel spectrum as they started, and the fans were on the edge of their seat the entire time.

 Note:  No Truth Watch here, but it’s worth mentioning that Kurt Angle participated in 7 matches. . . SEVEN. . . that earned votes for MOTY.  And you’re telling me he couldn’t have thrown together another brief run to topple Rusev in 2015?  Jerks.

 Woman of the Year - Trish Stratus

Not going to spend a huge amount of time on this except to say that it’s super impressive that Trish went from being Vince McMahon’s mistress, barking like a dog and all, to one of the more popular and capable women’s wrestlers in modern history.

Also of note is that with the exception of the first runner-up (some woman named Stephanie), no other Diva on this list is still part of the wrestling scene.

 Feud of the Year - Stephanie McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff

Post-Invasion, we had the brand split, and this feud was the warring GM’s, Bischoff of RAW and Steph of Smackdown.

I might the only person on the “2015 expansion” train, but by God, I’m going to keep driving it to freedom!

 Tag Team of the Year - Billy and Chuck

It is my sincere hope that in 20-30 years, we’ll look back on the “ambiguously gay tag team” with scorn and confusion, not sure why such a normal, everyday orientation would be treated with such controversy.

Truth be told, I liked this team, and not just because I was one of the few who thought Billy Gunn was a World Champion in waiting.  They were a little controversial, but that can be a good thing, and they held the tag titles for four months.

Fun fact: Once they lost the titles for good in June of ‘02, those belts changed hands  5  more times before the year ended.  4 months was a LIFETIME in that era.

 Most Popular Wrestler of the Year - Rob Van Dam

I want to focus on the first sentence of this entry, where RVD is said to be “on the cusp of true greatness.”

13 years later, let me ask you - Did he ever get off the cusp?  Can you say with any certainty that Rob Van Dam ascended to a higher plane of wrestling stardom?  I know we’re talking about a Triple Crown AND Grand Slam Champion (having won the World, IC, tag and Hardcore titles), but where does he rank among the all-time greats?

Let me put it this way - Is RVD a Hall of Famer?  If the WWE HOF never has an ECW wing, does Rob make the cut?

Speaking of Hall of Famers. . .

 Most Hated Wrestler of the Year - Chris Jericho

When the promo package for Y2J runs on RAW at some point in the near future, I hope it is mentioned how well Jericho played both sides of the fan spectrum - He could be an insanely popular face or be the most hated man in wrestling, as he was in 2002.

It’s sad that it’s a mere trivia point now that Jericho was the first Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion in WWE - He never really seemed to “own” that belt, despite beating Austin and Rock to win it.  What he did own, however, was instigating vitriol and disgust from fans way back when, though he did it even better when he returned later in the decade.

 Truth Watch:  Killings makes it 5 categories in 2002, earning votes for Most Hated wrestler as well.  Just think about that for a second: Outside of WWE, Killings was THE wrestler in 2002, and a hated one as well.

Lesson being: When he takes over New Day and they start terrorizing WWE in late 2015, don’t be surprised.

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So there you have it - 2002 in a nutshell.  Having learned (or remembered) about the year that was, what do YOU think?  Will you be heading into the WWE Network archive to bask in the glory of Hogan vs. Rock, or Angle vs. anybody?

Be Heard.

As has been the case for the last few “What If Wednesdays”, today’s exploration into the ‘what-if world’ is taking an unusual bent.  Rather than focus on something that a promotion could have done, or a wrestler, this week I’d like to focus on the fans at large, and something they could do in the days leading up to Wrestlemania.

What If the fans stopped complaining and just enjoyed the ride?

I know what you’re thinking - “DC, this is madness you’re talking about now - Surely the IWC can’t stop the negativity, no matter how many people you convert to the cause of #PromotingPositivity!”   You’re right, of course, which is why this is here in the house of the hypothetical.  There will always be trolls, those “fans” who get their daily dose of superiority by (usually humorlessly) belittling this experience we all share, ones who will always prefer the ideal of their imaginations (or, more likely, what someone with more creativity came up with that these people will just take credit for) to the reality of the wrestling world.  To be honest, I’m not even steering this discussion to those people - most of them are beyond help.

No, I am speaking of the fans who simply seem to take issue with the lack of “feeling” leading up to this year’s Wrestlemania.  Whether its simply their distaste for Roman Reigns or just their belief that the last few months have lacked excitement, these fans just seem to be down on everything Mania.

Now, let me say here and now that the majority of these folks are all good people whom, on many occasions, I have enjoyed conversing with on a wide variety of topics.  These fans are also, of course, entitled to their own opinions and have full freedom to share them, just as we who are excited for Wrestlemania can share ours.

Moreover, we all have the freedom to question others’ opinions, provided we do it in a respectful, appropriate manner, and can engage in a healthy debate.

This is where my problem lies.  I have spoken with a number of people, both publicly and privately, who have negative feelings towards Mania, and through our conversations, I’ve discovered that most of them will not be deterred from their opinions.  No piece of evidence nor explanation seems to do - The build just stinks and Wrestlemania will be bad, and that’s the end of it.

Part of every debate, or at least the good ones, is a willingness to compromise, so let me make a concession - OK, so the build hasn’t been as good as it could be.  With the number of part-time wrestlers on the card (not that part-time wrestlers are bad; in fact, I think it should happen more often), you can’t have as many face-to-face interactions as in previous years, and that is truly a shame.  This narrows the number of opportunities, which increases the pressure for each one to be perfect.  I wasn’t overjoyed with how Sting sided with Randy Orton on RAW this week and while I love the promos, I’d like to see something more tangible happen with Bray and Taker before the day of Mania itself.  There are things I would have done differently, make no mistake.

However, I submit to you that despite the build-up, Wrestlemania is going to be an excellent show.  The fact that the drama unfolding in the weeks prior hasn’t been A+ stuff doesn’t matter as much when the show begins.

You can’t look at this card objectively and tell me its not going to be a good show.

You just can’t.

The show will likely begin with a 7 man ladder match for the IC title.  If you’ve enjoyed any Money in the Bank match in the last decade, you’re going to like this contest.  Unlike previous years, there isn’t currently a guy like Mark Henry or Kane to muddy the waters; the two “big guys” in this match, Harper and Barrett, are both excellent combatants on their own.  Adding in Ziggler, Ambrose, Stardust, Bryan and even R-Truth, quality wrestlers all, and this match may very well steal the show.  This will set the mood for the night, and that mood is going to be exciting.

The tag title match, which I have argued shouldn’t take place simply due to lack of quality-caliber tag teams, will still be a good bout.  All 6 of the combatants (Yes, including the Matadors) are talented in-ring workers and this match right now looks to be a showcase for Cesaro and Kidd.  How is that a bad thing?

Speaking of good things, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins will finally get the chance to settle their long-running feud.  Seth Rollins has taken his place among the elite talents in WWE and there are few who are better than a passion-filled Randy Orton, which is how he has been since Rollins has been involved.  If the ladder match doesn’t steal the show, I imagine that this one will.

The ATG battle royal is a throw-in match, there’s no denying that.  I can’t even say it’ll be good, since it’s a battle royal and battle royals are almost never decent to watch.  What makes this match important is that it will be. . . I mean, it HAS to be. . . the climax of the Miz and Sandow storyline.  This entire segment should be devoted to continuing to tell their story, and besides possibly the return of Sheamus, I’ve seen no reason to believe otherwise.  Sandow finally turns on his “boss” and becomes firmly ensconced as one of the biggest faces in the company.  Again, you can’t tell me you don’t want to see that.

I’ve been seeing a lot of Bray / Taker hate as of late, and when I talk to people about it, they quote Wyatt’s history of one-direction feuds that seem to go nowhere.  Again, I’ll concede that one can interpret that to be the case, but in order to truly appreciate what Wyatt has been doing, you have to ignore the past (You’re a WWE fan, that should come naturally to you) and focus solely on Bray in 2015.  You have a dominant performance at the Rumble and then a series of promos which, while cryptic, are not anywhere near aimless.  He’s been focused on one thing and one thing only since January - The Undertaker, and it’s been a thing of beauty to behold this entire time.  If you have a problem with abstract, “mysterious” promos, I’d wonder if you’re even an Undertaker fan to begin with.  That’s kind of his thing, ya know; To paraphrase Vinnie Mac - Get excited, darn it!

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m not going to ask you to get excited about the Rusev / Cena match and its possible implications.  We’re very likely to see another #CenaWinsLOL situation, and if that happens, I will join you in voicing my displeasure.  However, I will admit this - John Cena is not in the main event (good thing) and he has done his part in elevating Rusev to the next echelon (another good thing).  A world where Cena becomes US champ for a while and Rusev moves on to challenge for the WHC is a world I don’t mind living in.

There will be only one Diva’s match at Wrestlemania but I firmly expect those four women will get their chance.  An eleven minute match on RAW is a promising sign, and while no title is on the line, I’m not counting out the possibility of a 15 minute program for these combatants.  Though yes, that does include entrances.

Sting.  Triple H.  The embodiment of all that is good about WCW vs. . . Well, HBK is retired, The Rock’s making movies and Steve Austin is injured, so I guess HHH will do as “The WWE guy”.  Still, anytime you get two legends facing each other, no matter the age, life is good.  I just watched 43 year old HBK and 59 year old Ric Flair put on a wrestling clinic at Wrestlemania 24 - If Steve Borden and Paul Levesque can do even 50% of that, fans will be happy.  Yes, even you.

Then there is the WHC match, Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns.

This is where most of the complainers have their biggest problem. In fact, it’s the only problem for most of them.

If Daniel Bryan was facing Lesnar and Reigns was in the IC title match (or even taking Cena’s place fighting Rusev), I’m willing to bet than 75% of the complaining I’ve seen online would never have happened.  Most people are convinced that they know what’s going to happen - Wrestlemania will end with Roman Reigns atop the mountain, just like what happened at the Rumble and just like what happened at Fast Lane.  People HATE this idea, so it sours their entire view of the card.

Again, a concession - I’m not a huge fan of this main event either.  Unless I see Brock Lesnar toss Reigns around like a Samoan Rag Doll, there’s a good chance I’ll find the main event of Mania anti-climactic.  This is why I have been pushing for Sting and HHH to be the final match of the night, or for there to be swerves a plenty following Reigns win.  Seth Rollins can become the biggest face in the company if he makes Roman’s first reign (unfortunate pun) a brief one. So again, I fully understand why some people feel this way.

Just don’t let it affect the rest of the show.

This is a good Wrestlemania line-up, with easy potential of it becoming a great one.  With few exceptions, each of these matches can be a high-quality affair, with multiple possibilities for Match of the Night.  There will be no Texas Tornado vs. Dino Bravo, no Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb, no Chavo Guerrero vs. Kane in less than two weeks.

This is a quality Wrestlemania, despite what the main event may or may not be.  It’s time to take a step back and admit it.

What do YOU think?  Are people setting the bar too high, or is it just the season for displeasure?  Be Heard.

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