Tossing Salt – Worldwide News
Wrestlemania 33 & NXT Takeover Thoughts and Predictions
March 30, 2017
We are just mere days away from the biggest weekend of the year for fans of professional wrestling, the “King of Sports”, and that’s Wrestlemania 33 in Orlando, Florida. It seems that every major wrestling promotion in the world, with the exception of Impact Wrestling, home of that damn ow!, has gathered in Orlando this week, and the centerpiece of it all is the WWE. On Friday night, we have the WWE Hall of Fame Inductions for the Class of 2017. It’s a top of the line group from start to finish and should be a night to remember. Then it’s tme to take it to the ring and get serious on Saturday night and Sunday.
Saturday night is when the folks from NXT get their chance to steal the spotlight and showcase their talents in a homecoming of sorts with NXT Takeover: Orlando. And then on Sunday, with a start time on the Network at 5:00pm (Eastern), the WWE main roster gets busy with a packed card showcasing all of their superstars and talents. It’s’ Wrestlemania 33 and with twelve matches, as well as the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal taking place, it could well turn out to be either the greatest show of the year or a total cluster-f*ck of matches, or most likely somewhere in between. That’s eighteen matches booked for both shows on Saturday and Sunday night and that’s quite a large number of matches to attempt to make predictions for. I’m up for it though and ready to give it a shot. The question is, are you ready? I said… Are you… Never mind. That bit never works well with the written format. I’m Doug and this is the “Tossing Salt – Worldwide News” prediction column for NXT Takeover: Orlando and Wrestlemania 33. Let’s get to it, shall we?
NXT Takeover: Orlando Thoughts and Predictions…
Sanity (Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain, Eric Young, and Nikki Cross) versus Roderick Strong, Tye Dillinger, No Way Jose, and Ruby Riot
This match was added on Wednesday night on the last episode of NXT by Commissioner William Regal, a man who was rumored to be part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2017 for this year, but then it didn’t happen. Too bad because he’s very well deserving. As for this match, we have the established group versus the four individuals come together to fight a common enemy, but otherwise, have no real connection. It should be a good and fun match. Sanity have been a joy to watch since Day 1 and all of their opposition, especially Dillinger and Jose, are really good and will be main roster talents, not if but when, sooner rather than later. I think this match should open the show and get the NXT all jacked up, not that they need any extra motivation. That crowd is always wide open and crazy. And the faces should win to get everything rolling on a positive note for the audience. Let’s give the new kid, Ruby Riot, the honor with a pin over Nikki Cross to take that big “W” for her team. Sounds good to me. By the way, what’s with that name? Ruby Riot? G.L.O.W. called and says that they want their corny-ass, 80’s name back. Just saying.
Winners: Roderick Strong, Tye Dillinger, No Way Jose and Ruby Riot.
NXT Championship Match
Bobby Roode (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
These two men are going to do their best and steal the show. Both men are major stars and so talented in the ring, I expect that we’ll see both of them up on the main roster for the WWE before this year is over. I love to watch Shinsuke work in that ring. He’s so good with all of the little things, the facial expressions, the mannerisms, etc. And what can be said about Bobby Roode that hasn’t already been said. TNA wasted him for so many years and now he’s in the WWE, in a manner of speaking, and things are truly glorious (pun intended). I can’t wait to hear the crowd sing along with his music as he makes his way to the ring to defend that NXT Championship against the former champion. The match will be off the charts and in the end, it will be another glorious day for the Roode one.
Winner and STILL NXT Champion: Bobby Roode
NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
Asuka is currently the longest reigning champion in the WWE, for both NXT and the main roster. She’s just amazing to watch in that ring and an incredible talent. Unless the WWE is ready to call her up to the main roster, there is no reason for her to lose that belt. I don’t think it’s time for that to happen just yet as the Women’s roster for WWE is still a bit crowded and she’d probably be lost in the shuffle right now. Ember has a great look and she’s come a long way in a short time in NXT, but is she ready to carry that title and the crown as the top woman? Nope, not yet. Asuka retains.
Winner and STILL NXT Women’s Champion: Asuka
Triple Threat Match – NXT Tag Team Championship
The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) (c) (with Paul Ellering) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
The Authors are big men and certifiable monsters, but without Paul Ellering, they’d just be two more big guys in a world full of big guys. I don’t really get them or see the appeal. #DIY are really good and fun to watch and the Revival seem like they’re lost in the shuffle, but are probably my favorite tag team in NXT right now. I’d love to see these guys move up to the main roster, but as we’ve seen with the Vaudevillains and American Alpha, the “creative teams” for Raw and Smackdown don’t really know what to do with tag team wrestling these days. If any of these three teams gets the move up to the main roster, where they will be lost in the shuffle and forgotten about, I think the Authors of Pain will be the first team called up. I hope that Jim Cornette gets the chance to attend this event while he’s in Orlando and see his favorite tag team, the Revival, in action.
This match should be damn good, as should all of the matches on this card really. There are three contrasting styles in play with the power of the Authors, the old school tag team wrestling, shades of the Anderson Brothers, with the Revival and a mixture of both with #DIY. I think we’re going to see a title change here, especially if the other two titles at stake remain with the current champs as I’ve predicted. Hell, I’ll go with Gargano and Ciampa, if for no other reason than the “Glorious” videos that they did with Bobby Roode. Plus they’re a helluva team with a lot of charisma and talent and they barely got a chance to show their stuff with their previous run as the tag team champs. So look for the tag team belts to switch hands.
Winners and NEW NXT Tag Team Champions: #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa)
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Aleister Black
Every time that I see Almas perform, I want to see more. That young man certainly has that “It” factor going for him. I don’t know much about Black and haven’t had the chance to watch him in action very much as of yet so I’m not sure what he can or can’t do. He seems capable enough, but then again, he wouldn’t be in NXT if he wasn’t talented in that squared circle. I’ve got to go with Almas here though. He’s ready to break out and move up in the ranks and I think in that ring on Saturday night will be a good place to really start.
Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas
And that’s it for NXT Takeover: Orlando. Now we move on to the big show, the main event, the reason we all give a damn, the biggest spectacle of the year, the Showcase of the Immortals, Wrestlemania 33. It’s a packed event with thirteen matches booked, including a thirty man Battle Royal. So at least we know that everyone on the WWE roster who is capable of wrestling and performing (sorry Daniel Bryan), will be participating in a match of some type. Every title in the WWE, with the exception of the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, is being defended. And the Usos and American Alpha deserve better and should be having a tag team title match, but instead are being stuck in the Battle Royal. I told you earlier that the “Creative Teams” don’t know how to book tag team wrestling. Ever since Heath Slater and Rhyno lost the titles to the Wyatt Family, the tag team belts on Smackdown have been largely forgotten about. They have the teams and talents to make the titles important and get the tag team division over, but no one in WWE management seems to give a damn or care. It’s a shame really.
But what was I saying? It’s the biggest show of the year and there are a ton of matches, most of which should be solid and really good. And it’s time to once more break out the “Sister Cleo” outfit and do this Prediction thing again. Let’s take a deep breath and get busy, shall we? And away we go…
WWE Wrestlemania 33 Thoughts and Predictions…
Six Pack Challenge – WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella (with James Ellsworth) vs. Naomi
I kept hearing that we might get some kind of tag match with women from the past, such as Eve Torres and Kelly Kelly coming back and going against the current women, but honestly, this is better. Eve and Kelly are scheduled to be in Orlando this weekend, but what roles they’re playing, if any, haven’t been revealed yet. They’re probably just appearing at Axxess or some other signings. And if the WWE was going to bring back women for a one-time shot, I’d rather see Trish, Lita, Ivory, Jackie, Victoria, new Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, Madusa or Santina Marella instead of Kelly Kelly. And how about that long rumored “dream match” between Team Besties (Lita and Trish) versus The Bellas. I guess that’ll never happen either.
But forget about all of that. This match, which I believe is taking place on the Kickoff Show, should be okay, The talent is here and all of these women are really good. I think the favorite is Naomi since this match is taking place in her hometown and for some reason, the powers-that-be seem to have really taken a shine to her as of late. She’s okay, but anyone who uses a butt to the face as her finisher just doesn’t do it for me. I just hope she always remembers to wipe thoroughly. I’m thinking that we’ll see a title change here. Alexa is good, but with all of these bigger names as part of the match, I just feel a title switch has to happen. I’m leaning towards Natayla because she really is the glue that holds the Women’s Division together on Smackdown and with all she’s given to the WWE over the years, she deserves a big “Wrestlemania moment”. The other one that sounds good to me is Mickie James, coming back to the WWE after so many years away and cementing that return and her career with a title win at Wrestlemania would be pretty damn awesome. It’s a tough call, but I think I’ll go with Natayla. She really does deserve it the most.
Winner and NEW WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion: Natayla
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
Another potentially show stealer of a match relegated to the Kickoff Show. These guys are so good and so fast, I hope they’re given enough time to show their stuff and put on the match we all know they’re capable of. All the signs point to Austin Aries getting the title and kicking the “King of the Cruiserweights” off his throne, but I don’t quite agree. It’s way too soon and there is way too much money that can be made with this feud. Maybe it’s my old-school thinking, but these guys are so good and can put on matches like few others and WWE would be best suited in just letting them go for as long as possible, both in this match and this rivalry. Austin should come just thisclose to winning, but let Neville snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat, albeit with some controversy. Then the rematches can start and the WWE can just sit back and watch the money pour in. These guys are that damn good and I hope that this lasts for a long time.
Winner and STILL WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Neville
2017 André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal – 30-man battle royal for the André the Giant Memorial Trophy
Also known as the match where everyone who isn’t already involved in a match is thrown so that they have a spot on the card. It’s surprising to me that Big Show and Braun Strowman are being tossed in here since they deserve so much more. Show has busted his ass to lose weight and get in shape and while his potential match against Shaq turned out to be a bust, he’s already done the “Battle Royal” thing and deserves so much better. And Braun has really grown in that ring and looks great, truly embracing his potential as a monster to be reckoned with. He deserves better as well. In days gone by, the WWE would have made the best of this by booking a match with Show versus Strowman for the big event. After all, we had a match between Booker T and Edge over doing a “shampoo commerical” so would a match between the two resident giants, especially after the great match they did on RAW a few months ago, really be so bad? But WWE needs all of the bodies they can get to fill out this event and make it to thirty men. I guess that explains why Luke Harper is here too. A few weeks ago, he was the Number One Contender for the WWE Championship against Bray Wyatt and now, he gets to be in a Battle Royal against The Ascension, Breezango and Titus O’Neil. Yay for him! (Rolls eyes). And what really irks me is that the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, The Usos and the former Tag Team Champions, American Alpha, are stuck here too. The title just switched between the two teams, so wouldn’t you think that Booking 101 would say “rematch for the titles”? One would think, but instead, they’re doing the Battle Royal too.
But I’ll quit complaining now and get to what really matters and that is who will win this esteemed honor. Just look how much it has helped the careers of Big Show and Baron Corbin, right? I’m pretty sure that Big Show and Braun Strowman won’t be winning. It’d be too obvious and I’d just have them take each other out. James Ellsworth won’t win either, if he’s even in there. That would be funny to see though. I think there will be an underdog coming out on top to get the victory, much like they did with Zack Ryder winning the Intercontinental Championship last year. Mark Henry would be great, but I think he’ll be in there, throw a few people out, and then be eliminated to help get someone else over. Same thing for Kane. I keep hearing a lot of noise recently about Bo Dallas and I would personally love to see Bo take home this win. I don’t think that will happen though. Heath Slater is a great choice. After all, he has kids and that story has yet to be really used to the best potential. How about Curtis Axel? That would really be good to see and I think Axel could really benefit from something like this. So many choices and names to choose from. Dolph Ziggler is there too, but he’s been so buried and hardly even a blip on the WWE radar as of late so I won’t pick him either, especially with all of the rumors out there that he’ll be leaving when his contract expires. This is so hard. What the hell. I’m a “Bo-Liever”. I’m going with Bo Dallas.
Winner: Bo Dallas
WWE Championship Match
Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
Bray needs to win. Bray has to win. Sister Abigail has said so. I’d expect the return of Erick Rowan during this match, if he’s not too busy being wasted in that Battle Royal during the Kickoff Show. But his influence should be pretty much null and void. I expect that we’ll see a fantastic match with plenty of near falls and close calls. And in the end, we all will “Follow the Buzzards!”.
Winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Bray Wyatt
WWE Universal Championship Match
Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)
I can’t see Brock losing again. I can’t see Goldberg sticking around though and remaining the WWE Universal Champion. So all signs point to Brock. It’s just too obvious and easy. And we still have Kevin Owens running around talking about his “rematch” for the Universal Championship that he’s still owed. Maybe we’ll see Owens pull off a “Seth Rollins” deal and come out towards the end of the match, demand to be made part of the match, and pin Goldberg to get his title back. He is pretty tight with the boss, Triple H, so it could happen, right?
That would be ideal and awesome and a great swerve that I think, would make everyone happy. But when has the WWE ever cared about making everyone happy? Let’s just stick with the match as it’s being advertised and that’s Brock versus Goldberg. I expect it to go longer than 2 – 3 minutes and actually be a pretty okay match. Goldberg will go to the outskirts of Suplex City, although I can’t see him taking more than one or two. His body couldn’t handle it. And I think Brock will eat a spear and maybe a jackhammer, only to have Heyman provide a distraction and allow him to escape a pin. It won’t be Flair versus Steamboat, but it will do what it has to do and the fans will enjoy it. And Brock walks out as the new WWE Universal Champion.
Winner and NEW WWE Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
So does the old dog keep his spot as the top dog in the yard? Or does the upstart young pup manage to take him down and become the new leader of the pack? Taker hasn’t looked all that great during the build for this match and I think age and injuries have really taken their toll. His time is drawing near. Roman is the future and a win over the Dead Man, especially at Wrestlemania, would really cement his place as one of the top stars in the company and as one of the top heels, a spot he should embrace and would be great at. The fans already despise him for being forced down our throats before by WWE Management and just imagine the heat if he took out Taker too. I don’t want to see Taker lose anymore at the biggest event of the year, but I think that it would be “best for business” if it did happen. And it probably will.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
The build has been good and the match should be really good too. I expect that we’ll see Samoa Joe make an appearance and cause some craziness for Seth during the match. I also kind of expect that this should be the place that Finn Balor makes his return and helps to counter Joe, thus cancelling any advantage that the man who “kills bitches dead”, gives to HHH. Bottom line though is that, if Seth doesn’t win, what was the point of all of this? HHH is “The Game” and all of that, but Seth will be the winner. And that’s how it should be.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
I think this match will be more entertaining than most people are expecting. AJ is truly a phenomenal talent and Shane is a spot monkey who can be carried to a good match. Look for Shane to do something crazy and stupid and get his “spot” in. And AJ will put on a clinic of moves and show everyone why he truly is one of the best wrestlers, if not THE best wrestler in the world today. And the “face that runs the place”, the “champ who runs the camp”, the former and future multiple-time champion, will walk out with his arm raised as he takes that trip to the pay window.
Winner: AJ Styles
Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
This should be another great match with the ladies of WWE RAW. I’m not really a big fan of Nia Jax, but she has a role to play as the resident monster and I think she’ll perform that role quite well in this match. And then you have Bayley, Charlotte and Sasha, three of the “Four Horsewomen” of NXT. So far, all of Sasha’s runs with the title have been short and sweet and I don’t really see another title reign in her immediate future. Bayley just doesn’t do it for me and I think her future has a possible match and face-off against Stephanie McMahon in it. At least I hope so. So that leaves “The Queen”, truly in my my opinion, the best overall female performer on the WWE roster. She’s not the absolute best in ring or talker, but she’s like her dad and has that total package going on. When you see her, you think “Champ”. I think she’s ready to get that Raw Woman’s Championship back around her waist and this match, in front of millions of fans, both live and on the Network, will be her night.
Winner and NEW WWE Raw Women’s Champion: Charlotte
WWE United States Championship Match
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Common sense says that since Jericho is going to be leaving the company to work some tour dates with Fozzy for the next few months, that he should lose this match and drop the title to Owens. But for me, that seems just too straight forward, especially if Owens plans to get involved in the Goldberg versus Brock match, as I hope he does. I’m thinking that Owens and Jericho will put on a great match full of action and excitement, as only these two are capable of doing. Owens will dominate most of the match, trying to “put his former BFF out of action for good!”. But in the end, with victory in his sight, the slightest of errors by Owens takes place and the wily veteran, Jericho, takes advantage to capture the win and retain the title. Then they can do an “injury angle” the next night on RAW, causing Jericho to lose the belt and help build another star, Sami Zayn perhaps. And Owens can move on to business with the WWE Universal Championship. Works for me.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Chris Jericho
Mixed Tag Team Match
John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
I’ve really enjoyed the build for this match and that is something I never thought I’d be saying about a John Cena or a Nikki Bella match. Miz and Maryse have been incredible. Miz has really cemented his spot as the heart and soul of the WWE and a top heel for the company. He’s really come into his own as probably the hardwest working man in WWE, just behind his rival, John Cena. I’m torn as to how this match should go though. Cena is moving into a part time role with the company and winning or losing, it won’t affect him in the slightest. He and Nikki are pretty much teflon at this point. Miz is awesome (pun intended) and a win here would be a great way to really cement that spot at the top of the roster and maybe move on to the WWE Championship picture. But a frustrated and pissed off Miz, as he would be if he had to eat a loss on Sunday night, is just great entertainment and would only give him more fuel to add to the incredible amount of heat he already generates. No matter how it goes, I think it’s a win – win for Miz. As long as the match delivers and his reaction afterwards is classic Miz, he’s moving on to bigger and better. It has to happen. I think that the WWE Power Couple of Cena and Nikki will take the win when Nikki pins Maryse. That gives Miz a scapegoat to blame for the loss, it makes the fans happy and it makes everyone wonder what happens next. Sounds like a plan to me.
Winners: John Cena and Nikki Bella
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
Talk about a match that’s lost in the shuffle and here we go. I remember a few things going on between Ambrose and Corbin, but the build for this has been pretty lackluster at best. Ambrose has gone from so hot and on fire to just “eh” at best and Corbin isn’t doing much better. He’s still on the track to be a strong mid-card player, but the momentum has slowed. But despite all of that, this should be a good match too. These guy have a good chemistry and it may end up being the dark horse match of the night where no one expects anything, but it turns out to steal the show. These guys have the potential and it all depends on booking and how much time they’re given. I think that we’ll see Corbin manage to get a good, solid victory here and the title. Ambrose is better chasing a title than as a Champion and it’s time for Corbin to get a taste of wearing some gold.
Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Baron Corbin
Triple Threat Ladder Match – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
This is the wild and crazy spotfest match of the night and I’m expecting that we’ll see a little crimson, especially after Sheamus was busted open, hardway, this past Monday night. All of these guys are so big though, with the exception of Enzo, that it might end up being a little messy with all of that flesh mixed with steel ladders thrown together. For a feel-good moment, I could see giving Enzo and Cass the titles. Everyone loves Enzo for some reason and it would make the fans happy. I don’t think Cesaro and Shemaus have a future as tag team champions again. They had their run and while they’re a good and solid team, it was okay at best. The best option, in my opinion, would be to have Anderson and Gallows retain so that they could have bragging rights about how great a team they are and keep daring people to try and knock them off. That makes the most sense in the long run, letting Gallows and Anderson be the tag team they were meant to be. But WWE doesn’t think like that and I think they’ll go for a “happy moment” instead. Gallows and Anderson can regain the titles at Raw or on the next pay-per-view, but for Sunday night, we’re getting new champions. How you doing?
Winners and NEW WWE Raw Tag Team Champions: Enzo Amore and Big Cass
And there you go, my predictions and thoughts for NXT Takeover: Orlando and Wrestlemania 33. Both should be really good shows and I’m looking forward to sitting here and watching both events on my computer. I’m not as psyched as I should be, but as we get closer to the weekend and once I watch the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony on Friday night, I’m sure that will all change and I’ll be in prime form and ready for all of the action.
Before I go, I want to do a little of quick Q&A with a few questions that I found in my Facebook groups over the past few days. They’re wrestling related, of course and I haven’t done any kind of Q&A column in quite a while (except for over at my blogsite, http://www.tossingsalt.wordpress.com, where I write about anything and everything on a regular basis). Here are the questions and my responses.
You have your own promotion. Who would be your Champions? Please NO WWE GUYS. ONLY GUYS FROM THE CROCKETT ERA OR LIKE TERRITORIES.
World Champion : Ric Flair
US Champion: Rick Steamboat
NWA TV Champion: Arn Anderson
Mid Atlantic Champion: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
World Tag Champions: The Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette
Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions: Ole Anderson & Stan Hansen
Who was the best commentator?
I would love to say Bob Caudle since he’s the voice of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and that’s what I grew up on, but it’s not that easy to answer anymore. Tony Schaivone, when he first started out and before he was burnt out, was excellent. Jim Ross is damn good and Michael Cole can do a great job when he’s not being over-produced by Vince and his earphones. I think though, for my personal favorite, I’m going back to the old school and the then-host of World Wide Wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions, Mr. Rich Landrum. And Bobby “the Brain” Heenan and “Dirty” Dutch Mantell were my two favorite color guys of all time.
Has there ever been a PPV in which every current wrestler on the roster appeared?
The only ones that I can think of is way back when WCW held their World War 3 pay-per-views with the three ring sixty man cluster-f*cks they called a Battle Royal. I think WWE has come close with the past few Wrestlemania’s, with the Andre the Giant Battle Royals, but I’m just guessing at that. I’ll give WCW the nod for this question. And of course, Wrestlemania 33. With twelve matches and a 30-man Battle Royal, I think they’re going to be bringing everyone available, as well as pulling people in from off the streets (or WrestleCon) to fill all of the available spots.
If you are a WWE employee in charge of promotional material, which five individuals would you include on the WrestleMania poster this year?
Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, The Undertaker, Bill Goldberg & Charlotte Flair.
And with that, I’m going to bring this to an end. Thanks for reading. Comments and thoughts are welcome and much appreciated. I’m Doug and as the great legend, Baron Von Raschke (why isn’t he in the WWE Hall of Fame?) would say, “dat is all de’ people need to know!”. Have a great one and enjoy all of the action this weekend. Don’t forget to support your local Indy wrestling. I’ll see you next time.