Friday 22 November 2019

Wrestlemania 31: Irish eyes could be smiling through Sheamus and Finn Balor

Irish WWE wrestling star Sheamus
Irish WWE wrestling star Sheamus
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

It only comes around once a year but it's always worth the wait. The super bowl of the squared-circle, Wrestlemania, is back in its 31st edition emanating from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Vince McMahon has long-proclaimed the March spectacular to be the showcase of the immortals and this year it truly lives up its billing with a mouthwatering card and a healthy mix of stars, both old and new.

The world will be watching come 12pm tonight when the the granddaddy of them all kicks off and have picked the five things fans can look most forward to most from this blockbuster event.

And despite the results being pre-determined, betting is widely available and for those of you willing to wager on the outcomes, the prices can be found below.

Undertaker returns from the dead

21-1, the perfect record broken and gasps of shock reverberate across the wrestling industry. Some people still have not recovered from one of the biggest swerves in the history of professional wrestling.

Everybody assumed the Undertaker's winning record would be preserved forever but as in all aspects of sport and life, great things must come to an end.

The Phenom's return 12 months later to face his heir apparent Bray Wyatt is an intriguing one. Wyatt, dubbed the New Face of Fear, is an enthralling personality who truly has the whole world in his hands.

Psychological warfare has been waged in the past weeks and there are so many questions to be answered, will this be the Deadman's redemption? Or will Wyatt ascend further up the WWE ranks with the win that could send his rising star into orbit?

The Undertaker 2/9, Bray Wyatt 11/4

Icon versus Icon

For years it looked like it would never become reality but just over 14 years to the day of WCW's last show, Sting steps into a WWE ring to face 13-time World champion Triple H on the biggest stage of them all.

The Vigilant debuted unannounced at Survivor Series in November thwarting the Authority and meets the company's COO in an iconic battle, a dream match that looked like it would never materialise.

Sting's appearances, while limited have been highly impactful, and the rapport with The Game has helped set the tone for a match which will have fans salivating in anticipation.

The right result would be a win for WCW soldier but in the whacky world of wrestling anything could happen. Here's hoping it lives up to the hype as two greats finally lock up.

Sting 1/7, Triple H 4/1

The Beast versus the Best

Eat, sleep, conquer the streak. A year after sensationally ending the Undertaker's perfect record at Wrestlemania, Brock Lesnar returns as champion having subsequently blown through the WWE locker room.

The former UFC champion had been touted to return to the octagon in the near future but WWE officials confirmed this week that the Beast has extended his contract and will continue to wrestle with the company.

Sunday night while be interesting because Lesnar will most likely be a face (fan favourite) while the challenger Roman Reigns will be booed (a heel). The roles are usually reversed but fan favourite Reigns was loudly jeered after winning this year's Royal Rumble.

With the world title at stake and Lesnar re-signed, it is hard not to see Paul Heyman's monster continuing his dominance and retaining the strap while the obvious potential of Reigns, who could be assisted by The Rock will be given further time to develop.

Brock Lesnar 5/6, Roman Reigns 5/6

Climbing the ladder to success

It's hard to believe it's 21 years, Wrestlemania X at Madison Square Garden, since Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon wowed viewers with their death-defying feats of athleticism in a stunning ladder match for the Intercontinental title.

The ladder match returns to the top stage with seven men including Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler and champion Bad News Barrett battling to grab the gold and their place in history.

12 months have passed since Bryan realised his dream and left fans worldwide screaming YES YES YES when winning the World Heavyweight champion and he takes his place hopefully en route to greater things after overcoming serious injury.

It is hoped having men of this calibre chasing the secondary title will bring prestige back to the once great championship and with the Lunatic Fringe and the Showoff also in action it certainly won't be lacking in entertainment.

Daniel Bryan 4/9, Dean Ambrose 7/2, Dolph Ziggler 11/2, Bad News Barrett 6/1

Irish wrestlers could be California dreaming

Along with the star-studded Hall of Fame ceremony, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is set to become a staple of the yearly extravaganza.

Names such as the Macho Man Randy Savage, Kevin Nash and Arnold Scwarzenegger will all be inducted into the 2015 class while new stars will be given the chance to stake a claim for their 'spot' in the over-the-top-rope battle royal.

Among the ranks could be two Irish grapplers, Sheamus and Finn Balor, both at the opposite ends of the spectrum but both with similar aspirations.

33-year-old Bray native Balor, formerly known as Prince Devitt, could make his on-screen WWE debut having recently excelled at WWE's developmental branch NXT while former three-time world title holder Sheamus, originally from Cabra, is expected to return from an injury layoff.

Damien Mizdow evens, Sheamus 3/1, Finn Balor 16/1

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Champions Cup returns, Jacob Stockdale's development, and Simon Zebo goes back to Munster

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport