WrestleMania 33 is finally here. Over weeks and months of action on "Monday Night Raw," "SmackDown Live," "205 Live" and a variety of pay-per-views, we've reached the pinnacle of the year in the world of professional wrestling.
For those casual viewers who need to get caught up ahead of diving back into the WWE ahead of WrestleMania, or those just seeking a refresher because of the sheer volume of programming it took to get here, we have everything you need to know leading into some of the biggest matches on the card. We've be dropping them throughout the week, and we conclude our coverage by running through the rest of the card for Sunday.
For everything else you need to know about WrestleMania 33, click here.
The moment it was made official, the Triple H vs. Seth Rollins match instantly became one of the most intriguing matches on the card at WrestleMania 33. With a direct conflict that dates back to last August and history that goes back three years, this match is a long time coming and yet, feels like one of the freshest and most fiery conflicts.
Even as far back as the conflict between The Shield and Evolution, and certainly in Rollins' betrayal of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to stand by Triple H's side, there has been a definitive chemistry between both men. The last few weeks have finally given fans a much sought-after payoff for some frustration surrounding The Authority and Rollins' previous lackluster face turn.
This conflict initially floundered because of Triple H's months-long absence, and again during Rollins' injury scare. But the last few weeks of promos and skirmishes showed us what might have been with a traditional monthslong WrestleMania build. Perhaps it's for the best, as there's genuine uncertainty as to how this particular match will play out.
Just how hobbled Rollins is and how much they play it up will go a long way in determining how this match will play out. Expectations should be pretty high, and Rollins, so long as he's not gritting out this WrestleMania appearance before more serious rehab or surgery, could do with a solid post-Mania launching pad.
In the 14 months since he joined the WWE, Styles has accomplished more than most wrestlers do in an entire career. But this success has come with a downside -- burning through so many opponents and stories so quickly. That leads us to Shane McMahon, who is putting his commissioner's hat aside for the chance to shine on the WrestleMania stage for the fourth time in his career. Just one year ago, he took his daredevil M.O. to a new level with an unforgettable leap off the top of the cage during a Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker that left fans aghast.
While McMahon might not have the technical chops of Styles or the brute strength of Braun Strowman, the commissioner is an intrepid, dogged dude in the ring. He's just not afraid to get hurt. Make no mistake, this won't be a five-star match, but with McMahon involved, there will be a moment, a memorable one that add to his legacy as a gravity-defying crazy man.
There's seemingly little chance that Styles walks away from this match as anything but the victor -- not when he's the active MVP of the company. There's simply no upside to Styles, the cocky villain who receives as much of a crowd pop as any true face in the WWE, losing to a guy who's unlikely to wrestle again until the next time a premium talent is without an opponent at WrestleMania or some other "big four" pay-per-view.
The bigger question for Styles is what to do with him moving forward? It's imperative to keep his storyline fresh, but a trade from SmackDown might be a little hasty; his presence alone has done wonders for SmackDown. With a roster shuffle seemingly likely in the near-future, it could be better to bring the talent to Styles in the form of a trade or NXT call-up.
If only we could trade this match in for another edition of the "Total Bellas" spoofs starring the Miz and Maryse. The gag was brilliant throughout both weeks, but the full commitment and authentic undertone (they seemingly used Cena's actual house) made it all the more entertaining.
But this match is happening. Look, there's not much of a chance that Cena and Bella won't prevail here, despite making Miz and Maryse look foolish on the go-home SmackDown without repercussions. They are two of the most successful performers in their respective lines of work in the WWE, and for all the flak Cena takes (and we could speculate for days on the many reasons for that), he's made for the big stage. More specifically, he's made to triumph on the big stage.
While we expect this to be a moderately enjoyable battle, the bigger splash could come after the match. The Miz and Maryse have ridiculed Bella's bare ring finger for some time. So, Cena, are you going to get down on one knee in front of 65,000-plus fans and pop the question? And if you do, will it be a legit proposal? Guest ring announcer Al Roker will be waiting.
What was shaping up to be a fairly straightforward match in a tag team division on Raw that's lacked direction or much of an initiative took a dramatic turn for the better Monday night as a backstage attack and retribution suddenly inserted ladders into the equation.
A match that was dangerously close to garnering consideration for kickoff show status suddenly became a potential high-energy main card opener or a fairly deep into the show attraction. The (admittedly a bit heavy-handed) introduction of ladders gave this match, the Raw tag team division as a whole and the WrestleMania card in general a big shot in the arm and, in Sheamus' case, a nasty shot to the head (warning: not for the weak of stomach).
Don't expect Cesaro and Sheamus to win the match, but they could certainly be the stars of the match. Cesaro swings, European uppercuts and brogue kicks seemingly mix well with ladders (or don't, depending on your perspective).
In reality, this match could end in two distinctly different ways; Gallows and Anderson could finally make a big statement and start to take charge of the division, or we could get a feel-good moment for Enzo Amore and Big Cass as their first title win comes at WrestleMania.
As unspectacular as Ambrose has been in recent weeks, he is still the longest-reigning champion in the WWE at nearly three months after a handful of recent title changes.
In an early January episode of SmackDown, Ambrose beat The Miz to claim the Intercontinental title, but since that point he hasn't really been involved in anything memorable, aside from some burgeoning bad blood with Corbin. Unfortunately, Ambrose, whose 50 pay-per-view matches are four more than any other wrestler since the start of 2013, has lost some of his appeal as a top star without a proper rival, and a title change seems beneficial to both parties.
It seems especially so when you consider that Corbin has been slowly building for this moment. We've seen so many other talented young performers fail to take the next level, but Corbin, last year's surprise Andre the Giant Memorial winner, has the prototypical profile to become someone special in the WWE. While he showed some flashes in NXT, his personality didn't really bubble to the surface until a few months after he made it to SmackDown.
With his pedigree as a former NFL player and a killer move set for a big man, the time is right to see what you have in Corbin with an Intercontinental championship reign.
Three matches had to be on the kickoff show, simply for timing purposes, and it's a damn shame that the cruiserweight championship showdown had to be one of them. The cruiserweight division has some long-term issues to deal with in terms of character building and crowd enthusiasm, but both Neville and Aries have been stellar in recent weeks, making the most of their limited time in building this match.
Even though he's only recently returned, Aries' spell at the commentary table did wonders in supercharging his development and relationship with the fans. Aries and Neville have each had a reputation for athleticism that far predates either of their arrivals into the WWE fold, and if they're allowed to go full force in this match, it could set a solid bar for the rest of the card to try to beat
If given the green light and a decent chunk of time, fully expect these two to try to make the powers that be feel foolish for making this a kick-off feature and not a main card-starting spark to light up the crowd for the night ahead. Neville could retain and start building a serious resume after three champions with title reigns on the shorter side, but it appears as if Aries has been groomed as the centerpiece of the division.
No matter how the match itself turns out, 205 Live will have a strong cornerstone upon which to build its future.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
There's been no real tangible long-term benefit for any of the three winners of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Cesaro's elimination of the Big Show was a cool moment and many were hopeful that it could finally lead to big singles momentum; there were flashes, but at last check, he's been the Wrestling Observer's "most underrated" wrestler for four years running. It was cool to see Big Show actually win a battle royal for a change, but until his recent lifestyle change and weight loss, he never really turned it into much.
Baron Corbin's win last year is, by default, the most effective of the three battle royals. It was a solid enough splash coming straight out of NXT, but the real momentum behind Corbin didn't really start until a solid run late in 2016 that involved Styles and Dolph Ziggler. With the field seemingly set, if a promotional graphic that aired on SmackDown Tuesday is to be believed, the field is a bit top-heavy and there are seemingly no real stakes involved other than the giant trophy. Why can't the winner have a title shot of their choice? Even a mid-card title shot would add a little bit of gravitas.
The favorites have to be Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn, for whom this match seems to be a considerable step down, and Mojo Rawley, whose hype video with Rob Gronkowski went viral a few weeks ago. Rawley might be the one who would benefit the most here, but Zayn vanquishing Strowman last would have some continuity too. It's just too bad SmackDown's entire tag team division got dropped into this match; when SmackDown and its pared-down roster has more participants than Raw in a match like this, you know things are out of whack somewhere.