It's one thing to predict the winners and losers at WrestleMania 32, but how about taking a guess at the match order on that card?
WWE has announced 11 different matches for WrestleMania 32:
- Triple H versus Roman Reigns
- Undertaker versus Shane McMahon
- Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose
- Chris Jericho versus AJ Styles
- Charlotte vs Sasha vs Becky
- Intercontinental Championship Ladder match
- New Day versus League of Nations
- Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
- Kalisto versus Ryback
- Usos versus Dudley Boyz
- Total Divas versus BAD and Blonde
WWE's web site has clearly laid out that Kalisto versus Ryback will take place during the first hour of the pre-show. The second hour of the pre-show will include Usos versus Dudley Boyz as well as the Total Divas match.
That leaves the top 8 matches for the main card of WrestleMania 32, as well as a probable in-ring segment featuring The Rock and maybe some other celebrities or past wrestling legends. So there should be either 8 or 9 segments on the main card of WrestleMania 32, depending on how The Rock fits into the puzzle.
Here's my best guess as to how those 8 or 9 segments will be arranged.
The true main event
Predicting this card is trickier than usual because there is a good deal of uncertainty regarding the true main event match. Triple H versus Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship seemed like the obvious choice as of Fastlane 2016. But then Shane McMahon showed up on Raw the next night. The stakes of Shane's match feel way more important, with both control of Raw as well as Undertaker's career hanging in the balance.
I think the arrangement of these matches will ultimately come down to the booking of the finishes. If Undertaker wins, then the status quo is essentially maintained. That probably creates a less exciting ending to WrestleMania 32 compared to Roman Reigns walking out with the championship.
However if Shane McMahon wins, how can anything else on the card really follow that? In this case, it would be strange to see Triple H defending his title in the main event given that Vince has hinted that Triple H and Stephanie will quit if Shane wins.
To further complicate this mess, Shane's match is really hard to make a confident prediction for. My best wild guess is that Undertaker will win, and so for that reason I am slotting Triple H and Roman Reigns into the true main event slot.
Triple main event
Brock Lesnar versus Dean Ambrose joins Undertaker's match and Roman's match as the clear triple main event for WrestleMania 32. These matches have been hyped and promoted way more aggressively than anything else on the card.
But it's not so clear that these three matches will simply be the final three matches of the night.
I looked at some recent WrestleMania events of the last 10 years to see which ones also consisted of 8 or 9 segments, and then to see how they arranged their longest segments.
There were 8 different WrestleMania cards that fit this criteria of having 8 or 9 segments: WrestleMania 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31.
I timed each segment on those shows, including all pre-match entrances and post-match angles or celebrations. In-ring segments like the one with Rock and Rousey from last year were also included in the mix.
Here is how the segments were arranged on each card, with "1" representing the longest segment on the card, and higher numbers like "8" or "9" representing the shortest segments on the card. The left side of each line is the beginning of the card, culminating with the rightmost entry which is the main event segment.
- WM 23: 4-7-5-3-6-2-8-1
- WM 24: 7-5-8-9-2-6-3-4-1
- WM 25: 5-7-4-6-8-1-3-2
- WM 27: 7-5-6-9-4-3-1-8-2
- WM 28: 8-5-7-6-2-4-3-1
- WM 29: 5-7-8-6-4-1-2-3
- WM 30: 5-2-8-6-4-1-7-3
- WM 31: 7-6-1-8-2-5-4-3
Wherever you see a "7" or an "8" sneak into the final 3 entries shows WWE throwing in a filler or cool-down match in between the biggest matches of the night. That clearly happened at WrestleMania 23, 27, and 30.
It's also worth noting that WrestleMania 29 was running into a time crunch and so a group tag team match featuring the Bella Twins, Sandow, Rhodes, and others was abruptly cut from the card as the show progressed. That match likely would have been a cool-down segment before one of the final two main event matches, but it doesn't show up in the above listing because it never happened.
If WrestleMania 29 is disqualified for the cool-down match that was planned but never happened, then WrestleMania 25 is the only one on the list that arranged its three longest matches back-to-back-to-back to end the night. This tells me that WrestleMania 32 will probably throw in one of the lesser matches into the mix towards the end of the card.
My assumption is that the triple main event matches at WrestleMania 32 will rank as the 3 longest segments of the night. You can see in the above list that WrestleMania 30 and 31 each had one of the 3 longest segments of the night take place very early in the card.
The fact that this happened on the two most recent WrestleMania cards makes things extra confusing, as if this may be the start of a new pattern. However those decisions can both be logically explained. In the case of WrestleMania 30, Bryan's match with Triple H happened early in the night because the winner of that match would earn the right to a second match later in the night. In the case of WrestleMania 31, Triple H was essentially the one performing double duty. He had a match with Sting as well as a talking segment with The Rock later in the night. So the match with Sting was placed early in the night.
So unless one of the men in the triple main event of WrestleMania 32 will also be participating in another segment later in the night, I think there's a pretty good chance that all three of those matches will be slotted among the final 5 segments of the night.
Opening the card
Figuring out the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has been a major pain all week long. First it started off on the pre-show, then it was sort of in limbo, and now it's probably on the main card. I'm not really confident about anything when it comes to this match, and I wouldn't be surprised if it is thrown back on to the pre-show.
I'm seeing some speculation that this match may even open the main card. I am skeptical of this idea, because the battle royal is filled with a bunch of unexciting nobodies. It's basically Big Show, Kane, more than a dozen jobbers, and maybe a few Wyatts. In general WWE likes to open their cards with high work rate match or exciting spot fests, and this battle royal doesn't really fit the bill.
Furthermore, WWE is going to need some time to cram all 20 guys into the ring, and the beginning of the show feels like an awkward time to do this. I think it makes more sense for WWE to cut away to one of their lengthy commercials that they run during the middle of the show and use that time to sneak 15 guys into the ring, with perhaps only Big Show, Kane, and the Wyatts getting full blown entrances on camera.
So I'm ruling out the battle royal as the opening match of the night.
Outside of the triple main event, the three most exciting matches of the night seem to be Jericho versus Styles, the IC ladder match, and Charlotte versus Sasha versus Becky. WWE is probably going to carry the first half of the show with all three of these matches in some order, before getting to the main events.
The reason I believe that these three matches are unlikely to be placed in the second half of the card is because I don't think that WWE will want to risk one of these matches turning into a cool-down segment between two of the main event matches. However there is enough fodder in the ladder match where I guess it is possible that match could be sacrificed for that purpose.
Out of that group, I don't think Charlotte's match has a good shot to open the night because I don't think WWE will want to run it in such close proximity to the pre-show divas match, which might take place towards the end of the pre-show.
Furthermore, the first match of the night doesn't ever get one of those dedicated video packages that are used before entrances to hype up a match. I think both Charlotte and Jericho's match have a good chance to receive the dedicated video package treatment.
That leaves the ladder match as the best candidate to open the card, just like it did at WrestleMania 23, 25, and 31. The ladder match also has plenty of entrance time to spread around that WWE can use to introduce all of their international commentary teams, which is something WWE likes to do at the beginning of the show.
Granted the battle royal could also provide enough entrance time to properly introduce each of the commentary teams, but I'm going to stubbornly refuse to believe that WWE would start the show with a meaningless filler match.
After that, it is pretty much a toss-up between Jericho and Charlotte's match as the second segment of the night. I am going to choose Jericho with the assumption that WWE will want to follow up a multi-man ladder match with a standard one-on-one match, rather than another group match.
That leaves the Divas Championship match as the third segment of the night.
The Rock's presence throws a wrench into predicting the order of the segments because he could do anything. Maybe he'll do a bunch of backstage segments and then interfere in the main event. Maybe he'll open the show with a harmless talking segment like he did at WrestleMania 27 or WrestleMania 30. Or perhaps he'll get physical with a celebrity and a WWE talent at some point in the night, like he did last year.
I will go out on a limb here and predict that The Rock will insert himself into the New Day's match somehow, perhaps using that to transition into a longer talking segment in the ring. On the surface this seems absurd because New Day's feud with the League of Nations is booty; if anything it seems like a good candidate for a filler match because nobody cares about the heels and the titles aren't even on the line.
However Dave Meltzer has insisted for weeks that WWE has something major planned for New Day's match. The fact that WWE has stubbornly clung to this feud between New Day and League of Nations even though it is completely heatless makes me think that Meltzer is right; WWE must be sticking with it because something big is planned. If this segment is designed to get New Day over as babyfaces in a huge way, I can't imagine that the main roster debut of an NXT talent or a former New Japan wrestler would accomplish that goal.
Perhaps it is as simple as Rock getting involved as their 4th man in a tag match. He can talk trash, help them squash the heels without taking any bumps whatsoever, and then maybe it leads into a longer talking segment with other legends or celebrities once the heels are squashed and disposed of.
I don't know, I guess it doesn't sound likely on paper, but it's hard to predict what other major thing might be planned for New Day's match. As a result of this guess, I am going with 8 segments for WrestleMania 32 rather than 9 segments, because I think The Rock is essentially going to attach himself to the New Day segment rather than have a standalone in-ring segment for himself.
Putting it all together
So far I have constructed this lineup:
Segment 1: IC Ladder match
Segment 2: Jericho versus Styles
Segment 3: Charlotte versus Sasha versus Becky
Segment 4: ?
Segment 5: ?
Segment 6: ?
Segment 7: ?
Segment 8: Triple H versus Roman Reigns
Brock's match with Ambrose is the least important of the three main event matches, so I think it will go on earlier than the other two main event matches. However, I also don't think that WWE will run Shane's match immediately before Triple H's match without a cool-down segment in-between, as it could leave the main event with an exhausted audience (though Triple H is used to that happening to him at WrestleMania).
However Brock's match is a street fight and we know that Ambrose will be using all kinds of plunder in that one. Shane's match will also probably involve lots of weapons and have a hardcore theme to it, and so I'm not so sure that WWE will want to run those two matches back-to-back either due to their similarities.
The only way all these assumptions can be satisfied on my current card is if I place Brock in Segment 4 and Shane in Segment 6. And so that's exactly what I will do.
The battle royal will act as filler in either Segment 5 or Segment 7. And although I am assuming that The Rock will get involved in New Day's segment, there is a high enough chance that I am wrong about that where I will also slot in New Day's match in the other filler segment between two main event matches. If The Rock doesn't get involved in their tag team match, it transforms right back into a filler match that nobody care about.
I will leave the battle royal for later in the night just in case things run long and WWE needs to cancel the match or severely shorten it. That match really doesn't even need to be on the card anyway.
So here is my final prediction for the match order at WrestleMania 32, along with some guesses on the bell-to-bell match times. The overwhelming majority of past WrestleMania cards include less than 120 minutes of match time, so I am keeping the sum under that number.
Segment 1: IC Ladder match (12 minutes)
Segment 2: Jericho versus Styles (15)
Segment 3: Charlotte versus Sasha versus Becky (13)
Segment 4: Brock Lesnar versus Dean Ambrose (18)
Segment 5: New Day versus League of Nations (9)
Segment 6: Undertaker versus Shane McMahon (20)
Segment 7: Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (8)
Segment 8: Triple H versus Roman Reigns (22)
That's my prediction for the match order at WrestleMania 32. What's yours?