Thursday, March 31, 2016

Beta Likes Wrestling #1b: WrestleMania 32 Pre-Blog Part 2

And it all went downhill from there...
We've reached Day Three of my crazy WrestleMania kick. We’re going to wrap up the rest of the card, specifically the marquee matches that theoretically are bringing everyone into the building. The WWE is hoping to fill the AT&T Stadium, which would be 100,000 people. Everything the company has done for the last year has been to sell this bad boy out. I don’t know if they will do it or not but I feel confident that even if they don’t they’ll probably lie and say that they did. Because wrestling promoters lie all the time.

Um, let’s move on.

You can check out the last blog here to get the details on the first half of the card but if you’re lazy here’s a quick summary, with my predictions.

André the Giant memorial Battle Royal – Tyler Breeze will NOT win

The Usos vs. The Dudley Boys – Usos will win

Kalisto vs. [The] Ryback –Ryback will win

Total Divas vs. B.A.D. & Blonde –The women from that TV show I don’t watch will win 

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match – Kevin Owens will win

The New Day vs. The League of Nations – LON will win, but who f**king cares?

More predictions after the jump.



 AJ Styles vs.  Chris Jericho
Kinda bummed we didn't get this match eight years ago...

What’s Up: AJ Styles debuted for WWE at the 2016 Royal Rumble and made a good impression with the fans. The next night he defeated former world champion Chris Jericho. Follow this the two engaged in a series of matches where they grew to respect each other. On Jericho’s suggestion the two formed a tag team,“Y2AJ”, and challenged The New Day for the tag titles. After losing the match Jericho attacked Styles, later revealing that he had become disgruntled by the fans cheering for Styles over him during their matches. AJ soon challenged Jericho to one more match at WrestleMania 32.

Beta Say: The bad news is this will be the fourth time we’ve seen these two fight in just a few months and that hurts the freshness of this encounter. The good news is these guys are both veterans who are very good at their jobs and, assuming they don’t get cheated out of time, there’s no way this won’t be the best of the series. The storyline has been very good and Jericho’s villainous promos have been some of his best work in a few years. Plus Styles will want to make a good impression on the WM stage while Jericho is always obsessed with, and vocal about, putting on show stealing performances at WrestleMania. This match will probably be awesome.

Prediction: With Styles so early in his WWE career, and in a high profile/semi-main event match, it seems like it wouldn’t make sense for him to lose here. The story of the match has been “Is AJ Styles as good as we’ve heard” and so losing to Jericho seems like that would automatically make the answer “No, I guess not.” At that point I have no idea what you would do with Styles. So I’m going with AJ, with the hope that WWE actually want him to succeed.


Notes:
-AJ Styles previously worked with TNA. After leaving that company WWE gave him an offer that he rejected and went on to sign with ROH and NJPW and became the biggest wrestling star in the worldwide independent scene. Two years later AJ finally came to WWE and his new star power likely allowed him to bypass NXT.

-A few years ago Chris Jericho was asked to work with, and lose to, then newcomer Fandango at WrestleMania 29. At the time Fandango was tapped to be a huge star but he ultimately fizzled out; a fact Jericho has subtly referenced during this program with AJ.


Dean Ambrose vs. “Jimmy Johns Presents” Brock Lesnar 
No Holds Barred Match
With a tattoo like that I kind of wish Brock had the shirt on

What’s Up: Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose were in consideration for a WWE World Heavyweight title shot along with Roman Reigns. The three met in a three-way #1 contender’s Tripe Threat Match at WWE Fastlane. Roman won and thus qualified to battle Triple H for the WWE title at Wrestlemania 32. Lesnar, enraged at having lost, took his frustration out on Ambrose the next night at Monday Night Raw by beating Dean half to death and sending him to the hospital. Later that night Dean escaped from the hospital, hijacked an ambulance, and then came back to the arena to try to get revenge. Already barely able to stand Ambrose was again beaten to hell by Lesnar, however he managed to challenge Brock to a No Holds Barred match at WM 32, to which the former UFC champion accepted (by beating Dean up some more).

Beta Says: For the past few months the fans have very much gotten behind Dean Ambrose, to the point that he’s kind of the default top babyface since John Cena has been out with an injury and people aren’t cheering for Roman Reigns the way they should be. So pitting him against Brock Lesnar, whose character has been written as being an unbeatable force of nature that cannot be conquered by a mortal human, is a big deal for Ambrose. I imagine this match will be very violent and very hard hitting and both men will feel like shit for the next few days.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar broke the Undertaker’s undefeated WM streak in 2014 and ever since then he has not lost any of his matches (he was never pinned nor has he given up) without some sort of cheating on the other person’s part. If Dean beats him here I think it will make him the biggest name in WWE in an instant. I don’t know if that’s what WWE wants right now, but I’m going to go with Ambrose, nonetheless. I think it’s time for someone to defeat Brock and I feel like Ambrose as a character has been on fire since the Royal Rumble back in January and it makes narrative sense for him to “slay the beast”. That said I can easily see WWE having Lesnar go over or having Lesnar lose due to some sort of interference.

Notes:
-Dean Ambrose, as Jon Moxley, was known for participating in dangerous hardcore matches prior to signing with WWE. As this match is a No Holds Barred match (which basically means there are no rules in ) theoretically one would think Ambrose has an advantage.

-I dislike Brock Lesnar for several reasons that have nothing to do with his wrestling or the character he plays on TV. I won’t mention it here about I suggest listening to the How2Wrestling podcast’s Brock Lesnar episode if you have the time.


“The Boss” Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (c) vs Becky Lynch 
Divas Championship Match
Yay feminism?
Change that title name and we'll talk
What’s Up: Last summer three NXT wrestlers debuted on Monday Night Raw; Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. Charlotte and Lynch were paired with Paige to form Team PCB while Sasha joined with Naomi and Tamina Snuka to form Team B.A.D. (“Beautiful and Dangerous,” or “Best at Dominating” depending on who you ask). Over the course of the next few months Team PCB slowly fell apart until eventually, after winning the Divas title, Charlotte turned on Becky. The two fought at Royal Rumble with the champ walking away with the victory (after cheating). Lynch was eager to get a rematch but Sasha Banks, who had quietly been undefeated since her debut, suddenly got involved. After two #1 Contender matches between Lynch and Banks ended in draws it was announced that Charlotte would defend her title against both women at WrestleMania 32.

Beta Says: Guys, this is the match I’m most excited for! I have been waiting for something like this since the three of them debuted last summer, and maybe even since the summer of 2014 when they started really hitting their stride in NXT. From a historic standpoint this match could be the most important one the card as this might be the moment where women’s wrestling stops being a joke. For years (decades even) women were at best thought of as a sideshow in pro wrestling. In WWE, for nearly the entire time I was a wrestling fan, they were little more than sexual objects and their in-ring skills were considered secondary to how good they looked in their underwear. Now we have three women who know how to work, and can work well (Sasha was part of my favorite match of 2015, in fact), and are getting the chance to perform on the biggest stage in the medium. If this match gets a lot of time it should be an awesome match!

Prediction: It’s a little hard to say. My gut reaction is that Sasha wins but Becky has been building up that “Underdog Story” attention. Still, I think I’m going to go with my gut; “The Boss” Sasha Banks will take the title.

Notes:

-All three women, as well as current NXT Women's Champion Bayley, are collectively known as The Four Horsewomen of NXT and are credited with the recent popularization of women's wrestling being taken seriously in mainstream wrestling.

-Sasha Banks is the much younger cousin of Snoop Dogg. Snoop Lion? I don't know...

-Right now I think it's safe to say that Sasha and Becky are my two favorite professional wrestlers today.


Hell in a Cell Age in a Cage 
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker 
Two men will battle over who is aging the least gracefully!

What’s Up: After a six year absence from WWE Shane McMahon interrupted a segment featuring his father Vince McMahon and sister Stephanie McMahon. It turns out that Shane had apparently blackmailed his father with as of yet still unknown material, allowing him to leave WWE to pursue his own business interests while at the same time not losing his place as heir apparent to WWE (despite Stephanie having been under the impression that she and her husband Triple H were next in line). Shane also revealed that he wanted control of Monday Night Raw, citing that the product had become riffed with problems while being run by his sister and worried that, unless he stepped in, the company may not exist for the next generation of their family. Vince struck a deal with his son; if Shane can defeat the Undertaker at WM 32 in a Hell in a Cell match he’ll get control of Raw but if he loses he must give his father back whatever blackmail material he had on him. Vince later upped the ante even more, declaring that the Undertaker will no longer be allowed to perform at WrestleMania unless he defeats Shane.

Beta Says: So…if you’re reading this and are saying you didn’t realize that Vince McMahon’s son was a wrestler, don’t worry; he’s not. Shane wrestled a few matches back the day but was well known for doing these incredible stunts that often involved him falling from very, very high places. Also that was many years ago. While it’s really exciting to see Shane back when it seemed certain we would never see him again the fact is this is a match between a 46-year old non-wrestle and a 51 year veteran wrestler (whose health always seems to be in question) in the confines of a steel cell: that doesn’t sound like the makings of a classic match. Rumor has it John Cena was penciled into fight ‘Taker but that was nixed when Cena got hurt. Instead we have this. It might be okay but it’s hard to know for sure until the match actually happens. My expectations are low but I’m not writing it off completely. We’ll see.


Predictions: There have been rumors that the Undertaker may retire at WM 32, so the added stipulation involving his career being on the line seems to play into that. Still I think it’s likely that Undertaker will win this one and the career threatening aspect is a red herring to make us think Shane has a chance to win. I do not see Taker’s final match being with a non-wrestler, even if it’s a big name like Shane McMahon. If this was John Cena representing Shane agaisnt the Undertaker that would be different story altogether.

Notes:
-The Undertaker is closely associated with WrestleMania due to the fact that for over twenty years he was undefeated at the event, going 21-0 until facing Brock Lesnar at Wrestlmania 30. Currently his record stands at 22-1.

-There are a lot of rumors talking about the behind the scenes drama involving Shane’s return, as well as possible conflict between Vince and Triple H. Now these are all just rumors and there’s no way to know if they’re true but the weeks and months to come might end up looking more and more like Game of Thrones as the company moves forward.


WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match 
Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Is this the main event the one we need or deserve?

What’s Up: Roman Reigns was previously a member of the three-man group known as The Shield, alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. The group worked as hired muscle for WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H who used them as a weapon against any wrestlers who defied his authority. Eventually the Shield broke off from the COO and, even after the group split up, Roman repeatedly found his career interfered with by Triple H. After being screwed out of winning the WWE title against Sheamus by Triple H, Roman snapped and proceeded to give the authority figure a beating so bad that HHH was off television for months. Roman won the WWE title immediately afterwards but Triple H’s father-in-law/WWE owner Vince McMahon continued sabotaging Roman’s career. In a last ditch effort to get the title off of Reigns McMahon forced Roman to defend his title in the 30-Man Royal Rumble match, an unprecedented move. Roman was doing well in the match until Triple H was revealed as the final entrant in the match. “The Game” went on to win the match, eliminating Reigns himself. Now the WWE champion, as well as still being the COO, HHH holds an enormous amount of power in WWE. Roman has since earned a title shot at WM 32 and the two men have been in a violent war ever since, which is now set to culminate this Sunday.

Beta Says: According to the rumors Roman Reigns has been selected by the higher-ups to succeed John Cena as the face of WWE. For the most part the live crowds haven’t agreed and have been booing the hell out of at every opportunity. The first time Triple H beat the hell out of Roman after winning the title was meant to involve sympathy towards the Samoan wrestle but instead the fans were cheering for the COO. From a storytelling standpoint this match makes sense to me but apparently a lot of fans have been surprised that WWE would go ahead and position Roman in a situation where he could get booed by 100,000 people while being all smiles and mouthing “thank you” to the hissing crowd.

Prediction: I have no reason to think that the plan isn’t still to make Roman Reigns the next “top guy” (The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan are all examples of this). Therefore I assume Roman will win this match. That said there may be some weirdness with the match. Last year I was certain they were going to pull the trigger on Reigns but WWE went in a different direction at the last second. Perhaps something will muddy the waters this year as well.

- Roman Reigns is part of the famous Anoa’i family, which also include such wrestlers as The Wild Samoans, The Usos, Rikishi, Yokozuna, and The Rock. 

-Triple H is the overseer of NXT (in real life, not in the storyline) and while he does not handle the day to day operations he is credited with a lot of the brand’s successes and has become a mentor to many of the younger talent.

Okay, I'll stop torturing you all this wrestling stuff now. I was going to do one more blog about NXT Takeover: Dallas, the big pre-WrestleMania event for WWE's developmental brand, but I mistimed it and no where's no way I finish it up before the show happens. In any event I think I got all this out of my system now. It's back to complaining about nerdy crap for me. For now.

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