WWE Pay-Per-View Roundtable: WrestleMania 31

by Daniel Johnson, Kyle Childers and Dave Pendleton

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Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c) (with Natalya) vs. The Usos (with Naomi) vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston (with Xavier Woods) vs. Diego and Fernando (with El Torito) for the WWE Tag Team Championship

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Daniel Johnson: There are a lot of good workers in this match and it’s a shame some of them aren’t on the main card. I was hoping the second WWE Tag Team Championship reign of Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso would’ve lasted longer, but WWE seems behind Cesaro and Tyson Kidd to an extent. Don’t get me wrong, WWE really bailed on pushing Cesaro as a singles star, but this attempt to revive him could’ve been worse. I’m banking on Cesaro and Kidd to retain.
Kyle Childers: I love tag team wrestling you guys. I really love multi team matches too so this is great for me especially since I genuinely like all the teams in this match. That being said, why are Los Matadores and The New Day involved here? I get trying to get more guys on the card and putting together a match that’s not just The Usos against The Brass Ring Club again, but it seems forced. Either way, even though I wish we were getting tag team turmoil, it should be a great match to kick off the show with the Brass Ring Club retaining.
Dave Pendleton: I really hope Cesaro and Kidd keep the titles in this match. The Usos have had the tag championship for the better part of a year and a half and no one really cares about The New Day or Los Matadores. This will be a good, entertaining match with The Usos and Matadores doing plenty of flipping and flying and I expect Kidd or Cesaro to use some kind of shenanigans to catch a quick pin on probably one of The New Day members.

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal where the winner will receive an Andre The Giant Memorial Trophy

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Daniel Johnson: I was hoping Kevin Owens would be the WWE NXT entrant for this match, but since his knee injury happened that isn’t happening. More than that I thought he’d have a shot at winning it. As far as the actual WWE NXT entrant goes while Hideo Itami may have a big future on WWE’s main roster I just don’t see him winning. The Miz’s saga with Damien Mizdow is the most interesting storyline leading into this match so Mizdow will probably win and part ways with The Miz. As for the future? I’ll be optimistic and say WWE stays behind Mizdow as a regular midcard comedy act. This win won’t really elevate him, but it won’t hurt either.
Kyle Childers: Yet another case of something designed to get everyone on the card, but that’s okay. The pre-show battle royal is a tradition at WrestleMania and I’m actually kind of glad to see it back. Sure it’s just going to be a backdrop for The Miz-a Powers to explode, but I’m okay with that. Also, Ryback is totally winning.
Dave Pendleton: I really hate that this has been moved to the pre-show. It makes it feel like a dark match and that it is not something the WWE deems as special. Of course, the whole point of this match is so that more than 14 or so people get a chance to be on the show. My biggest interest in this match is the debut of Hideo Itami. I have been a fan of Itami for years and followed his career in NOAH as KENTA very closely. I do not know if he has much of a chance of winning this, but I believe that he will be given a chance to shine in the time that he is in the match. I also see this as an opportunity to finally break up Sandow and the Miz with Sandow eliminating Miz and winning the match.

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

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Daniel Johnson: The Seth Rollins push keeps going and I don’t see Randy Orton killing it just yet. Orton isn’t the best veteran to put guys over. Don’t get me wrong he’s a huge name and all, but he can be a little greedy in the ring rather than letting people shine. I see Rollins winning this one cheaply and though the win will boost him and keep his momentum it won’t be a dominant enough win to make Rollins look all that great.
Kyle Childers: If there’s any justice in this world, this match was booked so Rollins could get a serious main event rub. Not that I dislike Orton, but at this point, he doesn’t need the win. I’m picking the future of the WWE to prevail in this bout.
Dave Pendleton: Randy has been absolutely on fire since his return at WWE Fastlane 2015. I think he has put on much better matches and his promos have been almost perfect as well. His inevitable turn on Rollins a few weeks ago was a great old school beat down and I think this match will probably be the second best match on the show. I think Orton will probably come out with the win after being out for so long and needing revenge. Maybe he can get himself back in the title picture against Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns after this win.

Rusev (c) (with “The Ravishing Russian” Lana) vs. John Cena for the WWE United States Championship

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Daniel Johnson: There are reasons to dislike this match, but heck! I’m just excited WWE cares about its midcard titles again. John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt last year and it really killed off a lot of Wyatt’s momentum. Ideally the WWE brass has learned something from this, but us longtime fans know better than to count on this. Plus, down the line Roman Reigns/John Cena would be a fresh singles match. In order for that to happen WWE would want both performers to look strong. Cena will probably win this one in convincing fashion then lose the WWE Unites States Championship somewhere down the line due to a cheap win. Sure, Cena doesn’t need it and a lot of fans (myself included) don’t want him to have it, but it fits some storylines that the WWE higher ups love to tell.
Kyle Childers: Does anyone believe Cena is dropping two in a row on pay-per-view? Last month may not count in the eyes of some, but you better believe lots of WWE brass are going to want the golden child to look great on the biggest stage. Poor Rusev, so amazing, but with so little chance of winning.
Dave Pendleton: I just do not like this match. I do not think that Rusev and Cena have a lot of chemistry together and feel like an underdog would have been a better choice to finally knock off Rusev instead of Cena who is completely untouchable at this point in his career. These two will have a perfectly normal brawl with some submissions and a few boots by Rusev and five knuckle shuffles by Cena. I think Cena may actually make Rusev tap out in this match, and I will hate it.

AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins

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Daniel Johnson: WWE has actually been showcasing some of the in-ring work of its main roster divas lately. The women at WWE NXT still put them to shame. This match has a chance of being decent and could even be a little longer than the usual divas pay-per-view match. Nikki Bella and Brie Bella will probably cheat to win this one somehow.
Kyle Childers: Remember how they used a WWE Divas Championship match to set up the meaningless tag match at the biggest show of the year? How awesome was that booking plan? This should be a triple threat or a four way for the belt but it’s not and that’s dumb. I don’t know who wins. Paige and AJ Lee? People who need to pee?
Dave Pendleton: The past few weeks of matches between these four has actually surprised me. Paige and AJ have always been solid performers, but The Bella Twins have gotten much, much better. I feel like Paige and AJ will win this match, but unlike past years I probably will not use this match as a refill/bathroom break. I will probably wait for the totally pointless and frustrating musical performance for that one.

The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

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Daniel Johnson: In theory this match should be the most interesting WrestleMania bout featuring The Undertaker in years. Since he lost at WWE WrestleMania XXX there is a chance he could lose again. The streak is no longer a factor. That said this match really feels like one part timer too many to me.  True, Bray Wyatt has done some decent work in the promos leading up to it, but I smell something here. This match is just going to give The Undertaker a little momentum for next year. For WWE WrestleMania 32 I’m fully expecting The Undertaker to wrestle Sting after defeating Wyatt with force this year.
Kyle Childers: Possibly the most interesting match Undertaker has had at WrestleMania in years at least on paper. With the streak being broken, will this be the passing of the torch to a new mystical character or will Undertaker win again? I’m picking Bray because I want to believe.
Dave Pendleton: The best part of the match will be the entrances. Undertaker should have retired after the Hell in a Cell with HHH and left as 20-0. The loss last year makes him completely undesirable to me and I just do not want to see him get crippled in the ring by trying to go on too long. I used to never bet against The Undertaker, but after last year I have my doubts. I hope WWE learned its lesson last year and we are given a nice feel good moment with Undertaker winning one more match. Only thing is that if they want to push Wyatt as the new horror icon in WWE then they may let Wyatt go over. I am still going with Undertaker and hoping everything can be made right in the world.

Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Stardust in  a ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

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Daniel Johnson: If you really dissect this match WWE could’ve gotten nearly half of a WrestleMania card, anywhere from decent to great in quality, out of the performers in this one match. Daniel Bryan wrestling Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose taking on Bad News Barrett in a ladder match, heck even Cody Rhodes could’ve done something great without the ridiculous Stardust character. Those are just some of the possibilities out of many that could be had with these seven talented individuals. The high minded folks at WWE cramming them all into one match results in an absurd example of putting all of your eggs in one basket. Sure, there will be plenty of, “This is awesome,” chants and the like. However, this match will go on for 30 minutes or possibly just a hair over at most. That’s it. Then some of the best workers WWE has to offer are done for the night not to be seen at WrestleMania for another whole year. With all that said I want to stay positive. Ideally this won’t just be a clustered mess, but a match we can still marvel at years from now. Oh yeah and Daniel Bryan wins.
Kyle Childers: This one has the potential to be match of the night more than almost anything else on this card. With all seven performers being top tier workers (Yes, even Cody) and their performances in ladder matches, this should blow the (non-existent) roof off Levi’s Stadium. It’ll be a good indicator of who’s winning the main event too, so if Bryan wins then we may see Roman Reign’d in.
Dave Pendleton: This will be the best match on the show. I always loved the WrestleMania ladder matches and was disappointed when they decided to take Money in the Bank off of ‘Mania and move it to its own pay-per-view. I fully expect Daniel Bryan to win this match, but I will be absolutely pleased if Ziggler or Ambrose win it as well. I understand that WWE wants to try to bring some prestige back to the WWE Intercontinental Championship, but after years of misuse I do not know if it is possible to elevate the title back to the status it had when it was held by Tito Santana, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect or Davey Boy Smith. A feud between Ambrose, Ziggler and Bryan after WrestleMania would make for some really good matches and the build to this match has been some of the best TV WWE has had in months or even years.

Sting vs. HHH

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Daniel Johnson: If you honestly think this is a dream match then WWE has done a great job brainwashing of you. As someone who lived through The Monday Night Wars there were a lot of dream matches people talked about. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg. Sting vs. The Undertaker. Heck, even Vince McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff. Yet, HHH vs. Sting was never one of them. That said this match should be at least decent. Even in his later TNA work Sting could still pull out a good match and HHH has always been a capable worker. Sting wins this in what should be a fun affair and then goes onto face The Undertaker next year. Oddly enough while this isn’t a dream match it could very well be a much better quality match than when we get Sting vs. The Undertaker.
Kyle Childers: Sting had my favorite promo line of the decade (so far) when he said he’s not fighting for WCW because that would be ridiculous. That was amazing and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. I’m expecting him to beat the brakes right off of HHH and it’s going to be amazing. As long as we don’t get t-shirt Stinger.
Dave Pendleton: The middle schooler in me is going nuts to see Sting wrestle at WrestleMania. I used to dream about a Sting vs. Shawn Michaels match in about 1996 and Sting against anyone 15 to 20 years ago would have been amazing. This is not 1996, it is 2015 and I really do not know if Sting has the draw or the ability to put on a semi-main event match at WrestleMania. There is absolutely no way Sting does not win this match and he will probably head off into the sunset and get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next year.

Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

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Daniel Johnson: With Brock Lesnar revealing that he had signed a new contract with WWE it sure makes this match a heck of a lot more interesting than it would’ve been otherwise. WWE loves Roman Reigns, but a good amount of the fans simply don’t. Usually, I’d expect WWE just to cram Reigns down our throats (see the last 10 years of John Cena for reference), but with Lesnar’s announcement I’m just not that sure. Hell, I’ll go with my gut though and say Reigns beats Lesnar via Paul Heyman screwing Lesnar over. The fans already want the roles changed. With Lesnar secured WWE has no real reason not to do it. It doesn’t make that much sense from a storyline perspective, but that has never stopped WWE before and there are plenty of ways to fill in the logic holes. All in all though again to go with my gut there is still plenty of trainwreck potential here.
Kyle Childers: I’ll say it now. Reigns isn’t ready (brother). I’m not saying I dislike the dude or that he’s not talented. Dude is fun to watch, has a respectable amount of support from the fans and tons of potential, but pushing him to the moon this early is a terrible idea. What is this? His third singles match on pay-per-view? Give him a midcard program with someone like Rusev that will allow him to hone his skills and get ready for that next level. Much like Cena in 2004. I don’t see Lesnar signing an extension and losing the belt right now so I’m picking the beast incarnate to win.
Dave Pendleton: The match no one wanted to see is happening. I am not against Roman, I like him and I think he will definitely be champion one day, but that one day will not be March 29. Lesnar renewing his contract pretty much guaranteed that he would be retaining the title and I am already hearing rumors of a Lesnar vs. The Rock main event at next year’s WrestleMania. I think this will be a great brawl and turn out to be a surprisingly good match. I just hope the fans do not ruin it by booing it out of the building, it would be really nice if people could just enjoy some wrestling instead of complaining about things we, as fans, cannot control.

Editor’s Note: Kyle Childers/Hawk Jefferson is a cornerstone of the WWE Pay-Per-View Roundtable series and the author of the Hawkeye’s Hangout series on The Johnson Transcript. Childers is also the co-host of the Ruthless Aggression Podcast, which can be found on iTunes, Sticher and Podbean here, here and here, respectively. Childers can be found on Twitter @hawkjefferson. Dave Pendleton is a writer for The Johnson Transcript who began writing for the site through this interview with independent wrestler Victor Andrews.

Photo Credits:

Photos 1-6, 9: en.wikipedia.org

Photos 7-8: Daniel Johnson / Johnsontranscript.com



Categories: Smooth Runs

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