WWE WrestleMania 30: Full Predictions for Daniel Bryan, John Cena and More
During the WrestleMania XXX preview on the Kings of Sport podcast, I gave WWE’s build for the event a C-plus.
It’s not that the buildup has been bad overall. In fact, WWE’s top matches, with the exception of Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar, have been good to great in that department.
It’s the litany of group matches with little-to-no buildup that are at fault—the several once-compelling storylines that were abruptly scrapped in favor of a socialistic effort to include everybody not named JTG.
Once upon a time, The Rhodes Brothers were the hottest commodity in WWE. An eventual split and blowoff match between them is the type of encounter that WrestleMania stages were created for.
But similar to the growing tension between The Real Americans, The Usos' feud against the New Age Outlaws and The Shield’s impending split, The Brotherhood was swept under a WWE ring like a Triple H sledgehammer.
All for a blatant effort to boost morale by booking more than 60 WWE Superstars and Divas to appear at WrestleMania.
Pro wrestling needs to embrace capitalism over socialism.
The onus is the NBA and NFL to ensure everybody has a chance. If fans in a particular market feel their team has no chance to win a championship, games will be poorly attended, risking the dreaded blackout.
The NFL is equipped for the type of fair and balanced booking that WWE has used throughout WrestleMania season.
The worst team automatically gets the first pick. The best teams play a tougher schedule the following season. There’s revenue sharing. There’s a salary cap.
The league is designed to create parity that manufactures (false) hope for all 32 markets, which then become hooked by the promise of NFL kickoff.
Pro wrestling adopts a capitalist structure. This means picking an elite group of talent and booking them to win most of their matches.
It’s not fair, but it’s the proven method of sustaining a promotion. This has been the WWE’s model from Bruno Sammartino to Hulk Hogan to Steve Austin to John Cena.
A WrestleMania with fewer wrestlers on the card, but with several intriguing rivalries, is a formula to success.
There was once a commercial for high-end job-matching service, The Ladders. In it, two tennis players were playing a point before their game was crashed and fans emptied the stands. Armed with rackets, everyone rushed the court, attempting to compete.
The scene ruined the quality of the tennis match. This was the message being sent by a job-matching service that only services the most qualified of applicants.
WrestleMania needs to be Ladders.com: 65 announced participants on one show feels more like Craigslist.
Still, the jam-packed bill has somehow made room for what may be the most emotionally charged main event in recent memory.
Daniel Bryan, Triple H and the two stooges in Randy Orton and Batista will headline a top-heavy pay-per-view that will receive deserved acclaim if all the top matches deliver.
And, of course, if the WWE Network live feed doesn't crash.
Pre-Show: The Usos vs. the Real Americans vs. Los Matadores vs. Rybaxel
WrestleMania typically serves as a snapshot for various divisions, wrestlers, titles, etc. This hastily booked tag team match, however, is an aberration.
At first glance, it would seem like 2013-14 was another throwaway year for a tag team division that’s glory days are behind it.
That is not the case.
With budding stars in The Shield, The Brotherhood and The Usos, WWE’s tag team division has seen a renaissance.
WWE has seemed invested in using tag team wrestling as a vehicle to promote its overall product.
In years past, the company has gone for a shortsighted method of breaking up two singles star, with one getting the push and the other being rendered Marty Jannetty.
Sadly, a promising rematch between The Usos and the resurgent New Age Outlaws was done away with. According to F4WOnline (h/t Wrestling Inc.com), the Outlaws preferred to work with the up-and-coming group.
Now, the tag team championship match is more of a roll call for every duo that still has a pulse and Rybaxel.
With no real conflict between these teams past their desire to win the championship, it should at least be an athletic showcase.
Prediction: The Usos win by pinfall
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, should it continue, may be the WWE’s tongue-in-cheek version of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). The NIT is basically college basketball’s premier consolation tournament.
The field reads like a list of WWE’s ex-next-big-things, with talents such as Dolph Ziggler, Big E and Sheamus shoehorned into a claustrophobic battle for a paper statue.
Meanwhile, Big Show has been used as the world’s largest red herring.
His blatant similarities to Andre the Giant make him both the physical and sentimental favorite. In a sense, this Battle Royal is his match.
The sketchy favorite in this one should be Alexander Rusev. I say sketchy because Rusev, despite being everywhere on WWE TV until recently, still has yet to be announced.
Maybe WWE is opting for the element of surprise. Maybe the promotion is just moving in another direction, which—as has been made clear in previous slides—has been a WrestleMania motif.
Three spots remain open, and with WWE reportedly contacting “megadraws” from years past—according F4WOnline (h/t Wrestling Inc.com)—the possibilities add spice to a Battle Royal that is filled with stale acts.
Prediction: Alexander Rusev wins Battle Royal by eliminating Big Show.
Remaining three entrants: Rusev, Bad News Barrett, The Ultimate Warrior.
Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational
Fourteen Divas in a match with one pinfall is like 14 Divas in a dressing room with one blow dryer. The finish—which will have to involve several bumps to the outside to set up the one and only pinfall—has injury written all over it.
Expect this match to be kept short, with the only two victors being whoever wins and the E! Network.
According to Bovada (h/t Forbes.com), current odds pit AJ Lee against the field. This makes the field possibly the best underdog bet on the entire board.
The made-for-television storyline of fiancees Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella becoming champions at WrestleMania is too good to pass up.
By the way, the statute of limitations on AJ Lee being “punished” with a title loss because CM Punk walked out has ended. Cool it on that front.
Prediction: Brie Bella wins as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome sets a world record for popcorn sales.
The Shield vs. Kane and the New Age Outlaws
The Shield has gone from an inevitable split to an improbable babyface turn.
The individual talents of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose could only be booed for so long. Plus, the idea of an anti-authority renegade has always been cool among wrestling fans.
Just look at who’s headlining.
The six-Man tag team match will be interesting only because of the fate of The Shield.
Will they break up? Stay together for a strong babyface run? Will Ambrose and Rollins turn on Reigns? These questions mark Kane and the New Age Outlaws as wallpaper until the finish.
Prediction: Kane and the New Age Outlaws win after Ambrose and Rollins turn on Reigns.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
John Cena and Bray Wyatt have rivaled all other competitors as the best-booked feud.
Cena’s legacy has been pitted against Wyatt’s creepy manifesto to destroy him. As with any Cena WrestleMania feud, there is wiggle room for conspiracy theorists to believe he will turn heel.
Wyatt announces the name of the host city before each of his entrances now, a babyface quality, while both men have admitted that Cena will turn into a monster.
For the remaining majority, the hero’s will of John Cena was never more apparent than during his go-home promo on Wyatt.
The feud’s buildup has peaked these past two weeks. Cena creeped out the Wyatts while wearing a sheep’s mask during their final confrontation.
As is the case with the best feuds, both combatants have a case for winning. Either Cena continues his legacy, or Wyatt begins his.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt defeats John Cena after Hulk Hogan chases off the Wyatts.
Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
Criticism of Undertaker and Brock Lesnar’s feud has become a cliche, so let’s focus on the match.
Undertaker has overachieved in the second half of his WrestleMania career, after a first half that was a borderline gag reel.
Recent history says this could be the best match on the card. Given Lesnar’s history in mixed martial arts, Undertaker’s adoration of the sport and his brittle frame, there will be a generous amount of grappling as well as brawling.
Paranoid wrestling fans have pointed to this match as an indicator of whether or not Daniel Bryan wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
To them, if it is set to go on last, it will be just as big of a nail in Bryan’s coffin as it will be in Lesnar's. This would be WWE’s way of sending wrestling fans home happy if they intend on jerking Bryan around again.
Or maybe the main event is the only spotlight suitable for a post-match staredown between Undertaker and Sting.
Prediction: Undertaker submits Brock Lesnar with Hell’s Gate
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (Winner Faces Batista and Randy Orton in Main Event)
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H has to be considered the de facto main event. If it could logically go on last, it would.
Orton and Batista have been neutered for the betterment of Triple H’s WWE Executive character. In all fairness, for months Triple H has been a more significant hurdle to Bryan becoming champion than Batista or Orton.
In order to capitalize on the drama, emotion and fan interaction required for this to be a moment, WWE needs to manipulate the audience.
Should Daniel Bryan appear in multiple matches, a sense of urgency needs to be behind his second match, or fans will be apathetically waiting for the finish.
Either his shoulder injury is re-aggravated by Triple H shortly after his victory—putting his status in doubt—or Bryan is immediately tasked with facing Batista and Orton following said victory, or both.
His journey has been defined with so many hurdles; there have to be a few final obstacles before his journey is truly complete.
Poor Big Dave.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan pins Triple H in the semi-main event before Triple H injures him with a sledgehammer. Bryan is taken to the trainer’s room as Batista and Orton make their entrances. Bryan shows up halfway through the crucified singles match and submits Randy Orton.
Bonus WrestleMania 30 Predictions
On the 10th anniversary of Chris Benoit’s world championship win at WrestleMania XX, there have been several similarities to Daniel Bryan’s chase one decade later.
Benoit’s win was capped off with an appearance by real-life friend and fellow world champion Eddie Guerrero. The two shared an emotional embrace and celebrated as WrestleMania XX went off the air.
Should Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan both win championships, a similar dual celebration could take place, but I doubt it.
Yessing (that’s actually a word, by the way) will be more than enough.
The debate on who shows up at WrestleMania can be a six-hour pay-per-view in and of itself. Long predictions short, I predict Vince McMahon shows up in a non-storyline fashion (fingers crossed).
Vince should at least be at the 2014 Hall of Fame, where The Ultimate Warrior’s speech will be nowhere near as incoherent as most think.
Say The Ultimate Warrior does show up in the Battle Royal as predicted. What would get a bigger reaction, eliminating Warrior or winning the trophy? As a side note, Hulk Hogan—Warrior’s WrestleMania VI opponent—will have some type of physical interaction.
If former Blade Runner Sting has been signed and sealed, his delivery won’t come until the Raw after WrestleMania.
Phil Brooks will show up in a hoody to make a purchase at a local comic book store in Chicago but not at WrestleMania. He can care less about wrestling these days. Let’s respect that.