In just two days, we are about to go upon the “Ultimate Thrill Ride”. No, it’s not being crammed in a vehicle with Ryan Lemond and three other guys on a trip sponsored by Pie Five Pizza. It is, however, the Super Bowl of Wrestling*, Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania (the number has been dropped to not remind people how old the event is – #33) takes place in Orlando, Florida, and the WWE looks to wrap up one roller coaster of a year with its biggest show of the year. Think about it. In the last year, Raw and Smackdown have become wholly separate brands, phones have been hacked, and Goldberg is your Universal Champion!?!?! So, it’s time for this round to end and get a completely fresh start on the Raw after Wrestlemania. But first, we’ve got to get through the ‘Grandest Stage of Them All’, Wrestlemania 33.
As always, we thought at Funkhouser that we would predict the outcomes of the matches happening at the six, yes six, hour Wrestlemania event. Josh Juckett, Jay Winkler and I try our hands at figuring out what the hell is going on. Who will make more correct guesses on a pre-determined sporting event? Only time will tell.
(*They’re both scripted…)
Smackdown Women’s Six-Pack Challenge for the SD Women’s Championship
Richmond: I will completely admit that I am Team Blue, watching pretty much every episode of Smackdown, more so than Raw. That being said, while Smackdown has the better show, the women’s division on SD needs just one bigger name. They added Mickie James to the mix earlier in the year, but she’s been getting Zoe Barnes’d over on Impact for the last decade. This match is on the pre-show, and in Orlando, so I think Naomi picks up the win after returning from injury. I just don’t know how people will get to ‘feel the glow’, unless she confiscates everyone’s sunscreen at the door.
Josh: Bliss seems unlikely to retain the belt here, but I like to root for the underdog on occasion.
Jay: Alexa Bliss once sent a death glare in my direction at an NXT live event. Well, it’s time for her comeuppance! Recently returned Naomi will win back the belt in her hometown.
Neville (c) vs Austin Aries – WWE Cruiserweight Title
Richmond: I feel like a good number of the predictions will include the phrase “returning from injury”, but that’s the kind of year we’ve had. Neville was out for a good spell after an injury, but has completely reinvented his character into Neville: King of the Cruiserweights. His distain of being a sideshow act for his one move, The Red Arrow, has bled into his character and now he’s the evil champ of 205 Live, WWE’s cruiserweight program. Austin Aries, coming off of injury, has been playing reporter on Monday Night Raw, but has finally made his way to the ring again to challenge Neville for his title. While it’s been good to see Aries back in the ring, I think you keep the title on Neville. Maybe he gets a surprise challenger on Raw the following night. All Hail the King.
Josh: This match should be exciting and what more exciting way to get things going than with a title change. Aries wins this round and sets off a back and forth between these two that will last a while.
Jay: Neville should hold the Cruiserweight Title for years. He’s a little English monster man who can flip like a UK cheerleader. He’s just the best. But I think A-Double, Austin Aries, will be celebrating with a nice banana after a big title win.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Richmond: Cesaro. Big Show. Baron Corbin. Those are the first three names on the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy. Your odds on favorite is Braun Strowman. You should just give him the award just for having the best build up of any big man since the Big Show debuted at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre all those years ago. That being said, Sami Zayn finds a way to be the Ultimate Underdog and pull off a win like Cesaro did three years ago.
Josh: Braun Strowman seems like the safe pick here, but I don’t like safe picks. I’m going with Big Show, unless Shaq shows up in which case I choose Shaq. Maybe this is how Hulk Hogan makes his return, but I doubt it (though I do think Hogan will be involved in the event somehow).
Jay: It only makes sense for the next great giant to triumph in the match dedicated to the first. As much as I’d like to see Sami Zayn pick up the Cinderella victory during Final Four weekend, I’m taking BRAUUUUUUN Strowman.
Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match
Richmond: I envision a couple things happening in the WWE Tag Team picture soon. 1) The Revival, aka Top Guys, debut on Monday or Smackdown on Tuesday (probably Tuesday). 2) Matt and Jeff Hardy make a surprise return to the WWE and spread their Broken Brilliance all over the landscape. I would picture them on Raw, as two semi-teleporting beings (The Hardys & Bray Wyatt) should probably not appear on the same show. So, I think the Good Brothers, The Club, Gallows and Anderson pick up the win here, to have someone big to face off against the Hardy’s when they return soon. Also, it’s a ladder match at Wrestlemania, when would you rather have Matt and Jeff return? Lastly, if there’s not an appearance by Chad 2 Badd and Tex Ferguson… I want my $9.99 back.
Josh: After The New Day held the belt so long it makes sense that the title should switch around a few times before settling somewhere for a while. Enzo and Cass haven’t had the title yet. If they’re good enough for the KFC Georgia Gold, then they’re good enough for Raw Tag Team Gold.
Jay: Ah, ladder matches at WrestleMania. You rarely disappoint. And this year, it’s gonna be a certain Certified G and his 7-foot comrade finally winning the gold. I’m taking Enzo and Cass.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs Baron Corbin – Intercontinental Championship
Richmond: Say what you want about Baron Corbin, but his stock has risen 10-fold since he won the ARMBAR (my shorthand for the Andre Battle Royal). His skills on the mic have improved over on Talking Smack, and while he’s only really faced three people in the last year, he’s fun to watch in the ring. A Corbin victory at Wrestlemania would be nice. I mean, who really cares. Zach Ryder won the IC Title last year and dropped it to the Miz the very next night. Reward Corbin for an awesome year, then drop it back to Ambrose on Tuesday.
Josh: Corbin has gotten some good licks in on Ambrose in the run-up to this match, but ultimately Ambrose gets the last laugh here.
Jay: I wish this was a No DQ match. These two could put on a real gnarly show with such a stipulation, which may happen in months to come, but for now, I think the better “wrestler” will win, and that’s Dean Ambrose.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs Miz and Maryse
Richmond: Can we mention that the biggest news of this match is that Al Roker is the guest ring announcer for the match? Has that been lost in all of this? Someone made a joke on Reddit that after John Cena and Nikki Bella get married, Nikki’s initials will be NBC, and that’s why Al Roker is doing the ring announcing. Miz and Maryse have been doing next level stuff, but come-on… Cena and Nikki for the win
Josh: I have no strong feelings on this one. The real question is whether John will pull a Derek Willis and propose on the biggest stage of them all.
Jay: There’s really just no way Miz and Maryse win this match. I’ll be legitimately shocked, and not necessarily upset, if they do, but I just PROPOSE that Cena and Nikki get it done in the RING.
Chris Jericho (c) vs Kevin Owens – United States Championship
Richmond: These two. Jericho and Owens have been carrying one of the best storylines on their back for the last 6-8 months. Owens wins the title, Jericho becomes his best friend and helps him keep the title. During this time, Jericho finds a clipboard and starts to put people who make him mad on, The List. The fact that Jericho can get a list to be the most popular thing on WWE TV, proves that they should induct him into the Hall of Fame tonight. After being woo’ed by Triple H, and annoyed by Jericho’s everlasting friendship, Owens turns on Jericho in one of the most honestly sad moments of WWE in quite some time. This past Monday, Owens earned his name as the final spot on The List before Wrestlemania. Jericho should win this one to get his revenge on Owens. But for some reason, I see Owens walking out the US Champion.
Josh: Jericho is my choice because I like Owens’ potential for other storylines. Owens belongs in main event level matches and I think he’s poised for a push back into that status. To do that he needs to wrap up this thing with Jericho and move on without the US Championship holding him back.
Jay: Is an apron powerbomb at WrestleMania too much to ask for? I don’t think so. With that in mind, I’m taking KO to wrench the US Title away from his former best friend.
Raw Women’s Championship Fatal Four Way Elimination Match
Richmond: I agree with Jay below. I think this is exactly how it happens. Bayley eliminates Charlotte to prove she can get the job done without Sasha, then Sasha ‘turns’ on Bayley setting up a nice Bayley/Sasha feud that runs all the way through Summerslam. BOSS for the win.
Josh: Charlotte always seems like the safe bet in the pay-per- view events, but I like Sasha’s chances here. The real hope in the match is for the event to live up to last year’s triple threat match.
Jay: Logic dictates that Nia be eliminated first through a combined effort by Charlotte, Bayley, and Sasha. Charlotte goes next, also bounced by the teamwork of Sasha and Bayley. I think this is when the old BO$$ emerges to reclaim the title. Sasha wins.
Shane McMahon vs AJ Styles
Richmond: Corey Graves said last week on “Bring it to the Table” that the Shane/AJ match did nothing for him. I agree. AJ Styles had been WWE Champion for nearly six months, as the Champ That Runs The Camp. AJ styles puts on a next level show when it comes to in-ring performance. Shane on the other hand is good for one good death-defying (and at his age… you never know) jump and then a bunch of really bad punches. Both lost at Wrestlemania last year, but I see Shane winning, AJ moving to Raw with the Good Brothers (and Finn Balor), and the Club reuniting to run roughshod over the flagship show.
Josh: Shane-o- Mac got destroyed last year at Wrestlemania in the Cell match with Undertaker. He also got knocked out at Survivor Series. It’s time for McMahon to pull off the big time win.
Jay: Apparently, the WrestleMania set is designed to be a roller coaster. If you know Shane McMahon, you know that’s too tempting to not jump off of. But AJ is smart enough to avoid the impact. Styles gets his first Mania win here.
Seth Rollins vs Triple H
Richmond: Seth should get the victory here. You know that Samoa Joe will be involved in some form or fashion, and maybe that’s a good way to bring Finn Balor back to even the score. Rollins and Balor have both been on the rehab track together returning from injury. The storyline for these two has been running for so long, almost two years, but for some reason it seems like it doesn’t have the “Final Showdown” feel that it should. Maybe its because of Rollins injury recently, but I’m ready for Seth to move on to something else.
Josh: Like Undertaker vs Reigns, Rollins and Triple H has a very “torch passing” feel to it. The biggest difference is that where Reigns has remained a boo-machine from fans, Rollins has been better received from fans and doesn’t need Triple H to give him a push. Because of that I like Triple H here. I expect Triple H to use every heel trick in the book and get his Wrestlemania win % up to .500.
Jay: I smell shenanigans happening here. Samoa Joe is AWOL on the rest of the card. He’s gotta make an appearance somewhere, right? Still, somehow, someway, I think Seth Rollins is gonna get the job done.
The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns
Richmond: I’m going to parlay my pick for the next two matches. Undertaker is nearing the end of his career and everyone knows it. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he lost to Roman Reigns, for multiple reasons. 1) Reigns is slated to be “The Guy”, no matter how much no one wants him to be “The Guy”. 2) Undertaker is old, he’s bound to not be at the top of his game anymore. Rumor is that they already have the main event of Wrestlemania 34 planned as Roman vs Lesnar for the title. Why not just have Reigns defeat the Undertaker, Lesnar defeat Goldberg for the title, then pull a Cena/Rock and just make the match a year ahead of time. That way, you can get the fans prepared 364 days in advance.
Josh: Reigns feels like he will never be over. Beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania in an epic match could be what finally gets him over, but at this point it seems like it will take a miracle for that to happen. This could be that miracle.
Jay: The first ever “Whose yard is it?” match. I’m going to be completely unbiased here and say that Roman is going to win, frankly because I’d be surprised if Taker could still get Reigns up for the Tombstone. Sad!
Goldberg (c) vs Brock Lesnar – WWE Universal Championship
Richmond: See above. Not the ridiculous picture of Goldberg holding the title in 2017, but the match before.
Josh: Law of averages right? Goldberg has dominated Lesnar so it seems like the right time to for Lesnar to get the win and the belt. Goldberg never seem destined to have a long-term run in the WWE after coming out of retirement so it also makes sense that this would be his way to drop the belt and get ready to ride into the sunset.
Jay: We learned at Survior Series that, yes, Goldberg did have one last devastating Jackhammer left in him. At Fastlane, we learned that apparently, he actually had 2. I don’t think the third will pack the same punch. Brock Lesnar walks out with the Universal Title.
Bray Wyatt (c) vs Randy Orton – WWE Championship
Richmond: Can we all agree that Randy Orton has been the bad guy in this feud the entire time? Especially since breaking off from the Wyatt Family? Since Wyatt won the title, he hasn’t really been doing any of his nefarious act as he used to. But at that point Orton had been in the Wyatt Family for a couple of months and was working his way out from the inside. First he turned Haprer against Wyatt, then vowed to not challenge Bray for the WWE Championship. Then things happened, including burning down the Wyatt compound and setting fire to the remains of Sister Abigail. Orton’s kind of been the worst. Just as a fan, I’m picking Bray. His title run hasn’t been long enough.
Josh: I went back and forth on this one, but Bray Wyatt doesn’t feel like a Wrestlemania champion. You know, the guy at the end of the event holding the belt aloft in celebration of having won a main event on the biggest stage of sports entertainment. Orton, on the other hand, is definitely that kind of champion so I expect him to hit a few RKOs and get the belt.
Jay: Bray Wyatt is finally realizing his potential as America’s Next Top Supernatural Grappler. But you know, all it takes is one RKO to get to Viperville. No enchantments needed. Randy Orton will be your new WWE Champion.