XMR "Official" Wrestlemania 32 predictions with Xtra Mile friends
PLUS new wrestling podcast coming soon starring Sam Duckworth, Ben Marwood, Ben Morse and Rob Lynch, among others.
Another year, another nail-biting collision of really bad storyline planning, injury-obliterated roster and prayers for an unpredictable outcome for the main event. Wrestlemania TEXAS STATE STAR (or 32 if we're still counting, though Vince McMahon would rather we didn't) is tonight, or been and gone if you're here late, and there's a bunch of us Xtra Mile people who love this silly thing called pro wrestling.
In this spirit, we've tentatively clubbed together to potentially produce a new wrestling podcast, with a rotating set of hosts and guests, to entertain...well ourselves frankly. The first one should analyse the outcome of Wrestlemania and possibly NXT Takeover Dallas (and if you want to see how mainstream wrestling should be done, this is the best example), with future episodes covering random episodes of RAW and special events, Network specials and maybe some of the indie stuff too.
These predictions include remarkable insight from:
Ben Morse: He does videos and photography for a bunch of brilliant people, including our Frank Turner. He even managed to convince that guy CM Punk to beat up a skinny Englishman on camera with little to no bribery. You can see his stuff (and hire him) here: www.ben-morse.com
Sam Duckworth: Currently in his Recreations guise (though you probably know him as Get Cape.Wear Cape.Fly. which is a good CHIKARA wrestler name). His new album Baby Boomers 2 is ace and will be out 29 April. Go preorder it. It includes a speech sample from Dave Meltzer (infamous and respected wrestling critic for years and years). So there's your wrestling connection and excuse for this XMR HUB blog. Also he'll be on tour through April and May with labelmate and possible wrestling podcast partner (on some weeks) Rob Lynch. Dates can be seen here.
Ben Marwood: After a hiatus I'd imagine he'd rather not dwell on too much, Ben Marwood is triumphantly returning to recapture the XMR Sensitive, Self-Deprecating But Wryly-Amusing Songwriter Championship. He will win. A third album is in the works, which is the best news. But for now, check out his music on Spotify and first two albums in our shop.
Brad (me): I sort out all the XMR blogs, news stories, newsletters, and other odds and sods. I've also begun filming and interviewing XMR artists for XMR Presents. The first was with Trapper Schoepp and is here. The next will be with Mull Historical Society and is really great. I'm currently planning an experimental food blog called (tentatively) Kitchen Cartography with my wonderful other half, occasionally write about video games for VICE Gaming (you wish you had my life, right?) and am writing my first novel that I started about four years ago.
Anyway, this podcast being weekly is possibly as reliable as WWE following through on a Dolph Ziggler push. For now, let's PREDICT. I'll let Ben start as as we mean to go on and on and on....
I don't love that I like wrestling. Particularly when WWE this year has been very hit and miss. But as with most years, I've signed up to the four hour (ugh) spectacle of fake tan and spandex that is Wrestlemania. And it's a mixed bag but it will be entertaining for some of it. So let's get this party started....
Kickoff Pre-show: WWE United States Title Match
Kalisto vs. Ryback
Ben Morse: Who really cares? Ryback is a human action figure, Kalisto doesn't talk. Ryback likes movies. This is the context I've been given as an audience member for this bout. I'm going to say Ryback wins it just because Lucha Dragons are a useful tag team, and one half of them having a belt is inconvenient. Winner: Ryback
Sam: It’s hard for me to muster up any enthusiasm for this match to be honest. As much as I love chanting along at live events, Ryback is a big guy with a catchphrase and little more. If he had the intense presence of Brock or the charisma of Goldberg I could buy into it, but sadly he has neither. Kalisto is good and seeing him and his wife in matching masks at the HOF was a lovely touch. Kalisto is my preference. Goldberg chants is my prediction. Winner: Kalisto
Ben Marwood: Glad to see this announced for the pre-show because the US title doesn't merit a place on the main card. John Cena gave it strength, then they buried it. Given the way the writing has been going, I expect this to go to Ryback. The crowd has been pretty dead for Kalisto lately, and what's the use of an underdog who isn't over when you can have a title on a big guy?
Winner: The Big Guy
Brad: Kalisto is excellent and should be the new Rey Mysterio, if I'm going to be entirely reductive about Mexican lucha libre stars. Ryback has apparently got a bit of an edge now, but seeing as the US title has lost all of Cena's hard work by becoming a hot potato again, let's try and keep it on Kalisto until he meets his cruiserweight-sized match (perhaps the winner of the upcoming tournament on the WWE Network? I'd watch that). Winner: Kalisto
Kickoff Pre-show: The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz
Sam: This is going to be stiff. I’m excited to see the Dudleys on the big stage again; they are certainly this generations biggest and best tag team and deserve to spend their final years at the top. Bubba (Bully) was brilliant as a solo act in TNA but sadly, as has been the case with that company, was lost in a sea of bad booking and old timers. I’m going for the Dudleys as I think they’ll feud better with New Day. Winner: Dudleys
Ben Marwood: Expect tables. I would give this one to the Dudley's on the strength of their induction speech for Jacqueline at the Hall of Fame. Will be interesting to see if the Usos get booed off by being related to Roman Reigns. Winner: Dudleys, plus WWE's table manufacturers
Brad: Oh, I mean they're both awful pairs of human beings (kayfabe!) and I don't think I care. One of the pair on the left was insanely jealous and possessive of his wife when a fellow wrestler was helping her acting career once. The other is his brother so they must both be bad. One of the other two is a guy who draws heat by beating up women and using homophobic slurs. The other follows his orders. Can it be a draw by quadruple knock out? Thanks. Winner: Nobody (fine, The Dudley Boyz because they've often had good matches).
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
Ben Morse: A match founded on a chant. Good grief. However: Two of the best older performers in the world, at the biggest event in the world. This should by rights be a showstopper if you love technical wrestling. Less so if you love good story. I'm hoping for a clean match with no run-ins from AJ's old Japanese work colleagues... And Styles will win. With the Styles Clash. Winner: AJ Styles
Sam: Hopefully this is at least a 4* match, can’t see why it won’t be, both are big game players. I’d much rather be seeing these two square up for the first time here, however I’m happy to see it again with time and with scale. Match of the night contender. Winner: AJ Styles
Ben Marwood: This should be fantastic. Jericho has lost a step and most of the top half of his wardrobe but he always delivers and I don't think I've ever seen AJ Styles look better. Plenty of near falls and.. I really want Jericho to win because of that job he did do Fandango those years ago. Neither of these guys really need the win, and I think they'll throw in a surprise cheat win. Winner: AJ Styles
Brad: We've had this match...what two or three times already? It's a good example of WWE realising they have a great thing (the Royal Rumble face off) and doing it to death. However, this should still be something and we all need to forget Jericho putting Fandango over at Wrestlemania 29 because Fandangoing fizzled out pretty fast. Winner: AJ Styles
Third Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
(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 and 4 others TBA)
Ben Morse: Originally it looked good for Braun Strowman, The Wyatt Family's Jolly Green Giant to win (Green in that he's been wrestling for less time than it's taken to read this article) to win this. But I'm going to say Mark Henry wins in his home state of Texas. I love Mark Henry. He legitimately won several world's strongest man competitions, is an Olympic athlete and incredible on the microphone. He's also in his late forties so due some attention. Winner: Mark Henry
Sam: I can only hope the poor treatment of Sandow is because he is going to win this 84-man battle royal. Sadly I think it’s gonna be Kane… Winner: Kane
Ben Marwood: Given that Cesaro won the very first one and they did nothing with it, and then Big Show won it and they did nothing with it, it doesn't matter who wins this. This waste of time should be on the pre-show. I guess they will give it to someone they've been neglecting (like Bray Wyatt? [injured, unfortunately - pedantic wrestling editor]) but I fear instead they'll give it to Brawn Stroman. I don't even know how to spell his name. Winner: Big Strongman
Brad: The days of Cesaro looking superhuman seem to long ago now. This 20+ man battle royal may well be a bit of fun, and I like the idea that Mark Henry might win as a last gasp, but this could see a trio of retirements happen now it's been pushed to the main card from the preshow. Henry, The Big Show and Kane perhaps? All the "big threats to win the Royal Rumble" that never had a chance of winning it, win here, refusing to eliminate each other and go out as friends. Awww. Winner(s): Mark Henry, Kane and The Big Show.
Sheamus, Rusev, King Barrett and Alberto Del Rio vs. Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods
Ben Morse: Oh boy. This is the bout that if you showed someone who didn't watch wrestling, they'd roll their eyes and never talk to you again. All the performers involved are great, it's likely going to be very silly and involve over the top entrances. I also expect New Day to have a celebrity guest competitor, possibly the rapper Flo Rida. And they will win. Yes, really. Look, they're evangelical preachers who wear fake unicorn horns and play a trombone and talk about their bums a lot. No wait, come back... Winners: The New Day
Sam: Tricky one to predict this. New Day is so over and are just getting better. I thought they stepped up again at the HOF and although “Booty-o’s” kinda annoys me, I would’ve loved it as a teen and everything else about them is money. Charismatic, fun and going places. The total opposite of LON.
I do feel for LON, ADR should have come back as a face, it killed all his momentum and they need to find a way to get him back to the top, however I don’t see this being it. Sheamus bores me and the less I see of him the better. I can’t see Barrett being long for the company, which is a real shame as he has been plagued by injuries and never really given the time to shine.
Who’s going to be the 4th member of New Day (think this is still a 4-on-3 handicap match – annoying wrestling ed)? I have a feeling its going to be the Rock. I could see New Day vs Dudleys working as a program and unless they plan to continue with these teams feuding I can’t see any reason for the New Day not to go over. Saying that I can see Sheamus pinning Woods and this dragging on til Summerslam. After all New Day have been winning a lot recently... Winner: New Day
Ben Marwood: I still can't quite believe this match is going ahead. The crowd has been almost less into New Day since they went face but I expect them to be out in force for New Day tonight. Big E has come on in leaps and bounds and I had no idea he had any charisma at all (he really really does – Big E fan editor). Kofi is reliable, Xavier can be good. The other side is a questionable stable. Sheamus is bland, Rusev is underused, I still cry at night for what they've done to Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio is, at least, no longer trying to do that thing where he runs up the turnbuckle to do an enziguri and always missed by miles or falls off. His finisher is dreadful too. Please please please let the New Day retain. Winner: The New Day
Brad: This is what we wanted – the Brit, the Irish, the Mexican, the (awesome) Bulgarian teaming up – and it's been a colossal failure. Still, all of these are great, and I want The New Day to triumph because no matter how babyface they get, I'll always remember the good old days (of a month ago). They're the better team, and they've been teaming for ages, whereas the other four or four solo stars thrown together in the last couple of months. Ergo, the tage team is better at tag team wrestling (especially as they're always touting the Freebirds rule for the tag titles and they were inducted into the Hall of Fame last night...). Winners: The New Day
Triple Threat for the WWE Divas Title
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
Ben Morse: This could potentially be the most dramatic match on the card. WWE have rebuild the women's division logically and with compelling characters played by incredible performers. Plus Ric Flair, arguably the only remaining living legend in the sport is ringside to support his daughter and current champion, Charlotte. I'm expecting big things from this, and an eventual win by the boss Sasha Banks. And with it, a newly reformatted women's belt to cement the work they've done turning the division from an excuse for a trip to the bar into compelling storytelling. Winner: Sasha Banks
Sam: Hopefully this is the last ever Divas title match (rumour has it the 'Divas' championship is to be retired in favour of a more fitting women's championship). It’s such an outdated name and no trio better to hammer in the final death nail than these three. This program has had a really good build and their characters are starting to shine as unique but also nuanced.
I’m going to go with the legit boss, Sasha Banks, simply because I think her being the one to rebrand the title will be better in the long term. I could see a feud with her and Charlotte running all summer and I’m not at all bummed about that.
Fingers crossed this feels like a watershed moment for the WWE women: great wrestling, great booking and no more crappy name/title. Shout out to Sara Del Rey for bringing her toughness of style to this division, hell of a worker and glad she’s training the future. Winner: Sasha Banks
Ben Marwood: Charlotte to win this one. As much as I want to see Banks win this because she is legit boss, I think they'd save it for a one-on-one match, hopefully in a main event of Raw the next night. Sasha to set up Becky for the win, Charlotte to dispatch Sasha and pin Becky with the help of her dad. Winner: Charlotte
Brad: Match of the night, hopefully. All three have done unbelivably great work together in NXT and the story has been built so well that it'll be tough to imagine this getting anything but all the dues. Sasha must win of course, because she's The Boss, and she's the future. But then, all three of them are really. But Sasha with the move that definitely should be called the Bossface. Winner: Sasha Banks
Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Title
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Stardust vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara vs. Kevin Owen
Ben Morse: This will likely open the show. And be full of high risk, silly spots. I can't wait. Predictions: Sin Cara gets injured, Sami Zayn costs Kevin Owens his belt, and either Zack Ryder or Dolph Ziggler win. Winner: Zack Ryder or Dolph Ziggler
Sam: First things first #prayforziggler. I can see this becoming an almighty spot fest, but with DZ having to do most of the big bumping. I’m really happy for Ryder, this must be a dream come true for him. I’d like to see Kevin Owens win this, setting up a feud with Zayn. This seems like the natural feud for both and would be incredible. Some of those Steen/Generico matches were 5* and that on the big stage? Yes please! I also predict this as the end of Stardust. Winner: Kevin Owens
Ben Marwood: I hear during his entire career, Dolph Ziggler has never, eeeeeeeeeever been in a 1-on-1 match at Wrestlemania, because he holds together stuff like this. There will be some huge spots provided by Ziggler, human punchbag Ryder, Sin Cara 2.0 and Stardust. I expect Stardust to shine. People can forget that under the awful gimmick, Rhodes is still solid. This will come down to Zayn vs Owens really, and I hope Owens retains. If not, he's off to the main event picture. Winner: Kevin Owens
Brad: KO or Zayn has to win to further their supervolcano feud. The biggest question really is what the fuck Ryder is doing here at all. Isn't he supposed to be being hype elsewhere? And what about all the other people KO has pissed off the past year? And I'm also worried for Zayn's shoulder / neck. But hopefully, this will be a lot better than last year's standard fest, which at least had the feelgood moment of Daniel Bryan's last title victory. Let's say KO retains by powerbombing and concussing Zayn again for more furious battles and bringing the IC title back up to the level it used to be. Winner: Kevin Owens
No Holds Barred Street Fight
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar
Ben Morse: This will likely involve both men bleeding, lots of weapons and some stiff fighting that looks suspiciously real. Dean Ambrose came up in a CZW, a promotion that lets you use sheets of glass and lawnmower blades in matches. Brock Lesnar is effectively The Hulk. I'm saying Dean Ambrose loses, but in a way that makes it seem like he won. Likely because he passes out. Winner: Brock Lesnar
Sam: This could be incredible or it could be very dangerous and uncomfortable to watch. Really depends how many weapons get used (please no chainsaw spots!). My hope is that this gets some proper ring time amongst the furniture.
I’m really growing to like Ambrose and feel that a match in the future, without weapons, would be a perfect rematch as both Dean and Heyman could build a proper story maybe for Summerslam. If this is a clean victory then I would imagine the winner would go into the title mix, but I can’t see Lesnar/Reigns or Lesnar/HHH happening, so I’m going with Dean Ambrose. Winner: Dean Ambrose
Ben Marwood: Oh boy oh boy oh boy. This will be a hell of a fight. It's hard to see Brock jobbing to Ambrose because Ambrose doesn't need to win, he just needs to get beaten up for 25 minutes and keep kicking out. I want to see a bloody handshake after this match. Winner: Brock, but both of them really
Brad: This could be hot fire. We've had the promise of barbed wire bats and chainsaws. We have suplexes and F5s onto skyscrapers. We could see a LOT of blood if Brock's previous form is any indication, let alone Dean Ambrose's previous incarnation as Jon Moxley. This could be match of the night. I want it to be match of the night (for the men). I also want Ambrose to lose valiantly to Lesnar because that's the correct choice (Lesnar should always be almost unstoppable). I don't want the Wyatt family anywhere near it. Winner: Brock Lesnar
Hell In a Cell
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
Ben Morse: If Shane wins, he controls RAW and Taker is done at WrestleMania. This match is dumb. The combined age of these men is 97. Shane McMahon is a businessman. It's a hastily cobbled together match that makes no sense. It might very well feature some surprise run ins, probably from John Cena, maybe from some newly signed guys. I don't care who wins. Let's say... Shane. Winner: Shane McMahon
Sam: After checking my watch and realising it is still 2016, I tried to find a way to care about this match. Shane is fun and watching people fall off things on to crash pads is always excellent, but a match for control of the company with McMahon v Undertaker on the biggest Wrestlemania? Yawn…
It seems to me that the reason most people are interested is the idea of a changing of the guard at Raw. I could see this happening with NXT growing and Hunter wanting to take some time off and it would freshen things up. There is enough talent and enthusiasm for tomorrow to feel like a giant reboot.
I can see Austin coming out and also a Cena heel turn in the midst of this. I don’t understand why you’d book this unless Shane was winning so… Winner: Shane McMahon
Ben Marwood: This one is too close to call. What's the point of bringing Shane back? Would they really let Undertake lose to Shane? I pick Vince to get involved in this to stunt Shane's progress in the match but Undertaker to beat Shane into a oblivion, lie down and eat a deliberate pin from an unconscious Shane. You know what that sets up? I would love a Shane and Hunter power struggle for the title way more than a Reigns vs anyone feud.
Winner: Shane somehow. Who knows how. Some kind of miracle.
Brad: This....I still don't want this to happen. It made no sense when it was booked, and now the reasoning has been so bent and skewed that this doesn't make sense either anymore. I mean, if it goes ahead, I have no idea who I want to win, but Shane can't win unless he has the backing of someone. Kane (please no), or Finn Balor (YES) or Baron Corbin (YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS) would be my choices to help Shane win. But it's The Undertaker because one loss in 23 Wrestlemanias doesn't mean another loss is a good idea. Winner: The Undertaker
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H
Ben Morse: Oh boy. This is the story of the year in wrestling. Briefly: being a predetermined show, WWE decided they needed a new face of the company two years ago as John Cena was getting old. They chose Roman Reigns. He never loses matches and is boring when he talks, so anyone over the age of 14 doesn't really care for him. And by "doesn't really care for him" I mean "will throw trash in the ring, loudly boo him, threaten to riot" etc. WWE have tried every trick in the book to get him on side with fans, including pitting him against the biggest villain of the last 25 years, HHH. It hasn't worked. He will win. But - he might also become a bad guy in doing so. The Rock will be there, and my money is on Reigns attacking him after the match, so WWE can capitalise on the shower of boos he takes every year. Winner: Roman Reigns
Sam: Reigns is clearly getting booed out of the building, so it’s almost essential this doesn’t go last. Otherwise, if Shane wins, why would anyone care what happens with HHH? The two storylines have too many overlap points that are confusing and it makes it hard to see much character motivation.
Watching Regins last night at the HOF re-established my thoughts on why he is hated; I think its more that he represents the company, and people are more pissed at WWE than him as a character. He has a slow burn, natural charisma that would work well if he was either managed or part of a group (they broke The Shield up waaaay too early IMO.) He’s not much of a talker but he has presence. I think he’d work well against most of the mid-card once they are elevated.
HHH is basically Hogan at the end of WCW. Nothing has been made of him screwing Reigns out of the title at the Rumble, he bad mouths all the talent, talks forEVER and then gets to play hero at NXT. I respect the work he is doing there but I really don’t want to see authority angles or HHH on top in 2016 anymore.
This has to be a good match for the sake of the company, I think this crowd is ready to take a giant leak on this one. Winner: Roman Reigns
Ben Marwood: This is interesting. As much flak as we give WWE writers, they aren't dumb. They shoehorned Seth Rollins into the main event last year to save it, and they did the same to Bryan the year before. Here's the skinny: there is no stopping the Reigns train for the future. He has been the champion and he'll be champion again. He will get booed because he has been written with all the charisma of boiled cabbage but the match will be great. The only question is the end and I think they'll get creative. There'll be some Steph interference, sure, but the end of this match will be dictated by the end of the Hell in a Cell, if WWE has any sense. Hopefully they can turn Reigns heel the night after on Raw against Ambrose. Winner: Reigns if Undertaker wins Hell in a Cell, HHH if Shane-o-Mac wins
Brad: Can I preface this by saying I desperately want to be wrong about all of the following negativity, I really do. But....there are no ways out of this one. This could be HHH's fourth divebomb headline match at WM (think back to 16, 18 and 25), . I could perhaps take Reigns' actually admirable performance against Brock last year as a hopeful sign that this could be good. I could take HHH's superb match against Daniel Bryan two years ago as a really positive hint of what could happen here. I could pray that some unknown factor makes this match twist and turn in unforseen directions. But, damn, Reigns is going to win and it's going to get shit on by the crowd and The Rock will either come out to shhh them or turn on his cousin and set up yet another level of EVERYONE HATES MEEEEEEEE of Reigns' tedious rise to fortune he was GIVEN CONSTANTLY. Fuck, I am not looking forward to this much. Winner: Fucking Reigns or whatever.