Wrestlemania 34 Betting Lines – Part 2

10. Randy Orton (♚) vs Jinder Mahal vs Bobby Roode vs Rusev (United States Championship)

What’s at stake

Happy Rusev Day everyone!  The original Triple Threat Match for the US Title turned into a Fatal Four Way when Rusev (and his hype man/vocalist Aiden English) “Rusev Day’ed” his way out of the doldrums of the AG Battle Royal and into a match on the WrestleMania card.  The path to popularity in professional wrestling isn’t an algorithm.  Rusev was brought in with an undefeated streak (lasting almost a year), a Russian sympathizer gimmick, a blonde heat-seaking lady type and a punishing style that would have drawn huge money opposite Hulk Hogan in the 1980s.  At WrestleMania 31, Rusev was opposite John Cena.  This is the time where I will refer you to the entrance of Rusev at this WM (A TANK?).  Unfortunately for Rusev, this would seem like the top of his career.  He lost to Cena that night. Rusev entered weird storyline after strange feud (Love triangle, Losing to Neville, real life engagement).  Following his brief run with the League of Nations (I will not refer you to anything these dudes did), Rusev largely had mid card feuds with the one exception of his feud with Roman Reigns.  At WM 33, Rusev was absent due to injury and at SummerSlam Rusev lost to Randy Orton in 10 seconds. 

Similar fates have been seen by many wrestlers who have gotten pushed hard only to not attain popularity or enough hate to maintain interest.  Add in that Rusev is foreign (WWE doesn’t usually do great with people with accents) and it seemed likely that Rusev would follow the Umaga, Ryback, and Brodus Clay path to eventual obscurity.  Then an unlikely set of scenarios changed Rusev’s path.  He was given a key to the city in Bulgaria.  He was, jokingly, partnered with Aiden English (Vaudevillan) and English began to proclaim “Happy Rusev Day”. The combination of the quick loss at SummerSlam (see Bryan, Daniel), a catchy catchphrase, and a fierce commitment to this new “Rusev Day” character, Rusev is now on the ascent again. Except, this time, the crowd and the character are driving the rise. 

I would be remiss not to at least mention the other competitors in this match because they are all interesting.  The champion of the United States is also the only competitor in this match from the country, Randy Orton.  This correspondent has written at length about the B+ career arc of Randy Orton [editor’s note: elsewhere].  This match is more of the same.  Orton needs to go away for a full year, but he never will.  The longest reigning WWE Champion of 2017?  You guessed it, Jinder Mahal.  I always knew he wouldn’t be the Jannetty of 3MB.  Rounding out the group is Bobby Roode.  Fantastic entrance song and entrance robe.  Average in the ring and, in this humble correspondents’ opinion, average charisma (but man what a great song).  All four of these wrestlers are part face, part heel, part in-between.  The person people will be cheering for the most is the one that no one would have expected a year ago.  A delightful Rusev Day present for us all. 

Betting Line

Bobby Roode: +120

Rusev: +140

Randy Orton +160

Jinder Mahal +250

What I am looking forward to…

Aiden English’s theatrical nature.  RKO out of nowhere (Never gets old).

What am I not looking forward to…

Jinder Mahal is in good shape, but his body looks weird to me. 

What I want to happen…

If I were a betting man, I would take the guy with the longest odds because anyone can really win this match.

What I think will happen…

Randy Orton somehow always wins these matches at WM.  I will go with Orton.  

9. The Usos (♚) vs The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers (Smackdown Tag Team Championship)

What’s at stake

Does the increase of access to live events and the quality in which they are delivered at home lead to a lower desire to consume these events live and in person?  This topic has been widely debated and it feels like the answer is, like most debates, somewhere in the middle.  Sitting in [redacted] during a regular season [redacted] game against the [redacted] may be more enjoyable at home, but sitting courtside for Game 7 of the NBA finals offers an experience not replicable no matter how many VR headsets you have (BTW, has anyone ever had a good VR experience?).  Being able to watch any concert performed by your favorite artist on YouTube is wonderful and allows you to go back to the best version of that artist/band ever, but seeing them live and feeling the crowd despite the fact that they may have lost a step is not replaceable online.  Almost all sporting events are more enjoyable to watch on a television for all the reasons of comfort and selection, but the feeling you get from being there is a deeper emotion that carries with it a deeper connection not created (or as strongly created) from simply watching it on the couch.

Objectively, WM 32 was a disappointment.  Many of the top wrestlers were hurt, almost every match was disappointing and the desire to draw over 100,000 people to Cowboys Stadium meant a nostalgia grab that fell flat.  Many people consider this WrestleMania the worst in a decade.  I can’t argue with any of the facts.  I have only watched WM32 once, but it was the one WrestleMania I attended live.  So despite the disappointment of the event by most, my memory of the event is how great it was and how much fun I had and how blown away I was by the spectacle.  

The New Day and The Usos have been great recently and have been really good for a long time (I say this understanding the amount of negative things I have said about the Usos).  However, as teams, these two teams have competed in a total of ONE main card WrestleMania match.  The Usos have been on the preshow the last FIVE years.  The New Day wrapped up a great 2016-2017 years by being relegated to hosts of WM33.  The repackaged Bludgeon Brothers have not fared much better.  Part of the storyline is how they will get their WrestleMania match.  Why do tag teams always get relegated at WrestleMania? Why do these teams specifically achieve so much only to not get recognized at the biggest event of the year?  The answer is something I discovered at a Raw I went to a couple of years ago.  Tag Team wrestling, and the gimmick of hot tags, breaking up covers and all the other things that make Tag Team wrestling what it is plays great live.  The crowd gets into it and you have the experience of rooting for the hot tag to come.  On TV, Tag Team wrestling seems contrived and formulaic.  Wrestling is now a TV business and Tag Team matches aren’t fun on TV.  The New Day and The Usos have maxed out their potential in the Tag Team division.  If Wrestling were still built on live events, both of these teams would likely be near the top of the card.  But I will be watching this WrestleMania on the WWE network, and most likely so will you. 

Betting Line

The Usos -140

The Bludgeon Brothers +130

The New Day +290

What I am looking forward to…

A great paced match that is actually a TLC match, so better for TV

What am I not looking forward to…

For those who have not been watching, The Bludgeon Brothers are the Wyatt Family.  People kind of like them for some reason.

What I want to happen…

I don’t have a rooting interest in the match, except for Xavier Woods to lose. 

What I think will happen…

The Usos will win, probably. 

8. Sheamus and Cesaro vs Braun Strowman and ?(Raw Tag Team Championship)

What’s at stake

Let’s make one amendment to the tag team rule: Tag Team matches are not boring on TV if one member of the match is elite (Rock and Sock, Brothers of Destruction, Team Hell No, The Bushwhackers).  Every once in a while this thing happens where people are thrown together for lack of anything better to do with them.   Sheamus and Cesaro participated in a best of 7 series of matches that ended in a tie (or something).  This led to these two being put together as an unlikely tag team that turned into a good tag team.  This is one version of a mismatch team of good to above average dudes who find a path through an unlikely partnership.  Sheamus and Cesaro are not the top of the top, but they turned lemons into lemonade. 

Braun Strowman has found himself in the same spot in terms of lacking a direction.  After a year of feuding with Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, and every table/wall/ambulance imaginable, Strowman finds himself shut out of the top matches and too big for the small matches.  Strowman’s consolation prize is a tag team championship match with his “partner”.  Braun won a battle royale against a number of different tag teams to get the title shot.  It has yet to be determined who his partner will be (The April 2nd edition of Raw teased announcing his partner, only to have Braun come out in glasses calling himself “Brains” Strowman.  Groan if you want).  Despite this silly build, Strowman will have a partner (by rule) and this match will be fun. Strowman’s matches are usually fun.  It will be interesting to see if they have a partner that leads to a tag team title run or will Strowman be back to his menacing singles competition after WrestleMania.  In 2012, Kane teamed with Daniel Bryan to form an unlikely team that developed the Bryan character more than was expected.  Similar to Strowman, it was a thrown together team that caught fire (and hell, and brimstone).  A fun Strowman team might be the ticket to advance him up to the top of the top of the ladder.   

Betting Line

Strowman and Person -230

What I am looking forward to…

Finding out who the surprise partner ends up being.

What am I not looking forward to…

Being disappointed in the surprise partner (anticipation is always better than reality)

What I want to happen…

I won’t bother guessing who the partner is, but for my money, I hope it is someone silly.

What I think will happen…

I think it will be a legit superstar and this match will be won handily by Strowman and Company.