Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Total Divas vs. Team BAD
Background: There has been tension between Lana and Brie Bella for several weeks, but it would be hard to explain why they started feuding. Along the way, Lana gained the remnants of Team BAD, Emma, and Summer Rae as teammates. Since Lana’s last “feud” was a love triangle quadrangle that included Summer, their partnership seems tenuous. Their adversaries are nominally cast members of Total Divas. Not only does that bind them as teammates, it also appears to be the primary reason that they’re on the card at all.
Analysis: Six months from now, highlights of this match will air on the E! Network, which is its intended medium. Last year’s Wrestlemania didn’t feature a single “filler” match. This match is several tiers below the least compelling match on that card, so hopefully this year’s extended pre-show will push it off of the main show. As much as I like Emma and Naomi, Paige is the only participant in the whole match who seems to matter to WWE’s future.
Prediction: Team Total Divas will probably win because this match fits as part of the reality show more than it does as part of a wrestling supercard. There’s a rationale for popcorn matches, and putting more names on the card is a good thing for the wrestlers, so I will withhold any further criticism.
The Usos vs. The Dudleys
Background: The Dudleys had a bumpy run after their return to WWE, which led to an edgier, heelish turn following their losses to New Day. The vowed to stop using tables to punish their fans, but have used them repeatedly in underhanded ways. Meanwhile, the Usos came back from injury and also came up short against New Day, which set them on a second-tier tag team collision course.
Analysis: The Usos have a reputation of being bland and repetitive, but it’s hard to argue with their resume of high quality PPV matches. The Dudleys have not been as consistent in their most recent run in WWE. On the other hand, they have a fantastic history, especially at Wrestlemania, and they have certainly been more interesting since their heel turn.
Prediction: There are arguments to be made each way. The Usos are younger and traditional booking logic would say that they have more to gain by beating the veterans. Conversely, if the Dudleys are going to click on this run, it needs to start now. A heelish win over a team as established as the Usos in a way that gets them some real heat could get there. We know that Bubba Dudley has high-end heel heat in him from his time in TNA. It seems like this is the time to see if he can get that in WWE.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Background: In the first year of The Andre, WWE spent weeks making promo packages and doing interviews to promote the prestige of the event. It was nice to have a fitting tribute to a wrestler who meant so much to the development of the company, and creating credibility for the event would allow subsequent winners to get legitimacy from association with it. Cesaro’s win felt like a big deal, even though the follow-up was a disappointment. Year two saw less attention in the build-up, a less impressive field, and a less meaningful win for Big Show. This year, the build for the battle royal has almost reverted to a comedy routine featuring the Social Outcasts.
Analysis: As it has been in the past, The Andre will almost certainly take place on the pre-show and WWE has already announced that the field has narrowed from 30 to 20 wrestlers (although that has more to do with this year’s plague of injuries). The only formally announced participants are Big Show, Kane, and the Social Outcasts. For the last two years, it felt like the notion of squeezing more guys on the card has been a fringe benefit to the event. This year, it feels like that quality is the sole reason for its existence.
Prediction: With the rumored rivalry between Brock Lesnar and the Wyatt Family on hiatus, it appears likely that The Andre will revolve around the Wyatts. Whether that means that Bray takes the trophy or Braun Strowman is the last man standing is mostly irrelevant. It would be surprising if this match ended with anyone else as the winner.