UPDATE: Much like the newly retired Divas Championship title, WrestleMania 32 is finished. Full results are provided below. None of us were over .500 with predicting the winners, but Jacob deserves special recognition for predicting Zack Ryder to win the Intercontinental Ladder Match. Here is the tally of how we all did with our predictions:
Matthew Allen: 5-6
Michael Grimm: 3-8
Jacob Anderson: 4-7
We can’t wait to see what happens on Raw tonight, heading into WWE Payback next month.
WrestleMania 32 weekend is here! This year “The Granddaddy of Them All” takes place in Dallas, Texas. There has been quite a bit of controversy about the booking decisions and seemingly lackluster card heading into the Show of Shows this year, but WrestleMania is always entertaining, no matter what state the product seems to be in. WWE always has a few surprises up its sleeves, and the wrestlers themselves always step up to turn the spotlight squarely where it belongs to make sure fans get some of the most entertaining matches of the year. After all, it isn’t called “The Showcase of the Immortals” for nothing.
WrestleMania 32 features three kickoff matches, a Battle Royal, a street fight, a Hell in a Cell match, a seven-man ladder match, two Divas matches, several single, tag, and multi-man matches, and no less than four title bouts to ensure there is a little something for everyone.
Staff Writer Michael Grimm and Fan Contributor Jacob Anderson have joined me as we offer up our WrestleMania 32 predictions.
United States Champion Kalisto vs. Ryback
United States Champion Kalisto is a full nine inches shorter and 120 pounds lighter than Ryback, and yet the man known as “The King of Flight” has still managed to beat “The Big Guy” once before, in the first round of the WWE World Heavyweight Title Tournament last year. But Ryback has quite the attitude lately, and could be looking to make Kalisto a light snack on his way to winning the U.S. title.
This David vs. Goliath match-up takes place in the first hour of the two-hour Kickoff show.
Matthew Allen: Kalisto. The lively luchador has a way of connection with the WWE Universe, and a feel-good win is a great way to start the Show of Shows.
Michael Grimm: Ryback. I’m under the assumption Ryback is at least partly over as he seems to get a reasonable reaction from the crowd every time. Having him muck about with Kalisto at the very bottom of the card isn’t helping him though.
Jacob Anderson: Ryback. Considering how Kalisto and Ryback haven’t been involved in a really engaging story leading up to the Show of Shows, it would not surprise me Ryback walked away from the show as the new champion.
Result: United Stats Champion Kalisto defeats Ryback via pinfall with a Salida del Sol.
The Total Divas vs. B.A.D. & Blonde
Five competitors featured on Total Divas face off against the remaining members of Team B.A.D. and friends in the second hour of the WrestleMania Kickoff. The two x-factors in this match are Lana, making her in-ring debut at WWE’s biggest show of the year, and Eva Marie, a constant source of drama and strife on Total Divas. The talent appears to be stacked in the favor Total Divas’ favor, but it remains to be seen if they can all get along well enough to pull out a win.
Matthew Allen: The Total Divas. This matchup in hardly the Divas Revolution we were promised last year. It seems more like an ad for the reality show, and a way to get all the Divas on the card. I cannot think of a good reason for B.A.D. & Blonde to win, other than their awesome name.
Michael Grimm: The Total Divas. It’s Mania, so I highly doubt they’ll have their reality show darlings lose in front of the biggest crowd of the year, especially given the low stakes.
Jacob Anderson: The Total Divas. Not sure just what WWE is trying to accomplish by putting these Divas against each other (other than to showcase the other Divas not competing in the Championship match), but I think they’ll give the win to the faces in this case.
Result: The Total Divas defeat B.A.D. & Blonde via submission when Brie makes Naomi tap out from the “Yes!” Lock.
The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz
These two teams were formerly united, until The Dudley Boyz turned on The Usos on the Feb. 8 Raw, claiming they were fed up with being neglected by fans and had been passed over when the Usos won the 2015 Slammy Tag Team of the Year award. There is a bit of truth to that statement, as Bubba Ray and Devon haven’t been utilized very well since their return to WWE.
To add some heat for the final WrestleMania Kickoff match, the Dudley Boyz have been going after the Anoa’i family, calling out Jimmy and Jey’s father Rikishi, as well as Roman Reigns. It would be fun to see a run-in from some of the Anoa’i family members during the match. Maybe even The Great One himself, The Rock.
Matthew Allen: The Dudley Boyz. The faces can’t win every match at Mania, and The Usos have lost a lot of steam ever since Jey’s injury. Then again, I am still holding out hope for a Bubba Ray heel singles run, as his work in TNA proved he can get over on his own. Perhaps a Dudley loss at WrestleMania could be a reason to split them up.
Michael Grimm: Dudleyz. Another in the WWE’s long line of tepid tag team stories, WWE had to dig deep to inject some drama here, citing Dudley jealousy over the Usos’ 2015 Slammy tag team award. Not a fan of either, but at least the Boyz can cut a promo.
Jacob Anderson: The Dudleyz. Again, this is another example of a story that fans could really care less about, but because The Dudley Boyz have been building a lot of heat by attacking Roman Reigns, they should pick up the win here.
Result: The Usos defeat The Dudley Boyz via pinfall after Jey catches D-Von with a superkick.
The New Day vs. The League of Nations
I can’t decide if the strangest thing about this match-up is the fact that both teams use the “Freebirds rule” to swap in members as they see fit, or that this is a non-title match at WrestleMania. Maybe WWE will introduce a last-minute stipulation to add some drama to the affair. If not, the biggest thing to watch for here will be the always-entertaining antics of The New Day, and to see if Xavier Woods will try out any new tunes on Francesca 2.
Matthew Allen: The New Day. They are the most over tag team in all of WWE, and while the League of Nations faction looks promising on paper, they never displayed the dominance or drew the heat necessary to be a serious threat. Also, I don’t think WWE Creative can resist the chance to have Barrett lose one more time before his rumored departure.
Michael Grimm: New Day all day. I’m still convinced WWE has no idea why New Day are over, so they just give them carte blanche and works around whatever they do. League of Nations has enough talent to pull away a win here, but New Day overcoming the numbers game is too sweet a Mania story to pass up.
Jacob Anderson: The New Day. This is the best case scenario for an already strange match, as it would help cement New Day as more formidable opponents for having won a 4-on-3 contest at the biggest show of the year.
Result: The League of Nations defeats The New Day via pinfall after Barrett catches Woods with Bull Hammer Elbow from the apron, that is immediately followed up by a Brogue Kick and the pin from Sheamus.
The 3rd annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Stipulation: Every Man for Himself Battle Royal
What can you say about a match featuring 16 wrestlers that probably won’t be given a ton of time during the show? There should be some fun spots in the match, but hopefully some of the competitors step up and tell a story to prevent this from being just an obvious way to get as many members of the WWE roster on the card as possible.
Matthew Allen: Mark Henry. This is in all likelihood Henry’s last year wrestling, and WWE could give him the win as a sort of lifetime achievement award. Plus, it makes sense to give someone who was once billed as the World’s Strongest Man the nod in a match honoring Andre the Giant, who in his day may have been the strongest man in all of wrestling.
Michael Grimm: Goldust. As the world’s premier Goldust mark, I’m obligated. Failing that, I’ll put my money on the last-minute surprise entrant there’s been rumors of. Hint, his name rhymes with bizarro. Either way, this one seems unlikely to top last year’s Mizdow breakup angle.
Jacob Anderson: Kane. I’d much rather this win be given to a different competitor to help boost their popularity and perhaps put them in a more engaging storyline, but because WWE has been booking Kane and Big Show together to hype up the match, and Big Show won the Battle Royal last year, they will, in all probability, give the win to Kane.
Result: NXT Superstar Baron Corbin eliminates Kane for the win.
A.J. Styles vs. Chris Jericho
What began as a friendly rivalry of mutual respect has become one of the better thought-out feuds of the past few weeks, culminating in what WWE is billing as a “Dream Match.” It may be that, but if so it is one we have seen several times before, as these two have put on some outstanding matches at Fastlane, Raw, and Smackdown, and even teamed for the fun but short-lived Y2AJ. The split of that tag team wasn’t an amicable one, and Chris Jericho has used some amazing ring psychology to get under the skin of the WWE Universe and set himself up as a boastful heel that deserves to get taken down a few notches. Let’s see if A.J. Styles will be the man to do just that.
Matthew Allen: Jericho. Jericho has a history of losing WrestleMania matches, and not ending feuds at Mania. I could see him win here to set up a final match with A.J. going over at a future PPV.
Michael Grimm: A.J. Styles. Despite my affinity for him as a teen, I’m pretty tired of Jericho at this point. If Styles can beat Jericho on the big stage, it sets him up for a shot at the championship next year. It may seem rushed, but Styles is no greenhorn, and given the number of injuries the roster’s dealing with atm, he’s a (talented) warm body.
Jacob Anderson: Jericho. So far, Styles has dominated in their series of matches, and the last time that Jericho was at WrestleMania, he lost to Fandango. It makes sense to give a win to Jericho here, perhaps putting an end to their feud and allowing Styles to engage in a different rivalry.
Result: Chris Jericho defeats A.J. Styles via pinfall after countering a Phenomenal Forearm with a mid-air Codebreaker.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz vs. Stardust
Stipulation: Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Ladder matches are always chaotic. A seven-man ladder match, on the other hand, is beyond chaotic. It is insane. Hopefully nobody gets injured in this match, which has the potential to steal the show. The main storyline to keep an eye on will be how Kevin Owens interacts with Sami Zayne and Dolph Ziggler during the match. While it is a bit disappointing that neither Ziggler nor Owens has a singles match at WrestleMania this year, hopefully they get the time they need to prove to WWE management that they are worthy of the spotlight, setting up some big matches for the rest of the 2016.
Matthew Allen: Kevin Owens. Owens has slowly been rebuilding his credibility this year, and is establishing himself as a dominant heel that just needs the right babyface with which to feud. That face should be Sami Zayn. Expect the two to have a face-off in this match that gets interrupted by one of the many other competitors in the ring, setting up a singles grudge match down the road.
Michael Grimm: Owens. I imagine Zayn will be at half capacity after wrasslin’ Shinsuke Nakamura on Friday, so it’s got to go to Owens. The Zayn/Owens rivalry is what we’ve all been waiting for, and while the IC strap might raise the stakes, it might be overkill. Ziggler’s been drifting for a bit, and the IC belt could really help him out, so he’s my second guess.
Jacob Anderson: Zack Ryder. This would be the ultimate surprise and give Ryder’s career more credibility, having done the same thing that Daniel Bryan did at last year’s WrestleMania by winning a ladder match for the Intercontinental title. It’s also the boost he needs, having been on the main roster previously, then falling to NXT when his career faltered, so this is just what he needs to regain his popularity with the fans.
Result: Zack Ryder pulls of the upset and grabs the belt for the win after knocking The Miz off the ladder.
Divas Champion Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
Stipulation: Divas Title Triple Threat Match
Here is another one to watch as a possible match of the night. These three competitors put on some amazing matches in NXT, and fans have been waiting for them to be given the proper time and venue to do the same in WWE. This may also be the last “Divas” match we ever see, as rumors have it the Divas title belt will soon be retired in favor of a new WWE Women’s Championship title. I can’t think of a more fitting way for the actual Divas Revolution to begin, kicking off a new era for WWE’s female wrestlers.
Matthew Allen: Sasha Banks. Let the era of the Boss begin! She is the most talented Diva on the roster, and deserves to come out with the win. Hopefully WWE will find something for Becky to do coming out of the event, as she has been working like crazy, and deserves a good singles feud this year. I personally would love to see her clash with Paige. As for Charlotte, she should continue to look dominant to set up a one-on-one feud with Sasha later this year.
Michael Grimm: Becky Lynch. Becky’s lost to Charlotte under fishy circumstances one too many times at this point, and she’s due for a win. Sasha is the wildcard though, and I fully expect her to let Charlotte and Becky tire each other out before making her move.
Jacob Anderson: Becky Lynch. She and Charlotte have been battling on several different occasions, sometimes with the Divas Title on the line, and having this story end at WrestleMania really only makes sense if Becky wins the championship, thus potentially setting up a feud for her and Sasha Banks somewhere down the line.
Result: Charlotte defeats Becky Lynch via submission using the Figure-Eight Leglock.
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
Stipulation: Hell in a Cell Match
The match type may be a Hell in a Cell match, but the real stipulation is what is at stake in this contest. Shane McMahon is fighting to wrest control of WWE’s flagship program, Raw, from his father, WWE owner Vince McMahon, and sister, Stephanie. The Undertaker is fighting to maintain his WrestleMania legacy, and ensure that only one man, Brock Lesnar, can say he beat the Dead Man on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.” If he loses, not only will his record stand at 22-2, he will never be able to compete in a WrestleMania again.
Matthew Allen: The Undertaker. Having Shane come back was a nice surprise for Attitude Era fans, but I don’t see any reason for him to stick around long term. It also doesn’t make sense for Taker to lose in front of his home state unless there is a major angle they want to set up through outside interference. Making this a Hell in a Cell match theoretically removes that possibility, unless someone happens to have another Paul Wight waiting to pop up through the canvas.
Michael Grimm: Undertaker. We all know this match revolves around whatever huge all or nothing spot Shane’s got planned, it just rides on whether he hits it or not. It’s already enough of an honor for Shane to face Taker at Mania, and I feel that him beating Taker at Mania would retroactively diminish Brock’s win, so my money’s on the Dead Man.
Jacob Anderson: Shane. It’s a horrible thing to think of The Undertaker losing a match at WrestleMania, let alone two, but having Shane win and take control of Monday Night Raw creates more potential storyline opportunities and anti-Authority sentiment than having Undertaker win and Shane fading into the background ever could.
Result: The Undertaker defeats Shane McMahon via pinfall after a Tombstone Piledriver.
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar
Stipulation: No Holds Barred Street Fight
Brock Lesnar has repeatedly dished out punishment to Dean Ambrose in recent months. Lesnar has just been too dominant for Ambrose to take on alone, and in a regular one-on-one match, there may not be a WWE Superstar on the roster who can beat Lesnar. Luckily for Ambrose, this is no regular match, and in this No Holds Barred Street Fight, he will have tools at his disposal to even out the odds. If Ambrose can go to a dark place and tap into the “Lunatic Fringe” side of himself Michael Cole and company keep talking about, he may have a chance of pulling off the upset.
Matthew Allen: Dean Ambrose. WWE has made it very clear in recent weeks that Ambrose will need to rely on some extreme tactics to win this one, and he will be happy to oblige. Taking a loss this way doesn’t hurt Brock at all, and gives Ambrose a big push, which — fingers crossed — would set him up as a top face to go against a heel Roman Reigns (more on that next).
Michael Grimm: Brock Lesnar. Not to get ahead of myself, but Ambrose winning this would be a titanic push, sending him directly to title shot status. That means he’d almost certainly face Reigns, the forced babyface, as the natural crowd fave babyface. That requires Reigns to do a heel turn, which is wishful thinking given the number of Reigns shirts on kids’ backs. It could work if HHH walks out the champ tonight, but the odds on that seem slim. Either way, the fact they’ve made Ambrose vs. Brock seem anything like a fair fight is pretty great.
Jacob Anderson: Dean Ambrose. The buildup to this match has been stellar, and I’m looking forward to these two slugging it out with fists and weapons, but Brock has built a reputation of domination in matches with normal stipulations rather than extreme ones. Most of his losses have come during these more brutal stipulations, and because Ambrose has been armed by legends such as Mick Foley and Terry Funk to combat the Beast, I think Ambrose walks (or limps) away with the victory.
Result: Brock Lesnar defeats Dean Ambrose via pinfall after an F-5 onto a pile of steel chairs.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Roman Reigns
Stipulation: WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
This may not be the WWE World Heavyweight Title match many fans wanted to see (most were hoping for Ambrose to face Triple H), but I have to admit that some of the beatdowns Roman Reigns has given to Triple H, and taken in return, leading up to this match have made for compelling TV. This is the literal representation of the “One Versus All” Roman Reigns narrative WWE Creative has been forcing upon fans, which has him facing off against the figurehead of the Authority that has been holding him down all year.
Many in the WWE Universe — myself included — are hoping this doesn’t play out in a predictable fashion, and that we either get to see a Reigns heel turn, or some other unexpected twist that gets people talking and creates such much-needed buzz for WWE.
Matthew Allen: Roman Reigns. I know this isn’t what many of you are hoping to see happen, but a Reigns win seems inevitable at this point. However, I do have a way for WWE to book the win that makes almost everyone happy: This is finally the chance for the big Roman Reigns heel turn we have all been waiting for. He goes over, but not cleanly, and turns on the fans in the process. Just like his cousin The Rock, Reigns needs time for fans to be able to boo him while he slowly wins them over and becomes the babyface champion the company has been waiting for.
Michael Grimm: Triple H. I’m just being an out and out contrarian here. I choose to live in the universe where the WWE lets two heels walk away with the title two years in a row. And the universe where Ambrose gets a title shot that doesn’t hinge on an extremely unlikely Roman Reigns heel turn. Fingers crossed for interference from Rocky that tarnishes Roman’s win.
Jacob Anderson: Roman Reigns. I don’t like it at all, and I think Triple H winning the title is best for business, but this is how Roman has been booked these past couple of months. Usually, the main event of WrestleMania ends with the face going over the heel, and Roman, annoyingly, still plays the role of the good guy in this scenario. So, unfortunately, there’s no way I see Roman losing this. And he’ll get booed at every single WWE live event afterward. The only good that can come from Reigns winning would be a heel turn and…oh, I dunno…Bray Wyatt interference maybe?
Result: Roman Reigns defeats Triple H via pinfall after delivering a series of Superman Punches and a Spear to his foe.
Surprise of the Evening
It wouldn’t be WrestleMania without a surprise or two. This is all pure speculation, but here is what we think WWE might have planned.
Matthew Allen: Safe bet: The Rock makes fun of someone. Dream scenario: The Balor Club makes its debut and wreaks havoc in a match, instantly creating a faction with as much heat as the NWO or Degeneration X in their day.
Michael Grimm: After his glorious win at NXT Takeover, Shinsuke Nakamura does a run in and somehow walks away with the Championship belt in the ultimate swerve. Then he hangs out with me and we have pizza and become best friends forever.
Jacob Anderson: Safe bet: Stone Cold Steve Austin makes an appearance (it’s Dallas, c’mon now). Dream scenario: Ronda Rousey has another Mania moment.
Biggest Unanswered Questions of the Show
Matthew Allen: Where are the Wyatts? It is shocking that one of the most dominant stables in recent years is not on the card at all. Hopefully that means a surprise appearance, possibly setting up a meaningful feud for Bray Wyatt.
Michael Grimm: Has anyone told Sami Zayn how lame Ska is?
Jacob Anderson: Will Roman turn heel if he wins the title?
The WrestleMania Kickoff show airs live this Sunday on WWE Network at 5:00 p.m. EDT/2:00 p.m. PDT, plus streams for free on WWE.com, the WWE App, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. The second hour of the Kickoff also airs live on USA Network.
WrestleMania airs live on WWE Network this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. EDT/4:00 p.m. PDT