It’s that time of year folks. We’re just over 2 weeks away from the biggest weekend of the year for wrestling fans. We’re talking Wrestlemania.
As the world’s eyes turn to New York for Wrestlemania 35, there are only two weeks of Raw and Smackdown Live to get the card set for the Showcase of the Immortals. And 205 Live, too, but nobody cares about that.
There are already a LOT of matches set – ten in all. Today I want to predict where the rest of the vast WWE roster will end up on April 7th. Will they score a big title match? A spot in one of the battle royals? Or will they get very familiar with WWE catering?
First, let’s look at the card so far:
- UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
- RAW WOMEN’S TITLE TRIPLE THREAT MATCH: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
- NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH: Triple H vs. Batista
- AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
- Shane McMahon vs. The Miz
- KURT ANGLE’S FAREWELL MATCH: Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin
- UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
- CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony Nese
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Asuka (c) vs. ???
- ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL: Braun Strowman and ???
SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH
OK, so first let’s go with something easy. Asuka is set to defend her Smackdown Women’s Championship against the winner of a Fatal Fourway Match, which is set for next week’s episode of Smackdown Live.
I could write a lot about the strange shuffling down the card of Asuka since her Match of the Night candidate against Charlotte Flair at Mania 34, including her win over Man of the Hour Becky Lynch at Royal Rumble. But that’s for another column.
The competitors in the Fourway match are former Smackdown Women’s Champions Naomi and Carmella, as well as the Fire & Desire tag team of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Mandy got a non-title win over Asuka on a recent episode of SDLive, but wasn’t able to take the title from the Empress of Tomorrow at the Fastlane PPV. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication between Mandy and her partner Sonya, who also lost a recent match to Asuka in controversial fashion.
It would seem odd for the Fatal Fourway match to end in some kind of dispute, but I’m thinking there may be a double pinfall/tapout situation that leads to Sonya and Mandy both laying claim to the #1 Contendership.
PREDICTION: FIRE & DESIRE EXPLODES! ASUKA vs. MANDY ROSE vs. SONYA DEVILLE
WWE TITLE MATCH
It would be hard to imagine at this time last year when Daniel Bryan made his triumphant in-ring return that we’d be looking at a hot heel run such a short while later. But here we are.
The New Daniel Bryan has played the heel fairly well since his WWE Title victory over AJ Styles. It’s a classic heel move to continue ducking an opponent, and Bryan has received help from not only his new peer Rowan but also WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon (himself a heel again).
The rise of New Day member Kofi Kingston has been the most organic thing to happen in WWE since maybe Daniel Bryan himself. Kofi was a last minute replacement for the Elimination Chamber WWE Title match and ended up turning in a couple of star-making performances that left the fans enamored with the high-flying veteran.
Since then, Kofi and #KofiMania has been screwed multiple times by McMahon. This teasing has whipped WWE fans into a fever pitch, though it is odd to sit 2 weeks out from Wrestlemania without a WWE Title match announced.
The New Day has been playing social media this week, making noise about leaving WWE due to the way Kofi has been treated. I’m making a bold prediction here that Kofi will be made to jump through more hoops to get to the gold at Wrestlemania.
My guess is Mr. McMahon will announce a multi-man WWE Title #1 Contender match at Wrestlemania, where the winner takes on Daniel Bryan for the belt on the same night. I think this will further the Kofi underdog story, and also get some of the higher level talent (KO, Andrade, Ali) in a big match. There’s also a precedent, as Bryan himself had to defeat Triple H at Wrestlemania XXX to get into the WWE World Title match.
As a bonus prediction, I see Kofi having to fight his New Day teammates on SDLive to get his spot in the #1 Contender Match.
PREDICTION: #1 CONTENDER FATAL FOURWAY MATCH: KOFI KINGSTON vs KEVIN OWENS vs ANDRADE vs MUSTAFA ALI
PREDICTION: DANIEL BRYAN vs KOFI KINGSTON
RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
At the moment, there isn’t a single tag team match set for Wrestlemania. And the waters are very murky when it comes to a prediction, especially on the men’s side.
The Revival are the current Raw Tag Team Champions, but the majority of WWE programming as of late has been building up the NXT team of Ricochet and Aleister Black.
So The Revival vs. Ricochet & Black, right? Not so fast. Ricochet & Black already have an NXT Tag Team Titles match at Takeover: New York on Friday night, taking on the NXT tag champs War Machine. Could they pull double duty on Wrestlemania weekend?
It seems likely, but I don’t look for a straight tag team match. For one, I don’t see Ricochet/Black picking up the titles here, but I also don’t see this team getting pinned. Instead, expect WWE to throw everyone they can in these unannounced title matches – which is a shame considering there are so many good 2-on-2 combos that could steal the night.
Look for former tag champs Bobby Roode & Chad Gable to get involved in this one. Recent NXT call-ups Heavy Machinery – who have been heavily featured on TV lately – could also get the nod to make this a tag team Fatal Fourway.
PREDICTION: NXT ALUM EXTRAVAGANZA! REVIVAL vs RICOCHET/BLACK vs ROODE/GABLE vs HEAVY MACHINERY
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
Much of SDLive’s tag team focus the past couple of months has been on the adventures of Team Besties, The Miz & Shane McMahon. Since that team exploded at Fastlane, it’s left the entire division directionless.
This could work in WWE fans’ favor though. With The Usos holding the Smackdown Tag Titles and The Hardy Boyz back together on the blue brand, you’ve got a dream match just waiting to happen.
Look for WWE to up the ante and throw in The Bar to make this a triple threat. A regular triple threat? Heck no – let’s try to recapture the magic of The Hardy Boyz 15 years ago and throw a ladder in there. Could be match of the night.
PREDICTION: TRIPLE THREAT LADDER MATCH! USOS vs HARDYS vs THE BAR
WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
On this week’s episode of Raw, WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix made her anticipated return and, with partner Natalya, challenged the Women’s Tag Team Champions, The Boss & Hug Connection.
Before Bayley and Sasha could accept, Nia Jax & Tamina crashed the party and laid the beatdown on everyone.
Sounds like a cut & dry Triple Threat Tag Title Match, but then Bayley & Sasha went and lost to The IIconics the next night on SDLive. With Boss & Hug hyping how they’ll defend on any show, it seems a surefire bet that the Aussies will be added to that combination.
Seems odd that they’d bring Beth Phoenix out of the mothballs for a low card four team cluster, but it’s not like anybody was dying to see her comeback anyway.
PREDICTION: YET ANOTHER FATAL FOURWAY! BOSS & HUG CONNECTION vs NATALYA/PHOENIX vs NIA/TAMINA vs IICONICS
THE BIG DOG
Roman Reigns made his triumphant in-ring return earlier this month, so don’t think he’s going to get left out in the cold at Wrestlemania, uce.
I’m proud of WWE for not just doing the predictable thing and inserting Roman in the Universal Title match with his Shield brother Seth Rollins.
Instead, Roman returned to have issues with Scottish Psychopath Drew McIntyre. McIntyre has taken out all of the Shield guys, including Roman, in recent weeks. This week on Raw, Drew made the challenge to Reigns for Wrestlemania.
A straight Reigns/McIntyre match would be interesting, and a big rub for Drew at this point in his career. That seems like the natural match, but what about Dean Ambrose?
WWE announced in January that Dean would be leaving the company when his contract was out, an announcement that seemed strange to begin with. Rumors change daily – is Dean leaving or not? With his main event match at Fastlane and continued presence on Raw, I’m thinking he’s sticking around.
Look at Gallows & Anderson – news broke in the dirt sheets that they’d refused to re-sign and WWE has even pulled those dudes from live events. So you expect me to believe Ambrose would do the same thing and be handed a PPV main?
If Ambrose is staying, I look for him to have some Wrestlemania impact. Look for this match to beef up into a tag, with McIntyre turning to good buddy Bobby Lashley.
With Lashley currently holding the Intercontinental Championship, this would be problematic, but then again, it wouldn’t be the first time the IC title has been left off the Wrestlemania card. Besides, what more of a big hoss match could you ask for?
PREDICTION: ROMAN REIGNS & DEAN AMBROSE vs DREW McINTYRE & BOBBY LASHLEY
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL
Kind of hard to predict this dumping ground, but it’s pretty much whoever is left plus an NXT guy or two.
Braun Strowman proved to be less crafty than his old buddy Brains Strowman when he actually declared for this annual kickoff show cluster on this week’s Raw. Dude, I would’ve waited till day of to settle for this match.
Given we’ve predicted so many multi-man matches for the PPV, Braun will easily shine as the biggest star in this match, which looks to also include Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura from Smackdown and Finn Balor from Raw.
Throw in guys who will be working as glorified valets, too, which would be Rowan and the other two New Day guys, as well as some 205 Live guys and tag teams with nothing better to do.
I really hope Braun literally throws everyone out of this match. I don’t know why WWE has pulled back on him, but the big guy deserves better after the year he’s had.
As for number of men, the Andre has included anywhere from 20 to 33 guys since its inception, so let’s just shoot for 30 like last year.
PREDICTION: BRAUN STROWMAN, RUSEV, NAKAMURA, FINN BALOR, ROWAN, BIG E, XAVIER WOODS, JINDER MAHAL, SHELTON BENJAMIN, R-TRUTH, CEDRIC ALEXANDER, DREW GULAK, LUCHA HOUSE PARTY, THE B-TEAM, HAWKINS & RYDER, HEATH SLATER & RHYNO, NO WAY JOSE, APOLLO CREWS, MOJO RAWLEY, TITUS O’NEIL, SaNiTy, GALLOWS & ANDERSON, MATT RIDDLE.
HE FABULOUS MOOLAH WRESTLEMANIA WOMEN’S BATTLE ROYAL
This one hasn’t even been announced yet, but I imagine it will start filling up when all the Women’s Title matches are set in stone.
Last year was the first ever Women’s Battle Royal, and bonus points if you remember who won without seeing the picture above. Naomi was supposed to get a title shot after her win, but as she reminded the world months later, that never happened. Oh well.
It’s really hard to care about this match when it’s such an obvious “get everybody on the show” push. If all of the women’s matches happen like I predicted, it’ll even be hard to fill it out to 20 people. That may actually be the most intriguing part of the match.
Of course, look for the same vets the WWE has trotted out for the last 2-3 women’s battle royals in this afterthought cluster.
PREDICTIONS: NAOMI, CARMELLA, LANA, ZELINA VEGA, MICKIE JAMES, ALICIA FOX, DANA BROOKE, THE RIOTT SQUAD, LACEY EVANS, NIKKI CROSS, MARIA KANELLIS, CANDICE LeRAE, JESSAMYN DUKE, MARINA SHAFIR, MIA YIM, MOLLY HOLLY, KELLY KELLY, ALUNDRA BLAYZE