André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The André the Giant Memorial battle royal was intended to not only immortalize one of the business’ biggest stars, but to also help boost the stock of the winner. It hasn’t exactly accomplished the latter part, as the former winners didn’t use any of the momentum in further storylines.
The only criteria for picking a winner here is looking for participants that don’t have direct rivalries with others in the match. Matt Hardy might be the biggest name in the match, but there’s no telling what a returning Bray Wyatt might have in store for him. The same can be said for feuding Smackdown superstars Tye Dillinger and Baron Corbin. Winners typically slip through the cracks and end up picking up the pace once a bevy of others have already been eliminated.
Elias hasn’t even been officially announced as a participant, but there are plenty of spots left to fill. He’s red-hot with the crowd, and his musical prowess fits in well with the host city being New Orleans.
— Sock Monkey Mike (@SockMonkeyMike) March 27, 2018
Women’s Battle Royal
This competition is essentially the same match as the André the Giant battle royal — except with women’s wrestlers. WWE faced major backlash after initially naming it in honor of former Women’s Champion the Fabulous Moolah — hence the generic name they’re going with now.
The same guidelines apply for the previous match: The less enemies you have, the better. Sasha Banks and Bayley have been going at it for months, and there’s a chance it could all come to a head on Sunday. The more likely scenario involves both women quarreling for a bit before getting shockingly eliminated by another superstar. The most likely candidate to do the bidding? Becky Lynch.
Becky hasn’t had a defining win in what seems like years. She hasn’t totally fallen out of favor, but hasn’t gotten nearly the opportunity her “Women’s Revolution” contemporaries have. Instead of a championship, they make her the first winner of the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal.
WINNER: Becky Lynch
Cruiserweight Championship — Mustafa Ali v. Cedric Alexander
Likely the last match on the pre-show, high-flying stars Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander battle it out for a chance at the vacant Cruiserweight title.
As gifted as both of these athletes are, it’s a bit difficult for me to get overly excited for this match. Last year’s WrestleMania featured a Cruiserweight title match between legitimate stars in Neville and Austin Aries. The star power just isn’t quite there this year.
I expect a great match either way, with Ali ending the bout with his beautifully inverted-450 splash finisher. In the process, we hope two new stars can be born.
WINNER: Mustafa Ali wins Cruiserweight Championship
Raw Tag Team Championships — The Bar (c) v. Braun Strowman and Mystery Partner
Strowman shocked everybody when he won a tag team battle royal by himself on RAW for a chance to challenge the champions at WrestleMania. RAW General Manager Kurt Angle noted that Braun would be afforded his opportunity if he finds a tag partner.
Does he even really need one though?
The way that Braun has been pushed, it wouldn’t be outrageous to believe he can beat two superstars — even ones as high on the card as Sheamus and Cesaro are. But the WWE will use this moment to get a crowd reaction — whether that’s for a returning Samoa Joe, or a surprise from Rey Mysterio Jr. Either way, Braun and his “teammate” end up taking this one.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) April 3, 2018
WINNER: Braun and Friend win Raw Tag Championships
SD Live Tag Team Championships — The Usos (c) v. The New Day v. Bludgeon Brothers
History will be made on Sunday as it marks the first WrestleMania that will feature The Usos on the main card. The five-time champions have been featured on multiple Mania’s before this year, but have always been relegated to the under card. In 2018, one of the best tag teams of this generation will finally get their shine on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
It’s been a great year for Jimmy and Jey. They underwent a major gimmick change in 2016, and have carried the Tag Team division ever since. It’s been a long time coming, and they deserve this moment. After everything they’ve done for the company over the past decade-plus, anything short of retaining their titles would be a major letdown.
WINNER: The Usos retain
United States Championship — Randy Orton (c) v. Bobby Roode v. Jinder Mahal v. Rusev
Every WrestleMania card needs a “popcorn match” — meaning the bout that attendees can safely leave their seat for refreshments and/or a bathroom break without worrying about missing something important. On the most stacked card of the year, this fatal 4-way earns the popcorn match distinction.
Roode will have the crowd singing along to his theme, Orton will get his usual reaction when he lands an RKO, and Mahal will be up to his normal heel-ish ways. However, of all the combatants, expect Rusev and his songbird sidekick Aiden English to earn the biggest pop. It also helps that WrestleMania lands on Rusev Day. Rusev can’t lose on Rusev Day.
WINNER: Rusev wins US Championship
Intercontinental Championship — The Miz (c) v. Finn Bálor v. Seth Rollins
If you haven’t seen the Bálor/Rollins matches featured on RAW over the past few weeks, do yourself a favor and check out the WWE’s YouTube page for some great content. These two have incredible chemistry together — dating back to their 2016 SummerSlam clash for the inaugural Universal Championship.
Bringing in Miz to the mix only adds to the excitement. All three guys know how to sell you on a match, and their work in the ring backs it up. With the way Bálor and Rollins have been feuding back-and-forth, it feels as if one is going to foil the others chances at some point in this one. Miz channels his inner-Edge and takes whatever opportunity given to him to sneak out with a victory.
WINNER: The Miz retains
Raw Women’s Championship — Alexa Bliss (c) v. Nia Jax
One of the more personal feuds on the card, these former best friends have been apart of a “bullying” angle in which Bliss has constantly body-shamed Nia. It’s a tried and true formula by the WWE, but a bit tone-deaf in today’s climate.
The bout itself is an intriguing match-up. WWE has purposefully kept Bliss and Jax away from each other in the ring over the former’s run as champion. The size differential is almost comical between these two. Although Jax has lost to Sasha Banks, who is of similar size to Bliss, it would be difficult to see Bliss pulling this off outside of getting intentionally DQ’d.
WINNER: Nia Jax wins Raw Women’s Championship
SD Women’s Championship — Charlotte Flair (c) v. Asuka
The Champion versus The Streak in this match is between two of the brightest stars in the Women’s division. Charlotte, a five-time Women’s Champion and daughter of Hall of Famer Ric Flair, has dominated ever since her main roster call-up in 2015. Asuka, former NXT Women’s Champion, hasn’t lost a match in nearly three years.
It would be tough to imagine Asuka getting her first loss before holding a main roster championship. Both women can look strong coming out of this, and it has all the makings of “Match of the Night.”
There’s also the Carmella-factor waiting in the wings. Ms. Money in the Bank has failed to cash-in on several occasions now, and you have to figure she plays a part in this match at some point. Could you imagine the reaction if Carmella ends Asuka’s streak with a run-in? It would be pandemonium in Superdome.
Ah, who cares. Whoever wins is dropping the title to Rousey the next night anyway…
— ASUKA / 明日華 (@WWEAsuka) April 6, 2018
WINNER: Asuka wins SD Women’s Championship
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon v. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The Yes! Movement is back, as fan favorite Daniel Bryan makes his long-awaited return to the squared circle in New Orleans.
One of the all-time great technicians, Bryan was thought to have been medically retired after suffering numerous concussions. The 36-year old battled his way back, and has been officially cleared by a number of doctors to wrestle once again.
It comes at a perfect time, as the feud between McMahon and the Owens/Zayn duo was becoming a bit stale. Bryan has added a unique dynamic, and a tag match between the two authoritative figures is far more intriguing than the original McMahon-Owens-Zayn triple-threat that was originally intended.
The stipulation for this match is that if Owens and Zayn win, they earn their jobs back. It’s unlikely Smackdown intends to write-off two of their most popular characters, so a win appears to be in the cards for the duo. With WWE wanting to keep Bryan strong in his first match back, there’s a good chance we could see either D-Bry or Shane turn on one another to gift Owens and Zayn the victory.
— ~Angie~ (@DAmbroseAsylum_) March 28, 2018
WINNER: Owens and Zayn save their jobs
Undertaker v. John Cena
This match is happening. You know it. I know it. The entire WWE Universe knows it.
Cena has spent the last month-plus trying to call-out Undertaker like he’s Beetlejuice. It’s made for some hokey segments, and been an overall confusing storyline. Cena has had to carry it by himself, but he has come off as weak calling out a retired 53-year old.
Nobody’s quite sure about the shape Undertaker is in currently. His last match (WrestleMania 33 against Roman Reigns) was tough to watch. The all-time great looked generally slow, and failed to pick up Reigns for his signature Tombstone Piledriver. However, if this has been the plan for a lengthy period of time, the professional and competitor in Taker would motivate him to get in top shape.
This match between two icons would likely end the card, and there’s no way Taker is losing if he’s coming back for one night only.
WWE Championship — A.J. Styles (c) v. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is the match that hardcore wrestling fans have been clamoring for ever since these two stars signed their WWE contracts.
Their rivalry spans over multiple companies and countries. Styles and Nakamura met in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom back in 2016. They put on a masterful match (which Nakamura ended up winning), but only showed a glimpse of what they’re each capable of.
Coming off his Royal Rumble victory back in January, fans have been begging Nakamura to have a breakthrough performance. It seems as if he hasn’t been on his game since his debut match in NXT with Sami Zayn. It’s unknown whether it’s Nakamura’s own doing or the WWE censoring him, but he hasn’t been quite the star he was originally billed as.
This match could change all of that. These guys have proven chemistry, and will be given the time and platform to showcase everything they’re capable of. It will be an exhibition in storytelling, mat work, and elite selling. Be prepared for an all-time classic, with Nakamura hoisting up his first (of hopefully many) WWE Championships.
I totally hear where people are coming from who want AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura to close out #WrestleMania. But they also didn’t “truly main event” Wrestle Kingdom 10 and that didn’t affect how legendary that match became, right? pic.twitter.com/fDm1zglwTQ
— Tights and Fights: your membership matters (@TightsFights) April 4, 2018
WINNER: Nakamura wins WWE Championship
Universal Championship — Brock Lesnar (c) v. Roman Reigns
Don’t listen to any of the negativity surrounding this match. I don’t care that Brock has been holding the Universal title hostage by showing up once a month. I don’t care that Reigns is — once again — being shoved down the consumers’ throats, and will probably be the main event of WrestleMania for the fourth year in a row. I don’t care that we all know the outcome of this match. Just because you know the ship sinks at the end of Titanic doesn’t mean the movie isn’t worth watching.
This will be a great match — whether pessimistic fans like it or not. Their bout in WrestleMania 31 was fantastic before it was cut short by Seth Rollins’ cash-in. Reigns is at the point he can work with literally any person on the roster. He’s that good. Lesnar gives every match a big fight feel, and adds an extra sense of realism.
They’ll put on a great show, regardless of where they slot on the card.
FIVE. SUPERMAN PUNCHES.
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2018
WINNER: Reigns wins Universal Championship
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle v. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey will finally make her anticipated debut in the WWE alongside fellow Olympian Kurt Angle. On the other side will be the most powerful couple in the business, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
Don’t expect much traditional “wrestling” in this one. Triple H is probably the most ring-ready of the four, and should carry the match for lengthy stretches. Ronda has been able to strut some of her stuff over the past couple of weeks, but her training time has been limited. It’s tough to trust one of the most dangerous female athletes in the world with the well-being of the most important woman in the entire company.
It will end quickly, with Rousey submitting either of her opponents (would be so much better if it’s Triple H). Get used to her. The Age of Rousey is upon us.
WINNER: Rousey and Angle
Stephanie McMahon put Ronda Rousey through a table 😮 pic.twitter.com/mo247b9ezE
— ESPN (@espn) April 3, 2018
Sources: Twitter/WWE, Twitter/ESPN, Twitter/TightsFights, Twitter/WWEAsuka, Twitter/totaldivaseps, Twitter/SockMonkeyMike, Bryan Steffy/GETTY Images