Vincent Kennedy McMahon and his band of merry men did us a favour last year. They resurrected the brand ‘No Mercy’, to make up for some of the absolutely atrocious PPV titles they’ve shipped in recent years. They genuinely named an event ‘Great Balls of Fire’.
Besides all that, WWE are giving us some clashes worthy of a Wrestlemania card. Just why is anyone’s guess, but we’re not complaining, are we?
Apollo Crews v Elias:
There was a time when Crews was the next big thing. He had the physique and the technical ability – but he’s as exciting as The Mean Street Posse’s Friday nights. The company seems to have stalled their push on the NXT product – and he’ll likely be waiting a long time to get that momentum again. Maybe if he took some promo lessons? Elias, formerly Elias Samson, was given his drifter gimmick and he persisted with it. Perhaps acting as a persistent foil in a slightly comic nature has worked in his favour. That, and his in-ring ability means he’s a far safer prospect to go over in a match that should say a lot about the lower mid-card pecking order.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship Fatal Five-Way:
It’s easy to discard Nia Jax (nowhere near ready enough) and Emma (what even is Emma?) in this one, so we will. The crux of this bout is between the champion and the ever-changing dynamic of Bayley and Sasha Banks. A few months back, it seemed almost too obvious that Sasha Banks would turn on Bayley – yet here we are now – expecting exactly the opposite. Bayley’s happy-go-merry persona has brought her to this point, but the character has run its course. These two will surely fill a spot at Wrestlemania and, if built correctly, won’t need a title to enhance it. Expect Alexa Bliss to retain.
Neville v Enzo Amore:
You’d do well to find anyone over the age of nine that cares about Enzo Amore anymore. What started off as a platform for him to be New Age Outlaws standard has ultimately been his downfall. Amore’s promos are elongated and pointless – and with the back stage heat he’s feeling right now – there’s no chance he lands a strap any time soon. That, and the fact you could not convince anyone he beats Neville in a wrestling match of any sort.
Rollins & Ambrose v Cesaro & Sheamus:
The lack of tag teams on the roster is startling and unfortunately, we’re left with a match that sees four very good singles competitors in a tag bout that very few are invested in. Rollins and Ambrose probably won the tag belts too early, so you can’t even build to a logical closure point. Where exactly is this going, and would anyone care if they lost the belts? In arcs like this, it’s usually safest to go with a retainment. So, pencil in Rollins & Ambrose to take this one.
Finn Balor v Bray Wyatt:
Wyatt is going to do something over the top and further degrade what’s left of his credibility. What’s new? He could be a generational talent, but the Eater of Worlds is now a shadow of his former self. He turns up, turns off the lights, hits someone – then comes out the week after, speaking in tongues. Maybe corresponding with a less-weird version of himself in Balor’s demon character would revitalise him? Wrong. He’s just dragging Balor down. So much so, that it seems inconceivable that they wouldn’t let Wyatt pick up a win, given they’ve sacrificed so much to this point.
The Miz v Jason Jordan:
WWE did something they hadn’t done in years, and produced a lengthy intriguing storyline via creative weekly segments. Only for it to be that Kurt Angle had a son all along, and he managed to work in the same company as him. The pay-off was bad, but not nearly as bad as the execution. Commentators are constantly reminding people of his tie-in with Angle. It shouldn’t be easily forgotten. Jordan needs a heel turn and quick, but The Miz has been the best thing in the company over the last two years and will continue his reign.
Roman Reigns v John Cena:
A Wrestlemania match for the ages. A clash that has been built perfectly through informative promos and clever character refinement. A match that actually feels important – we don’t get enough of these. We don’t need to list Cena’s achievements nor the reasons people detest Reigns, but the fact these two come together with such legacies means this pay-per-view is A-listed already. In what is almost definitely not their final meeting, it seems logical that Cena takes the first win, in order for Reigns to eventually go over. That will go down well!
Braun Strowman v Brock Lesnar:
A few weeks ago, I would have said this match wouldn’t go too long. The two body types are perfect for one of those sub-ten-minute matches that everyone hates. They’re usually done simply to progress a story and make a statement. However, after Strowman went the distance with Big Show in a cage match a fortnight ago, maybe he’s open to high-octane stuff. With Lesnar to compliment him, this could easily be a redefining moment for the genre of ‘big men matches’. Lesnar will ultimately come out on top, but it may be in a way that doesn’t take away from Strowman. A double count-out is one way to do it – that could be the play from creative.