Men’s Battle Royale
Though the first Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale was great, the past three showings have been less than inspiring, with less than inspiring winners. Despite WWE’s efforts with a trophy and plenty of talk, this battle royale really doesn’t mean anything. It’s hard to care a ton who wins at this point. But also if Elias isn’t Braun’s partner, I think he’s a strong contender. Him or a returning Samoa Joe, who then uses his win to argue for a match with Reigns coming out of Mania, are my picks.
Women’s Battle Royale
Although I’m an unabashed Becky Lynch mark, this is going to Sasha, last eliminating Bayley. It’s really not even a question. I wish there was more happening in an overall extremely talented division, but the only non-title storyline is happening here. There’s a chance Bayley will win instead, followed by a Sasha attack, but I’d put my money on it happening the other way around.
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali – Cruiserweight Championship
This is a tough one. Both strong, entertaining fan-favorite contenders, both pure babyfaces. Every time I say “X should win because Y is so much better on the chase,” I find myself thinking the inverse is also true. To go with my gut, I want to say it’s Cedric purely because he’s been directly screwed out of the title before, and he and Ali can feud for a while longer until the latter gets his moment.
Then again, like I said, flip the names around and it works almost just as well.
The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor – Intercontinental Championship
I think this is certainly going to Balor. Seth has stories that can be told and feuds that can be fought outside of the title scene with the returns of Jason Jordan and Dean Ambrose on the horizon, while Balor seems to really need the title more to give him something to do. Miz retaining isn’t something I foresee, especially with a new baby. Miztourage will probably come out to give him a good scary near-fall or two, only to be countered by Gallows and Anderson.
While Seth going for the Grand Slam is compelling and I’d still be happy to see him win, I’m calling Balor.
Orton vs. Roode vs. Mahal vs. Rusev – United States Championship
It’s Rusev Day.
Okay, I’m not actually that certain that our favorite Bulgarian Brute is walking out with the title, but I can dream. I don’t see Orton retaining (wishful thinking, maybe) but I also don’t see Bobby Roode coming out on top. As much as I hate to say it, I think Rusev will get a near-fall to hype the crowd but Jinder Mahal will steal a win.
I know, I don’t like him either. But as lazy as his character is, it does fit the US Title better than ruining the WWE Championship for half a year.
The Bar vs. Braun Strowman and ???? – RAW Tag Championships
After what a big deal they’ve made of Strowman’s mystery opponent, I think him winning is a near-certainty. (I’d love to see The Bar take him down with awesome double-team maneuvers and overcome the odds, but if that happens I think it’ll be a few months down the road.) Instead, the real guessing game here is who’s the partner?
I, and the rest of the internet, am really hoping for James Ellsworth, because he has history with Braun and would be a comedic non-factor. He’d basically just be a belt-holder while Braun fights alone, which could be compelling leading to a loss like my above scenario. But I honestly think it’s Bobby Lashley.
He’s not officially signed by WWE as far as the public is concerned, but he did just leave Impact and would match Braun well. The biggest issue I can see is that neither is a great talker, but big dudes destroying everybody don’t really need to be.
Well, they do need to be able to say one thing:
“I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU!”
The Usos vs. New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers TLC – Smackdown Tag Championships
A triple threat tag TLC at Mania recalls a wonderful time in tag team wrestling. While nobody in this match is going to spear anyone off a ladder – probably – this has the makings of an instant classic. See any Usos vs. New Day match. See Usos vs. Harper/Rowan at Money in the Bank/Battleground 2014 and see how much both teams have improved.
TLC matches at their best are technical brilliance disguised in a car crash, and this looks like it’ll fit the bill. I don’t see the Bludgeon Brothers winning just yet; the ladder stipulation serves to protect them in defeat. Between Usos and New Day, it’s a toss-up, but I’d err on the side of The Usos retaining.
Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss – RAW Women’s Championship
It’s a popular piece of speculation, but I buy it: Alexa wins via shenanigans with Mickie James, Nia detroys them, and Carmella cashes in. It fits with Asuka moving to Smackdown if she wins, it protects Nia and draws the chase out, and it even does kind of protect Alexa, even if she doesn’t need any more protecting. In addition, Carmella has essentially done all she can do on Smackdown bar waiting and cashing in on Asuka. That seems… unlikely. Her awesomely thwarted cash-in attempt on Smackdown seemed to solidify this. It would be a great character move: a desperate Carmella jumps ship for glory.
Charlotte vs. Asuka – Smackdown Women’s Championship
I’m calling it now: this will be a sleeper match of the night. Strongly-booked Charlotte vs. death god Asuka could believably tell the story of both of them being in more danger than they’ve ever been in before, which would be fresh for both. I think Asuka wins this, and not just to preserve the streak; we’ve sort of done all we can do with Charlotte as Smackdown champ right now. Unless they have Asuka lose now to build to a win in a PPV or two, with her streak and arrogance shaken, it seems that this weekend will see Asuka as Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs. HHH and Stephanie McMahon
Rousey and Angle winning this is an absolute no-brainer. The question, for me, is how. This is basically completely a Ronda exhibition match, so despite Steph often coming out on top, I do think she’ll tap for Ronda, likely while Kurt holds HHH back from interfering in an Angle Lock. That, or the other way around: Steph tries to break an Angle Lock and gets an armbar for her troubles. Regardless of who’s legal and who taps, Rousey and Angle definitely take this by submission unless WWE decides to go all WWE on it.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The answer to who wins this match lies in the answer of where Owens and Zayn are going to fit into the inevitable Superstar Shakeup. Originally, I thought there was no way they’ll lose here, even if it means Daniel Bryan has to lose his first match back. After all, they still had business with Shane. But what if they’re more of a sacrificial lamb for the newly-returned Bryan?
I could see it going like this: Bryan and Shane win, but Shane has to pull some BS to do it. Maybe he’ll go too far like he did at Hell in a Cell. Zayn and Owens move to RAW post-Mania, but this event finally convinces Bryan to turn on Shane once and for all. If there’s no schism, it definitely muddies fan support for Bryan if he’s in direct conflict with two other favorites.
Bryan vs. Shane has been speculated for months, and I think a dirty victory here is what starts it and sends Zayn and Owens to redder pastures.
Bryan could turn on Shane during the match to give Owens/Zayn the win, but that feels a little too heel for modern DB.
John Cena vs. The Undertaker
If this match happens, Cena wins.
The wonder is, will the match happen?
I’m sure the two will face off eventually, and Taker has been training recently (and better than before post hip surgery), but given the strange build, I wouldn’t be surprised if the two just have an angle at Wrestlemania that sets up for Summerslam or, god forbid, next Mania. The more I think about it, the more I think we might just see some black magic and a chokeslam for now.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – WWE Championship
Instinct tells me Nakamura would take this, but I have a nagging feeling he just might barely lose at Wrestlemania to start a longer Styles/Nakamura program through the spring. On one hand, a longer story with a chance to get deeper than the current build is a good thing. On the other, it would definitely reinforce a feeling that Nakamura just can’t win the big one. (That Mahal feud did no one any favors.)
Honestly, I’m happy with any outcome here. I’m sure it’s going to be a great match either way.
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar – Universal Championship
It’s been Reigns for the past three years of Wrestlemania and it’ll be Reigns now. No sense pretending it’ll be different. Even less sense pretending we want the shadow of Reigns vs. Lesnar suffocating all of WWE for another year.
Image courtesy WWE
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