WWE WrestleMania 33: Best Possible Finish for Each Contest
The finish of any wrestling match is essential to its overall quality.
A strong finish can elevate stars and ensure a match's place in history. A poor one can diminish credibility and end a performer's effectiveness for good.
Sunday night, WWE presents WrestleMania 33 live in Orlando, Florida, and the significance of the finishes to the 13 matches on the card has never been more apparent.
With so many young stars still striving to grow and evolve into the faces of WWE's future, finishes may determine just how successful they become.
Seth Rollins is a babyface still trying to find his feet as a lead hero on Monday nights. A strong finish that sees him go over Triple H in their unsanctioned match could help him achieve that.
Bayley must overcome poor booking in the lead-in to the event in order to enjoy her WrestleMania moment and bring credibility to her reign as Raw women's champion.
Then there is AJ Styles, who needs a finish to his match with the inexperienced wrestler Shane McMahon that makes sense and does not diminish his credibility as the face of SmackDown.
What finishes best suit those Superstars and everyone else involved in Sunday's show?
Universal Championship Match: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
Two of the last three physical encounters Goldberg and Brock Lesnar have had turned with the current universal champion delivering an intestines-exploding spear to The Beast Incarnate. It is the setup to the Jackhammer finisher that has netted Goldberg so many of his victories.
At WrestleMania 33, it is imperative that Lesnar show he has learned from prior mistakes.
Dodging a spear from an overzealous Goldberg and sending the champion head-and-shoulder-first into the steel post, then planting him with an F-5 to score the win and title would be a fitting conclusion to the match and a surefire way to express Lesnar is a much smarter and more cerebral wrestler than he gets credit for.
Lesnar winning puts an end to Goldberg’s inspirational and fun comeback while setting the stage for one more showdown between The Beast and another prominent Raw star, Roman Reigns.
WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt consistently has had his emotions toyed with in recent months. In the most memorable occasion, Randy Orton left him a sobbing mess, a once proud manipulator a blubbering mess of a man as he watched his Wyatt Family Compound burned to the ground by the man he thought he could trust.
WrestleMania should be Wyatt’s revenge.
Having lost two followers in Orton and Luke Harper, Wyatt reintroduces the WWE Universe to Erick Rowan, who interferes on behalf of his leader and costs Orton the victory in grand fashion.
That outcome allows the feud to continue into the next SmackDown-exclusive pay-per-view. It also injects Rowan into the story and creates a scenario where Harper could conceivably rejoin Wyatt and Co. and reunite the original incarnation of The Wyatt Family.
Orton, the aggressor in recent weeks, will be forced to overcome the onslaught of a strong and united front. That makes for much more entertaining television than The Viper running around charred remains of houses, stabbing ashes with supernatural daggers.
Unsanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
The Architect will have the opportunity to build his legacy Sunday night as he battles former mentor Triple H in a match born in betrayal. Rollins turned his back on The Shield when he joined The Authority in 2014. The Game turned on Rollins when he dropped him with a Pedigree in 2016.
During that two-year period, Rollins neglected the man he wanted to be in favor of the corporate puppet he became and the success he achieved. At WrestleMania 33, he has the opportunity to eliminate the skeletons from his closet and get back to being the Superstar he was destined to become. He can achieve that by defeating Triple H on the stage he and his family have helped build to massive proportions.
The best finish for the match three years in the making is for Rollins to overcome interference from Samoa Joe, deliver a Pedigree to Triple H and pin the COO of WWE clean in the center of the ring following his own finishing maneuver.
Rollins gets the last laugh and the happy ending his character has earned.
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
The hottest match on the WrestleMania card is Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker.
Reigns is the most polarizing star in professional wrestling, a good guy who is greeted with jeers typically reserved for bad guys, but whose in-ring work has been phenomenal and whose star continues to grow with every passing year.
Sunday, he will compete in the most important match of his career as he faces The Deadman at an event he has become synonymous with. Undertaker has been here before and battled industry icons in front of worldwide audiences. He has created a legacy for himself by laying waste to every unfortunate soul to confront him on wrestling’s stage but one.
This year, one becomes two.
This is exactly the type of match Reigns needs to win. He is the future of professional wrestling under the WWE banner. Undertaker, for his incredible contributions as a performer and leader of the locker room, is on his final legs as a worker. Sacrificing another WrestleMania loss to continue the evolution of Reigns into the franchise star of WWE for the next decade is a move that needs to be made.
It can be, too.
Late in the match, Undertaker, beaten and battered after taking everything Reigns has thrown at him, struggles to his feet. Reigns explodes across the ring with a spear. The Deadman kicks out of the pinfall attempt.
Reigns answers with a second spear. Another kick-out.
The Big Dog, a look of remorselessness on his face, stares at his opponent as he struggles back to his feet. One last spear puts an end to the match, and Reigns stands tall in victory for the second consecutive year.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Shane-O-Mac has made numerous WrestleMania moments for himself over the years, none more jaw-dropping than last year’s elbow from the top of Hell in a Cell. Sunday, he will not have the safety blanket of a gimmick match to hide behind when he faces AJ Styles in a basic singles match.
There will be no chairs or tables to mask the fact that McMahon is not a trained professional wrestler. There will be no ridiculous bump to make up for his deficiencies. He will have to dig deep into his bag of tricks to even come close to hanging with the most athletically gifted Superstar on the roster and the measuring stick for all professional wrestlers in Styles.
The finish should reflect as much.
The use of referee manipulation will be key.
What can McMahon and Styles accomplish based off a referee bump? Can the Superstars pull from the WrestleMania X-Seven match between Undertaker and Triple H, where one big referee bump led to the entire middle portion of the match devolving into a hardcore brawl?
In order to ensure the best match possible, the performers and management alike would be wise to investigate such a possibility.
A finish in which Styles overcomes every possible attempt to cheat or use some sort of weaponry in a match that fuses mat work with brawling and finishes McMahon off with The Styles Clash would best suit the story and confirm The Phenomenal One’s status as the face of SmackDown Live.
United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
For months, Kevin Owens led Chris Jericho to believe they were best friends. In reality, the then-universal champion was using Jericho as a pawn, a tool to ensure victory and grow his own legacy.
His betrayal of Jericho came at the end of a Festival of Friendship and ended with Y2J hospitalized. In retaliation, Jericho cost his former associate the championship that defined him since last August. What should be an intense grudge match will, instead, be a traditional bout for the United States Championship.
That limits the finishes available to them.
Traditionally, the babyface would win here, but given the uncertainty surrounding Jericho’s schedule with WWE, Owens is the right choice.
A clean win via the pop-up powerbomb would not only serve as a definitive conclusion to their rivalry, it would also give Owens a much-needed decisive win on pay-per-view, something that has evaded him.
Mixed Tag Team Match: John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
The entire purpose of Sunday’s mixed tag team match pitting John Cena and Nikki Bella against The Miz and Maryse is to give the babyfaces a happy ending and, potentially, set up a marriage proposal that has been hinted at endlessly in the weeks ahead of Sunday’s spectacular.
For that to happen, Cena and Bella need to win the match. Luckily, Miz and Maryse are such a strong heel unit that they can win, even cleanly, and lose zero heat in the process.
It has been quite some time since Cena has had a legitimate WrestleMania moment. In fact, his last truly great moment on the big stage was in defeat as he lost to The Rock in the infamous "Once in a Lifetime" main event of WrestleMania XXVIII.
While it may sound cheesy, there is no better way for Cena to spend this year’s show than to stand alongside the woman he loves, laying out their rivals in stereo and scoring a victory together.
Whether there is a proposal or the Superstars celebrate while embracing in front of 60,000-plus fans at WrestleMania is irrelevant. There is a demographic this match appeals to more than others, and as long as they are happy and the action is entertaining, this match will have done its job.
Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the Raw Women's Championship
Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Nia Jax may be present Sunday night, but the story of the Raw Women’s Championship match centers around Bayley.
The lovable female competitor formerly of NXT has risen to the occasion and enters her first WrestleMania as champion. She has been put at a disadvantage and beaten by all three of her challengers in recent weeks.
If she wishes to retain her title, she will have to do what few could even dream of: beat all three of them in one match.
Nia Jax will impress in her first WrestleMania but is not ready for the title. Expect her to be the first eliminated following finishers from all three opponents. Charlotte, last year’s big winner, will be the next to go courtesy of a Bank Statement from Banks.
With the match down to two good friends, Bayley will defeat Banks to retain.
The outcome not only allows Bayley to celebrate a victory, but it also creates dissension among fans. Banks has been eyeing up the Raw Women’s Championship, and if Charlotte was right on the March 27 episode of WWE’s flagship show, The Boss has been using Bayley to get closer to the title.
That obsession with gold could manifest itself Sunday night and initiate a shocking heel turn from Banks, especially if Bayley retains.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
There has been so little made of this Intercontinental Championship match that it would not be surprising whatsoever if some fans forgot it was actually part of the main card.
No matter how over Ambrose is, or how much of a roll Corbin has been on in 2017, the writing behind their match has been so lackluster that it really is little more than an afterthought on Sunday’s enormous 13-match card.
Still, do not expect either man to rest on their laurels or deliver anything less than 100 percent on the grandest stage known to professional wrestling.
Corbin will win. He has to. The entire match has been built to with the idea that The Lone Wolf would net his first championship in WWE by knocking off the incredibly popular Lunatic Fringe on wrestling’s most important night.
The best way to accomplish that outcome?
Corbin counters Dirty Deeds and delivers End of Days to secure the IC title.
Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match
The addition of ladders to the match has made WrestleMania’s Raw Tag Team Championship match that much more interesting. Enzo Amore and Big Cass, and Sheamus and Cesaro will challenge Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the gold in what has the potential to be the night’s show-stealing undercard bout.
Enzo and Cass should get the titles here. Their first year with WWE has been phenomenal. It has seen them become enormous stars on the flagship show and an extraordinarily marketable and merchandisable act. They are over in any arena they work in and the perfect choice to relieve Anderson and Gallows of the gold.
A WrestleMania victory would serve as the perfect cap to the first 12 months of their WWE career.
Allowing Cesaro, Sheamus, Anderson and Gallows to pummel each other atop the ladder, then shoving them to the arena floor before scaling the rungs and retrieving the titles would be a superb finish that lets them bask in the glory of their win.
Six-Pack Challenge Match for the SmackDown Women's Championship
Naomi’s return on the March 28 episode of SmackDown Live created an interesting scenario for Sunday’s SmackDown Women’s Championship match.
While the heel would normally win this type of match, picking and choosing her spots before sneaking a rollup to win the entire thing, the former champion will be looking to regain the title she was forced to hand over due to injury.
Naomi is a Superstar who earned love and adoration after capturing the gold. After years of hard work and dedication, fans were eager to tell her she deserved the honor and that they appreciated everything she has done to entertain them.
Her run was cut short, and Sunday, she has the opportunity to make the most of a second chance most performers never get.
Though Alexa Bliss is a great villainess, this is a match that should go to Naomi.
With the other four women involved incapacitated, Naomi plants Bliss and delivers a split-legged moonsault to win the gold in the same manner she won it back at Elimination Chamber.
Becky Lynch, Natalya, and Mickie James will bring the in-ring work rate, while Carmella and boy toy James Ellsworth will provide enough entertainment factor to help this stand out from previous Six-Pack Challenges featuring the same crop of talent.
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Austin Aries vs. Neville
Neville has taken to referring to himself as The King of the Cruiserweights, and Sunday, he will prove why.
Despite the return of Austin Aries to action as the lead babyface in the cruiserweight division, now is not the time to hot-shot the gold. A steadier build that culminates on an actual pay-per-view card, rather than the Kickoff Show, is more suited to elevating the importance of the division and crowning a new champion.
What should be a strong battle between two veterans of the independent scene should end with Neville using chicanery to retain his title, either via rollup while holding the tights or sticking his feet on the ropes for added leverage.
That may not be the most desirable finish in the eyes of fans, but it allows the story to move into Monday night and beyond.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal seemingly belongs to Braun Strowman.
The monstrous competitor has spent the last six months breaking out on Monday nights, becoming the unstoppable villain the company has tried to create for years now. He has become what Vladimir Kozlov, Luther Reigns, The Great Khali and others of the same generation never could.
A victory for him on the WrestleMania stage would continue his incredible journey, but is it for the best? What if an underdog babyface slays the dragon and stands victorious on wrestling's grandest stage?
Imagine Sami Zayn, fresh off cashing his ticket to the big show, doing the impossible and eliminating Strowman to win the match. The consummate underdog would suddenly have the credible victory he has been lacking—the one he needs to lead to bigger and better things in the wake of WrestleMania.
That is the best finish available to WWE Creative, even if the heel is most likely to emerge with his massive tree trunk-like arms raised in victory.