Into the Cage, Laying Down For Rollins, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Randy Orton, Raw, 04/13/15Ponderings From WWE Raw

The WWE Championship match at Extreme Rules becomes a steel cage match where the RKO is banned. A steel cage match main event is tough to beat. I’m not sure we needed the RKO to be banned, though. The idea that Randy Orton can be disqualified in a steel cage match is pretty lame. But Rollins and Orton will make it work. The main event of Extreme Rules is most definitely in good hands.

Seth Rollins def. Kane, when Kane lays down. This was fairly entertaining. It was fun to see the crowd get riled up for the potential return of “The Demon” Kane. I can only assume Kane’s days in The Authority are numbered. Who needs a director of operations anyway?

Dolph Ziggler def. Neville. AWESOME match. And while some may disagree, the right guy won. Not every new guy on the main roster needs to have a big undefeated streak. Neville was in there with arguably the best performer on the roster, and he knocked it out of the park. That’s what counts.

Neville, Dolph Ziggler, Raw, May 13, 2015Naomi turns heel after Paige wins a #1 contender battle royal. I’m all for giving the girls a chance. And hey, they did get more time tonight. But as soon as Cole said the Bellas were coming to the announce position, I hit the mute button. I’M SORRY! I can’t help it that they sound like the Kardashians…

But what I’m wondering is…are the Bellas still heels? I know they tend to go in between. But if Naomi ends up challenging for the title eventually, it seems like they’ll either have to put it on Paige or turn the Bellas face. The former seems more likely. And I’m totally okay with that. Just sayin’.

John Cena def. Wade Barrett in his US Open. Yeesh, Barrett just can’t get a break. He got totally squashed in the weeks leading up to the big ladder match at Wrestlemania, and tonight he loses a US Title match to Cena. And don’t kid yourself, he’s not getting the IC belt back at Extreme Rules.

John Cena, Bad News Barrett, Raw, April 13, 2015Incidentally, where was Daniel Bryan tonight? He had that backstage segment with Kane, but that was it. What the hell?

The Big Show chokeslams Roman Reigns on top of a taxi cab on the Raw set. I’m slowly but surely becoming a Roman Reigns fan. His smooth swagger, combined with the really good pay per view matches he’s had in the last two months have endeared him to me. It’s just a shame he keeps getting stuck with The Big Show. Those matches are always slow as molasses, and aren’t going to do him any favors.

Images from WWE.com.

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A Darth Vader #4 Review – Robot Insect Wasteland

Darth Vader #4, coverTITLE: Star Wars: Darth Vader #4
AUTHOR: Kieron Gillen
PENCILLER: Salvador Larroca
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 8, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Hey kids! It’s Star Wars prequel stuff! Only this time, without the horrific dialogue and bad acting! And as a bonus: Evil C-3PO and R2-D2! We! Are! Winning!

Darth Vader #4 continues to be Marvel’s most compelling Star Wars title, as our protagonist continues to hunt for the Force-strong pilot who destroyed the Death Star, and investigate the identity of The Emperor’s mysterious co-conspirator. In his efforts, he has enlisted the aid of droid archaeologist Aphra, who has led him to Geonosis, the planet that sparked the Clone Wars. Once there, Vader hopes to use the long dormant battle droids for his own bidding.

The concept of Vader traveling to Geonosis and using the battle droids seems a little convenient as far as strategic use of familiar prequel-era imagery is concerned. Look no further than the cover to see this strategy in action. However, I won’t go as far as to call it cheap. The series has established that Vader trusts robots more than humans. Obviously he needs this army sooner rather than later, and given Anakin Skywalker’s experience in the Clone Wars, he has an understanding of how these droids work. So it does make a sort of sense that he’d use them. And let’s be honest, the prequel-meets-classic Star Wars element is usually pretty cool to see, as is the case here.

Darth Vader #4, Geonosis, queenI really enjoy the Doctor Aphra character. Obviously she fulfills a functional purpose in giving Vader someone to talk to, and saying expositional stuff. But what’s really interesting is her reverence of Vader. She’s not simply afraid of him. She is his humble servant. My question is…does she have bizarre romantic feelings for him? That’s a very interesting premise. What kind of woman loves Darth Vader? And can Darth Vader somehow find room amongst all his anger and hate to feel something resembling love again? A plotline like this could be an interesting foreshadowing to the events of Return of the Jedi. But romance or not, Aphra clearly doesn’t have a long life expectancy at this point. Either Vader kills her off when he has no use for her anymore, or her choice in men becomes her undoing.

Gillen, Larroca, and the creative team have also given this series a really fun resource for comedy: Triple-Zero and BT-1. Essentially, they’re evil versions of C-3PO and R2-D2. Zero’s dialogue is hysterical. He’s every bit the cordial, frittish butler C-3PO is. But the evil and sadistic is mixed in with the prim and proper. In this issue alone, he gives us these little gems…

Darth Vader #4, Triple-Zero– “Hello! I’m Triple-Zero and I’m looking forward immensely to torturing you today.”

– “Actually, a few words do spring to mind… Hahaha! You are on fire and also dead.”

Seeing Geonosis as a sterilized, depopulated wasteland so many years after the Clone Wars very much answers a “Whatever happened to…?” question left over from the prequels. It certainly seems in character for our buddies at the galactic Empire to eliminate a resource that is no longer of use. Though apparently they didn’t do as thorough a job as they should have. Larroca really gets to show off when we meet a surviving Geonosian queen who has taken on the remaining battle droids as her “children.” It’s an image that’s both very fitting of the Star Wars universe, and also extremely creepy.

I’m very much hoping Gillen and Larroca keep rolling here. This book’s writing is compelling on a number of levels, and its art is top notch. Truly, this is a Star Wars title worthy of the franchise’s legacy.

Image 1 from idigitaltimes.com. Image 2 from adventuresinpoortaste.com.

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A Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1 Review – Under the Dome

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1 coverTITLE: Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1
AUTHOR: Gail Simone
PENCILLER: Jan Duursema. Cover by Jill Thompson.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 8, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Having Gail Simone write Oracle again is almost worth DC not publishing any New 52 content for two months. That’s how badly this character has been missed. At least by me. And to see Nightwing wearing blue again, as opposed to red? Bonus!

Via the events of Convergence, Gotham City in the pre-New 52 Gotham City has been under a mysterious impenetrable dome for a year. Some, like Dick Grayson/Nightwing, have adapted to the situation as best they can. Others, like Barbara Gordon/Oracle and Mr. Freeze, have begun to lose their resolve. The city is struggling to survive amid depleted resources. Oddly enough, Poison Ivy has supplied the city with produce. (“I think of the times I jailed her, laughing about it, and I’m ashamed.”) But as Dick is preparing for a monumental moment in his relationship with Barbara, the dome comes down, and Hawkman and Hawkwoman of the Flashpoint universe are looking for a fight. And while Oracle might not be much of a physical challenge for the super-powered Thanagarians, they would be fools to underestimate her…

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #2The notion of Barbara losing her hope is obviously off-putting. This is a character that’s been through so much already. Not just with the loss of her legs, but everything that’s happened to her father, and her discovering that her brother is a psychopath. This development in a character so famously full of resolve is hard to swallow at first. But Gail gets us there. It does make sense that a character whose passion in life revolves around the flow of information would grow depressed being cut off from the world at large for a year. To the best of my recollection, she’s never been in a situation quite like this before.

From an artistic standpoint, this is very much the Oracle we remember. She’s a bit older, with the longer hair and the familiar glasses. We also get her narration via familiar green text boxes. It’s all wonderfully familiar.

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1, NIghtwing, Mr. FreezeOn the downside, while it’s great to have Nightwing’s blue V-stripe back, the rest of his costume is a disappointment. It’s very overdone, complete with built-in abs and shoulder pads that don’t really make sense. It’s very much in line with what we’ve seen from Injustice: Gods Among Us and the Arkham games. I gave DC a lot of crap over their putting red into the New 52 Nightwing costume, the artists on that book were able to maintain the costume’s sleekness most of the time. This one just seems too…lumpy.

I’m not hugely invested in Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkwoman being the bad guys in this book. But it makes sense, what with the whole bird motif. The ending was enough to get me to come back for part two next month. The impression we get is that next issue, Oracle strikes back. That, along with Nightwing being in the mix, is more than enough to get me to put down another $3.99.

Image 1 from blacknerdproblems.com. Image 2 from dangermart.blogspot.com.

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A Convergence #1 Review – Mortal Kombat!!!

Convergence #1 coverTITLE: Convergence #1
AUTHORS: Jeff King, Scott Lobdell
PENCILLER: Carlo Pagulayan. Cover by Tony Daniel.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: April 8, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Convergence #1,***

So Convergence is basically Mortal Kombat with more characters. Like, a lot more characters.

As we learned in Convergence #0, Telos, who is apparently an apprentice of Brainiac, is pitting the heroes from his master’s various domed cities from across the DC multiverse against each other. The losers will see their realities perish, while the winners continue on. In the end, one city and it’s heroes will remain. A line in the issue literally describes it as: “A perverse tournament.” And as the chaos is starting to unfold, the issue actually ends with the words, “It has begun.”

Yup. Sounds like Mortal Kombat to me. Only the scope is larger, and there are more capes.

We open with the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe apparently suffering from the effects of Telos’ actions, in a scene that has a curious ending. Um, is this game supposed to have a sequel? Just wondering…

Convergence #1, page 2We then go to the Earth-2 cast, as they land on the same planet we saw New 52 Superman on last issue. Their world has apparently been destroyed, and they’re bickering. DC has apparently been building to Convergence with these characters for quite some time with the Earth-2: World’s End weekly series. I can only assume this scene is somewhat meaningful to readers who’ve been following that book. As someone who hasn’t, this scene falls a little flat. Still, the characters are themselves are intriguing. At the very least, readers with no Earth-2 knowledge get introduced to alternate versions of Superman, Batman, etc.

We get some decent action, followed by a big monologue from Telos, where he announces his plan to the various domes. Carlo Pagulayan does a nice job with the art here, and I like the hexagonal imagery that’s used to represent the domes. But what he’s saying comes off a little hokey. At one point he even drops names of specific stories…

“Some of you came to me at a time of infinite crisis. Others were brought here in the final moments of their zero hour. Whether it was a flashpoint for a time that never was – or of kingdoms that will never come…”

It’s truly amazing just how big a crisis this is for these infinite earths. We might see the death of Superman, or even a tombstone that says Batman: R.I.P. Also, Blackest Night. *barf*

Convergence #1, TelosOne thing I will commend Convergence for is the way it’s playing up Superman as the centerpiece to the DCU. The final page shows us a bunch of Supermen (Kingdom Come Superman, Red Son Superman, etc.) flying toward the reader. However, curiously absent from the issue at large is New 52 Superman. While I wasn’t a fan of how Convergence connected with Superman: Doomed, putting Superman at the center of issue #0 was a smart idea, because everybody knows who he is. Not following up with DC’s canonical Superman in this issue is an odd creative choice. Couldn’t we have cut a little bit so we could at least see a quick shot of him? Is the New 52verse even affected by what Telos is doing at this point? I’m confused…

The impression I have based on this issue is that Convergence proper is meant to be little more than the book that ties the various spin-offs together, and little more. This is mostly exposition, with very little substance. Carlos Pagulayan’s art is nice to look at. But in terms of characters we’re supposed to follow and root for, we’ve now jumped from New 52 Superman, to the Injustice characters, to the Earth-2 characters. It’s fine to have a story that spans multiple realities. But who’s guiding us through those realities? Tell me that, and you’ll have more of my attention.

Images from newsarama.com.

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A Convergence #0 Review – Cosmic Conversation

STK665787TITLE: Convergence #0
AUTHORS: Dan Jurgens, Jeff King
PENCILLER: Ethan Van Sciver
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: April 1, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Convergence #0.***

Ready for some cosmic conversation, featuring Superman and pretty much every version of Brainiac that’s ever existed? I know I wasn’t. Come to think of it, I really had no idea what to expect when I picked Convergence #0 up, except for maybe a general prologue for the weekly Convergence event series, which begins next week. We did indeed get a prologue. But didn’t expect this much…dust. And rocks. And sand. And talking. Lots of talking.

Convergence #0 takes place during the Superman: Doomed story arc, as Superman and Brainiac are trapped in a black hole outside of time and space. At this point, Brainiac has seen the scope of the multiverse, and has watched other versions of Superman die numerous times, most notably against Doomsday in The Death of Superman. (“His death would inform your transformation into the Doomsday monster.”) He has thus captured various cities from various timelines across the DC Multiverse, and his holding them captive under various domes. He tells Superman all of this, with the promise that although Superman will forget everything he’s just been shown, he’ll return to Brainiac when the time is right.

blogger-image--1647092081At the end they reveal the real villain for Convergence: Telos. We don’t know much about him at this point. But we do see him lowering one of the domes, as he talks about allowing certain cities to return to the universe, and that only the strong will survive. Via an appendix, DC is nice enough to give us an inventory of all Brainiac’s stored cities. No matter how long you’ve been around the DC Universe, chances are there’s something here for you.

As for Convergence #0, there’s some obviously important information here. I just wish they’d thought of a way to get it to us in a more creative way than just Brainiac telling Superman everything. Not to mention a way that didn’t harken back to Superman: Doomed. For readers that opted out of Doomed (*raises hand*), we start this issue in a confusing place. Readers starting here also don’t know why Superman is mysteriously growing a 5 o’clock shadow as the issue progresses. If we’re trying to bring back readers that were turned off by the New 52, or simply haven’t read a DC comic book in awhile, we’re giving them an awkward start.

Convergence #0, cities, BrainiacAll this being said, Ethan Van Sciver is still an all star. Having him on this issue certainly gives it an epic feel, akin to his work on Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth. I can’t complain at all about his renderings of Superman and Brainiac, past and present. And there’s a great two-page spread of Brainiac (one of them, anyway) bending this weird reality to his will, and showing Superman some of the city’s he’s collected. It’s certainly enough to make you wish Van Sciver was sticking around. Sadly, he’s not.

The main Convergence series is still very much worth checking out if you’re interested in where the DCU is heading in 2015. And obviously we’re in for some cool time-bending stories. But from a writing standpoint, this didn’t wet my appetite as much as it wanted to.

Image 1 from infinitecomix.com. Image 2 from comicsbeat.com.

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The New WWE Champion, and Other Ponderings From Wrestlemania XXXI and WWE Raw

Wrestlemania XXXI, Seth Rollins, ChampionSeth Rollins cashes in Money in the Bank during the main event of Wrestlemania, pins Roman Reigns to become champion. Brock Lesnar assaults Rollins on Raw, gives an F5 to Michael Cole. Stephane McMahon suspends Lesnar indefinitely.

Well, that’s one way to book yourself out of a corner.

Actually, it must be said that the Brock Lesnar/Roman Reigns match was not bad at all. It was the match of the night, in my opinion. They built up a lot of sympathy for Reigns (at least in my mind), and established that he is indeed a Samoan Bad Ass. But at the end of the day, Brock Lesnar was the crowd favorite. WWE clearly knew that going in, and booked accordingly. They told a similar story to the one they did with Lesnar and John Cena at Summerslam, but then threw the twist with Rollins in.

Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Wrestlemania XXXITruth be told, if there’s one guy on the roster that deserved that crowning moment, it was Seth Rollins. He’s turned in consistently good, often great work since his heel turn last year. And whether you’re a Roman Reigns fan or not, this loss at Wrestlemania does two very important things for him. First, it gives him more big match experience. Second, it gives him a little more time to cook before they put the title on him.

There was no way they were going to have Brock wrestle on Raw. I knew that thing was a sham from the get-go. What I didn’t see coming was what happened to Michael Cole. If Brock wasn’t a babyface before, he certainly is now. And let’s give credit where credit is due: Cole took that F5 like a man. I’ve got to wonder who pitched THAT to him…

One thing I will say in critique of that Raw segment…JBL and Booker T. couldn’t have been that hurt by an overturned table, could they?

Triple H vs. Sting, Wrestlemania XXXITriple H def. Sting. This one shocked me. After 14 years, Sting finally makes his WWE debut…just to lose to Triple H? That’s pretty lame if you ask me. Still, one would hope that’s not the last time we’ll see Sting in a WWE ring.

The general direction this match took also surprised me. Instead of it boiling down to Sting and Hunter they turned it into an nWo vs. DX thing. It all became a giant Attitude Era throwback. It was fun, I guess. But I thought this was supposed to be about Sting coming to WWE to face the tyrannical leader of The Authority? It seemed like an odd choice to me. But it was Wrestlemania-worthy, to be sure.

By the way, that Triple H/Terminator entrance? Really stupid.

The Undertaker def. Bray Wyatt. The Undertaker looked as good as he ever has at Wrestlemania. But it seemed like he was definitely feeling it physically. Then again, maybe he was just selling really well. But after the match, he did indeed look up to the rafters and mouth “Thank you.” My instincts tell me he’s got maybe one or two left in him. But then again, people have been saying that for years. Only The Undertaker can tell us for sure. One thing’s for sure, seeing him for the first time in a year was a hell of a Wrestlemania moment.

The Undertaker, Wrestlemania XXXIThe Rock and Ronda Rousey wind up in an in-ring confrontation with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at Wrestlemania. This seemed like a set up for one hell of a mixed tag match. Summerslam, maybe?

John Cena def. Rusev at Wrestlemania for the United States Championship, defeats Dean Ambrose in title defense on Raw. Not exactly a surprise that Rusev lost to John Cena. Though as I’d said previously, I’d have loved to have seen Rusev’s streak continue.

Dean Ambrose deserves a hell of a lot of credit for the 48 hours he had between Wrestlemania and Raw. Between the bumps he took in the ladder match, and the match he had with Cena on Raw, he deserves as much respect as anybody on that roster. There’s so much money on this guy, and he’s so unique. I just hope WWE knows what they’ve got with him…

Daniel Bryan, Wrestlemania XXXIDaniel Bryan wins Intercontinental Championship in multi-man Wrestlemania Ladder Match. Bryan wins a title match against Dolph Ziggler on Raw. After all the complaining the internet wrestling community did (myself included) about Daniel Bryan’s demotion on the Wrestlemania card, it’s tough to deny they put him over pretty well. It would have been easy for him to simply get lost in the shuffle in terms of that ladder match. But he came out on top, and had another great Wrestlemania moment. Let’s not kid ourselves, it wasn’t as good as the one he got last year. But it was still pretty good.

In terms of the ladder match itself…meh. I hate to seem so jaded, especially considering some of the bumps those guys took. But we’ve just seen this match so many times over the last decade. At the end of the day, there are only so many things you can do with a ladder. So I left this match feeling a bit less satisfied than perhaps I should have been. The ending with Bryan and Dolph Ziggler butting heads over and over again was pretty ridiculous too.

As for the match Bryan and Ziggler had on Raw, it’s tough to not enjoy these guys going one-on-one. They make a point to show you things you don’t see in other matches, and it’s a real treat.

Sheamus, Raw, March 31, 2015Sheamus returns after Bryan/Ziggler match to fend off Bad News Barrett, ends up heeling on Bryan. I like Sheamus’ tweaked image, although apparently the crowd didn’t agree (“You look stupid!”). I most certainly like his new direction. A Sheamus heel turn has is long overdue. If I had my way, we’d see Bryan vs. Barrett for the title at Extreme Rules, and Sheamus vs. Ziggler, with the winner getting a title shot.

Adrian Neville (as billed as just “Neville”) and The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) make their Raw debut. So the rumor flying around was that WWE was going to give NXT star Adrian Neville a Mighty Mouse-type persona. It looks like they kinda/sorta went that direction, but thankfully left out the inherent cheeseball elements. We’ve definitely seen wrestlers wear worse things out there than a cape. Great exhibition from Neville. Let’s see where he goes from here.

In that same vein, we saw a hell of a showing from Sin Cara, and especially Kalisto. He had that crowd in the palm of his hand. I want to see more, that’s for damn sure. And hey! Who knew you could have a colorful, marketable Hispanic tag team without turning them into a couple of damn cartoon characters! Does this mean we can finally drop the Los Matadores gimmick?

The Big Show, Wrestlemania XXXIThe Big Show wins the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on the Wrestlemania pre-show. I’m guessing this match got bumped to the pre-show so we could have the Rock/Ronda Rousey segment. I’m wondering, had it been on the actual show, if Big Show would have won. This match seemed like the perfect opportunity for Damien Sandow to have his big moment. And indeed, he did have a big moment when he eliminated Miz. But for that to be followed by his elimination by Big Show almost waters the whole thing down. Once it was decided the match would be on the pre-show, I wonder if they just said: “Meh. If Sandow can’t win it at Wrestlemania, let’s just give it to Show.”

And what does The Big Show actually gain from winning the Andre battle royal? Nothing really. At least Cesaro got a push (albeit a failed one) out of the deal. Show’s already a top guy, and he’s aligned with the new WWE Heavyweight Champion. So they basically spun their wheels with this one.

Images from WWE.com.

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A Wrestlemania XXXI Preview – The Gang’s All Here

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is it, folks. Wrestlemania is here. Sting is here. The Undertaker is here. Brock Lesnar is here. Still, all things considered, this isn’t the strongest ‘Mania card there’s ever been. We’ve got three squeeze matches, and a main event with a babyface that isn’t exactly a babyface, and a heel that isn’t exactly a heel…

Let’s dive in.

20150320_LIGHT_WM31_kickoffmatch_hpPRE-SHOW MATCH FOR WWE TAG TEAM TITLES:
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) vs. The Usos vs. The New Day vs. Los Matadores

Neither The New Day or Los Matadores feel worthy of this match. With due respect to the talents of those four men, they should have been stuffed into the battle royal.

I’d be okay with either Kidd & Cesaro or The Usos taking this one. But I’m making my prediction based on an unlikely source: WWE just came out with a t-shirt for Kidd & Cesaro. That leads me to believe they’re going to be in the forefront of things for the foreseeable future. So I’m thinking the titles will stay with them.

PREDICTION: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro

20150224_LIGHT_WM31_Match_HPv2_divastag-1The Bella Twins vs. AJ Lee & Paige

The Bella Twins are going to take this one. Why? Because WWE loves them for some odd reason. Personally, I respect the fact that they’ve put the effort they have into wrestling. But I just can’t stand listening to them. AJ hit the nail on the head on Smackdown: They’re like the Kardashians. And if there’s one thing wrestling doesn’t need, it’s Kardashians.

Still, at least AJ and Paige got to be featured in a match at Wrestlemania, and they weren’t stuffed into some “lumberjill” match. Then again, plans can always change, I suppose.

PREDICTION: The Bella Twins

20150224_LIGHT_WM31_Match_Andre_HPAndre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

You know who should be pissed about this match? The Big Show. He’s been relegated to this match for the second year in a row, but will almost certainly not win. He’s been compared to Andre the Giant his whole career, and how he’s been stuck in a match dedicated to him, but can’t win!

This should be the match where we finally get our Miz/Damien Sandow pay off. If I’m booking this sucker, our last four guys in the ring are The Big Show, Ryback, The Miz, and Sandow. Ryback dumps out Big Show, then Miz gets the jump on Ryback and tosses him out. Then we get our confrontation between “star” and “stunt double,” resulting in Sandow finally standing up to Miz, and tossing him out of the match for the win. This should be a huge Wrestlemania moment for Sandow. The question is, how do they follow up on it? That part sure as hell didn’t work out for Cesaro.

PREDICTION: Damien Sandow

20150309_LIGHT_WM31_Match_BadNewsLadder_HP2LADDER MATCH FOR WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP:
Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Stardust vs. R-Truth vs. Luke Harper

I know this match will probably be entertaining. But the purist in me doesn’t like it. I’m also not thrilled with the fact that Daniel Bryan got relegated to a squeeze match a year after winning the main event at Wrestlemania. But that’s WWE booking for you…

I’ve read reports that Daniel Bryan will win this one, but I’m not sure I buy it. This feels like a Bad News Barrett win to me. WWE likes him, as evidenced by the way they put the belt on him right when he got back. And then they had all these guys take his title away from him, and then he finally got it back, only to have it taken from him again. This all feels like a build up for him to take it back once and for all at Wrestlemania, and then perhaps turn babyface. The fans like this character, and the heel status still seems forced to me. I’m really spinning the wheel on this one, but I’m going with Barrett.

PREDICTION: Bad News Barrett

20150224_LIGHT_WM31_Match_HPv2_cenarusevWWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Rusev (c) vs. John Cena

In all honesty, I don’t want to see Rusev’s winning streak end. Originally, I was not a fan of his, simply because he was so cold and expressionless out there. But he’s improved substantially, and is one of the company’s best villains right now. That being said, if you have to lose to someone, a loss to John Cena at Wrestlemania isn’t a bad deal. And given the beating Cena just took from Rusev on Raw, it seems like he’s due for a win. And hey, Cena winning the US Title might just restore some of it’s prestige. Lord knows those secondary titles could use a little more shine on them these days.

PREDICTION: John Cena

20150224_LIGHT_WM31_Match_HP_OrtonRollinsRandy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

From a pure performance standpoint, this match could steal the show. Randy Orton’s previous Wrestlemania dance partners haven’t always lent themselves to great matches. But with the right ones, he can deliver. His match with CM Punk in 2011 comes to mind, as does his work with Daniel Bryan and Batista at last year’s show. With a guy like Seth Rollins, the potential is obviously there.

The build-up with Randy Orton pretending to join The Authority was decent. Not great, but decent. Hopefully the match makes it all worthwhile. I see Rollins going over here. He’s unquestionably WWE’s most hated villain right now. What better way to keep his momentum going than a cheap victory over Randy Orton? Mind you, he’ll probably take an RKO somewhere in there. But it’ll be his victory nonetheless.

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

20150224_LIGHT_WM31_Match_HPv2_takerbrayThe Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

For yours truly, this is the biggest match on the card. I’ve been a fan for almost two decades. So seeing The Undertaker in the ring again is worth the price of admission by itself. He could be wrestling Barry Horowitz (look him up, kids) and I’d still pay to see it.

To his credit, Bray has made the majority of this program work with his verbal skills alone. The only input we’ve had from The Undertaker has been in the form of props and video clips. But Bray made it work. This program, as one-sided as it’s been, has elevated his game significantly.

Obviously, “The Streak” is no longer on the table. We can debate the pros and cons of that at a later date. But either way, The Undertaker could, in fact, lose this match. But I don’t think he will. After last year, the fans deserve to have their faith in this legend rewarded. The Undertaker losing last year left a really bad taste in everybody’s mouth. So now it’s time for him to win again. Will it hurt Bray? Absolutely not. I don’t think anyone’s career has ever been truly harmed by losing to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Bray will be no exception.

PREDICTION: The Undertaker

20150224_LIGHT_WM31_Match_HPv2Triple H vs. Sting

If what we heard on Raw this week is any indicator, I don’t think there’s any risk of the WWE fans not reacting favorably to Sting. They were really into him on Monday, and there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case here.

I expect we’ll see classic Triple H here, not to mention classic Stephanie McMahon. They’ll use underhanded tactics, and probably that sledgehammer, to get the upper hand. Then Sting will have his big babyface comeback, and of course, get the win. There’s no way they brought Sting to Wrestlemania just to have him lose. And as I said this week, I’m hoping this isn’t a one shot deal. A guy like Sting could really help elevate and up-and-comer. But either way, this night belongs to the Stinger.

PREDICTION: Sting

20150224_LIGHT_WM31_Match_LesnarReigns_HPWWE HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns

This match is “car wreck interesting.” In other words, I’m intrigued to see whether the whole thing just breaks down into a mess. What it really comes down to is the crowd. That’s the big drawing factor. What kind of reaction is Roman Reigns going to get? As Brock Lesnar just resigned with WWE this week, the die-hards and the smart fans don’t have much of a reason to boo him. And as Wrestlemania is a show that the die-hards come from all over the world to see, things don’t exactly look good for

I expect the crowd to be the main story in this one. I don’t see either Reigns or Lesnar as “ring generals,” so to speak. So I’m not expecting a classic. In terms of it’s outcome, while this match could end up going in a lot of directions, I still see Roman Reigns getting his hand raised at the end. One of WWE’s major priorities these days (thankfully) is making new stars. Whether we like him or not, Roman Reigns is one of those stars. So this moment belongs to him.

It’ll be interesting to see how Paul Heyman plays into this. He’s more than pulled his share of the weight in all of this. But now that we know Lesnar has re-signed, I’m curious to see if their relationship evolves at all. Will Heyman still be at Lesnar’s side once Wrestlemania XXXI is in the books? Or will he find himself a new conqueror in Roman Reigns? Has all of this been leading up to a Roman Reigns heel turn? Now that would shake things up…

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Images from WWE.com.

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