WrestleMania 39 Analysis and Predictions

WrestleMania 39 will be of historic significance, but not because of what happens in the ring. It will be the first WrestleMania without Vince McMahon at the helm of the creative direction of the show. Triple H has overseen the on-screen product since SummerSlam in August. He has had an immediate positive impact on what we have seen on Raw and Smackdown. Here are a few of the improvements under Triple H’s regime which are apparent up and down the card:

  • An investment in long-term storylines that are engaging and meaningful.
  • Championship reigns are longer and more important.
  • Giving pushes to NXT call-ups that would have been previously discarded under McMahon.
  • Re-signing performers who never should have been fire in the first place.

The Bloodline storyline was the best angle I can think of in years. It lasted for months, made you want to tune in to find out where it would go next, and elevated everyone involved, especially Sami Zayn and The Usos. Shakespeare couldn’t have written it better. It was such a good story that its outcome will be prominently featured both Saturday and Sunday night.

The rest of the card is also centered around solid storytelling and will complement the main events well. There is a lot to cover, so what you need to know about each match is as follows.

WrestleMania host, The Miz

There is not much of an obvious direction where this is going to head, but it is clear that Miz is hosting both nights. Maybe he will set up an angle on Saturday that pays off on Sunday. Maybe he even ends up in a match somehow. Maybe he gets involved with a returning superstar or a celebrity. Your guess is as good as mine.

Saturday Night

Austin Theory (c) vs. John Cena in a Singles match for the WWE United States Championship

WrestleMania was once John Cena’s show, now it belongs to Roman Reigns and Cena is just a participant. But he Cena not so far removed from his heyday making this a great opportunity for Austin Theory. There may have been some truth to the promo Cena cut on Theory that Theory is not ready for the WrestleMania spotlight. But Theory is young and has the look and the tools to be successful, and Cena is known for making young talent look good.

Prediction: Winner and still WWE United States Champion, Austin Theory

Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Logan Paul

Logan Paul’s early work in the WWE has been unprecedented. In his very limited set of appearances as a part-timer, he has impressed both on the microphone and in the ring in the biggest spots imaginable. He wowed the crowds at WrestleMania and at Crown Jewel, and he has made seamless transitions from heel to babyface and back to heel. Paul being matched up with the talented veteran Seth Rollins should be a treat for fans and an opportunity for a WrestleMania moment for both individuals.

Prediction: Winner, Logan Paul

Trish Stratus, Lita, and Becky Lynch vs. Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky) in a six-woman tag team match

Not even two hall-of-famers can save this from being a complete disaster. Trish Stratus wasn’t capable of working a match without a blown spot when she was in her prime as a full-time competitor so don’t expect her to be better in retirement. The Damage CTRL gimmick is displeasing and needs to be wound down in a hurry.

Prediction: Winners, Trish Stratus, Lita, and Becky Lynch

Braun Strowman and Ricochet vs. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) vs. Alpha Academy (Chad Gable and Otis) vs. The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) (with Valhalla) in a Men’s WrestleMania Showcase fatal four-way tag team match

Try saying that one fast. This is a typical “let’s get everyone on the WrestleMania card” tag team match. They tend to be uglier than a bowling shoe. Everyone will try to get one big spot in before they quickly get pinned. The only thing that can save this match is a heel turn.

Prediction: Winners, Alpha Academy

Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Rhea Ripley

Rhea Ripley complements the rest of the Judgement Day faction members very well, and her work with Dominik Mysterio got her hot and afforded her the opportunity to take on Charlotte Flair for the championship. Given that it is the only women’s match of the night, one would hope that they give it their best effort.

Prediction: Winner, Charlotte Flair

The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) (c) vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a tag team match the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship

Sami Zayn might be the WWE MVP these days, but don’t overlook how well the Usos have played their parts in this saga. The twins were given a chance to show their individuality and turned Zayn from a trusted friend to a foe. Kevin Owens — star of last year’s WrestleMania Saturday main event – is dependable in his role as always. This should be the main event on Saturday, but even if it isn’t, it will be the most important match on the card.

Prediction: Winners and new champions, Owens and Zayn

Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio

I always say that professional wrestling is at its best in a one-on-one grudge match. And what kind of grudge match is better than father versus son? Dominik and the Judgement Day have tormented Rey for months and the payoff happens on Saturday, on the night after Rey is inducted into the Hall of Fame. What better way for Rey’s WrestleMania weekend to end than to have him job to his own son?

Prediction: Winner, Rey Mysterio

Sunday Night

Gunther (c) vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre in a triple threat match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Quite often, the Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania is either over-booked or an afterthought. Neither is the case this year. These three brawlers have already worked together and have great chemistry. This is going to look like it hurts because it actually will hurt.

Prediction: Winner and still WWE Intercontinental Champion, Gunther

Edge vs. “The Demon” Finn Bálor in a Hell in a Cell match

We have not seen a Hell in a Cell match since the Hell in a Cell premium live event was eliminated, and that is a good thing. It cheapened the HIAC gimmick to have it on the calendar every year. It is much better to bring it out when the situation warrants it. This is a situation that warrants it.

Edge is likely to wrap things up very soon and call it a career again. This could be his swan song, one last emotional and violent match at WrestleMania. Finn Bálor is still searching for a signature in-ring moment in the WWE, and he is teasing bringing back his “demon” gimmick for this match Expect the two of them to create WrestleMania memories.

Prediction: Winner, Finn Bálor

Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Natalya and Shotzi vs. Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler vs. Chelsea Green and Sonya Deville in a Women’s WrestleMania Showcase fatal four-way tag team match

If they were going to have an over-booked men’s fatal four-way on Saturday, might as well showcase an even worse women’s fatal four-way on Sunday. If you are experiencing WrestleMania fatigue by Sunday night, this is your opportunity to flip through the channels, you won’t miss anything important.

Prediction: Winners, Ronda Rousey and Shana Baszler

Bianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka in a singles match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Belair was a participant in what is considered by most to be the best Women’s WrestleMania match of all time against Sasha Banks two years ago. She typically saves her best work for premium live events. If you must watch one of the women’s matches on this card, this would be it.

Prediction: Winner and new WWE Raw Women’s Champion, Asuka

Brock Lesnar vs. Omos (with MVP)

This is a cold pairing for Brock Lesnar who did not have an obvious main-event level opponent for this year’s Showcase of The Immortals. Lesnar has done some of his best work these past two years. Omos still is struggling to sell credibly for his opponents, which is a critical skill for a monster heel to master. With any luck, Lesnar can make Omos look good but it will be an uphill battle.

Prediction: Winner, Brock Lesnar

Roman Reigns (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Cody Rhodes in a singles match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

Roman Reigns has completely transformed himself from the “Ruiner of the WrestleMania Main Event” to the unquestionable number one star of the company in just a few short years. The Tribal Chief has connected with the audience in a way he was unable to earlier in his career, and it is making his matches must-see events. He is enhanced by the talents surrounding him in The Bloodline, and he enhances the superstars he competes against.

Cody Rhodes took an unusual path to this year’s WrestleMania. Since the inception of AEW, he is the only talent who has switched from WWE to AEW, and then back to WWE. He played the companies off of each other to his own advantage, elevating his status as a performer each time. Despite the setback of a significant injury in 2022, Cody was able to ride the wave of momentum he is on to the main event of WrestleMania while doing nothing flashy. He is not the most gifted wrestler, and his promos are centered around true stories about himself and his family. It worked for him, he connected with the audience and they want to see him in this spot.

It should be an enjoyable and emotional match, but this one is tough to call, there is a compelling case for both of them to have their hand raised as champion.

Prediction: Winner and still Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns

2023 WWE Royal Rumble Analysis and Predictions

Cody Rhodes returns to the WWE in the Royal Rumble after suffering a gruesome injury while training for Hell In a Cell

Welcome to the most unique WrestleMania season we have ever known. As far as we know, Triple H is entirely in charge of the WWE creative product and for the first time in the history of WrestleMania, Vince McMahon is not. I say as far as we know because McMahon weaseled his way back into the WWE board of directors after having had to retire in disgrace because he is a lecherous old man. Ostensibly, his role as chairman of the board is not the same as his hands-on role as CEO and he is just there to re-negotiate the television rights and possibly sell the company.

Wrestling fans and critics largely are hoping McMahon does not return to WWE creative as he had become increasingly erratic with his decisions regarding talents and the on-screen product, and he was severely out of touch with his audience. Triple H has taken things in a much different direction. He brought back fan-favorite talents that McMahon abruptly fired. The NXT callups to the main roster were given a chance to get over on television without being instantly buried. He even gave two-named wrestlers turned one-name wrestlers their first (or last) names back!

The product is far from perfect, but it has been noticeably more enjoyable with Triple H at the creative helm. But the pressure is going to be on for him to deliver at WrestleMania, and that will only be a success if things get off to a good start at the Royal Rumble. There are only five matches on the card and two of them are inconsequential women’s matches, but there is still a lot to unpack here.

Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight in a Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match

It is good to see Bray Wyatt back in the WWE after he was unceremoniously fired from the company following WrestleMania 37. However it is somewhat incongruous for his supernatural character to be featured in a match sponsored by Mountain Dew. It remains to be seen (or not, I guess) what a Pitch Black Match looks like, but if this progresses Wyatt’s character headed into WrestleMania, it will be worth the icky corporate tie-in.

Prediction: Winner, Bray Wyatt

Roman Reigns (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Kevin Owens in a singles match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

Roman Reigns may be the face of the WWE, but it is Kevin Owens that keeps the company running. There is no more important opponent for the main-event level talent in today’s WWE than Kevin Owens. This is his second high-profile match in the last twelve months, having experienced his career peak with a main event match against Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 38. Owens can work with anybody in any type of match and can come off as a credible opponent.

The tie-in with Sami Zayn is critical to this angle. Zayn has never been more popular than he is right now. The crowds at live shows are enamored with him and his compelling storyline with The Bloodline. His tenuous status with the Tribal Chief and his cohorts changes from show to show, and the twists and turns in their relationship always leave us wanting more. There will certainly be a twist to this match that propels Sami towards a high-profile clash at WrestleMania 39.

Prediction: Winner and still Undisputed WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

There is virtually no build up to the Women’s Royal Rumble Match as evidenced by the fact following the go home episode of Smackdown, there were only a total of twelve entrants announced. One of them is Emma (insert face palm emoji here). The only one that has doing anything of note right now is Rhea Ripley.

Ripley is the centerpiece of the only interesting storyline involving any of the female talent on the WWE main roster right now. The Judgement Day is a serviceable faction, and she is their most visible member.

Prediction: After countless blown spots and anti-climactic surprise returns, your winner will be Rhea Ripley.

Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss in a singles match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Alexa Bliss is in the longest yo-yo of a career arc we have ever seen. She was aligned with Bray Wyatt until his firing from the company, and the unwind of her supernatural character was pretty much wrapped up when he was rehired. So, it appears that she is headed back to be part of a faction with him. Other than that possibility, there’s nothing to see here.

Prediction: Winner and still champion, Bianca Belair

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

The return of Cody Rhodes from a gruesome torn pectoral injury has been the talk of the rumble. There has been criticism levied at the announcement of his return instead of making it a surprise. But this was obviously going to happen for quite some time, so it made sense to build up his return.

There are still at least ten entrants that have not been announced yet so there is room for legitimate surprise entries into the rumble. Edge seems like the most logical one because it is time for him to return to gear up for his WrestleMania program. After that you can let your imagination run wild. It could be a few NXT callups, a returning Hall-of-Famer who gets tossed in thirty seconds, or maybe The Rock?

I would guess that the winner is in the pool of entrants that were already announced. I have them bucketed as follows:

No Chance in Hell:

Kofi Kingston, Santos Escobar, Ricochet, Baron Corbin, Omos, Karrion Kross, Dominik Mysterio, Xavier Woods, Braun Strowman

Dark Horse Winner Potential:

Edge, Austin Theory, Rey Mysterio, Gunther, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, The Miz

High Probability of Winning:

Seth “Freakin” Rollins, Bobby Lashley

Odds-On Favorites:

Brock Lesnar, Cody Rhodes

In reality, the condition that the winner of the Royal Rumble goes on to face the champion at WrestleMania is a creative trap that limits the pool of potential winners to a select few. But WrestleMania is two nights long now so there is potential for multiple angles to be set up from the outcome here.

Full Speed or Nothing

My New Jersey Transit bus was predictably late, and when it arrived it was standing room only. The Lincoln Tunnel was jammed on the way to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I dodged a few homeless people on my way to the subway platform and hopped the C Train to the Fulton Street Station. A quick walk from there to my Financial District office in Downtown Manhattan and my Monday morning slog to work was complete. I settled into my desk, said hi to everyone, put my phone on the charger and got to work. I am a software developer, and I had a lot of coding to do that day.

There was nothing out of the ordinary on the agenda for the day. The only unusual circumstance was that my boss was visiting that day from our Miami office. He and I had placed a sandwich bet on a Dolphins/Jets NFL game about a month prior, and my Jets won it for me. We decided we would settle the bet at the recently reopened Lenwich in Hanover Square that day. I knew he would be extra annoyed because he really hates the Jets. That was going to make my sandwich even more enjoyable.

About two hours into my day, I paused what I was doing to look at my phone. There was a text message from Metallica (I had previously subscribed to text alerts from their website):

Wait, what? A new Metallica song? How come I hadn’t heard anything about this? What is happening? I’m confused! Wait, how to you pronounce the title? Is “Æ” even in the alphabet?

With alacrity I put my PC headset on and navigated to YouTube. At the top of Metallica’s channel was a link to the new video. I set the volume to maximum and clicked play. Metallica had unleashed a thrash metal instant classic. On first listen, it sounded like a grown-up sequel to “Hit the Lights” from their first album “Kill ‘Em All” crossed with Motörhead’s “Overkill”. I was instantly amazed and fired up.

My mind was racing as I tried to take it in. I needed to know more so I navigated to metallica.com in search of answers. The home page was remade since my last visit.

Wait, what? I just found out about the new Metallica song. But what’s this about a new Metallica album? And what is this about a new Metallica Tour?

I clicked on the tour link and saw the full itinerary. They laid out their touring schedule for 2023 and 2024 all at once. They announced they would play two nights in each city and both set lists would be unique. There were cities all over North America and Europe on the list. One city jumped out at me. It would be a chance to finally make a dream come true.

Metallica is my favorite band, which probably goes without saying. I am imbued with the following beliefs:

  • Metallica is the greatest band of all time.
  • James Hetfield is the greatest singer of all time.
  • James Hetfield is the greatest guitarist of all time.
  • Lars Ulrich is the greatest drummer of all time.
  • Kirk Hammett is the second greatest guitarist of all time.
  • Robert Trujillo is the second greatest bassist of all time.

If you were to challenge me on any of those points, I would not even bother to argue. I would just think that you are stupid, and it would not be worth my time.

In 2018 I wrote a story about a twenty year stretch of my life as a Metallica fan against a backdrop of technological changes in the world over that time. I detailed the twenty-two Metallica concerts I had seen up to that point. But Metallica has been on the move since then and I added five more concerts to my total since 2019.

We flew to San Fransisco in September 2019 for S&M 2, which was the first event at the newly built Chase Center. After a pause in touring for the COVID-19 restrictions, the band hit the road again in 2021. We flew to Louisville in September for the Louder Than Life Festival, and Metallica headlined two of the four nights, playing a distinct set each time. In 2022 I went to the two closest Metallica shows to New Jersey, Boston in May, and Buffalo in August.

Each show was a unique experience, and they were all a reminder about how important it is for me to continue to see Metallica play live at every opportunity I get. They have significantly cut back on their touring schedule, and they are not getting any younger. But they look and sound better than they ever have.

I have been to 27 Metallica concerts over a 30 year stretch from 1992 to 2022. But prior to 2019, I had never traveled very far to see them. I was content to see them play in cities I could drive to from New Jersey, the furthest one being Montreal.

I was never much of a traveler. As a child, our family vacations consisted of driving south for two hours for a two week stay in Long Beach Island. I loved it. I never was jealous of other kids who flew to other places like Disney World. The Jersey shore had everything I needed from a vacation spot, and it was cheap and easy to get there.

Not much changed as an adult. I would rent out houses with friends in various spots between Belmar and Point Pleasant Beach and spend weekends there in the summer. The stories I could write about the things I have seen and done at the Jersey Shore could fill a book. If I could even remember them all!

I also purchased a Harley Davidson in 1999, and I have owned one ever since. When I was not at the shore in the summer, I would be on the bike exploring routes and destinations all along the Appalachian Mountains, from Georgia to Quebec.

Typically, those two activities would satisfy my need to get out of the house and go somewhere. But along the way, I did pick up a nagging desire to mix things up occasionally.

For a long stretch, in the 2000’s, Metallica would only tour in Europe. They would send me an e-mail with my fan club pre-sale code for tickets every time they announced a tour. It started to get annoying that I had priority access for tickets to shows on another continent, but there were none here in America. I started to think to myself that maybe I should go see them play in France one summer and make a vacation out of it. Maybe even rent a Harley and ride through the countryside for a day or two.

I was never able to put it together. At first, I didn’t make it a priority. Then, I had run myself into financial trouble by gut renovating a house. The project went off the rails and I was flat broke for four years. I finished the project in 2019 and sold my condo and I finally had both the time and the money to try to make the “Metallica in France” dream come true. Then a plague swept the earth and shut down all live concerts!

In 2021 I tried to go to one of their European shows, but due to a snafu with ticketing, and rising flight prices, I failed to put it together yet again. But that turned out to not be much of a problem when I saw the itinerary for the “M72 World Tour” for 2023 and 2024. Now was going to be my chance to live out that dream.

Within a few minutes of watching the Lux Æterna video, my phone lit up like a Christmas tree. Friends were texting back and forth about the news and the potential tour dates. I was so distracted that I had to come clean and explain to my boss that Metallica had just announced a tour and I immediately needed to plan. The pre-sale was going to start in less than 48 hours so some quick decisions would have to be made.

This was a tour announcement like none other. Metallica will play two shows in each city with no song repeats. The stage is in the center of each stadium. It will have a donut hole-shaped “Snake Pit” in the middle of the stage offering a 360 view. The tour itinerary covers North America and Europe from April 2023 to September 2024. The first round of tickets would be sold in two-night passes for each city that cannot be broken up.

The second city on the tour is Paris and that jumped out at me immediately! This could be my chance to finally make this dream a reality. The date is not great, it will require me to reschedule a camping trip that I traditionally host that weekend, but sacrifices would have to be made.

After a few more stops in Europe, the tour heads to North America and the first stop is right here in North Jersey at MetLife Stadium. If Metallica plays New Jersey, I go every time.

The following weekend, they head due north to Montreal. Motorcycle and Metallica trip!

The next city that looked good to me is Phoenix on Labor Day weekend. I just visited the area in 2021 for the NASCAR Cup Series championship race and felt like my trip was too short for some of the things I wanted to do. I also have family in the area and they are fun to spend time with. That would be four cities in 2023, a pretty good number to cap it.

Metallica is going to take a well-deserved break starting in November 2023 and they hit the road again in June 2024, beginning again in Europe. Of the five European cities they will travel to in 2024, the one that looked the most interesting to me is Madrid in July. Why limit my dream to see Metallica in Europe to just Paris when I can also go to Madrid?

The next city on the tour is back in America in Foxborough, MA. That will be another motorcycle and Metallica trip for me, not to mention I have a college friend in the area that I enjoy visiting.

Now that I had an itinerary planned out, it was time to start planning the logistics of buying tickets. To steal a quote from a crappy movie I once saw, I’d rather stick a flaming hot skewer in my eye than deal with Ticketmaster. The company was recently in the news for botching a Taylor Smith tour pre-sale. I was surprised so many people were unaware how horrible the Ticketmaster experience was until then. They have been screwing me since they went online in the late 1990’s.

But I still have my priceless Legacy Fan Club Membership at my disposal, so I was counting on that to help me get tickets for every show. I was a paid member of the Metclub for about 17 years, and in 2016 Metallica obsoleted the paid tier, but promised all paid members that they would be grandfathered in to future pre-sales before the rest of the general pubic. Since then they have kept that promise. Today, no amount of money could buy you a Legacy Fan Club Membership from their website. Take that, Taylor Swift fans!

I collected my unique pre-sale code and got to work. I asked around to see what friends wanted to go to what shows. I was able to buy four passes for each city (but only two Snake Pit passes if I was lucky enough to pull them). There were too many of us going to the New Jersey show for me to help everyone who was going. But between us all we had enough pre-sale codes to accommodate everyone. For the rest of the shows, I had enough of my own ticket allocations to cover those that wanted to join me.

I read through the fine print in the ticket sale FAQ. The Legacy Fan Club pre-sales all start at 9 AM local time. That meant that for the France and Madrid shows, I would have to be online at 3 AM local time. Great.

The East Rutherford, Montreal, and Foxborough pre-sales started simultaneously at 9 AM. But I was advised that Ticketmaster does not like when you are buying tickets for multiple events at the same time. It supposedly guards against things like different browsers on the same device, using one Ticketmaster account login or a singular credit card to make simultaneous purchases. There was no good way to verify this, but I was not going to take any chances. I opened two additional Ticketmaster accounts, I assigned each one a different credit card. I lined up three devices: my personal computer, my work notebook computer, and my work desktop computer. I could use them in conjunction to order tickets for the three shows simultaneously. I never trusted the Ticketmaster iOS app, so I nixed the idea of using my phone.

Finally, there was the Phoenix show. That pre-sale would start at 11 AM, but of course the venue has an agreement with Seat Geek instead of Ticketmaster so that would be a different platform and account altogether. I had never previously bought primary market tickets on Seat Geek, so I had a lot of apprehension about their web site capabilities. But I assumed I would be able to figure it out once the rest of the pre-sales were out of the way and just hope for the best.

I reviewed my plan, checked all my accounts and credit cards, got my PCs ready, copied my pre-sale code to them, then set my alarm for 2:40 AM. I do not recall a previous instance that I was so nervous heading to bed. Maybe it was the day before I bought my first Harley, and I knew that I had to ride it home having never previously operating a motorcycle on a highway.

I did not get much sleep, but I was groggy when the alarm went off. My cats Ozzy and Lemmy gave me a confused look as I stumbled down the hallway to the computers I set up. I followed the links from the band website to the event pages on Ticketmaster France and Ticketmaster Spain. The first thing I noticed was that Ticketmaster France has a much different user interface than the American version. On top of that, despite clicking the “EN” link at the top for English, it didn’t translate everything.

I managed to enter both ticket queues for the Madrid and Paris shows and waited about 15 minutes for my spot to pop up to buy tickets. Madrid was first and I immediately selected two Snake Pit tickets and clicked buy. Bingo, I was allocated two Snake Pit tickets! I began the checkout process, and my username and password weren’t working. Unbeknownst to me, you need a separate Ticketmaster account for each country you want to buy tickets in. I had to begin the process of creating an account quickly enough to secure the Snake Pit tickets.

While this was happening, I was trying to pull Paris tickets on a different computer. But with the different interface and the failed translations, I was having a much harder time figuring out what to do. Everything was in a grid that looked like this:

The Snake Pit column was straightforward, but this didn’t appear to be a simple 2-day pass as advertised. I had no idea which to pick but I tried the link for “Tarif Pack 2” but it came back and said “no more seats in this category”. While I was still trying to check out my Madrid tickets, I had to try to figure out how to drop down to general admission for Paris. I grabbed two tickets for what I thought was general admission, then I also had to create a Ticketmaster France account as a requisite for completing the purchase.

Groggy and as confused as I was, I managed to get Snake Pit for Madrid and two tickets for Paris as well. Off to a good start. I went back to bed.

In the morning, I forwarded the French confirmation e-mail to a friend to ask him if I screwed something up. It turned out that I had, I got seats and not general admission tickets. I guess I confused “Pelouse” with “Carrie Or” when I bought tickets. This was a mistake, but not the end of the world. I would still have a pretty good perspective.

Next up, it was time to buy tickets for East Rutherford, Montreal, and Foxborough at the same time. I checked and my regular Ticketmaster account worked for Montreal, so I was all set with my original three-computer plan. Everything was smooth this time, I was not able to get Snake Pit tickets for any of the shows but was easily able to move down to general admission for all three.

Finally, Phoenix was up next at 11. I checked my Seat Geek account and it said, “there is a problem with your account, please call customer service”. I opened a new account, added a credit card, and got in line for more tickets. I was unfamiliar with their queuing system, but after what seemed like a longer than usual wait, I managed to pull general admission tickets.

With that, I was locked in. No Ticketmaster snafus in any country was going to keep me out. My trusty Metclub Legacy Membership came through for me.

This capped a whirlwind 48-hour stretch. I came out of it with a whole new direction in life. I am going to break up the cycle of only spending my vacation time and weekends on my motorcycle and at the Jersey Shore and throw some big travel plans into the mix, inspired by the greatest band of all time.

I have a lot of preparing I need to do. I need to book flights and accommodations along with sightseeing itineraries. I told my personal trainer that I need to step up the intensity of my workouts. I need my strength and conditioning to be as best as possible for these shows.

This turn of events has inspired me to write. I’m going to keep a journal of events around every trip and every concert and turn it into a Metallica travel blog.

Four countries, six cities, twelve Metallica concerts. When it is done, my lifetime total of Metallica concerts seen will increase from 27 to 39.

The text message I got on Monday, November 28, 2022, wasn’t just a notification for a new Metallica video. It was my existential pivot.

Full speed or nothing.

My M72 World Tour itinerary:

ParisFranceStade de FranceMay 17, 19 2023
East RutherfordUSAMetLife StadiumAug 4, 6 2023
MontrealCanadaStade OlympiqueAug 11, 13 2023
PhoenixUSAState Farm StadiumSep 1, 3 2023
MadridSpainEstadio Cívitas MetropolitanoJul 12,14 2024
FoxboroughUSAGilette StadiumAug 2, 4 2024

My lifetime Metallica shows:

4/8/1992Brendan Byrne ArenaEast Rutherford, NJ
7/17/1998Giants StadiumEast Rutherford, NJ
11/24/1998Roseland BallroomNew York, NY
11/23/1999Madison Square GardenNew York, NY
7/20/2000Giants StadiumEast Rutherford, NJ
7/8/2003Giants StadiumEast Rutherford, NJ
4/20/2004Nassau ColiseumUniondale, NY
10/22/2004Continental Airlines ArenaEast Rutherford, NJ
1/17/2009Wachovia CenterPhiladelphia, PA
1/31/2009Prudential CenterNewark, NJ
2/1/2009Prudential CenterNewark, NJ
11/14/2009Madison Square GardenNew York, NY
11/15/2009Madison Square GardenNew York, NY
9/14/2011Yankee StadiumNew York, NY
6/23/2012Bader FieldAtlantic City, NJ
6/24/2012Bader FieldAtlantic City, NJ
5/12/2017Lincoln Financial FieldPhiladelphia, PA
5/14/2017MetLife StadiumEast Rutherford, NJ
5/17/2017The New Coliseum Presented by NYCVUniondale, NY
7/19/2017Parc Jean-DrapeauMontreal, QC
10/20/2018Bryce Jordan CenterState College, PA
10/25/2018Wells Fargo CenterPhiladelphia, PA
9/6/2019Chase CenterSan Francisco, CA
9/24/2021Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo CenterLouisville, KY
9/25/2021Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo CenterLouisville, KY
5/29/2022Harvard Athletic ComplexBoston, MA
8/11/2022Highmark StadiumBuffalo, NY

Songs I’ve seen performed live:

SongTimes Seen
Enter Sandman25
Nothing Else Matters25
Master of Puppets24
Sad But True24
Seek and Destroy21
For Whom the Bell Tolls19
Creeping Death16
Fade to Black15
Wherever I May Roam11
Moth Into Flame9
The Unforgiven9
Ride The Lightning8
The Memory Remains8
Now That We’re Dead7
The Day That Never Comes7
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)7
Atlas, Rise!6
Fight Fire With Fire6
Harvester of Sorrow6
Holier Than Thou6
The Four Horsemen6
All Nightmare Long5
Broken, Beat And Scarred5
Halo On Fire5
No Leaf Clover5
Of Wolf and Man5
That Was Just Your Life5
The End Of The Line5
Hit The Lights4
Last Caress4
Whiskey In The Jar4
King Nothing3
St. Anger3
The Call of Ktulu3
The God That Failed3
Through the Never3
Turn The Page3
Am I Evil?2
Bleeding Me2
Die, Die My Darling2
Don’t Tread On Me2
I Disappear2
Last Caress/Green Hell2
My Friend Of Misery2
The Outlaw Torn2
The Shortest Straw2
The Struggle Within2
The Thing That Should Not Be2
Trapped Under Ice2
Until It Sleeps2
– Human1
(Anesthesia) – Pulling Teeth1
…And Justice For All1
All Within My Hands1
Damage Inc.1
Devil’s Dance1
Dirty Window1
Disposable Heroes1
Dyers Eve1
Hell And Back1
Hero of the Day1
Iron Foundry1
Jump In The Fire1
Justice Medley1
Killing Time1
Last Caress/So What/Die, Die My Darling1
Low Man’s Lyric1
Mercyful Fate1
Metal Militia1
My Apocalypse1
No Remorse1
Phantom Lord1
Sabbra Cadabra1
Small Hours1
So What1
Spit Out The Bone1
Stone Cold Crazy1
The Ecstasy of Gold1
The Judas Kiss1
The Prince1
The Unforgiven III1
The Wait1

The Quiet and Sad End of The Vince McMahon Era

Vince McMahon, former CEO and Chairman of WWE

My journey as a professional wrestling fan began sometime in early 1988 when I was in the eighth grade. It was in the lead up to WrestleMania IV. André the Giant won the WWF championship from Hulk Hogan in controversial fashion. Hogan appeared to kick out before three, but referee Earl Hebner counted the pinfall. André surrendered the title immediately to The Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase. Due to the controversy, DiBiase was stripped of the title, and it was put up for grabs in a 14-man tournament to be held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

I did not watch WrestleMania IV live on pay-per-view, but I managed to get a copy on VHS.  I feel like I watched it at least 100 times. A cast of colorful characters including future Hall-Of-Famers Hogan, André, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Ravishing Rick Rude, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts fought it out for the WWF championship. After four grueling victories, Savage defeated DiBiase in the finals and was crowned the new WWF Champion.

I was hooked.

In that era, the WWF would drip programming to you for free on Saturday mornings. Feature talents would compete in “squash matches” against nobodies who were hired to lose. It was all a commercial for the live events in your area and for the broadcast pay-per-views throughout the year.

The announcing team on Saturday mornings was the duo of Jesse “The Body” Ventura who always sided with the bad guys, and Vince McMahon who looked and sounded like a strait-laced sports play-by-play guy.

A friend had a subscription to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. It was an inside view of world of professional wrestling that your typical fan would not be able to find anywhere else in the pre-consumer Internet world.

Much to my surprise, I learned from the newsletter that Vince McMahon wasn’t just an announcer, he was the owner of Titan Sports which was the holding company for the WWF. Having that newsletter put me slightly ahead of my time. In subsequent years the curtain was peeled back and most of wrestling’s secrets were revealed, including Vince McMahon’s role as owner of the WWF, now WWE.

Thirty-four years later, I am still as much of a professional wrestling fan that I was in 1988. The big difference is that I am no longer in the eighth grade. Now I am a middle-aged Wall Street professional. I also am a WWE shareholder. My perspective has changed a bit.

Between the mid-90’s and the present day, the WWE has grown exponentially, and Vince McMahon has been the driving force behind all of it. Most wrestling fans think of Vince McMahon as the gregarious on-screen character known as Mr. McMahon, and the man behind the scenes who makes all the creative decisions. We cheer for him when he enters the arena, but we make negative comments on social media when we believe that he didn’t give a “push” to one of our favorite stars that we believe deserved it.

But that does not nearly paint the whole picture of who Vince McMahon is. He has a third dimension as and the leader and the visionary of the company. He is a hard-charging businessman, and a very successful one at that. Here are just a few of his accomplishments that I can think of without even having to research them:

  • He muscled all the regional wrestling promotions out of business and took over North America, and then brought WWE to the rest of the world.
  • He fought off fierce competition from Ted Turner’s WCW, ultimately leading to him buying out WCW and leaving the WWE with no legitimate competition.
  • He took the WWE public in 1999.
  • He signed countless television deals and expanded WWE programming offerings to the point that your average fan can barely keep up with all of it.
  • He stayed ahead of the media and technology curve by offering WWE content on every nascent platform including cable television, close circuit television, pay-per-view, video games, VHS, DVD, 1-900 phone lines, Internet, social media, and over-the-top streaming.

You do not grow a branded media empire by being a nice guy. You must ruffle some feathers, step on some toes, have conviction in yourself and your beliefs, and have an extremely thick skin. McMahon has never faltered over the years, maintaining a tight grip on his company no matter what trials and tribulations came his way. He was often quoted as saying that he would never retire because he loved what he did.

That all came to an end when his run with the WWE came to an end with a solitary tweet late on a Friday afternoon. Vince McMahon would be quietly retiring from the WWE.

As shocking as it might feel like to a decades-long WWE fan like myself that Vince McMahon is gone from the WWE, the announcement was hardly a surprise. For while all this was happening throughout his tenure with the WWE, there were always indications that he was a really bad guy. And those indications turned out to be true when the Wall Street Journal reported that McMahon had been paying hush money to women who worked for the WWE to remain quiet about his sexual misconduct with them.

The Journal story may have been a bit of a shock to some who were not paying attention, but McMahon had similar allegations levied against him in the past but managed to keep them from damaging his career. The most prominent one was made by a former WWF referee Rita Chatterton in the early 1990’s.

Chatterton brought her story public on the Geraldo show in 1992. She alleged that McMahon lured her into his limousine under the guise of talking about her career, only to proceed to rape her and then go on to fire her from the company.

As was customary before the #metoo movement, Geraldo and the audience mainly blamed her for what happened, and some did not believe her story. This video remained hidden in plain sight for the last thirty years. But it appears that Chatterton finally is going to get people to believe her story given the current allegations against McMahon.

While McMahon has not publicly addressed the allegations against him, his lawyer did admit that McMahon had made the payments. That is very damning evidence against McMahon. Why would he pay millions of dollars to multiple women if they were just shaking him down and he was innocent? That does not sound very Vince-like.

The twists and turns in this story got my attention more as a Wall Streeter and a share holder than as a fan. It is now being alleged that McMahon used WWE funds to pay these women off, and that the WWE is now going to have to re-state past earnings. The SEC is investigating the situation because it is illegal to intentionally misstate earnings.

That is not to mention the messed up corporate governance structure of the WWE that allowed this to go on for so long. It might have even enabled McMahon to continue to misbehave had the Journal not reported the story. McMahon owns a majority stake in the company, so he controls the voting rights. The WWE board is supposed to be his boss, but they effectively report to him.

Allegedly, one of the victim’s friends e-mailed the accusation to someone on the WWE board. The board investigated the situation, but they were powerless to do anything about it. Apparently, this frustrated a board member to the point that they leaked it to the Journal to make it public. McMahon remained defiant at first, but after a few weeks he had to give in and quietly step away.

Just like that, the man who could not be stopped by any outside forces on his way to building a global content empire was done in by his own bad behavior.

From a fan’s perspective, this looks like a sad ending to an amazing career. But from a corporate standpoint, and from a human decency standpoint, this is good riddance to a monster. McMahon is a sexual predator who abused his position of power to force himself on women who worked for him, then tossed them aside and illegally covered up his hush money payments.

As a life-long fan it is impossible to imagine WWE without Vince McMahon controlling every aspect of the company with an iron fist. But I am also glad that he was forced quit so I do not have to be conflicted about remaining a fan of a company controlled by a horrible human being.

WrestleMania 38 Postscript

After a 19 year absence, Stone Cold Steve Austin returned to the ring at WrestleMania 38 against Kevin Owens

I must move past my complaints about the WrestleMania two-night paradigm because it appears to be permanent. But when WrestleMania spans two nights for a total of 16 matches, there is a lot to unpack. First and foremost, as a whole WrestleMania was very enjoyable. Most of the matches were exciting and there were many unexpected moments.

In isolation, however, Saturday night was the better of the two. In fact, if WrestleMania 38 was just what was given to us on Saturday night, I would have been perfectly satisfied. It was full of great matches that were capped by a surprise main event match featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin that re-wrote the history of his career and legacy.

Sunday night was a good show, even if things were a little strange at times. The Gable Steveson segment was a bit awkward and made him look very green. The New Day match was unusually short. The Pat McAfee bonus match with Mr. McMahon was another awkward segment that did not do either one of them any favors. The main event between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar ran a little short for a champion versus champion match.

These are minor criticisms. A show this large would be impossible to make perfect. Not every wrestler is the best and not every match can draw five stars from the critics.

To look at it through a different lens, I offer a list of WrestleMania winners and losers every year. This year, there are far more winners than there are losers.


  • Rick Boogs: The show got off to a rough start when Boogs suffered a devastating leg injury in the first match. Things were looking good for the upstart wrestler, but now he is facing surgery and a lengthy rehab.
  • Otis: The big man has a lot of potential but got lost in the shuffle in his six-man tag team match.
  • Omos: Having him lose at WrestleMania is not a great way to build a monster heel of his size.
  • The New Day: As I mentioned, their match was so short it was a throw-away. Time to move on from this gimmick.
  • Mr. McMahon: He should know how to sell a Stunner by now!


  • The Usos: Their career began with them constantly being overlooked at WrestleMania. Now they are the top tag team in the WWE and made a strong statement by winning the opening match.
  • Drew McIntyre: He got to cut the ring ropes with a sword. Cool!
  • Logan Paul: I had no expectations for his wrestling ability given that as far as I could tell, he had never worked a match in front of a crowd. I was blown away with how well he performed. He carried himself like a veteran. He was smooth, paced himself well, and his mechanics were solid. He should sign a full-time contract.
  • Cody Rhodes: Jim Ross always says that when a wrestler leaves a promotion, it is usually because of one of “the two c’s: cash or creative”. Rhodes left the WWE for AEW for the latter but returned for the former. And while he was cashing in, he orchestrated himself a great WrestleMania moment with his win over Seth Rollins.
  • Kevin Owens: The big man from Marieville, Quebec was in a WrestleMania main event match against Stone Cold Steve Austin. Enough said!
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin: He looked a little slow, but it did not matter. His connection to the audience is as strong as it has ever been. He often said he did not want to return because he did not think he was physically capable of performing at a high level. But he proved himself wrong and found a way to make his match work.
  • Steve Austin Fans: If you ever chanted “ONE MORE MATCH” at Steve over the last 19 years, you finally got your wish!
  • Triple H: He got the send-off he deserves with one last WrestleMania moment.
  • Gable Steveson: The Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champion was spotlighted two nights in a row. I only hope for his sake that this sake he doesn’t get slapped with the “he’s being forced down our throats” label.
  • Randy Orton: What a pop for that hot tag!
  • Pat McAfee: He might not look like a wrestler, but he can sure work like one. He even got to call his own match on commentary. He should be on cloud nine all week after the weekend he had.
  • Austin Theory: Hey Mr. McMahon, you can learn a thing or two from your protégé about how to sell a Stunner!
  • Roman Reigns: I started this blog primarily so I could rant about how much I could not stand to see Reigns in the WrestleMania main event year after year. But since he took WrestleMania 36 off and returned as The Tribal Chief, he has been the top performer in the world. I have done a complete about-face about Roman. It is about time I finally say it: I acknowledge Roman Reigns!

Raw is beginning as I am finishing this post. I look forward to seeing where things go from here. Hey look, Veer is going to make his Raw debut tonight…

WrestleMania 38 Sunday: Analysis and Predictions

If WrestleMania 38 was just the Saturday card, it would have left everyone satisfied. Every performer on the Sunday show is going to have a hard time following the matches that took place on Saturday. It was a near-flawless show that exemplified professional wrestling at its finest.

There is no lack of star power lined up for WrestleMania Sunday, and there is a good mix of grudge matches and title matches. It is going to be capped with a title unification match between the two top stars in the WWE. If WrestleMania must be two nights, at least there is a lot to look forward to tonight.

The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) vs. Sheamus and Ridge Holland (with Butch)

This match is behind the eight-ball to begin with because Big E will not be able to compete in it, having suffered a broken neck on Smackdown in an accidental botched spot with Ridge Holland. Big E would have been the biggest star of the bunch, and it cost Butch his opportunity to be in the match. Instead, he will be the heater on the outside.

The New Day gimmick certainly has staying power and is still over with WWE fans. Sheamus and Ridge Holland are a much newer pairing, and Holland is in a good spot here with a chance to show that he can hang with this veteran group. Butch is the odd man out but should at least get a spot to draw some heat for himself.

Prediction: Winners, Sheamus and Ridge Holland

Queen Zelina and Carmella (c) vs. Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan vs. Natalya and Shayna Baszler in a fatal four-way tag team match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Try to say that one fast. This is the lone overbooked “let’s get everybody on the WrestleMania card” match of the weekend. These matches are always confusing and help nobody look good. This will give me an opportunity to catch up on my DVR queue while the show is still on.

Prediction: This match is going to suck

Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn in an Anything Goes match

Logan Paul crushed it on WrestleMania Saturday. Can Johnny Knoxville do the same? The Anything Goes stipulation opens a creative channel to introduce multiple Jackass-type stunts into the match. It also protects Knoxville if he can not wrestle at a competent level.

Prediction: Winner, Sami Zayn

Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory

I caught Pat McAfee wrestling in a War Games match on NXT and was very impressed with how he carried himself. He does not have too many matches on his professional resume, but he has shown he can rise to the occasion. Austin Theory is among the youngest competitors at WrestleMania 38.  He is going to want to prove he has long-term potential to be a WrestleMania star.

McAfee has a great deal of name recognition outside the WWE as a sportscaster to begin with. This is an obvious spot for the WWE to give him a few highlight-worthy spots and a victory to draw some mainstream recognition.

Prediction: Winner, Pat McAfee

RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) (c) vs. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) vs. Alpha Academy (Chad Gable and Otis) in a triple threat tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

SHOOOSH!!! This one is not quite as bad as the women’s fatal four-way championship match, but there is going to be a lot going on that will distract from the individual talents. These are three very capable tag teams, and you must hope that their performances do not get lost in the shuffle.

Randy Orton is a former WrestleMania main-eventer who has slid down the card as a babyface tag-team wrestler. It seems logical that at some point he is going to backstab Riddle and turn heel. What better time and place than WrestleMania?

Prediction: Winners and new WWE Raw Tag Team Champions, Alpha Academy.

Edge vs. AJ Styles

A grudge match between two veterans with nothing titles or stipulations on the line? Yes, please! Edge working heel for the first time since his surprise return to the WWE? Yes, please! This one has match of the night potential.

Prediction: Winner, Edge

Bobby Lashley vs. Omos

It is good that Bobby Lashley made the WrestleMania card after it looked like he was suffering from some sort of injury that limited his participation at Elimination Chamber and saw him surrender the championship. Unfortunately, there was not much of a build for this match. But Bobby is one of the top stars in WWE today and it should be fun to watch these ridiculously large human beings do battle.

Prediction: Winner, Bobby Lashley

Brock Lesnar (WWE Champion) vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Champion) (with Paul Heyman) in a Winner Takes All match to unify the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship

This is the third time we have seen this exact same WrestleMania main event. But it is the first time that Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have been positioned properly. Roman Reigns is finally the arrogant heel that the fans wanted him to be, and Brock is the “cowboy with a strange mohawk and ponytail” that is somehow working out very well for him.

There is a clear good guy versus bad guy dynamic in this match, and there is a title unification on the line. What more could you really ask for in a WrestleMania main event?

Prediction: Winner and Unified Champion, Roman Reigns

WrestleMania 38 Saturday: Analysis and Predictions

Seth Rollins vs. who?

I promise my ranting about WrestleMania being two nights long is over. It is WrestleMania weekend, and I am consumed with everything going on and am looking forward to it all. The stage for the weekend has been set by an emotional Hall of Fame speech by The Undertaker which hopefully inspired the current talent to be at their very best when it is their turn on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

I already expressed my opinion on the main event KO Show featuring Kevin Owens and Stone Cold Steve Austin so now I will take a look at the actual matches on the card.

Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. The Miz and Logan Paul

While I have never been much of a Rey Mysterio fan, I certainly admire his longevity in the WWE. Rey’s status helped his son Dominik cut the NXT line and get a spot on the main roster. At Rey’s age, however, the writing is on the wall that he is nearing the end. They Mysterio’s are going to want to impress at what could be their last WrestleMania appearance as a team.

The Miz drew the celebrity match card for a second year in a row, this time he has the celebrity on his side. Well, if you can call Logan Paul a celebrity. I am not sure exactly what his claim to fame is, he never really showed up in my YouTube feed. It remains to be seen if he has enough moves to work an entire match, or if The Miz will have to carry the load for his team. I would guess that The Miz will work most of the match and they will give Paul one big high spot.

Prediction: Winners, The Miz and Logan Paul

Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin (with Madcap Moss)

Drew McIntyre was the pandemic-era champion of the WWE. Unfortunately, most times when a babyface champion loses the title, he ends up sliding down the card. Looks like that is what happened to Drew when he landed in this match.

Happy Corbin works a different gimmick every year. This time around he is… happy? I do not get it either. Somehow this guy seems to have enough talent to be good, but he never connects with the audience. With Madcap Moss in tow (I do not get him either), he should be able to deliver a bruising match against McIntyre.

Prediction: Winner, Happy Corbin

The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs in a tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship

The veteran Usos are in their best professional run. They are both the best tag team in the WWE, and they are great heaters for Roman Reigns.

Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs are an odd pairing that are hard to understand. Nakamura has under-delivered throughout his WWE run that was supposed to have a lot more promise. Boogs somehow took Elias’ gimmick and does not bring much else to the table.

Prediction: Winners, The Usos

Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair in a singles match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Becky has not done much of anything interesting since her return from maternity leave. Belair uses her hair as a weapon. Do not expect much from this match.

Prediction: Winner and still WWE Raw Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch

The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) vs. Sheamus and Ridge Holland (with Butch)

This was originally supposed to be a six-man tag team match with a fully reunited New Day, but unfortunately Big E’s career came to a sudden end when he accidentally broke his neck in an encounter with Ridge Holland on Smackdown a few weeks ago. The New Day does not have the same cachet without the big man.

Sheamus is the veteran member of his team and being used to get Ridge Holland over. Butch, the former Pete Dunne from NXT, has not had enough time on the main roster with his new name and gimmick to connect with the audience. Sheamus is really going to have to do all the work in this match.

Prediction: Winners, Sheamus and Ridge Holland

Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey in a singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship

I was at WrestleMania 38 when Rousey managed to mess up the finish of the first ever women’s main event at WrestleMania. I regret not leaving early to beat the traffic. Then she disappeared for three years. I don’t imagine she has gotten much better since then, and I don’t have high expectations for this match.

Prediction: Winner and new WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey

Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. TBA

Mr. McMahon will announce Rollins’ opponent during the show. I won’t get into what the rumors are because most wrestling Internet rumors tend to not come true. Although this one seems likely to happen, you never know.

That makes this one hard to predict. But you can count on Seth Rollins to be his very best no matter who they trot out to wrestle him. He is known for his WrestleMania performances and this match is very likely going to steal the show.

Prediction: Winner, Seth Rollins

WrestleMania 38: Where the Main Event Is Not a Match

Stone Cold Steve Austin Will be at WrestleMania 38 in a main event segment. What?

I had planned to end my rant about the WrestleMania 38 card being watered down when spread over two nights with my last blog post. Then Kevin Owens announced on Monday Night Raw that his KO Show interview of Stone Cold Steve Austin will be the main event of WrestleMania Saturday.

Let that sink in for a moment. The main event of a WrestleMania event is not even a match!

Granted WrestleMania is always a different show that is intended to stand out from the rest of the pay-per-views throughout the year. It leans more on the entertainment aspects of WWE’s content than a regular show would. But the word “wrestle” is still in WrestleMania! It still should be about wrestling matches, especially in the main event.

Let us flash back to WrestleMania V at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. There were fourteen matches on the card.

Midway through the show, Rowdy Roddy Piper hosted Morton Downey Jr. on a Piper’s Pit segment in the ring. Downey was a controversial television host at the time and Piper was already a wrestling legend. The segment lasted for a few minutes and ended with a quick laugh when Piper sprayed Downey in the face with a fire extinguisher because Downey refused to extinguish his cigarette.

WrestleMania V culminated in a main event between Randy Macho Man Savage and Hulk Hogan for the WWF championship. It was an instant classic of a match between the two biggest stars in the WWF at the time that was built up over the course of the year. The main event was not the damn Piper’s Pit segment! That segment was where it belonged, filler in the middle of the card.

I was going to give my analysis of the Austin segment later in the week, but in the context of this rant, I will do it now.

The KO Show featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin

On March 30, 2003, WrestleMania XIX took place at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. In the penultimate match on the card, The Rock defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was their third and final WrestleMania matchup, and unbeknownst to us at the time, it was Austin’s last match. It was kept from the public that it this would be the conclusion of his in-ring career. His body was failing, and he knew he could no longer continue.

The fans were not ready to see Austin retire, and he did not want to leave. He later would admit that he struggled through an existential crisis for years without the job that he loved. But continually refused multiple offers to wrestle any more matches. He knew that he was physically incapable of performing at the highest level. His pride kept him from tarnishing his legacy and embarrassing himself. It was rumored that Austin was once again offered to work a match at WrestleMania 38.

Austin would return for various guest appearances in the 19 years since his retirement. One memorable example was when he delivered a Stunner to Xavier Woods at WrestleMania 32, the last time WrestleMania was in Dallas, Texas. This year, in lieu of the match he reportedly refused, Austin will be in a much higher profile WrestleMania segment.

Austin’s journey to WrestleMania 38 began with Kevin Owens disrespecting and insulting the state of Texas repeatedly on Raw. In the beginning, it was hard to understand where this angle was headed. But Owens, who did not have a match lined up for WrestleMania, invited Steve Austin to be a guest on his KO Show at WrestleMania. In a taped segment, Austin agreed to Owen’s offer the next day.

Let’s consider the potential scenarios for how this will play out:

  • Scenario 1: The WWE will attempt to recreate a classic Austin “raising hell” segment with a prop like a monster truck or a beer truck, but bigger and more elaborate.
  • Scenario 2: Another Austin foil such as Mr. McMahon will interject himself into the segment and Austin will beat him up.
  • Scenario 3: Austin and Owens will come to blows, Austin will grab a microphone and demand a referee come to the ring and ring the bell to start an impromptu match between him and Owens. He will deliver a Lou Thesz Press and a quick Stunner to Owens giving us one last “match” that will total about 45 seconds.
  • Scenario 4: Austin and Owens argue about the state of Texas and Owen’s pilfering of Austin’s Stunner as his finisher. Austin will kick Owens in the plumbs and give him three or four Stunners.

No matter which scenario they pick, Austin will shotgun about a dozen beers and give the crowd the double-bird as the announcers thank us for tuning in.

If you imagine any of these scenarios as a segment somewhere in the middle of the show, it sounds great. We get to see Austin do something funny and he maintains his integrity for not wrestling one more match.

But if you imagine this as the main event of WrestleMania Saturday, it is a creative trap from hell. How do you shape any of these scenarios into a WrestleMania main-event-level production? In Scenario 1 does he bring a machine gun to the ring and blow Owens away? In Scenario 2 does Mr. McMahon make a run-in only to eat a Stunner? In Scenario 3 does a quick match really belong as a main event? In Scenario 4, what can the two possibly say or do to each other that would make this better than a wrestling match in this segment? In conclusion I am not happy with this situation because of where it is placed on the show. I can not get past the fact that the main event of WrestleMania Saturday is not a wrestling match!

WrestleMania 38: Where Less is No Longer More

As an aficionado of the Jim Ross podcast, I’ve often heard him use the phrase “less is more” as a bit of advice he would give in-ring talents for how to construct the flow of their matches. Well, that phrase does not apply to the big picture in the WWE. For the third year in a row, WrestleMania is a two-night affair. The previous two double-WrestleMania’s appeared to be necessitated by the pandemic. Unfortunately, that trend appears to be permanent.

Were any fans really clamoring for a two-night WrestleMania? I did not even like the trend of the show getting longer and longer every year to begin with. Like the rest of the world, my attention span gets shorter and shorter all the time. I would be fine with a three-and-a-half-hour card featuring the best full-time talents on the show that save their best efforts for the Grandest Stage of Them All.

The WWE business model is about grabbing new revenue opportunities at every turn. It is like the Star Wars Effect where a conglomerate super-sizes content such that creativity suffers greatly, but it makes a lot more money, so the creators really do not care about the quality of their product. Case in point: Two superstars who were prominently featured at WrestleMania 37, Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt, have since been fired due to “budget cuts”, but now the WWE paradoxically must fill two shows without them. The WWE gets to earn more money while spending less on in-ring talent.

At the time of this writing, there are fourteen matches announced in total for the weekend, and an appearance of Stone Cold Steve Austin on the KO Show. The cards are watered down and bloated even in isolation. The only match that seems like a big deal is the Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar title unification showdown. Maybe that is because this is the third time these two will face each other in a WrestleMania main event.

Everything else that has been announced does not move the needle. A handful of celebrities that I do not care about, and a bunch of matches that look like they belong on Raw or Smackdown.

But hey, it is still WrestleMania weekend. Even if it sounds like a chore to sit through both shows, that is what I am going to do! Maybe Edge and AJ Styles have big plans for their match. Maybe Seth Rollins brings his A game to his mystery opponent. Maybe Johnny Knoxville finally breaks every bone in his body on live television and I can say I saw it. And if I get tired or bored, I can take a nap during one of the women’s matches!

Keep an out for my expert predictions and analysis later in the week. I sure have a lot of typing to do!

2022 Royal Rumble Analysis and Predictions

The Road to WrestleMania 38 begins Saturday night at the Royal Rumble in St. Louis. WrestleMania is now an unnecessarily long two-night event, so there are a lot of storylines to lay out between now and then. The matches on the Rumble card that will have the biggest consequences for WrestleMania are the men’s rumble match, and the two men’s championship matches.

Edge and Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz and Maryse in a Mixed tag team match

A lot of what Miz does these days is mid-card work that promotes his outside interests in reality shows. He is still the most dependable heel the WWE has on the roster and could easily move up the card if he was not mired in situations like this.

You would be hard-pressed to find an Edge fan who wanted to see him come out of retirement to be in a mixed tag team match with his wife. This is a long way down from last year when he won the 2021 men’s rumble match as the #1 entrant and went on to get smoked by Roman Reigns in the WrestleMania main event.

Prediction: Winners, The Miz and Maryse

Becky Lynch (c) vs. Doudrop in a Singles match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

No comment.

Prediction: I’m going to take a nap during this match.

Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Bobby Lashley (with MVP) in a singles match for the WWE Championship

These are two of the very best in the game right now. Both competitors have similar backgrounds as amateur wrestlers-turned pro who then bounced between professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. Lesnar has been near or at the top of the WWE for his entire career, but Lashley was more of a late bloomer, not winning his first WWE championship until he was in his mid-40’s.

Time has not slowed these two down at all, they are both peak athletes and freakishly large. This is a WrestleMania caliber match that I cannot wait to watch.

Prediction: Winner and new WWE Champion, Bobby Lashley

Roman Reigns (c) vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins in a Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship

These two former Shield members are feuding again. They have both undergone many character machinations since Rollins took the belt off Reigns at WrestleMania 31. Reigns took longer to find himself but he finally figured out how to be the top guy in the company. This will be the first time they clash as heels. The Uso’s have been banned from ringside so Reigns will have to go it alone.

Prediction: Winner and still WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Ronda Rousey is going to make a surprise return to win the Royal Rumble and go on to face Becky Lynch at WrestleMania.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

The rumor mill has not had much to say about this year’s men’s rumble winner. The main men’s matches at WrestleMania are going to feature Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar (potentially even head-to-head) so that leaves a spot open for someone to jump into the main event picture.

The WWE is cross promoting the new Jackass movie and will place Johnny Knoxville in the rumble match where he will likely eliminate Sami Zayn. Zayn always seems to be the mark to get guest celebrities over. Not a bad spot to be in.

At the time of this writing, there are five spots that have yet to be announced. They’ll likely be filled by NXT call ups and returning retirees. None of them have potential to contend for the win.

I am handicapping the field as follows:

No Chance in Hell

  • Angelo Dawkins
  • Montez Ford
  • Dominik Mysterio
  • Austin Theory
  • Johnny Knoxville
  • Happy Corbin
  • Madcap Moss
  • Sami Zayn
  • Omos
  • Riddle
  • Chad Gable
  • Otis
  • Dolph Ziggler
  • Robert Roode
  • Shinsuke Nakamura
  • Rick Boogs
  • Ricochet

Dark Horse Potential

  • Sheamus
  • Damian Priest
  • AJ Styles
  • Kofi Kingston
  • Randy Orton


  • Rey Mysterio
  • Big E
  • Kevin Owens

The No Chance in Hell field contains nobody with WrestleMania main event potential, at least not in 2022.

Damien Priest has been on the rise this year and could surprise with a big win. The rest of the dark horse field are former champions and can be counted on to carry a WrestleMania title match. A win by any of them would be a surprise, but not a shock.

Rey Mysterio has been at the forefront of WWE storylines and is on the cover of the latest WWE video game. The geriatric luchador apparently is still a moneymaker and might have one big main event run left in him.

Big E is a recent former champion and may be poised to take off again. He would match up well against Reigns or Lesnar in a one-on-one match.

Kevin Owens recently returned to working as a heel which is his natural state. He would be able to sell a WrestleMania main even against a top babyface in his sleep. Maybe this is finally KO’s time to have a big WrestleMania moment.