WrestleMania 31, as of this writing, is now just a number of hours from getting underway tonight (Sun., Mar. 29, 2015) at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Over the past week, we've been presenting our predictions for every match on the card to get you good and ready for the big event.
Now, we'll simply present them all here in this one post for reference. Enjoy the show tonight!
WRESTLEMANIA 31 PREDICTIONS
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
The General: WWE badly wants Brock Lesnar to sign a new contract for a couple more years of service but if he did so would that change the outcome of this match? When they faced the same backlash this year as they did last year with Daniel Bryan, they stayed the course and waited for television crowds to make like house show audiences. That has yet to happen, at least to enough of a degree to feel comfortable with. Plus, WrestleMania and the Raw the night after will make for one hell of an atmosphere if they decide they don't want a babyface Reigns as champion. But if Lesnar re-signs and retains, what next for Roman? There are a million variables at play here but the safest bet appears to be that Vince McMahon will stand by his guns and usher in a new era with Reigns as the top dog.
Pick: Roman Reigns
Sean Rueter: I hate my life. Or I must, according to The Big Dog, since I am not in his camp come Sunday night. And it's not because I don't think he's "ready", whatever that means. He's great. Great look, plenty of impressive looking moves, knows how to sell and melts my panties with his growl. But he's not interesting. You know who's interesting? That's right, it's that crazy looking slab of Viking-American over there. Vince knows this, and he's not going to let Dana White promote any cards with Brock Lesnar and CM Punk on them (even ones where Phil Brooks is just guest announcing). The crowd will likely be split for the match, which eliminates the usual desire to not have a heel stand tall at the end of 'Mania. And Roman can be made interesting with a loss like the one that Rocky Balboa took to Apollo Creed in their first bout, or Steve Austin's defeat at the 13th edition of this event. By the time Reigns does beat him down the road, you might have the rest of the audience back on his side.
Pick: Brock Lesnar
Keith Harris: Presuming that Brock Lesnar doesn't re-sign with WWE between now and WrestleMania, there is only one possible finish. Roman goes over clean in the middle of the ring. Even if Lesnar recommits, WWE would run the risk of Reigns being badly damaged as a draw by choking at the finishing line of his sprint to become champion if they went with the swerve finish of Lesnar retaining the gold. Moreover, it's time for Lesnar to drop the strap regardless, as it doesn't make sense for WWE to keep their top title on ice for several months longer with no obvious big money program on the horizon for the Beast Incarnate should he return in the summer.
Pick: Roman Reigns
Cain A. Knight: There are so many fascinating elements in play for this match. Can these two guys deliver a high quality match? Will the crowd only reject Roman Reigns, or will they reject both men like at Wrestlemania 20 with Lesnar and Goldberg? How many spears will it take to conquer the beast who withstood countless Attitude Adjustments and Curb Stomps? Will Rollins cash-in? Is Reigns turning heel and aligning with Heyman? Will Undertaker cost Lesnar the match? Is this match even guaranteed to main event the show, or will WWE be so worried about the crowd shitting on it to such an extreme degree that they opt to close the show with the universally loved Sting against the universally hated Triple H? That's an awful lot of questions, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what the answers end up being. WrestleMania 31 is all about making Roman Reigns look like a big star, not Seth Rollins, so I would be shocked if Rollins succesfully cashes in on this night. As far as a potential Roman heel turn is concerned, I think that's the best way to save Roman Reigns from disaster in the coming months, and I hope WWE pulls the trigger on that decision. He could really use Heyman's help going forward, and Reigns could also benefit from a lengthy heel run to build up his credibility in the eyes of the fans before WWE eventually turns him into the next top babyface. Cena and Bryan have enough star power to carry the babyface side for a while. In fact, Cena and Bryan could really play a major role in helping a heel Reigns get over in a big way. Babyface Reigns versus heel Sheamus, Rollins or Wyatt just isn't that big of an attraction right now to be headlining shows going forward. But heel Reigns versus babyface Ambrose, Cena, or Bryan could provide some very compelling television for the remainder of the year. If Roman Reigns wins this match squeaky clean with no heel turn, then WWE is just asking for trouble.
Pick: Roman Reigns
Joshua Gagnon: I'm beyond pumped for this match. With his most important match to date -- and to quiet the haters -- look for Reigns to put everything he has in to this one. From a match-up standpoint, it's tough to see exactly how he will win. Reigns does not have a size, power, or speed advantage, so pure heart, and maybe some luck -- Paul Heyman betrayal? -- will be his only chance. If Brock decides to stay, he's a special talent that could hold the title untilWrestleMania 32.
Pick: Brock Lesnar
Jason Martin: In recent weeks, Vince McMahon has engaged in what can only be described as "NFL Owner days before the Draft." All of a sudden, reports have emerged that Triple H is pushing for Lesnar to retain the Championship, for John Cena to defeat Rusev, and for Daniel Bryan to become Intercontinental Champion, all at WrestleMania. Look, that may well be true, and I'm not against any of those decisions overall. Rusev doesn't need to be undefeated to be special; he just needs to be BOOKED WELL. That statement applies to every single person on the WWE roster, the NXT roster, the ROH roster, the New Japan roster, and the roster at that shitbox Indy fed that puts up cardboard posters for shows at your local VFW or National Guard Armory. But, with all that said and granted, Vince McMahon long ago made his choice. Roman Reigns was set to be "The Guy" at WrestleMania 31. The entirety of the Brock Lesnar push, from crushing Big Show to the end of the Streak to the dismantling of John Cena and later of Seth Rollins was all for one end: To make him the most dominant heel since Andre the Giant, so that Vince's handpicked Samoan prince could end the Beast's reign of terror and officially usher in a new era. Vince McMahon's daydreams have been filled with the final shot of WrestleMania, a triumphant Roman Reigns holding up the Championship and Brock Lesnar nowhere in sight. In a perfect world, Brock would hold the title until 2020, until HIS successor was found, but we don't live in that world. Michael Cole will say, after Reigns pins Lesnar following a brutal, physical, likely solid match (better than most expect anyway), "Roman...Reigns, at WrestleMania!" Will Seth cash in after the win? He could, but I say no chance in hell, evoking the man who will make that decision. The show will fade with Roman Reigns standing tall. Is it what should happen? That's for everyone to decide for him or herself. But it's what's going to happen. Roman Reigns - 1-2-3.
Pick: Roman Reigns
Triple H vs. Sting
The General: If Sting represents WCW resurrected (and he can say that's not the case in a promo, but let's be real, this is WWE), and Triple H is the flag bearer for WWE, are we honestly expecting Triple H to do the job here? Is that a victory Vince McMahon is willing to give away? This company is still run by the same man who booked the invasion back in 2001. You know, the same invasion that kept Sting from signing with this company for the past 14 years because he was scared to death they would destroy his character by booking him the way they booked every other "star" from WCW who was brought in to go up against the then WWF. Remember DDP stalking Undertaker's wife and then never getting in any offense in his the ensuing matches? I just can't imagine a creative meeting on this match ending with the decision being made to put the WCW star over the WWE star. Plus, this could be Sting's final match and tradition dictates he does the job for the guy who will be around to work matches in the future. It's going to break my heart, but I can't see the Stinger winning here.
Pick: Triple H
Sean Rueter: The Game is getting to the point Chris Jericho has reached where we're going to start wondering what a win over him "means", but at least Hunter's losses are to Daniel Bryan and not Fandango. That's a problem for another day, however, because a win here would be as wrong as Kevin Nash headlining the Hall of Fame ceremony over the Macho Man. I remain confused by all the WCW talk Haitch threw at us in the run-up to this one, but since they never tied any kind of stakes to that, it's just a bunch of noise that we'll all forget about in time. What we won't forget about is the outcome of this showdown of legends. And I can't believe that even WWE wants to waste a marketing tool like the Stinger by having him lose his initial and possibly only match in the company, or that Steve Borden would finally break down and sign with Vince McMahon to eat a loss at Mania.
Keith Harris: On a card that desperately needs genuine feel good moments, Sting by all rights should win. If there's more than one match left in his tank, then a victory keeps him strong for future business. But it's rare for WWE to book an outsider like that. I mean this is the company that booked Brock Lesnar to lose his first match back in the promotion, because Vince McMahon had to prove that his top guy could beat UFC's top guy! Old habits die hard, so I find it very difficult to believe that when push comes to shove Vince McMahon will have a WCW icon come out on top in a feud which has taken a lot of inspiration from WWE Monday Night War talking points. Plus, if there's no plans in place for Sting to wrestle again after WrestleMania, WWE's booking MO dictates that he loses to the guy who will still be around next year.
Pick: Triple H
Cain A. Knight: WWE is lying to you when they claim that Triple H versus Sting is a dream match that's been 15 years in the making. My wrestling fandom was at its peak during the Attitude Era, and Triple H versus Sting was never a match that I was dying to witness one day. Fast forward the clock 15 years and I still have very little interest in this match. Triple H simply did not play a major role in putting WCW out of business, and so the story for this match doesn't work. Furthermore, WCW isn't a hot topic anymore and WWE needs to do better than revolve an entire storyline around a company that died nearly 15 years ago. Nobody cares about WCW anymore, especially WWE's revisionist history of WCW. With that rant out of the way, WWE has done well in presenting Sting as major star thus far, with the exception of that one awful Black Scorpion audio piece. Sting has popped up in major moments and has thwarted Triple H just about every time. And that trend should continue at WrestleMania 31 because this is Sting's first match in WWE, and because Triple H doesn't need to win another match ever again. Triple H hasn't won a match in nearly two years, but the last time he won it was putting himself over Brock F'N Lesnar at WrestleMania. So yeah, screw this idea that Triple H needs a win to look strong. Sting is the one who needs this win, and I hope WWE does the right thing and doesn't make a mockery of Sting's return by booking it otherwise.
Joshua Gagnon: If this feud is somehow based on WWE vs. WCW, WWE isn't going to lose.
Pick: Triple H
Jason Martin: Is Sting/H a dream match? Maybe. But it's not THE dream match, because that would require the Undertaker playing the role of Hunter Hearst Helmsley. I spell out his name because the story of this match, though at times sloppily delivered, begins with an unhappy, underutilized Paul Levesque departing WCW, taking less money for a fresh start up north. H claims he was one of the largest reasons for WCW's demise, forgetting that internal forces, Steve Austin, The Rock, and arguably, Undertaker and Mick Foley, were larger reasons, not to mention the incredible rise of the tag division and the successful repurposing of WCW defectors. The reasons are irrelevant. The match has one indisputable thing going for it that can't be changed. We, as the wrestling world, finally get to see Sting in a WWE ring in an honest to God bell-to-bell "match." Why use quotes around that word? Simple. In no way should this resemble a wrestling match, both because of age and in-ring storytelling strength and because this kind of feud, with one man committed to avenging injustice while the other engages in constant abuses of power, should be a fight. It should leave the ring, it should head up the ramp, and it should have its share of bells and whistles. Expect massive interference. A close friend of mine in the media suggested former longtime, important WCW employees who now work for Vince, show up for Sting. That led me to the fantasy of reigniting the Invasion angle. Trust me, we're willing to forget 2001. Just do it right. That's wishful thinking, but what seems overly clear is Sting wins this match. He has to leave on top, and H knows it most of all, because the backlash that would come of luring Sting to WWE only to beat him would be tremendously undesirable. They've scripted it meticulously, both men are terrific performers, big-stage performers, and they want to make this work. It will. This will be fun as hell, and Sting will have his hand raised.
Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
The General: The idea that Undertaker could start a WrestleMania losing streak here is too far fetched for me. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe Wyatt should go over. The mystique is gone. Brock Lesnar took whatever "The Phenom" had left and any magic that existed while the streak was still alive has completely dissipated. Now, the idea should be about getting to Undertaker's retirement. He wins here because I just can't see Vince McMahon booking him to lose, especially if "The Deadman" wants his last ride to come in Dallas at WrestleMania 32.
Sean Rueter: Say what you will about the build to this show, and I haven't been complimentary of it, but at least there's suspense about the outcomes - more so than last year (although, boy, were we all wrong about The Dead Man's match...I'm pretty sure we all were talking about how booking him against Lesnar was turning Brock into an expensive joke. Whoops). Wouldn't be surprised to see this one go either way. My gut tells me they won't have Taker lose twice in a row, but I wouldn't put it past them. Falling again would set him up for redemption next year as a farewell. But will Mark Calloway make it to next year, and if he does, will the locker room leader insist on going out on his back? Wyatt should be fine either way - he's torn through everyone since leaving John Cena's atmosphere, and is young enough that becoming one of the many to fall to The Phenom at 'Mania wouldn't be much of a setback. Oh well, old habits die hard, and I've been writing this guys name down in this spot for many a year.
Keith Harris: I'd be really surprised if WWE risked damaging The Undertaker's mystique further by having him lose two years on the trot, even though it would have the long term benefit of putting over a star who could be headlining WrestleManias for many years to come. Got to keep Undertaker strong for Cowboys Stadium next year!
Cain A. Knight: Bray Wyatt is going to lose this match. The whole point of this WrestleMania card is to make Roman Reigns look like a mega star by conquering the invincible Brock Lesnar. A major reason why Brock Lesnar is untouchable right now is because he is the only guy who was talented enough to conquer The Undertaker at WrestleMania over the last two decades. If Bray Wyatt then also defeats Undertaker just one year later, that destroys the uniqueness of Lesnar's accomplishment, and there's just no way that's going to happen before Lesnar puts over Roman Reigns as the next top guy. If that reasoning seems like over-analysis, then consider which stars will be the top draws for WrestleMania 32 in Dallas. WWE wants to sell out that huge stadium, and they'll rely way more on Undertaker's star power to accomplish that goal than Bray Wyatt. So Bray Wyatt triumphing at WrestleMania 31 and retiring the Undertaker for good just isn't going to happen. But regardless of whether Bray wins or loses here, he'll probably just end up awkwardly forced into a comedy undercard ladder match at next year's WrestleMania 32 anyway
Joshua Gagnon: Bray has been carrying this feud on his own, but unfortunately he's not going to get the big win atWrestleMania. With the streak over, Undertaker could really use a win here to build momentum to his next, and most likely, last WrestleMania.
Jason Martin: I will be in the minority here, and this may be because I'm using logic rather than the obvious. I don't know what an Undertaker victory would mean, other than an Undertaker victory. The Streak ended, so what's really left here? In my mind, the right thing, and it strikes me as a very Taker thing, something he'd understand. The only thing that remains is to officially pass the torch of his character, of his aura, of that spot, to Bray Wyatt. That can't happen without a loss, unless Wyatt finishes Taker's career in the afterbirth, which doesn't make sense. The general consensus is that Undertaker wins and it doesn't really hurt Bray Wyatt. Last year, the thought was Bray would beat John Cena, and he didn't, even though that should have been a DQ win after Cena used the chair. It was the original plan, changed when the Taker decision was made. The Cena program damaged Bray, the Jericho program flopped, and the Ambrose program arguably hurt both men. Bray right now is on the precipice of either being pushed toward the main event or solidified as a mid-carder, potentially forever. Last year's loss to Brock was Taker doing the right thing for the future of the top of the card. This year's loss would be the first-ever "passing of the urn" to his immediate successor. Bray Wyatt, an amalgam of Taker and Mankind, whose promos have become monotonous, needs a shot in the arm. If Harper and Rowan come out to assist him, I'll be pleased. That needs to happen. Maybe they lay Taker out after the match and that's the passing of the urn. I know they'd love to have him and Sting end their careers together in Texas next year, but my head tells me this will be the final match of Undertaker's Hall of Fame, epic, iconic, one-of-a-kind career. Damn...as I've written this, I've realized something. I'm wrong. Let it be said that I believed Bray Wyatt was the right choice to go over, but that I couldn't predict it. Bray doesn't seem to fit the company mold right now atop the card. I hope to be wrong. A second thing I hope to be wrong about: This will not be a good match.
John Cena vs. Rusev
The General: We were in this exact same position last year except "Rusev" was "Bray Wyatt." There were exactly zero good reasons you could come up with for Cena to win that match and there are exactly zero for this match. Cena won last year despite that fact, and he'll do the same this year.
Pick: John Cena
Sean Rueter: For my full "hot take" on this one, check out the last Like a House Afire. Shameless plug aside, I am expecting a slobberknocker that ends in LOLMURICAWINS. John goes on to main event house shows with the red, white and blue belt for a while and Rusev better get placed in another high profile program immediately. Otherwise, I retract my "hot take".
Pick: John Cena
Keith Harris: Although having Rusev beat John Cena twice in a row to create a super strong challenger for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion after WrestleMania (presumably Roman Reigns) is a smart idea, there seems an air of inevitability that the American patriot will stand tall in their rematch. After all, Rocky Balboa didn't lose to Ivan Drago! The fact that they put over Cena last year for no good reason, suggests that it will happen here too.
Pick: John Cena
Cain A. Knight: John Cena has bored me for years now, and nothing has changed on that front heading in to Wrestlemania 31. His story lines are all the same, his character never changes, and WWE is running out of heels to feed to him. He's as stale and predictable as it gets. I don't understand why WWE thinks John Cena is the right guy to end Rusev's undefeated streak. John Cena just doesn't need that notch on his belt, but I guess this is Cena's consolation prize for coming out of the three Lesnar matches without any championship gold. I expect these two guys to have a pretty good match but we all know this is sadly ending with CenaWinsLOL. I think I would actually prefer that Rusev wins after Lana throws powder in Cena's eyes, causing Hulk Hogan to come out and win an impromptu match for the United States Championship against the evil foreigner. That's how bored I am of John Cena.
Pick: John Cena
Joshua Gagnon: Inevitability, and hopefully, reverse psychology.
Pick: John Cena
Jason Martin: Rusev took a few dents thanks to shoddy angles and a poor choice of aligning him with Stephanie and Triple H for the Survivor Series tag match. He's been put back together fairly well since then, though the Fast Lane finish wasn't particularly good. He's undefeated, which does count, though he will become far more compelling once he loses, because at that point every big match he has becomes one that could go either way. We love dynasties, but we love them even more when we know the ruler can be defeated. The Yankees are fun to hate, but beating them and taking them down a peg...works. The Patriots fit into that category, along with any number of others. Any high-midcarder or even some main eventers that would face Rusev, up until WrestleMania, we pretty much knew the Bulga-Russian would leave victorious. I've wavered on this match, because there's value in Cena failing twice, but this is WrestleMania, and this is John Effing Cena we're talking about. I expect another good match, a futile attempt at interference from Lana, and a win for Cena, most likely a three count, not a tap out. The former would hurt much less than the latter, mainly thanks to the UFC culture of today, where giving up looks weak and pinned looks beaten on that one night after a hellacious battle. Could Rusev pass out? Sure. That wouldn't be the satisfying conclusion though, and ordinarily, WrestleMania is there as the annual reward to the fans, where most finishes actually work and are designed to leave fans in a positive mood. Bret/Austin was a much different animal, because of the plan after that finish and the pair involved. That isn't the case here. Expect the American flag to drop from the usual Russian flag apparatus as Cena holds up the United States Championship. Camera cuts to a wide shot, probably some fireworks. It should be a solid segment. Regardless of your feelings, Cena is one of the best big-stage performers in company history. He always brings it when the lights are brightest. He'll also make Rusev look good in the process. This won't be a burial, not by any means.
Pick: John Cena
Intercontinental championship ladder match
(Bad News Barrett vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan)
The General: The fan in me wants to overlook the racially problematic aspects of R-Truth's presentation on screen and root for the guy to win simply because he's made the most of what he's been given to work with. He's been arguably the most consistently entertaining of anyone in this match outside the ring. He's done next to no actual wrestling inside it too, which would make it that much sweeter if he got in there and turned in the performance of a lifetime. I don't think that's what is going to happen, however. This feels a whole lot more like a perfect set up for Bad News Barrett to retain the strap after an insane match that everyone will love no matter the finish. Looking up and down the card, the heels are going to have to win somewhere and this match has the right make up for exactly that.
Pick: Bad News Barrett
Sean Rueter: A case could be made for any of the seven men in the match. Sure, the case for R-Truth would be outlandish, but stranger things have happened...he did main event Survivor Series against John Cena and The Rock, for crying out loud. The real question is do you take Daniel Bryan or the field? And though I think Ambrose needs another title run to progress, as does Cody in his latest gimmick, and Barrett deserves a run where he's booked like less of a chump, and if they're never going to push Dolph to main event level he should be a mainstay of this scene, and Luke Harper is the most under-utilized guy in the company...my picks are banking heavily on the rumor that they've decided to elevate the secondary titles. And you don't do that with the field.
Pick: Daniel Bryan
Keith Harris: With WWE clearly making a concerted effort to bring some prestige back to their secondary championships, I think we can completely rule out jokesters like Stardust and R-Truth from climbing up and grabbing the brass ring. Luke Harper is very talented, but WWE doesn't seem to know what to do with him. Having won the title three times last year, another reign for Dolph Ziggler at this present moment seems a bit pointless. Bad News Barrett has been booked like such a chump going into the match that usually he would retain, but would WWE knowingly risk the fans souring on the rest of the show by failing to put over one of their bigger favourites in Daniel Bryan or Dean Ambrose? Or would Vince get off on having Bryan come up short once again in front of the type of rebellious hardcore audience that ruined the Royal Rumble? I'm leaning towards Bryan winning as I doubt they'd make the same mistake twice and keeping him firmly placed in the Intercontinental mix would ensure that fans won't get ideas above his station ever again, but I wouldn't be surprised if they go with the youth of Ambrose or the swerve of BNB instead.
Pick: Daniel Bryan
Cain A. Knight: Count me among the group that is shaking their heads about the booking of Bryan and Ambrose on this card. These two guys clearly belong in the handful of important matches at WrestleMania 31, yet they are stuck in this "creative has nothing for you" undercard comedy angle. I don't really buy the argument that Bryan's return was too late for WWE to modify their WrestleMania plans, as I'm sure WWE would easily find a way to work John Cena into an important match if he came back from an injury in early January. And just as perplexing is why WWE decided to ignore how of hot of an asset Dean Ambrose was back in the Fall. For whatever reason they decided to transform him from an out of control ass kicker into a dumbed-down cartoon character who they must remind you is crazy with every other word on commentary. Oh and Daniel Bryan is a turd. Right, because that's the proper way to portray a legit top star. Anyway, this match is going to be a fun spot fest and will probably steal the show, but there is no instant credibility that will come to the title if Bryan wins. That will require at least a year of solid long-term booking, and WWE's track record says that just isn't happening.
Pick: Daniel Bryan
Joshua Gagnon: My initial thought was to pick Bryan, but going to go with Dean Ambrose, instead. He's had a solid post-Shield run, and I think it's fair to say he's due for a PPV win. While the IC Title was in his possession, his promos were white hot, and I hope he gets to run with it after WrestleMania.
Pick: Dean Ambrose
Jason Martin: Stealing the title was fun until I realized that was the entire plan to sell this match and add participants. At that moment, I was horrified. This is the freaking Intercontinental Championship, held by Shawn, by Macho, by Perfect, by Razor, by HHH, by Rocky, by Stone Cold. Wait a second; this is the freaking Intercontinental Championship, which has meant precisely dick to anyone within WWE throughout much of the last decade. Wade Barrett has lost every match on earth since winning the thing, which would be infuriating if not for the fact that it's sadly par for the course. The match itself will likely steal the show and the talent within the bout is nothing short of extraordinary. I felt until just a few days ago that it would be Dean Ambrose's night, that he's the guy they would want to hold the title, but once you stop and think, it would be almost unthinkable that WWE would troll the fans with Daniel Bryan and not put him over for the Championship. They can't be that out of touch. While I don't think the world would fall apart if Dolph or Dean won it, Daniel Bryan shouldn't be in it unless he's booked to win it. While I can't subscribe to the Lesnar reports, I do believe H might think Daniel Bryan as IC Champion could make it matter. It could also all be a smokescreen, a six week "make the IC Title look important so the match has interest at WM" idea. If that were true, however, why would they do so many stupid things in the lead-up to the match itself, devaluing the hell out of the Championship? The spots will be crazy, the match will be dramatic, and hopefully we'll see a new feud spin-off from the finish, but look, Daniel Bryan is in the match. How the heck does he not win it?
Pick: Daniel Bryan
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
The General: You have to think that while they've gone back and forth, Rollins is likely moving up to the main event immediately following WrestleMania to feud with new champion Roman Reigns, assuming Brock Lesnar moves on to UFC. Even if Brock retains the title and sticks around, he could just disappear until SummerSlam, leaving Reigns in need of a follow up program. Seth also needs a big victory after doing so many jobs over the past few months, Money in the Bank briefcase or not.
Pick: Seth Rollins
Sean Rueter: On the one hand, we have the "briefcase holder who jobs a lot right before he cashes in and becomes champ" theory. On the other hand, previous briefcase holders haven't been Seth Rollins. I definitely don't think Seth is cashing in to close out 'Mania - that would be too much of a heel move and a bit hard to sell to the casuals at home watching a former football player and MMA champion duke it out at the end of the night. This is a feud that a guy who calls himself the Future and who The Authority has dubbed the Face of WWE should win, and The Viper already had his moments along the way (including the type of extended beatdowns Bryan took from The Authority last year to set up his big wins). Time to do what's best for business, Randy.
Pick: Seth Rollins
Keith Harris: Even though Rollins has fallen victim to the curse of the Money In The Bank briefcase of late, namely losing every major match he's in because he's eventually probably going to get the WWE title, I have a sneaky feeling he'll win here to keep the program with Orton strong going into Extreme Rules where The Viper will get his revenge.
Pick: Seth Rollins
Cain A. Knight: I think WWE whiffed big time when they brought Orton back and had him immediately join back up with The Authority, and then made Seth Rollins the only person gullible enough to believe Orton was being genuine. What made Randy so exciting back in November is that he was a loose cannon and would just explode out of nowhere to victimize Rollins and his cronies. I think the reason WWE went with the more boring route this time is that they desperately needed to fill 3 hours of television every Monday night, and so they chose the story that would be easier to drag out for five weeks. Randy Orton ultimately flipped off Rollins and beat the living crap out of him a few weeks ago on Raw, and that seemed like the climax of the feud. Therefore I'm not really sure what's left to be excited about here now, and I don't think it makes sense for Orton to win considering that he already got his revenge. These guys will probably put on a good match, but it seems to me like Bryan or Ambrose would make a much more interesting opponents for Rollins on this show than Orton. But unfortunately if you build a sports entertainer from the ground up, you don't get Dean Ambrose or Daniel Bryan.
Pick: Seth Rollins
Joshua Gagnon: The Authority has looked awful this entire feud, so why change up things now? The winner of this match could give a clue to what happens later. Rollins could lose this one, only to do bigger things later on in the night.
Pick: Randy Orton
Jason Martin: I think this has the potential to be the sleeper of the show, because the angle has sucked so many eggs over the past month. Why do we need this match after we saw Orton put Rollins through a table with the RKO? Why do we need it after Randy got his revenge? There's no title on the line and the briefcase isn't involved; it's just a grudge match. But, Rollins could be the best pure professional wrestler, along with Bryan, in the company. Lesnar is the biggest and most unique and important attraction, but Seth is HBK in 1993, maybe even 1994. Orton, despite his propensity to turn into walking milquetoast, is someone I've always been a big fan of in the ring. He knows how to tell a story, as his match with Jericho in September proved. What we have are two talented hands in a singles match on the grandest stage of the year, both wanting to stand out, knowing their match has ZERO stakes. J&J Security will take a beating, maybe Show and/or Kane, and it should be really good. I see no real reason for Orton to win, because Rollins seemingly has to slide into contention against Reigns (or for that matter, Lesnar). If Seth was going to cash in, I'd say Orton wins, because that would make his re-emergence seem less likely, plus would offer a second contender in Orton. I don't expect the cash in, so the right decision on a show that, as always, will be dominated by baby faces and fan favorites, is to put over the Future. The beating he took two weeks ago makes it far more obvious.
Pick: Seth Rollins
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The General: If they are, in fact, bringing Sheamus back in this spot how silly would it be to have him lose? And how much more sense would it make to have him win? I'm going to pick with my heart, though, and go with Damien Mizdow last eliminating The Miz to a thunderous ovation from Santa Clara.
Pick: Damien Mizdow
Sean Rueter: Or, some big old guys and a bunch of jobbers. I only have two wishes for this match. (1) That whoever the NXT entrant ends up being is booked respectably - and that either means as the winner, or the way Rusev was booked in the '14 Rumble (like a big deal and requiring a group effort to eliminate him). (2) That AXELMANIA RUNS WILD, brotherdudejack!
Pick: Curtis Axel
Keith Harris: My heart says Damien Mizdow should toss out The Miz to win the trophy and complete their breakup angle, but my head says that WWE would be reluctant to give a comedy character such a big victory on their grandest platform. Given all the vignettes hyping the return of the Celtic Warrior for the past couple of months, I think he'll get the nod.
Cain A. Knight: This match should just be canceled or put on the pre-show. WWE showed how pointless this one is when they had Kane and Mark Henry host a preview of this match on a recent Raw and they proceeded to eliminate all the jobbers in less than thirty seconds. They even included an over the top rope elimination of Curtis Axel in that segment, which is a spot that could have been saved for WrestleMania. So we really don't need to see that same 30 second sequence from Raw drag on for about 8 minutes at Wrestlemania 31 when it is going to clearly be a giant waste of the audience's time. This thing is so meaningless that even Kofi probably won't be in it, because it just isn't worth the time to come up with a fun Kofi elimination tease for a match that is full of so many inconsequential wrestlers. The Royal Rumble already showed us that one thing we definitely don't need to see is Big Show and Kane just tossing helpless dudes out of the ring, but it looks like they are going to subject us to that boredom yet again. There's really only one thing worth looking forward to here, and that's Damien Mizdow finally standing up for himself and physically attacking the Miz. Mizdow should really be the winner of this match, but I think WWE will give it to either Ryback or a returning Sheamus.
Joshua Gagnon: The battle royal is a great way to showcase someone in the mid-card. Last year's winner, Cesaro, was a worthy pick, as he was already over with the WWE Universe. I will stick with that same train of thought and go with one of the most over individuals at the moment, Damien Mizdow. It's the perfect way to start his in-ring feud with Miz.
Pick: Damien Mizdow
Jason Martin: After watching last Monday's version of this match, I have no interest in watching it, not that I had much before that horrendous segment. However, there are a few things that will almost assuredly happen that will at least make it newsworthy. ONE: Mizdow eliminates Miz to the biggest pop of the entire match. They've pretty much broken up and the last few weeks have not been handled well creatively, but this is the time Sandow gets his due. TWO: Show and Kane get into it and either one throws the other out and the one on the floor pulls the one in the ring out...or they argue and someone dumps both of them. The point is neither of them wins. No one cares. THREE: Sheamus returns. Why would we see so many sizzle videos in the weeks prior to WrestleMania if the plan were to use him after the big day? Makes no sense at all. Sure, he could show up on the post-Mania RAW, but that would make my prediction impossible. He comes back strong and gets put over "big" in a match that maybe should mean something, but we already know based on 2014 that it absolutely won't.
Paige & AJ Lee vs. Nikki & Brie Bella
The General: Someone is turning on someone else in this match, I just can't decide who it will be. We've seen each of the four feuding against each other in some form or another and I'm not sure anyone wants to see another Bella feud. Then again, do we really want to go back to the Paige-AJ well? Perhaps the Bella twins will emerge victorious and it will represent a blow off of sorts for this entire thing, a system reset for the Divas division moving forward.
Pick: Nikki & Brie Bella
Sean Rueter: This seems to me like pretty basic WWE-style, WrestleMania booking should apply. The belt isn't on the line, the heel champ and her lackey have been bullying one of the good girls for a while prompting her old rival and the closest the Divas division has had to a main event act to return and help her get revenge. In fact, I'd be surprised if Paige pinning or submitting Brie isn't the exact finish.
Pick: The Legion of Womb
Keith Harris: It's a WrestleMania tradition: a meaningless Divas match that will be lucky to get 7 minutes! They really haven't given the ladies much of a chance here, as who wins doesn't really matter. I guess the Bellas win, as the frenemies won't be able to stay on the same page.
Pick: Bella Twins
Cain A. Knight: The divas don't have much of a chance to get significant time on this card. I'm glad that WWE decided to do a more focused divas story heading into WrestleMania 31 rather than repeat last year's 14-diva invitational concept just to get everyone on the card. AJ, Paige, and the Bella twins all have entertaining characters, and it's really easy to root for the heroines and boo the villains in this one. I hope AJ and Paige can come up with an innovative double-team finishing move to wipe that condescending smirk off the face of the Bella twins.
Pick: Paige & AJ Lee
Joshua Gagnon: These four have all feuded with each other, so I'm not exactly sure where things can go from here without becoming incredibly stale. To help shake things up, I'm thinking this is a great spot for Charlotte to debut. Starting out as a heel, I could see her helping The Bella Twins get the win.
Pick: Bella Twins
Jason Martin: Give Divas a Chance? Well, one of the three kind of worked. The long Nikki/AJ match wasn't good, the Summer/AJ match was atrocious, and the Nikki/Paige match was decent. Here, the title isn't on the line, but four Divas are better than two when the Championship means nothing. The Bellas haven't lost anything important in ages, so they probably lose here, unless there's another heel turn. I don't think there will be. Fans get what they want. Nikki still has the title, and with it not being on the line, it makes less than no sense for her to win a match. I'm much more interested in whether or not Charlotte shows up on Monday night than I am in the tag match. However, this should be absolutely fine in the ring. Nikki has improved, and though she isn't up to the level of most NXT women, she's not phoning it in...they will work hard to achieve respect. That mindset is sad, but it's the current WWE reality.
Pick: Paige & AJ Lee
Tag team fatal four way match
The General: FACT!
Pick: The Brass Ring Club
Sean Rueter: The match on the show with the least build is ironically the one I'm the most emotionally invested in...I just hope my new shirt gets here in time for the pre-show.
Pick: The Swinging Cats
Keith Harris: With an extended two hour pre-game show, this match should get time and be a crowd pleasing opener, just like last year's four team elimination affair, but have little by the way of storyline advancement. With Los Matadores being perennial underachievers, The New Day being a creative flop and Jey Uso being injured, the silky smooth tandem of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd should be heavily favoured to retain and rightfully so.
Pick: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd
Cain A. Knight: This match is really missing something if The Usos can't compete. The New Day is an awful gimmick and they should just get rid of it as soon as they can. I cringe every time I see Big E putting his all into this gimmick when he deserves so much better than this. Then there are Los Matadores, who WWE tries to dust off once a year for a WrestleMania pre-show tag team match. And not surprisingly, they have no heat because they have been largely invisible for the last year. El Torito will always be entertaining to watch, but that just isn't enough to make it worth caring about this team. Well at least this means that Cesaro and Kidd will probably retain the championships after a decent match.
Pick: The Brass Ring Club
Joshua Gagnon: For me, the tag division is in a weird place right now, as I find it difficult to care much about any of the teams. The Usos, have been champs long enough, and need to run as challengers for awhile. New Day is just a car wreck, and shouldn't be anywhere near those titles. That just leaves Kidd/Cesaro, so I'll pull for them. At least Cesaro will continue to have a title of some kind. They have great chemistry together and deserve a long run. No, I did not forget about Los Matadores, they are just so lame, I can't even fathom them being tag champs.
Pick: The Brass Ring Club
Jason Martin: Had this just been an Usos-Kidd/Cesaro match given 15 minutes on the big stage, I'd have been excited. Throw Matadores in and throw New Day in and take Usos out and I simply couldn't care less. It'll be fine in the ring, but the crowd will be more dead here that at any other point in the evening, which is a shame, because the Tag Team Champions are a bundle of fun to watch, especially with Nattie doing her thing. Not a chance the titles change hands here. No reason to take them off the heels, because they're ascending in the eyes of the mainstream fan that doesn't see them as big stars...because they're the Champions. That's the general goal of secondary titles, to help elevate someone that needs a boost. Here, despite some horrible booking on television, the obvious answer will be the one chosen. If it turns into some kind of non-title multiple person and multiple team match, probably still the same finish. Either way, this is a complete throwaway on the card.
Pick: The Brass Ring Club