Professional wrestling fans can be a little cranky sometimes. They’re not that different from obsessed followers of other TV shows, with their theorizing and hoping and wishing and then complaining when their prophesied dreams are not realized. The only difference is, wrestling fans have been doing this for decades. This WrestleMania season has been particularly tough, as viewers must come to grips with a main event between part-timers with a combined age of 89. This main event match might not last five minutes — and the other matches on the card seem thrown together with some murky storytelling.
So to properly preview Sunday’s Showcase of the Immortals, we need to turn to one of the truly great things from the last year of wrestling: Chris Jericho, and more specifically, the List of Jericho. It takes a special talent to turn a list of people that annoy you into one of the most popular gimmicks in the WWE, but Jericho had the skill to pull it off. Below are all thirteen (!!!) matches scheduled for Mania proper and the pre-show, with the annoying reasons these matches have earned their way onto the List. But in an attempt to balance things out, we’ll also go over the reasons that even the most curmudgeonly wrestling die-hards should be excited for each match on the card.
1. Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Why it’s on the list: The dumping ground for everyone who doesn’t have a set storyline. It’s hard to get too mad at this, though, with the worst thing you can say about the fourth iteration of the Andre tribute being that the pushes out of Mania for the three previous winners have been spotty at best.
How it could earn its way off the list: This has traditionally been a pretty brief affair with a few fun spots and stare downs. We’ll get something with Braun Stroman and the Big Show, some potential Sami Zayn heroics and potentially a continuation of the SmackDown tag title feud with The Usos, American Alpha and Breezango all involved. Maybe Shaq shows up?
2. WWE Cruiserweight Title: Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
Why it’s on the list: The launch of the cruiserweight division has been spotty at best, and the fact this match has been relegated to the pre-show seems to imply that the WWE doesn’t fully believe in it. And if you wanted to skip the pre-show and just focus on the five hours of the actual event, you’re now obligated to watch just to see this match.
How it could earn its way off the list: As rough as the early months of the division were, Neville’s run as champion has been a blast, putting on the match of the night with Jack Gallagher at Fastlane and now finding a very capable challenger in Aries. The plus side of this being on the pre-show means that they should have plenty of time to show off their skills.
— Austin Healy Aries (@AustinAries) March 28, 2017
3. SmackDown Women’s Title Six-Pack Challenge: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch vs. Naomi
Why it’s on the list: This has the feeling of “Let’s throw all the women into a match to get them on the card,” a go-to move in Manias past. This is going to be the biggest spotlight by far for half of the participants (Bliss, Carmella, Naomi), so there’s the potential for some nerves. Will Naomi’s entrance work in a stadium?
How it could earn its way off the list: Lot of really good workers in here, and the crowd should be hot cheering for both Lynch (perhaps the most over female babyface in the company) and Naomi (hometown hero returning from injury). We’ve seen variations of this over the last few months and while it’s been sloppy at times, it’s never been bad.
4. RAW Tag Team Title Ladder Match: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
Why it’s on the list: Credibility issues, mainly, as the story of “The New Day cannot lose because they need to break the record” made The Club look weak, while Enzo and Cass were involved in some low-grade battles with Rusev and Jinder Mahal.
How it could earn its way off the list: Adding this stipulation to the mix gives us the multiple-man ladder match we’ve become accustomed to at Mania, and all six of these guys should be capable of some pretty cool spots if given the time. The Enzo and Cass promo will assuredly be an epic one, followed by Enzo throwing his body around and potentially becoming concussed. Cesaro is still one of the best workers in the company and is going to go nuts in this. Sheamus + ladder + power moves = fun times.
5. WWE United States Title: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Why it’s on the list: It should be for the Universal Title…you stupid idiot.
How it could earn its way off the list: These guys are awesome and this match has the potential to steal the show. The Festival of Friendship turn resulted in Owens becoming an even more ruthless heel while Jericho went pure babyface, a setting that suits them both quite well coming into this contest. This story likely ends with Owens beating the living hell out of his former best friend, but the question is whether that potentially occurs after Y2J can retain his title.
6. WWE Intercontinental Title: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
Why it’s on the list: The build to this match has been treated as an afterthought at times, with no reference on the final SmackDown before Mania — although both men did appear on Talking Smack after the show. Could use a stipulation of some sort, although if this is first in a series of matches, it’s probably best not to escalate too soon. Is this where we complain about how Ambrose should have been in the main event of last year’s show?
How it could earn its way off the list: These guys have been doing really good work for a while, and this match has the chance to be one of the best on the card if they’re given enough time. This could be both Ambrose’s chance at his first great Mania singles match and Corbin’s big breakout moment.
7. Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Why it’s on the list: Styles had the best year of anyone in the WWE, and for his trouble he gets not a title match, nor another Cena contest, nor The Undertaker, nor (sigh) Shawn Michaels — instead, he gets to square off against a 47-year-old executive. As of publication, this match doesn’t have any additional stipulations added, meaning that for things to get hardcore, we’ll need an extended ref bump or similar chicanery.
How it could earn its way off the list: Styles could get a three-star match facing off against a mop, and Shane is far more capable than your average household cleaning device. There’s also the fact that Vince McMahon pitting Styles against his son means he views The Phenomenal One as one of his top guys, which is a great sign for those of us that want to see him stay at the top of the card. Shane is going to work his ass off, and then jump off of something very tall. This will likely end up being a lot of fun.
8. Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
Why it’s on the list: We’re afraid of watching Rollins potentially re-injure his leg in front of tens of thousands of people because he rushed his recovery. If Rollins is limited and can’t bust out his aerial move-set, it’s likely we see the worst-case scenario for Triple H matches: Ground-and-pound, war-of-attrition-style combat. “A non-sanctioned match brought to you by Snickers” is just an odd concept.
How it could earn its way off the list: If Rollins is healthy, he’s one of the best in the business, and Triple H has consistently delivered in his in-ring appearances over the last few years. After a slow-burning and muddled face turn for Rollins, this is a chance to put him over as one of if not the A-Number One good guys in the company. Triple H’s entrance will be hilariously over the top, per usual.
9. Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
Why it’s on the list: This is a feud, ostensibly, about who has property rights over a lawn. It feels like the entire set-up of this is simply to promote a future Reigns/Brock Lesnar match as “The only two men to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania.” Taker looked banged up at the Royal Rumble, so it’s possible Reigns might have to literally carry him through the proceedings. This almost certainly ends with Undertaker shaking Reigns’ hand and saying something like, “You’re the real big dog, Roman.”
How it could earn its way off the list: Reigns The Wrestler almost always puts on good matches, and Undertaker’s entrances — especially the extended editions we see at Mania — always deliver. Plus, he might still have one more big match in him. There’s a chance Undertaker wins, which would probably send the crowd into a euphoria that would carry through the rest of the show.
10. John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
Why it’s on the list: Only because in an alternate universe Cena is fighting Styles or Undertaker while The Miz is heading into year two of a never-ending Intercontinental Title reign. Otherwise…
How it could earn its way off the list: Everything about the build to this has been so great. You’re getting two of the best promo guys in the business going at each other, and Maryse’s Bella impressions should win an Emmy or three. This will likely break down into an extended Cena/Miz brawl, a rematch of the main event of Mania 27. And on top of that, there are a lot of signs pointing to a marriage proposal at the conclusion of this, which will immediately make it a “WrestleMania Moment,” a term you will hear approximately 100 times over the course of Sunday’s event. Al Roker is the special guest ring announcer. Cannot wait.
11. Raw Women’s Title Elimination Match: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
Why it’s on the list: The storytelling in the women’s division coming into this match has been a complete and total trainwreck. Bayley, who was previously the ultimate babyface, seems fine with the fact that she won the title through heel-ish tactics. Since winning the belt, she has been squashed by Jax multiple times, making her look like a weak champion. The one constant of the Women’s division for over a year — Charlotte never loses on pay-per-view — was eliminated one event prior to the biggest show of the year, for no apparent reason. Nothing about this makes sense, other than these are female wrestlers trying to win the title.
How it could earn its way off the list: Jax isn’t totally proven, but the other three women competing are incredible big-match competitors. Last year’s women’s title triple threat was probably the best match at Mania, so there’s no reason this can’t rise to the occasion as well. We also might get a full Banks heel turn, letting The Boss get back to what she does best.
12. WWE Title: Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
Why it’s on the list: It doesn’t involve Luke Harper or AJ Styles, which could take it to another level. The supernatural storyline isn’t for everyone, and both of these guys are known for putting on consistently solid singles matches without really elevating to the all-time level. Their first pay-per-view match at “No Mercy” in October was kind of a clunker.
How it could earn its way off the list: They’ve been building this storyline since the end of summer, going through a partnership, a break-up, arson, and all manner of supernatural weirdness. Orton seems to be having a blast and Wyatt has experience on the grandest stage of them all, having put together solid matches with Cena and Taker at previous Manias. Considering this is the WWE title match, that should have plenty of time to work.
13. WWE Universal Title: Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
Why it’s on the list: There isn’t evidence that Goldberg is capable of going more than a few minutes, as he hasn’t had a match go longer than 90 seconds in the last 13 years. The winner of this match will be champion and in all likelihood barely appear on WWE television, fighting a couple of matches until they presumably lose the belt to Reigns at SummerSlam. The last time Goldberg and Lesnar fought at WrestleMania — also Goldberg’s last Mania match — they were booed out of the building. Going from Daniel Bryan winning the title in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX to Lesnar/Goldberg main eventing three years later feels like the WWE’s booking version of Flowers for Algernon.
How it could earn its way off the list: The Survivor Series match was quite a spectacle, and it’s very possible they script out a fun sequence of power moves in front of a receptive crowd. It will have a big match feel, it’s just a matter of whether they can follow through on that feeling.
Wrestlemania 33 airs Sunday, April 7 at 7 p.m. on the WWE Network and Pay-Per-View.
Read more from Yahoo TV:
Shark Week 2017 to Premiere in Theaters
‘Scandal’ Star Darby Stanchfield Teases Abby’s Shocking Connection to Mystery Bad Guys
‘Prison Break’ Star Dominic Purcell Thought He Was Going to Die on Set