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WrestleMania card predictions

Roman Reigns will challenge Brock Lesnar for his Universal Championship. Photo by WWE.com

Finally, the moment wrestling fans have been waiting for has arrived, we are just a day away from WrestleMania 34. A year, or in some instances years, of build and hard work will all pay off this Sunday in New Orleans.  

Typically, I do not like doing prediction articles. But there is no way I was not going to do it for ‘Mania. In fact, this event is so big I had to pull out the big guns. I could not go at this one alone, though. I had to give wrestling fans who visit our website the dream collab. I had to call my buddy Jermaine Every to do these predictions with me.

 

The Card

Cruiserweight Tournament Final-  Cedic Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali

Jose: Since the tourney, the division has received a breath of fresh air. I do not think we give enough credit to how this story has been building for months. The animosity and tension between Alexander and Ali has been brewing for a while. I think Alexander will win the match, though I would be happy to see Ali win it.

Jermaine: Cedric has always been the bridesmaid. As soon as he gets a taste, the rug gets pulled. He has the qualities to get there, but he never does. I’d love to see something like that happen with Cedric. So give me Mustafa.

Raw Tag Titles- The Bar vs Braun Strowman & a mystery partner

Jose: I do not care who it is, Braun is winning the title here. I think the Tag Division on Raw is in shambles. It is time to move on from The Bar.

Jermaine: I agree with you there. My biggest take: I don't think it should be a part-timer. It should be someone who Braun should split up with later and feud with. Braun is too big of a star to stay stuck in the tag division.

Jose: So Samoa Joe would fit that role perfectly

Jermaine: Yes! Especially if later they feud for a shot for the Universal Title.

Jose: So who do you have winning?

Jermaine: Braun but if we are getting a swerve I want it here

SmackDown Tag Titles- The Usos vs The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers

Jose: Harper and Rowan’s gimmick is absolutely ridiculous, there is no denying that. But, man, has the build to this match been awesome. Not a question of lack of ability from any wrestler in this card. I'm having a tough time picking this one. Part of me thinks it is a no-brainer that the Bludgeon Brothers will win, but I have seen Harper and Rowan get pushed aside time and time again.

Jermaine: I had a really tough time, but there needs to be a pay off with Bludgeon Brothers. You have established them as a tough team. I think this is where they finally get their moment, their coming out party. I think this is their payoff.

Jose:  Bludgeon Brothers win, and we may see a little dissension with the New Day.

Fatal Fourway for the US Title- Orton vs Roode vs Mahal vs Rusev

Jose: Ok, before Rusev was added this was, without a doubt, the match I was looking forward to the least. The “will he, won’t he” aspect of Rusev winning will make it far more exciting than it could have been. Unfortunately,  I do not think he's getting it. I think Orton will retain, as disappointed as I am to say.

Jermaine: I’m going opposite. I think Rusev takes it home. It’s gotten to the point where it’s so hard to hate him. He is so over. It is one of those things where Rusev earned his way into the match and he's earned another shot at the US title.

Triple Threat for the IC Title- The Miz vs Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor

Jose: I’m going out on a limb and saying, this will be the best match of the night. I think Rollins and Miz are two of the best in-ring competitors on the roster. Balor always performs to the level of those around him, this match is going to be ridiculous. I think the Miz will retain here. Just because I feel like every match is switching championships.

Jermaine: I want to agree with you, it’s hard. They’ve been teasing the longest reigning IC title. It has to pay off. There has been a lot of switches. I think he retains here. I think that one of those things that’ll help him retain is the animosity between Balor and Rollins. I think he’ll steal it in typical chicken shit heel fashion.

Raw Women’s Title- Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax

Jose: I did not see this match happening, at all. Alexa’s reign has gotten pretty bland and I am ready to see them move on. I think it is time for Jax to win the title, as surprising as it seems to write it.

Jermaine: There’s those rumors that she was super unhappy. Remember the talks of her wanted to leave? I think the way Asuka goes to Smackdown is indicative. Nia gets the title. Keep her around, keep her happy.

SmackDown Women’s Title-Charlotte vs Asuka

Jose: Asuka wins, without a doubt. SmackDown needs her pretty bad, I think.

Jermaine: Asuka wins. Simply because next year I believe the main event match of WrestleMania will be Asuka vs Ronda Rousey. This is one of my top three matches of the night, for sure.

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens

Jose:  Give me Bryan and McMahon to win here. I don’t see Daniel losing on his first match back. Plus, I think Sami and Kevin will be stars moved on the next shakeup.

Jermaine: I think Sami and KO win, and the riff between Daniel and Shane grows bigger. They could move to Raw, but I think the thing to point out is that's the objective.

Jose: Mania is usually the culmination, but this year feels like the start of something.

Jermaine: Definitely, there does not feel like there is a real crescendo. The tag titles on SmackDown,  Asuka vs Charlotte, Alexa vs Nia, they are not ending here.

Kurt Angle &  Ronda Rousey vs Triple H & Stephanie McMahon

Jose: This one is obvious right, Angle and Rousey win.

Jermaine: Yeah, Ronda will make Steph tap. They’ll protect her without a doubt.

WWE Title- AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Jose: I’m concerned with this match, man. I am trying to set new expectations for this match. I have seen these two wrestle in New Japan, frankly, it was the match that got me into New Japan in the first place. There’s no way their match here will be that good. Plus, with a few exceptions, I have not been too keen on Nakamura in the WWE. I will try to put that all aside to enjoy this match.

Jermaine: It takes two to tango. Joe or Roode can’t sell like Styles or Zayn can. They make them. This is one of those things where it will really shock people.  I don’t think fringe people know their history. Without a doubt, this is my match of the night.

Jose: Who do you have winning?

Jermaine: My head says AJ Styles. My gut is saying Nakamura. This can start a back and forth where they go through a series. AJ makes his titles, he does not necessarily need them.

Jose: That convinces me, I'm going with Nakumara and I think AJ will be moved to Raw. It’s time for AJ to go there.

Universal Title- Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns

Jose: Looking back at their match at WrestleMania 31, I have full confidence that this will be an amazing match. 31 was the last ‘Mania where we had a really great closing match.

Jermaine: What makes me think things will be different is Brock’s attitude. This match will be a worthy main event. This has to close the show.

Jose: I got Roman winning.

Jermaine: Yes, they’ll find a way to get him to win. If you want to get a little extra, turn it into a no DQ and have Brock destroy him.


The Tie Breakers  Matches

What will happen between John Cena and Undertaker?

Jermaine: there has to be a payoff the way Cena talked about Taker something has to happen. This reminds of Stone Cold vs The Rock

Jose: The third one?

Jermaine: Yeah. Rock came back to beat Stone Cold. This has that vibe. This is what Cena has not done.I wish there was a way for neither of them to lose, but someone has to go over. I think it would be fitting if Taker wins. I’d like to see the American Badass Gimmick.

Jose: I think Cena wins here. It will be super emotional. It will be tough to watch, but that is what is going to happen.

The Andre the Giant Battle Royal

Jose: I think it’ll be a surprise. Initially, I was sure it would be Big Show to come back and win, but you reminded me Big Cass is on his way back. Vince loves Cass. I love me some Cass. I am going with that.

Jermaine: They wasted it on Mojo. It should be something that boosts someone’s career. Make it mean something. Give it to Tye Dillinger.  Can you imagine the Superdome chanting 10?

The Women’s Battle Royal

Jose: I’m gonna go with Becky Lynch. She has been put through so much and has sort of disappeared in the shuffle on SmackDown. I think this would be a great spot to boost her up. Sasha and Bayley will find a way to eliminate each other.

Jermaine: I think someone from NXT will win, much like Baron won a few years ago. I think Billy Kay or Payton Royce will win. I’ll go with Payton.

………

Jose: To wrap up, I have to say again how excited I am about this card. This is the card we have deserved as fans for years. This is the card we should have had at WrestleMania 32.

Jermaine: You’re right. It’s so tricky when you’re trying to put together a full card. You want to take fans through the rollercoaster, and I think this will have that. If I’m them, I’m opening with the IC Title match. I’m taking you on a ride that ends with Lesnar vs Reigns.

Jose: There’s not a match on this card I am not looking forward to, honestly.

Jermaine: There is not a single one. WrestleMania 31 is really underrated, but this, without a doubt, is the best card since 30.


* Keep an Eye on SportsMap this week as both Jose and Jermaine will be sharing their WrestleMania 34 experiences, straight out of New Orleans.





 

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Framber Valdez injured his ring finger on Tuesday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

That sure escalated quickly. The news on Framber Valdez went from bad to vastly worse for the Astros with the fractured ring finger on his pitching hand concerning enough that season ending surgery is on the radar. Valdez is/was no sure thing to have been a first time quality full season starting pitcher, but seemed a decent bet after his maturity-driven albeit short season breakout 2020.

37-year-old Zack Greinke is the only member of the Astros' starting rotation to have thrown even 130 innings in a big league season. Greinke showed notable slippage in 2020. A by-product of the funky short season, or Father Time making a move? If Greinke further erodes, uh oh. It's all question marks behind him.

Lance McCullers got to the big leagues in 2015. Six years later McCullers has zero seasons under his belt in which he both pitched well and stayed healthy. If he hits that exacta in 2021 it's great for the Astros of course, greater for McCullers with free agency arriving at season's end. Particularly confounding with McCullers is that over his career he's been outstanding at Minute Maid Park, and basically sucked on the road. Career earned run average at MMP: 2.51. Career ERA everywhere else: 4.99. That's absurd. It's certainly not as if MMP is some great pitchers' park.

"Crafty" is typically applied to left-handed pitchers. Jose Urquidy seems a crafty right-hander. But since missing the 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery Urquidy has topped 100 innings worked once. Cristian Javier has some electric stuff and showed very well as a rookie. Javier has never thrown 115 innings in a professional season.

The odds are long against McCullers, Urquidy, and Javier all pitching well and staying healthy all season. Valdez didn't come close to making it to Opening Day. The best internal candidates to replace Framber (or anyone else) are Luis Garcia and the extremely-hyped thus far dud but still just 23 years old Forrest Whitley.

Woeful Rockets

It certainly isn't paying homage to James Harden that has the Rockets on a 13 game losing streak as they mercifully take their All-Star break. They're just that bad. Watching them is like watching a helpless fly tossed into a spider web game after game. Out of the break the Rockets play at Sacramento Thursday. The Kings are no good, but the Rockets are worse. A loss there all but guarantees matching the Houston Rockets' longest ever losing streak of 15 since the following night they play at Utah. If you care about them the Rockets are painful to watch. Hapless, helpless, hopeless. Their best shot at accelerating what might be a years long path back to relevance is to keep on stinking. The Rockets have the third worst record in the NBA. The three worst teams have equal chances at getting picks one through four in the draft. It's a 14 percent shot at number one, a 52 percent shot of being in the top four. The fourth worst team has a 48 percent chance of picking in the top four. If the Rockets are not in the top four, they lose their pick to Oklahoma City as a payoff of the awful Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade.

Watt signs with Cardinals

J.J. Watt could have least acknowledged "Of course the money the Cardinals offered had plenty to do with me picking them!" Off an 8-8 season in which they faded down the stretch the Cards have an interesting squad with some serious upside, especially if Kyler Murray makes a leap in his third season at quarterback. But no way are the Cardinals presently a first tier Super Bowl contender. We don't know for certain who Watt's other "finalists" were and what they offered. Seems a lock that none of them offered 23 million dollars guaranteed or two years 31 million total. Money is another scoreboard and J.J. is a huge winner on it. No one should ever blame a player for going for every dollar he can get. But Watt can't honestly say the best shot at a Super Bowl was his top priority then sign with a team which last had a winning season in 2015 and in Kliff Kingsbury has a guy who has accomplished nothing meaningful as a Head Coach at either Texas Tech or Arizona. Doesn't mean it can't happen in the desert, but there had to be better teams interested if a ring shot was of paramount importance.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Les Miles, what a slimeball. LSU, what a slimy institution in its handling of serial sexual misconduct in its football program

2. NBA All-Star Game Sunday. In 1993 more than 22 million people watched. Last year, 6.8 million. Not sure 5 mil watch Sunday.

3. Greatest ever NFL free agent signings: Bronze-Packers, Reggie White Silver-Buccaneers, Tom Brady Gold-Saints, Drew Brees

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