WrestleMania Week Revs Up on the WWE Network

wmlogoWe’re already more than halfway through WWE’s WrestleMania Week and though the company already rolled out some great programming on its WWE Network, including a new WWE 24 covering Daniel Bryan’s retirement announcement and a new Legends with JBL featuring Michael Hayes, there is even more great programming coming up.

Tonight at 10pm ET, the Network will air a live Stone Cold Podcast with Mick Foley. The Hardcore Legend has never been shy about his feelings on WWE’s creative process and booking decisions, although he’s become more tame lately now that his son is working for the company and he’s looking to get his daughter work at Titan Towers as well. It will be interesting to see how the chat goes, since Stone Cold is never one to pull punches.

Tomorrow night is, of course, NXT TakeOver: Dallas. For many, this is the highlight of WrestleMania Week.

Programming starts with a kickoff show at 9:30pm ET, which will also air free on YouTube, WWE.com, Facebook, and WWE’s other social media partner platforms. Mauro Ranallo has announced that he will be a part of the TakeOver kickoff panel and will also call the matches on the WrestleMania kickoff show, which is very exciting for fans who feel WWE’s main commentary team is awful.

The TakeOver event begins at 10pm ET and features a hefty card that rivals WrestleMania and includes the debut of Shinsuke Nakamura:

  • NXT Championship Match: Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor
  • NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka vs. Bayley
  • NXT Tag Team Championship Match: American Alpha vs. The Revival
  • Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
  • Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
  • Apollo Crews vs. Elias Sampson

Saturday night is Hall of Fame night, beginning with the Red Carpet Special airing at 7pm ET, hosted by Maria Menounos. The ceremony itself begins at 8pm and is slotted until 11:30pm. This year’s inductees are:

  • Sting (inducted by Ric Flair)
  • The Godfather (inducted by JBL and Ron Simmons)
  • The Fabulous Freebirds (inducted by Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston)
  • Big Boss Man (inducted by Slick)
  • Jacqueline (inducted by Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley)
  • Stan Hansen (inducted by Vader)
  • Snoop Dogg (no announcement has been made but likely inducted by Sasha Banks)

Then, on Sunday it’s time for the main course. WrestleMania 32 (or “star”) kicks off at 5pm ET with a two hour pre-show available on WWE Network and the company’s social media partner platforms. The 6pm ET hour will also air on USA Network. Rumored matches for the pre-show include:

  • The Total Divas (Natalya, Paige, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, and Eva Marie) vs. B.A.D. & Blonde (Naomi, Tamina, Lana, Emma, and Summer Rae)
  • The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz
  • US Championship Match: Ryback vs. Kalisto

WrestleMania proper begins at 7pm ET on the Network and pay-per-view. Below is the full card, with the Andre Battle Royal still up in the air for the main show or the kickoff. It could easily be switched with the US Championship match, according to reports.

  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Triple H
  • Hell in a Cell: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
    • If Shane wins, he gets control of Raw and WWE. If Undertaker loses, this is his last WrestleMania.
  • No Holds Barred Street Fight: Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar
  • Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
  • Divas Championship Triple Threat Match: Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte
  • AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho
  • Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
    • Participants announced include: Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, Big Show, Kane, Tyler Breeze, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Konnor, Viktor, Goldust, R-Truth
  • The New Day vs. The League of Nations

The build has once again not been great for this year’s WrestleMania but WWE has a way of making the show a hit. In Dallas, with a record crowd and a huge atmosphere, WrestleMania 32 should be no different.

The WrestleMania Card is Nearly Complete

WWE has filled out the WrestleMania card in recent days on Raw, WWE.com, and Smackdown, adding a United States Championship match, a tag team contest, and the Andre battle royal to this year’s event. All that’s left is an Intercontinental Championship match and something with Chris Jericho and AJ Styles, although those two elements may be combined.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H

Hell in a Cell Match
Shane McMahon vs. the Undertaker
(If Shane McMahon wins, he gets control of Raw)

No Holds Barred Street Fight
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar

United States Championship Match
Ryback vs. Kalisto

Tag Team Championship Match
League of Nations vs. New Day

Divas Championship Triple Threat Match
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte

The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz

3rd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Examining the WrestleMania Card: Official Matches and Rumors

With less than a month to go and only one “Roadblock” in the way, the WrestleMania card has taken shape. Barring a wrench being thrown into the booking machine from an unlikely Dean Ambrose WWE World Heavyweight Championship win this Saturday in Toronto, the main elements of the grandest show of all are clear.

Triple H (again, pending the outcome of the Roadblock main event) will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against two-time former champion Roman Reigns, hopefully settling their long and drawn-out grudge. Shane McMahon will challenge the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match with the goal of wrestling control of Monday Night Raw – and, by extension, all of WWE – away from his sister Stephanie and brother-in-law Triple H. Charlotte will defend the Divas Championship against two of her Four Horsewomen compadres, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. Finally, Dean Ambrose will battle Brock Lesnar in a no holds barred street fight.

Those are the announced matches, but last night’s episode of Raw gave us a glimpse at what’s to come for the rest of the card.

Chris Jericho and AJ Styles seem to be destined for a one-on-one match to settle the score after Y2J delivered three Codebreakers to the Phenomenal One after their Tag Team Championship match loss to the New Day. One would guess this match will have a stipulation of some sort attached, perhaps two-out-of-three falls, since the pair has faced off on several occasions already.

Sami Zayn returned to Raw to help Neville avoid a post-match beatdown at the hands of Kevin Owens. The common theory is Owens will defend his Intercontinental Championship in a multi-man match at AT&T Stadium, but here’s hoping we get a one-on-one contest between former best friends turned bitter enemies Owens and Zayn. I have no desire to see Dolph Ziggler, Miz, or Tyler Breeze shoehorned into a meaningful match and storyline just to get them on the card.

That, after all, is what the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is for. While WWE hasn’t confirmed we’re getting the battle royal, it’s a safe bet considering the company likes to get everyone on the show.

It’s still unclear what’s in store for the Tag Team Champions, although a matchup against the League of Nations has been rumored. The New Day is working triple threat tag team matches with the Usos and the Dudleys on house shows leading up to ‘Mania, so perhaps we’ll get a multiple team match.

Lastly, there’s United States Champion Kalisto, who has been somewhat lost in the shuffle since Sin Cara returned. We got a little tease of a Ryback-Kalisto program during last night’s Raw but we’ll have to wait another week to see where that goes. If WWE insists on doing a multi-man match for one of the mid-card titles, I’d rather it be Kalisto’s US Title, since Owens and Zayn makes too much sense as a singles match.

WrestleMania 31 Quick Hit Reactions

WWE delivered a WrestleMania full of moments, entertaining matches and interesting booking last night in Santa Clara, CA. Coming in I had pretty high expectations for the show, based more on the card itself and the workers involved than the build. The company and its performers certainly did not disappoint.

Were there things you could nitpick about? Of course. But all in all I found this to be one of the best WrestleManias. Below are my quick hits on WrestleMania 31:

• The finish to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match could not have been booked any better. It was the first time a Money in the Bank cash in has been done during a match and with the briefcase being around for as long as it has, it’s always great when WWE can come up with a new way to use it. The tide of the match had just turned to Roman Reigns’ favor and both men were rocked, making it a perfect time for Seth Rollins to capitalize.

The way this was done makes it fairly easy to book the WWE Title picture all the way through SummerSlam, as well. Lesnar wasn’t pinned so he has a legit beef along with his rematch clause, which I would expect won’t come until SummerSlam. Roman Reigns took the pin but a program between the former Shield brethren is an obvious summer feud. And there’s also Randy Orton, who pinned Rollins earlier in the night following a spectacular RKO, who could claim rights to a title match.

The ending also can be used as the final piece of a Brock Lesnar babyface turn. We’ll see where that goes on tonight’s Raw.

• The aforementioned spectacular RKO earned the first pop of the night from this viewer. As with Money in the Bank cash ins, finding creative new ways for Orton to hit an RKO “OUT OF NOWHERE” can be challenging, but Orton turning a curb stomp attempt into the finisher was a truly clever spot. It was also perfectly executed by Orton and Rollins, so kudos to them.

The match was great but could have used a little more time. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, since these two are top shelf when it comes to in-ring work.

• The Intercontinental Championship ladder match had some good spots and a few scary parts as well, most notably the harsh landing Dean Ambrose took onto a ladder bridged between the barricade and the ring apron. Daniel Bryan winning is the right call. The IC Title desperately needs an image restoration and putting it around the waist of the hottest babyface in the company (with Brock Lesnar giving him a run for his money) is a wise move.

• I liked the incorporation of DX and the nWo into the Sting v. Triple H match, even though it didn’t make sense to have the nWo side with their longtime nemesis Sting. While it was a bit of a mess, it made sense given Sting’s age and the amount of time it’s been since he last wrestled a lengthy match while in TNA. I would have booked the match to end after the nWo showed up and Sting hit Triple H with the Scorpion Death Drop but apparently Vince McMahon wanted to make sure that – even 14 years later – everyone knew the WWE beat WCW.

I thought Sting looked great, especially for being 56 years old. While The Rock looked gassed shortly into his WrestleMania XXVIII match against John Cena, Sting showed no similar signs. Maybe this is it for the Stinger but if he has enough in the tank, it would be great to see him stick around for a few more WWE matches. Even better would be to see him go out with a win.

Rusev had to lose eventually but I was really hoping he would get a WrestleMania moment over Cena. Getting the US Title off him could mean he’s headed to the WWE Championship picture, although that looks like a crowded landscape at the moment. Certainly giving Cena the strap will elevate the title in the same way the IC Title will be heightened by Daniel Bryan holding it but Cena didn’t need the win at ‘Mania.

The match itself was very good and it looks like we might be headed towards a Lana-Rusev breakup. Maybe Lana will come back from filming her movie as a babyface who suddenly lost her Russian accent?

• The match between Undertaker and Bray Wyatt was fine and Undertaker looked good, especially for being 50 years old, but it didn’t have that same mystique for me as usual. Obviously Taker not having the streak was a big reason for that. There were some good moments here, especially the spot where Wyatt was doing the reverse spider walk and Taker sat up. This one could have been booked either way and made sense, but it’s the second year in a row Wyatt loses to a high profile star at WrestleMania. That in itself can be considered quite the rub, though.

• The Tag Team Championship 4-Way match was a crazy yet entertaining trainwreck. I’m glad they kept the belts on Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. The team is getting over and if they’re not ready to give Cesaro a real singles run, it’s smart to keep the two together and let them grow as a team.

• Big Show winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was fine. If you got upset that someone else didn’t get the rub or Big Show “didn’t need the win,” you must have forgotten how little it did for Cesaro last year. Show had never won a battle royal or Royal Rumble before so it was a nice touch to give him the nod, along with the obvious comparisons throughout his career to (his one-time father, according to WCW) Andre the Giant.

Miz and Damien Mizdow were also able to tell their story in a big way, which was important. I would expect a match between the two at Extreme Rules.

• I thought the special entrances were all well done, even Triple H’s Terminator cross-promotion which was either the greatest thing ever or the hokiest thing in wrestling history, according to my Twitter timeline. It could have done without the whole “targeting” view-from-the-Terminator thing, but it was fine.

Rusev’s tank-riding entrance was the best of the night for me and I’m disappointed there was only a Fox News viewer’s dream of a video package before Cena entered. Really thought he would MURICA it up a little more.

WrestleMania 31 Card Still at Just Four Matches

We’re just under three weeks from the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 31, which comes to us live on pay-per-view and the WWE Network from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the home of the San Francisco 49ers. The card is finally starting to fill out, with the main event set and two matches designed to get multiple bodies on the WrestleMania card. Below is a look at what we know so far:

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Roman Reigns v. Brock Lesnar

Sting v. Triple H

WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Dolph Ziggler v. Dean Ambrose v. Luke Harper v. R-Truth v. Bad News Barrett
(It’s safe to assume Daniel Bryan and at least Stardust will also be added to the match, with Goldust another possible addition.)

2nd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Participants announced so far include Big Show, Kane, Darren Young, Titus O’Neil, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Adam Rose, Ryback, The Miz and Curtis Axel.

It seems inevitable that John Cena will challenge Rusev for the United States Championship once more, despite Lana and the champion both refusing to give Cena another shot, and we’re also all but guaranteed a Bray Wyatt v. Undertaker contest. Also likely to be added are a Tag Team Championship match and/or Divas Title contest.

Rumored Bryan v. Reigns v. Lesnar WrestleMania Main Event Makes a lot of Sense

Rumors are floating around today that Vince McMahon has decided on a WrestleMania 31 main event that will feature Brock Lesnar defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a triple threat match against Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.

The idea makes a lot of sense and the road to that match is easy to lay out.

Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan are set to go one-on-one at WWE’s generic-as-can-be Fast Lane pay-per-view on Feburary 22nd, with the winner heading to WrestleMania to challenge the Beast Incarnate. Let’s remember that just a week ago, Roman Reigns interfered in the Bryan v. Seth Rollins match, costing Rollins a shot at Reigns at the PPV. Also don’t forget that Randy Orton’s return is imminent and he will have his sights set on Seth Rollins, who put him out of action with a storyline concussion.

The number one contender’s match at Fast Lane is ripe for a schmozz finish.

Rollins comes to the ring to screw Reigns out of the WrestleMania headliner as revenge for costing him this past Monday. Randy Orton returns to get even with Rollins. And then, of course, all hell breaks loose resulting in a no contest. Therefore, a triple threat match between Bryan, Reigns and Lesnar would be… best for business.

Going the route of a triple threat match makes a lot of sense. Lesnar doesn’t have to take the pin if you want to protect him and allow him to return at, say, SummerSlam claiming that since he never got pinned, he deserves a championship rematch. If there are any nerves about Reigns and Lesnar not being able to work a solid match together, you have Daniel Bryan in there as the glue to hold it all together.

It also makes sense because if Bryan wins at Fast Lane, there really isn’t a sensible WrestleMania program for Reigns, since Rollins will likely be paired with Randy Orton no matter what happens. Unless we want another Reigns v. Big Show match. The same can be said for Daniel Bryan who, aside from the Dolph Ziggler Twitter angle, doesn’t have a logical opponent who isn’t already tied up with something else. Putting Bryan and Reigns in the big match with Lesnar might be the most smooth road of all.

WrestleMania 32 to be Held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX

It has long been rumored but WWE announced after Raw that WrestleMania 32 will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The home of the Dallas Cowboys holds 80,000 for football but can fit over 105,000 for other events. The record attendance for a football game was 105,121 in September 2009 when the Giants beat the Cowboys in the stadium’s first regular season game. The 2010 NBA All-Star Game drew 108,713 fans to the stadium, setting the Guinness World Record for the largest attendance for a basketball game.

WWE will undoubtedly be pulling out all the stops to try to fill Jerry World. An Undertaker retirement match would not seem out of the question, especially if WWE decides to keep him off the WrestleMania XXXI show. There has always been talk of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin returning for one more match in his home state, so I’m sure Vince McMahon and company will be working the Rattlesnake over.

One thing to remember is that although the capacity can reach over 105,000, WWE generally has a pretty elaborate and space-consuming entrance way for WrestleMania, which will cut down on some of those potential seats.

(Image via WWE.com)

Complete WrestleMania 30 Card

We’re four days away from WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans. While the build has been a little strange, the end is in sight and WrestleMania is always an exciting time. Here is the complete card for the biggest show of the year:

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Batista v. Randy Orton v. Triple H/Daniel Bryan winner

Brock Lesnar v. The Undertaker

Winner Enters the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Daniel Bryan v. Triple H

Andre the Giant Memorial 30-Man Over the Top Rope Battle Royal
27 Participants Announced: Dolph Ziggler, Big E, Fandango, Alberto Del Rio, Damien Sandow, Titus O’Neil, Christian, Sheamus, Big Show, Mark Henry, Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, Brodus Clay, Darren Young, Justin Gabriel, Rey Mysterio, R-Truth, Santino Marella, The Great Khali, Zack Ryder, Sin Cara, Brad Maddox

John Cena v. Bray Wyatt

The Shield v. Kane & The New Age Outlaws

Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational Divas Championship Match
Naomi, Cameron, Natalya, Summer Rae, Tamina, Layla, Rosa Mendes, Aksana, Emma, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Alicia Fox, Eva Marie, AJ Lee

Pre-Show: WWE World Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way Match
Rybaxel v. The Real Americans v. Los Matadores v. The Usos