End of the road: WrestleMania 31

By: Sam Fatula & Zach Brendza | The Duquesne Duke

Whether you call it “wrestling” or “sports entertainment,” there is one thing that people can agree on in terms of the WWE; WrestleMania is THE pay-per-view event to see if you are trying to immerse yourself in the world of wrestling. On Sunday, the 31st annual event will be held at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area and offers numerous match-of-the-year candidates. To commemorate the grandest stage of them all, The Duke will debate which superstar has the best chance to win their respective match.

WWE World Heavyweight Title Match:
Brock Lesnar (Current Champion) with Paul Heyman vs. Roman Reigns
Prior to an interesting turn of events on Tuesday evening, fans had expected a change in ownership for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Now that Brock Lesnar has agreed to a contract extension with WWE, the degree of certainty that Roman Reigns will come out on top of WrestleMania’s main event are slim, and should result in Lesnar retaining his title.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar pauses for a photo after ruling out a return to mixed martial arts, ending three years of speculation about the biggest pay-per-view star in the sport's history, as he announced he had re-signed with WWE in an interview on ESPN's "SportsCenter," in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Lesnar tells The Associated Press he was in training for a UFC return as recently as last week despite his conflicted feelings about it. He finally decided to stick with professional wrestling only in the past two days. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar pauses for a photo after ruling out a return to mixed martial arts, ending three years of speculation about the biggest pay-per-view star in the sport’s history, as he announced he had re-signed with WWE in an interview on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Lesnar tells The Associated Press he was in training for a UFC return as recently as last week despite his conflicted feelings about it. He finally decided to stick with professional wrestling only in the past two days. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Given the circumstances leading into WrestleMania, this was Reign’s match to lose. He won the Royal Rumble, beat former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan one-on-one in February’s FastLane pay-per-view and rumors began to stir about Lesnar’s future in WWE. Lesnar staying changes any momentum Reigns had, and the fans may get what they truly want; the “Beast Incarnate” pinning Reigns 1-2-3.
Winner: Brock Lesnar -SF

If you’re not a hardcore WWE fan, you might expect Brock “The Beast Incarnate” Lesnar to win. The dude is huge, fought in the UFC and played for the Minnesota Vikings. If you are a harcore fan, you know that the WWE has pushed Reigns hard since Royal Rumble, including The Rock celebrating him at the pay per view. To my dismay as a Lesnar fan and Paul Heyman guy, Reigns wins the title. But keep a look out for Mr. Money In The Bank Seth Rollins to cash in post-match.
Winner: Roman Reigns -ZB

Sting vs. Triple H
The late ‘90s hold a dear place in nearly every wrestling fan’s heart. During this era, the Monday Night Wars that featured the rosters of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and WWE were argued as the golden age for sports entertainment. Two key players that developed from this era were Sting and Triple H.
Sting’s jump to WWE last summer cannot be ended with a loss. Expect this match to end with a fury of strikes and a Scorpion Death-Drop from the Stinger.
Winner: Sting -SF

Paul Levesque (Triple H) has been trying to get Sting to come to WWE for a long, long time. It finally happened last year and now the former WCW star will wrestle at least once in the ring he so long refused to get in. But let’s get down to brass tax — the WWE does not lose, ever. Not to WCW. Not to TNA. Not to anyone. While the match is hopefully close, the Chief Operating Officer Triple H wins. The bigger question for me is if Sting will stick around. Maybe forWrestleMania 32. Isn’t there a WWE character much like Sting.
Winner: Triple H -ZB

Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker
If there was one match that was not expected to come to fruition in 2015, it was one where The Undertaker would be competing. The Undertaker has been silent following Brock Lesnar slaying “The Deadman” and his undefeated streak in last year’s WrestleMania, and many assumed that it would be the final match of his career. However, matching ‘Taker up with someone like Bray Wyatt certainly has its pros.
Both men identify their character with elements of mind games and fear, with Wyatt stepping forward as the new face of terror. This match has the potential to be a passing-of-the-torch moment, and Wyatt winning at WrestleMania would be a major turning point for his career and for the company in general.
Winner: Bray Wyatt -SF

WrestleMania 30 was the first time I was truly shocked by a match’s outcome. The Deadman lost his first match in 22 WM appearances. No longer undefeated, 21-1. This year, I can all but guarantee that lightning does not strike twice. Bray Wyatt will give ‘Taker a hell of a match, but he won’t win. The Undertaker leaves Silicon Valley for Death Valley a victor.
Winner: The Undertaker -ZB

WWE United States Title Match:
Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
As was the case with last year’s WrestleMania, many counted out John Cena as losing to Bray Wyatt, only to have Mr. “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” overcome the odds and come out as the victor. This match against Rusev has that same sort of feeling, with Cena still being branded as an underdog.
This type of situation has shaped Cena’s career, one that includes 15 World Championships and three United States titles. It is highly unlikely those statistics point to Cena losing, no matter if Rusev still has not lost in one-on-one competition.
Winner: John Cena -SF

At the risk of sounding “unAmerican,” I like Rusev, but I think the gimmick (United States vs Country X) is too often used and it’s funny. His character is a son of Mother Russia. But the guy is actually from Bulgaria. Typical WWE. Anywhoozle, I don’t think my boy wins this one. John Cena is (unfortunately) still the face of the company and I do not see him losing at the year’s biggest PPV. What they do with Cena as U.S. Champion is beyond me, but maybe it’s beyond them too.
Winner: John Cena -ZB

Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton
The Seth Rollins/Randy Orton feud has had one of the largest buildups of this entire pay-per-view. Signs of a potential WrestleMania match between the two began to show when Rollins was named by the Authority as the future of WWE in fall of 2014 on RAW, with Orton being pushed to the sidelines. Matters only worsened when Orton, who has a reputation of being uncontrollable, turned his back on the Authority, resulting in Orton being sidelined for several months.
Since Orton’s eventual return at FastLane, he has been on a mission to take out Rollins at any given opportunity, resulting in some great TV moments. However, Rollins stock is too high and has numerous insurance policies to make sure he comes out with a victory.
Winner: Seth Rollins -SF

I used to hate Seth Rollins. He was this little rat of a wrestler. He was the runt of The Shield. But then this year’s Royal Rumble happened, where he was in a Triple Threat match with Lesnar and Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Then everything changed. He is a serious contender to me now. With the resurgence of Orton, I feel he has the momentum. But with support from The Authority and J & J Security, Mr. Money In The Bank comes out on top.
Winner: Seth Rollins -ZB

Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Title:
Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett (c)
Ladder matches and WrestleMania go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t ever go wrong with pairing the two. Ever since Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels battled for the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania X, it has become a staple in WWE.
This ladder match has the potential to be one of the best bouts in WrestleMania history. The list of names including Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose marks this as a fan favorite before the bell even rings. It is difficult to place anyone having a real advantage, so a dark horse may be a betting man’s best wager.
Winner: Stardust (and yes I’m being serious) -SF

The idea of this match is great. Seven superstars in a ladder match for the IC title. What a deal! My heart wants to pick R-Truth. He’s my dude. How can you not love a guy that comes jumping down the ramp rapping his own theme and screaming “WHAT’S UP” 35 times? But my mind knows he won’t win. Being a member of YES Nation, I think Daniel Bryan wins this battle. He makes more sense and with him winning, the WWE could give some much needed life into the IC title.
Winner: Daniel Bryan -ZB

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal:
Konnor, Viktor, Kane, Big Show, Darren Young, Titus O’Neil, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Ryback, Curtis Axel, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Erick Rowan, Sin Cara, Damien Sandow, Goldust, Mark Henry, Heath Slater, a NXT Superstar TBD, others TBA
Last year’s first Andre the Giant Battle Royal Match offered some great moments to give WrestleMania the jump start it needed. Although this match involves superstars that are not the most high profile, it is bound to have that light humor which somehow always finds its way into the grandest stage of them all.

From the looks of this year’s combatants, no one sticks out besides the super heavyweights like Kane, Big Show and Mark Henry, but those types have a poor history in winning battle royal-type matches. Again, the biggest surprise entrant typically wins, so why not give it to someone who needs a push like Curtis Axel or Damien Mizdow? Alas, Ryback is a solid choice.
Winner: Ryback -SF

This match had some success last year. I think the whole Andre the Giant thing kinda helps with that. This is an even bigger crap shoot than the Rumble, which you can at least narrow down to 2 or 3 contestants. I think one thing is for sure — if Big Shows wins, I’ll boycott. And the WWE can’t exist without me. I like Ryback to win this. He was on the rocks with the company for awhile, but I think he’s back in good graces now. Feed him more.
Winner: Ryback -ZB

AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins
Like it or not, the Divas division has come a long way from being the stereotypical bathroom break of the evening. Women like AJ Lee and Paige have shown viewers that women can indeed put together a respectable string of moves, performing a higher quality match better than some of the boys in the back could have.

Despite Lee and Paige being strong competitors, their brawl on RAW this past Monday following some miscommunication could lead to something interesting at WrestleMania, namely an upset by the Bella Twins.
Winner: The Bella Twins -SF

I think the jury is still out on the #GiveDivasAChance movement. I can remember a time when the women’s (diva’s) division got air time and was worth watching. Now, it’s deteriorated to the same two matches recycled for months on end. I like AJ and Paige to win because they are better in-ring talent (the not Total Divas kind). But who knows. Maybe the E! Network show needs a rating boost.
Winner: AJ Lee and Paige -ZB

Kickoff Pre-show: Fatal 4 Way for the WWE Tag Team Titles:
The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (c)
Tyson Kidd and Cesaro have shown to be a very solid team since debuting together for the first time a couple months ago. They rapidly rose the ranks of the tag team division to take down the powerhouse Usos at FastLane. Having two additional teams in the mix definitely makes choosing a winner more interesting, but Cesaro and Kidd are on a roll. Having them lose would be damaging to the tag team division, so hopefully they can come out on top.
Winners: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd -SF

This is a pre show match that I want to actually watch. I like Cesaro and Kidd has Tag champions, but Big E and Kofi Kingston as partners is very intriguing. The Usos and Los Matadores aren’t going to win for obvious reasons (Usos just had a title reign and Los Matadores have a “bull” as their manager). I don’t see these titles changing hands, however. Cesaro and Kidd retain.
Winners: Cesaro and Tyson Kidd -ZB

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