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Predicting the match order at WrestleMania 33

It's one thing to predict the winners and losers at WrestleMania 33, but how about taking a guess at the match order on that card?

WWE has announced 11 different matches for the main card of WrestleMania 33, not counting the kickoff matches featuring a battle royal and the cruiserweight championship.

Here is my subjective view of how important each of these 11 segments rank on the WrestleMania 33 card, ordered from most important to least important.

  1. Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
  2. Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
  3. Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
  4. Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
  5. Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
  6. Cena & Nikki vs. Miz & Maryse
  7. Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
  8. Bayley vs. Sasha vs. Charlotte vs. Nia
  9. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
  10. Raw tag team ladder match
  11. SD women’s championship

It is important to come up with a list like this to get an idea of which matches are going to be placed in the key spots on the card or take up the most time, and which matches might end up in the cool-down spots or be given the least amount of time.

Goldberg and Lesnar are generally presented as the two biggest stars on the show, and they have been the favorite to main event the show for most of the last month.

After that, it gets really difficult trying to rank the next 6 matches, and I think they can essentially be argued in any order. That doesn’t bode well for my chances of making an accurate prediction.

I can squint and see a scenario where maybe the show is actually closed out with Undertaker, Randy Orton, or even Triple H, so I am giving them priority over the others. Jericho or Shane in the main event would be a pretty big surprise. I guess Cena should never be ruled out for that spot, but it seems like a long shot. I don’t think Cena’s story has even closed out any individual episode of SmackDown Live over the last month, so I am ranking it behind Orton and Shane.

Ambrose and Corbin seemed like a complete afterthought on the go-home episode of SmackDown Live, and combining that with the addition of ladders to the Raw tag match really tempts me to flip their spot in the rankings. But Dean Ambrose’s star power and top position on the SmackDown brand throughout the second half of 2016 is still just enough to keep his match above the Raw tag team match.

The SmackDown women barely made the cut to make it onto the main card, so they get the final spot.

Main event

One of the reasons this match order is difficult to predict is because it is very unconventional to have a 5-minute main event match, yet that is a very possible scenario with Goldberg and Lesnar. So perhaps WWE plays it safe and throws Wyatt into that slot, just in case the show is running late and they need to cut into something. It’s going to be really hard to cut out anything from Goldberg’s match.

There’s also a scenario where they want to really hammer the point home about how big of a deal it is that Undertaker loses to Roman Reigns, so maybe those guys get the main event slot.

There are a few possibilities, but I think it makes sense to stray away from Goldberg in the main event. With the show running very long, it’s just not the best idea to have a short main event, and so I’m willing to go with the Dave Meltzer’s claim that Undertaker and Reigns are probably closing out the show.

Opening match

The opening match of the night is usually one of the mid-level attractions with good work rate that doesn’t require a dedicated video package ahead of time to hype it up. Things might be very different on this night though, because the show could begin with a talking segment in the ring from New Day. That means the first match could indeed be one of the bigger matches of the night, that is preceded with a dedicated video package. So don’t be too shocked if you see Owens and Jericho there.

That being said, I am once again going to play it safe and pick something among the least important 4 matches of the night as the opening match.

Ladders seem to always have an advantage when it comes to opening recent WrestleMania cards, and when this particular ladder match is also combined with an exciting entrance promo from Enzo Amore, the Raw tag team ladder match is a really strong choice for this spot. One potential disadvantage is that WWE might not want to immediately follow up a New Day talking segment with an extended Enzo Amore promo. That’s a lot of talking to start the show.

The Raw women provide the kind of work rate that is a good choice for the opening match, so they are probably the second best possibility here.

I’m not really feeling it with either the SmackDown women or Corbin’s match; Corbin’s match doesn’t necessarily bring the work rate, and the SD women seem like a probable choice for a cool-down match later in the night, especially when the sky is darker for Naomi’s glowing entrance.

I’ll stick with ladders and the Enzo promo for the opening spot. That gives me the following card:

Segment 1: Raw tag team ladder match
Segment 2:
Segment 3:
Segment 4:
Segment 5:
Segment 6:
Segment 7:
Segment 8:
Segment 9:
Segment 10:
Segment 11: Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns

Lower Card

In general, I am going to try to alternate Raw and SmackDown matches on this card. That strategy didn’t work out well for me at SummerSlam 2016, but it’s one of the few ways I see of trying to bring some order to this giant puzzle. My thoughts are that this is a viable structure for the card so that the commentary teams are somewhat evenly distributed throughout the night. At the very least, I am not going to run more than two consecutive matches for any individual brand.

Considering that the ladder match is going to feature chaos between 6 men, I think the next match should be a one-on-one match, so that one cluster isn’t followed by another. If I am going to switch over to a SmackDown match at this point, Ambrose versus Corbin seems like a pretty clear choice.

What makes this card so difficult to predict is the sheer number of choices and that so many of the top matches are of similar importance. It is very possible that WWE wants to spread things out between those matches as much as they can and so something like Jericho’s match goes on very early in the night, even though his story with KO has been building for more than half a year.

But I envision this card to look much closer to WrestleMania 19, where there were 5 major matches that WWE ran in the final 6 segments of the night, with a pillow fight also thrown into the mix. Aside from using the SmackDown women as a possible cool-down somewhere in that later part of the show, I think WWE is going to get the lesser matches out of the way first.

That means I am putting Ambrose in the second match of the night, with the Raw women in the third slot. With there being two women’s matches on this card, WWE will probably run one of them in the first half of the show and the other in the second half, because they usually like to split the women up.

This allows me to clear the way now for an onslaught of the biggest matches of the night, and gives me the following card:

Segment 1: Raw tag team ladder match
Segment 2: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
Segment 3: Bayley vs. Sasha vs. Charlotte vs. Nia
Segment 4:
Segment 5:
Segment 6:
Segment 7:
Segment 8:
Segment 9:
Segment 10:
Segment 11: Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns

Mid Card

At this point I think it makes the most sense to go with the least important of the big matches, so that means Jericho, Shane, and Cena are coming up soon.

It might seem like a ridiculous criterion to use, but WWE doesn’t ever seem to follow up one women’s match with another, so I don’t expect Cena’s mixed tag to follow the Raw women. And solely for the sake of alternating the brand matches, that means Shane’s match goes 4th, Jericho goes 5th, and Cena goes 6th.

That gives me the following card:
Segment 1: Raw tag team ladder match
Segment 2: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
Segment 3: Bayley vs. Sasha vs. Charlotte vs. Nia
Segment 4: Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Segment 5: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
Segment 6: Cena & Nikki vs. Miz & Maryse
Segment 7:
Segment 8:
Segment 9:
Segment 10:
Segment 11: Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns

Upper Card

That leaves Triple H, Wyatt, Goldberg, and the SD women. The SD women clearly stand out, so I need to find the most likely match that they will need to serve as a cool-down after. Any time Triple H wrestles, his match has a shot at being the longest of the night. Following up the longest match of the night with the least important match of the night seems like a plausible scenario. So I’m attaching those two matches together.

I don’t expect Cena’s match to be one of the most physically brutal matches of the night, so I think this could be a good time to throw in an intense war between Rollins and Triple H. They will probably have a violent match with lots of interference, and it will be a change of pace from the prior two matches. And then as I explained before, I will follow Triple H up with the SmackDown women.

That leaves Goldberg and Bray Wyatt for the final two spots before the main event. I am going to keep them in that exact order, mostly to avoid having three SmackDown matches occur in a span of four matches.

I know that placing such emphasis on alternating brand matches might seem somewhat arbitrary for deciding so much of this card, but once again I am falling back on the WrestleMania 19 card, and that is pretty close to what they did there too. Chances are that WWE won’t adhere to it as strictly as I am, but I expect it to at least be a factor in the match order of this show.

Finalized card

So here is my final prediction for the match order at WrestleMania 33, along with guesses on the bell-to-bell match times.

Segment 1: Raw tag team ladder match (11 minutes)
Segment 2: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin (9)
Segment 3: Bayley vs. Sasha vs. Charlotte vs. Nia (14)
Segment 4: Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles (17)
Segment 5: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens (16)
Segment 6: Cena & Nikki vs. Miz & Maryse (14)
Segment 7: Triple H vs. Seth Rollins (20)
Segment 8: SD women’s championship (8)
Segment 9: Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar (6)
Segment 10: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (16)
Segment 11: Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns (18)

Some of these match time predictions might seem a little short, but it is probably reasonable to expect between 140 to 150 minutes of match time on this show, with possibly more time available if the Rock isn’t around to take up a good chunk of the show.

Nikki Bella’s neck injury makes me think that her match might not go as long as some others, and the addition of ladders makes me think the Raw tag match will get a little more time than Ambrose and Corbin. The numbers above add up to 149 minutes, and you can let me know in the comments how you see this time being divided between these 11 matches.

That's my prediction for the match order at WrestleMania 33. What's yours?

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