by BROCK KOLLER
It’s more about the feeling than the event itself.
That can be true for so many people for so many things. It could define the importance of the holidays, Super Bowl, birthdays, or any annual tradition for that matter. For many, the actual event, the physical happening, may not be as important as the meaning it holds, the memories it brings, and the feelings it evokes.
To me, WrestleMania is as evocative as any date on the calendar. The matches are crucial, of course. The storylines, pivotal. The crowd, game changing.
But what WrestleMania brings with it - that is why I have a smile on my face every year at this time.
Growing up, watching WrestleMania with family and friends, cheering on the heroes, jeering the villains, wearing my favorite Superstar’s t-shirt, watching all of our expressions change in unison throughout the card, and then discussing in exhausting detail the ramifications of what we just witnessed – that is what WrestleMania carries with it each and every year for me.
It’s the nostalgia, the yearning of yesteryear, the appreciation of the memories, and the chance to relive those feelings each and every year. As the anticipation builds with every passing hour, nearing Sunday night, the awareness of the emotional ties to WrestleMania grow stronger with it.
It’s appropriate that this year’s tagline for WrestleMania is the Ultimate Thrill Ride, befitting of the Orlando setting, but also apropos for the emotional rollercoaster the event entails.
The enthusiasm, the hope, the reflection, is all there for days leading up. It’s there for the entirety of the show, but just like it does every year, the event then grabs you. It causes you to put the present in the forefront, pushing aside the nostalgic daydreaming, for enjoyment of the product happening right before your eyes. It sucks you in to make sure this year will be added to that emotional archive, making you want to relive it again next year.
But with all that good, there is always something to complain about. Every year, a match or two will not go the way I or you would’ve hoped. But those complaints fade with time, and all that is left is the memory of being excited for WrestleMania and looking forward to the next one.
The matches are important, but not as big as the event itself.
The card for WrestleMania 33:
WWE Universal Championship
Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
The Story: Goldberg has humiliated Lesnar on more than one occasion and the Beast Incarnate is seeking retribution. Lesnar would not mind also walking away Universal Champion, a fairly new title in the WWE, for the first time. Both men last fought at a WrestleMania in 2004. Goldberg won.
Prediction: Goldberg won’t be able to take down Lesnar for a third time. Brock Lesnar walks away the new champion. WINNER: Brock Lesnar
Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
The Story: Bray Wyatt believed he had Randy Orton under his control. Orton, the winner of the Royal Rumble, which granted him a title shot at WrestleMania, played Wyatt’s own mind games against him. The mystical aspects of the story should not overshadow the awesome athletic abilities of these two.
Prediction: Randy Orton’s master plan will end with gold. Bray Wyatt will not be able to figure out what Orton is up to in time. WINNER: Randy Orton
WWE United States Championship
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
The Story: When Kevin Owens was Universal Champion, he and Chris Jericho were best of friends. They were inseparable, until Owens had enough and broke off the friendship, seemingly breaking Jericho to pieces in the process. Jericho, now cheered adoringly again by the fans, will take his List of Jericho to Mania looking to make sure Owens makes the list of those who fell to him at WrestleMania.
Prediction: Kevin Owens just lost the Universal Championship, he wants more gold. Jericho, riding high on what is arguably his best run of all-time, won’t be able to hold back a focused Owens. WINNER: Kevin Owens
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
The Story: Roman Reigns eliminated The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble. Reigns likes calling the ring his yard. Should be noted, the Undertaker has been calling the ring his yard since the early 2000s. I think Taker has you beat there, Reigns. Reigns is looking to be only the second man to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Prediction: The 1 loss in the Undertaker’s WrestleMania record will stay intact. Roman Reigns will come close, but won’t have enough to take down the original big dog. WINNER: The Undertaker
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
The Story: Seth Rollins turned his back on his best friends The Shield to join forces with Triple H a few years ago. With Triple H by his side, Rollins ascended to the top of the WWE ladder and stole the show and the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 31. Then an injury sidelined Rollins causing Triple H to rethink his chosen one. With Rollins back, Triple H put his new plan in motion and cost his former protégé the Universal Championship. For months, Rollins has been seeking revenge on Triple H, but another injury sidelined Rollins’ momentum. With Rollins’ status in doubt, Triple H agreed to fight Rollins, but without the WWE’s permission. Thus, the non-sanctioned match was set.
Prediction: Questions surround the health of Seth Rollins and whether he is fully healed and ready to fight at WrestleMania. Triple H will no doubt target the leg of Rollins. But you have to remember, Triple H chose Seth Rollins years ago for a reason, Rollins is smart. Looks like the student will outsmart the teacher. WINNER: Seth Rollins
WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
The Story: Bayley, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks have been running the women’s division on Raw ever since the brand split. They have made history by main eventing pay per view events and wrestling in matches women never wrestled in before. Recently, Nia Jax has been added into the equation, looking to make an impact.
Prediction: The Raw Women’s Championship needs a bit of stability after the back and forth a few months between Sasha and Charlotte. Bayley can give the title that stability and credibility. WINNER: Bayley
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. All SmackDown Live Female Superstars
The Story: Alexa Bliss thinks she is the best female Superstar on the SmackDown Live roster. She now gets the opportunity to prove that. Becky Lynch, Carmella, Natalya, Mickie James, and a just back from injury Naomi are looking to show Bliss is all talk.
Prediction: What a story it would be if Alexa Bliss was able to outlast all the other women on the roster. What a better story it would be if Naomi, fresh off an injury that almost ended her WrestleMania dreams, regains her title she was forced to vacate in her hometown. WINNER: Naomi
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
The Story: AJ Styles was supposed to go to WrestleMania to fight for the WWE Championship, but he lost that opportunity. After blaming SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon, the Phenomenal One wanted to show his frustration in person, by throwing McMahon into a car window. In response, McMahon alerted Styles that he now has a new match at WrestleMania against the Commish.
Prediction: Shane McMahon will jump off something high, but come up short to Styles. WINNER: AJ Styles
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
The Story: It’s been quite a year for these two. Last year, Baron Corbin won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. His star began to shine after the brand split and the Lone Wolf was able to roam around the SmackDown Live landscape. Dean Ambrose was WWE Champion at the time of the split. He has since continued his gold winning ways by way of the IC title.
Prediction: Dean Ambrose is a mainstay on the top of the roster, title or no title. Baron Corbin is hungry – he’s a wolf after all – and he’s hungry for his first championship in the WWE. WINNER: Baron Corbin
WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
Triple Threat Ladder Match
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
The Story: These three teams have en bebattling back and forth for months, going back to when Cesaro & Sheamus were champions. As champs, Gallows & Anderson have been able to prove why they were such a hot commodity in Japan. As for Enzo & Cass, they are looking for their first taste of championship gold. Throw in a ladder with these three teams and it should be one memorable tag match.
Prediction: The pop for Enzo & Cass winning the titles is something I would like to see. WINNERS: Enzo & Cass
4th Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The Story: The Big Show, Braun Strowman, and Sami Zayn are the big names going into the match. Most of the SmackDown Live tag team division is also involved. And Mark Henry was just announced as a participant.
Prediction: Braun Strowman is looking to have a strong year ahead of him. This looks like a good launching point. WINNER: Braun Strowman
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
The Story: Neville calls himself the King of the Cruiserweights and won the Cruiserweight Championship. Austin Aries was a semi-mild mannered commentator for cruiserweight Raw matches and 205 Live, until he decided it was time to return to the ring. Aries thinks he’s the cruiserweight who can take the king down to size.
Prediction: Can what will probably be the first match of the night – a match to be shown on the Kickoff – steal the show? Despite this being on the Kickoff, this is one of the matches I am most looking forward to. WINNER: Austin Aries
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
The Story: John Cena doesn’t like The Miz. The Miz doesn’t like John Cena. Nikki Bella doesn’t Maryse. Maryse doesn’t like Nikki Bella. The Miz is married to Maryse. John Cena is just dating Nikki Bella.
Prediction: Unlike WrestleMania 27, The Miz is not WWE Champion. And also unlike WrestleMania 27, The Miz will not be defeating John Cena this time. Most are saying there will be a proposal at the end of the match. Will fans be chanting Yes! or No!? WINNERS: John Cena & Nikki Bella.
So there you have it. The Ultimate Thrill Ride. The Showcase of the Immortals.
WrestleMania 33. All the matches. All the pageantry. All the memories to be made.
And then to be remembered.
I already can’t wait for next year.
Enjoy the show.