Former WWE creative team member Andrew Goldstein breaks down WrestleMania 31
Former WWE creative team member and Philadelphia native Andrew Goldstein was kind enough to lend his experience and expertise with some in-depth analysis and predictions for WrestleMania 31.
Goldstein spent nearly a year working with the WWE helping to put together shows like WrestleMania and possesses a great wrestling mind to boot. Here's how he sees WrestleMania shaking out:
WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
I am completely confounded by this match. With the news that Brock is done with the UFC and committed to the WWE for the foreseeable future, the possibilities in this match are now endless. The smart mark in me sees some kind of Seth Rollins/Authority interruption with a potential for a Money in the Bank cash-in attempt. But then the logical side of me reads the tea leaves the last six months and recognizes the WWE's mission: To crown Roman Reigns as the next franchise talent in the WWE. All that being said, I still have no idea how this match ends but if I'm booking, I keep the title on the most credible, believable, mainstream appealing champion WWE has had since the 1990's: Lesnar.
Triple H vs. Sting
You need only ask one question with regard to this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle: Why bring Sting in after 14 years just to lose to Triple H?" Unfortunately, when you deal with Triple H, it's never that simple. Part of me would love to see WWE troll the Internet wrestling community (IWC) by having Triple H go over and add another name to the pantheon of contenders they believe Triple H has buried over his illustrious career. But the IWC is not indicative of the reality in which we find "The Icon" Sting in a WWE ring. In that reality, I can't see any reason not to put Sting over. Triple H certainly doesn't need the win and it just solidifies Sting's new WWE presence going forward for DVDs, merchandise and promotional appearances. I'm going with Sting.
WWE United States Championship – Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
Vaughn, I owe you a cheesesteak from the purveyor of your choice if anything but John Cena standing tall with the WWE United States Championship takes place in this match. This year of dominance by the Bulgarian Brute has to come to some kind of an end. All streaks must end (see Taker, Goldberg, Chip Kelly's silence etc…) What better way to finally beat the monster who has literally made everyone on the WWE roster quit over the last year than to have him lose to the guy who tells anyone who will listen that he "Never gives up"? The story writes itself. And you CAN'T SEE that cheesesteak I owe you because Cena will go over.
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
Like the Phillies' starting pitchers, The Undertaker's best years are behind him and just because he lost last year doesn't mean he can't lose again this year – I mean look at Cliff Lee's elbow! He can't disappoint us again, can he? Yes he can! And yes The Undertaker can lose two years in a row without it damaging his legacy. Unlike with last year's surprise loss to Brock Lesnar, this year WWE will use the power of The Undertaker to realize Bray Wyatt's manifest destiny of becoming the company's new face of fear. (Apologies to the Barbarian) With few tricks left up Undertaker's trench coat sleeve, one of his final acts no doubt must be putting Wyatt over and solidifying him as WWE's new monster heel. Follow the Buzzards to a Bray Wyatt win.
WWE Intercontinental Champion – Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth
I can't hate on this match too much since I'm the one who's been beating the drum for the return of the Money in the Bank ladder match to WrestleMania but I will say the paradigm shift away from WrestleMania being the season finale to a year's worth of storyline into a mish-mosh, catch-all card full of crowded gimmick matches just to get every worker on the roster a 'Mania payoff has me down on this match. With that said, the smart money is on the WWE giving Daniel Bryan his runner up to Miss America WrestleMania moment by having him rip down that Intercontinental title at the end of the match. If not Bryan then I'll go with Dolph Ziggler here but one thing is for certain, this match – regardless of winner – will steal the show. YES! YES! YES! Bryan will be victorious.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Man, I want to root for Randy Orton so badly as he's by far one of the top three workers in the business right now, but WWE always just finds a way to book him down the drain. Or is it his one-note, droll personality's fault? Either way I think the WWE missed a Big Show-sized opportunity to capitalize on the viral sensation that is the "RKO out of no where" upon Orton's return to action. But like Ryder, Punk, Fandango (and anyone else who's had some morsel of individuality organically catch on with the mainstream) before him, if the WWE didn't give birth to it, it never existed. As a result, unfortunately all we get is regular old, boring Orton on Sunday instead of a revitalized, Austin-like, anti-authority ass-kicker. Give me Seth Rollins, with an assist from the Money in the Bank Samsonite, and the best act in wrestling today, J&J Security.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
See above comments about crowded, gimmick, paycheck matches over-populating recent WrestleMania booking. Aside from that, I'm confident all signs point to the triumphant return of the Great White warrior Sheamus. That's my pick, fella!
AJ Lee & Paige vs. The Bella Twins
The #GiveDivasaChance movement is firmly upon us with some killer 10-15 minute matches on Monday Night Raw the last month among these four talented ladies. But the recent in-fighting between AJ Lee and Paige lead me to believe that the WWE's version of the Kardashians maintain their status atop the headlines with a victory at WrestleMania. I'll take The Bella Twins.
WWE Tag Team Championship – Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) vs. Los Matadores vs. The Usos vs. The New Day
Same great mish-mosh, same bad taste. In one match we have one fully-formed tag team here with The Uso's, another cohesive unit that couldn't get over in the decade they look like they came from - the 1980's in Los Matadores, an undefined swing-and-a-miss of a tag team concept that's just a tad bit racist in The New Day, and a fun tandem of disparate, discarded mid-card parts, full of potential if they could just get some matching gear and a team name in champs, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. Because of the rise of cousin Roman Reigns and the induction of pops Rikishi into the WWE Hall of Fame, I lean towards a WrestleMania moment for The Uso's, if only to keep the island boy love theme going this weekend.