Re-booking the Wrestlemania card
WrestleMania is the WWE’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. What is seen as the technical “season finale” of the WWE, the spectacle has been known to reel back in the most casual of fans, who sometimes only truly bother with the product that one Sunday night every spring.
Let’s be honest here... the WWE could do so much better with booking their product. Things that SHOULD happen logically rarely ever do, and we end up with something completely different. Here, I’ll take a look at how WWE should book the upcoming WrestleMania show in contrast to what will most likely happen.
Due to a limited amount of announced participants in the two battle royals, I won’t be covering them in this piece.
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship
With any avenue of entertainment such as movies and television, it’s unlikely that every viewer will be on the same page as far as a storyline goes. The art of professional wrestling is no different in this sense, as evident of fans’ disdain for the push that “The Big Dog” Roman Reigns has received the last four years. Ever since The Shield’s initial breakup in 2014, Reigns has practically been in the main event scene of Monday Night Raw, In a rematch from WrestleMania 31 that was thwarted when Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase mid-match, Reigns looks to get back to the top of the mountain and win his first ever Universal Championship.
What Should Happen: The build for this match has been decent, but does anyone really care about the match. In a perfect world, to add a bit of surprise factor it would be in the WWE’s best interest to let Lesnar go over in this match. The next night on Raw, Reigns could challenge Lesnar to one last match, to prove that he can beat The Beast. If Brock was willing, you can have him drop the title a week later in what would be Lesnar’s first match on Raw since 2002.
What Will Likely Happen: Since winning the Universal Championship at last year’s WrestleMania event, Brock Lesnar has defended the championship an outstanding four times, including a pinfall victory over the challenger at last year’s Summerslam event in a Fatal 4 Way. At this point, the writing was pretty much on the wall with a Reigns vs. Lesnar rematch at the big event. It is expected that Reigns will finally defeat Lesnar, and Lesnar will take some time off presumably to train for a return to UFC.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship
I think we all expected this one to happen once Nakamura was called up from NXT last year. The right call was made to have Nakamura win the 2018 Royal Rumble, and to keep the strap on AJ Styles leading up to the big event. While I think the internet’s criticism of Nak’s in-ring skill has been unfair, this should be match of the night in what will be the first battle between this two in a WWE ring.
What Should Happen: Although I wouldn’t be mad with whoever wins, it only makes sense to have the Royal Rumble winner go over at WrestleMania. With a Smackdown Live event coming up in Japan this summer, this makes the outcome even more likely, as they’ll want to market Nakamura returning to his home country with the WWE Championship.
What Will Likely Happen: Not only does this have match of the night written all over it, it is also a definite match of the year candidate. I fully expect WWE to go the route of Nakamura overcoming Styles in a bout that I’m hoping gets at least 20 minutes. However, I can also see them holding off on giving him the championship until it gets a big closer to that big show in Japan.
The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor for the Intercontinental Championship
It’s no secret how big of a Miz stan that I am, and I fully believe he has potential to be a top 3 heel all-time in the business once it’s all said and done. He has been at odds with authority figures from both Raw and Smackdown Live since 2016, and that did not change after Kurt Angle placed him in a Triple Threat match for his championship at the Showcase of the Immortals.
What Should Happen: For the last few weeks, The Miz has been hyping up how he’ll hold the record for most combined days as Intercontinental Champion. And the higher ups honestly should allow him to reach that milestone during this current reign. If he loses at WrestleMania he’ll fall about 20 or so days short of that, so give him a few more weeks to hold that belt, and he can drop it to one of his two challengers in a rematch at Backlash.
What Will Likely Happen: If anyone remembers correctly, Finn Bálor still hasn’t received his rematch after he had to vacate the Universal Championship 24 hours after winning it at Summerslam 2016. A reign with the Intercontinental Championship would be a great way to jumpstart that push again, as Finn hasn’t seemed to have much direction as a character since returning from injury last spring.
Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev for the United States Championship
At Fastlane, Randy Orton was finally crowned a Grand Slam champion after winning his first United States championship over Bobby Roode. Jinder Mahal was involved in this feud leading up to that match, and in turn was added to the rematch at WrestleMania.
What Should Happen: Prior to this match being made a Fatal 4-Way, I’m sure there wasn’t a soul out there who really cared about this this match. Now with the addition of Rusev, it’s time to take advantage of the hottest gimmick in the company. Better late than never, I guess.
What Will Likely Happen: Orton winning the United States title at Fastlane definitely seemed like it was meant for him to drop it quickly. On the 3/26 episode of Smackdown Live, seeds were planted for a Rusev vs. Jinder Mahal feud going forward, and it should be for the title over the next couple of months. This would allow Randy Orton and Bobby Roode to also continue their program separately.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship
I’ve been looking forward to this showdown ever since Bliss formed a “friendship” with Nia Jax last year. Kudos to the Raw creative team for giving this feud a slow burn, which climaxed in early March when Alexa Bliss was .
What Should Happen: It’s about time for Alexa Bliss to drop the title, and Nia Jax is the perfect one to reign over the women’s division on Raw for the time being. However, her doing so as a babyface doesn’t make much sense. Seems we’re at a crossroads here as SOMEONE has to walk out of the Superdome with the belt. If I were WWE I’d have Bliss cheat to win against Nia Jax, which sends Jax into a raging post-match attack on the champion. Cue the Women’s Money in the Bank owner Carmella, who runs down to successfully cash in her briefcase (it’s imperative that the first women’s briefcase holder to win their first cash-in), and make the switch over to Monday Night Raw.
What Will Likely Happen: Even if Carmella doesn’t get involved, I still can’t see Alexa Bliss walking out of WrestleMania with the championship. The whole Mickie James and Alexa Bliss friendship just seems too random for there to not be something up Mickie James’ sleeve. And it’s possible that Mickie will turn on Alexa, costing her the championship.
Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
After making history and winning the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match, Asuka challenged Charlotte Flair for her championship at the Fastlane event in February. Another possible match of the night candidate, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these two will have the best women’s match in WWE history at WrestleMania 34.
What Should Happen: Stop me if you haven’t heard this before, but Asuka hasn’t been defeated since arriving in WWE. And if they’re smart, they’ll keep it that way until at least later this summer. Especially with that Tokyo show coming up that I mentioned earlier.
What Will Likely Happen: Just how you can’t have the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank winner lose her cash-in match, the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble winner can NOT lose her championship match. I’m expecting Asuka to still go over, but Charlotte ending the streak at WrestleMania wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
New Day and The Usos engaged in one of the most exciting feuds in 2017, and I was thoroughly interested in seeing it start back up again (this time with the mutual respect angle) until the Bludgeon Brothers were implemented. Honestly, Harper and Rowan haven’t really mattered to audiences since the end of their run with Bray Wyatt, but they fit well into this feud at the moment.
What Should Happen: For the last several weeks, the story here has been how Jimmy and Jey Uso have never competed on the main WrestleMania card, which would mean that they’ve never had the chance to experience a WrestleMania moment since debuting in 2010. Not one competitor on the card this year deserves the honor more than these two, especially with how they’ve reinvented themselves the last couple of years. Time to let them have it here, they can drop the belts at a later date.
What Will Likely Happen: Every once in a while, WWE will slap the titles on a team that garners minimal reaction from audiences (hello Cade and Murdoch, Deuce and Domino, Primo & Epico). Surprisingly, Harper and Rowan have not held tag team gold on the main roster level. Also, they’ve been made to look like unstoppable forces since being repackaged, and there’s no need to kill that momentum at this time.
The Bar vs. Braun Strowman and TBD for the Raw Tag Team Championships
On the March 12 episode of Raw, Braun Strowman interjected himself into a #1 contenders tag team battle royal to determine who would face The Bar at WrestleMania. The story throughout the last 3 weeks has been about Braun finding a partner...who will that be?
What Should Happen: Daniel Bryan aside, Braun Strowman is by far the most over superstar on the roster, so naturally fans feel that he deserves better than this. But to be honest, it’s been a fun program so far. Logic hasn’t always been present when it comes to professional wrestling, so why start here? By letting Braun go over by himself, he can then be given an ultimatum by Kurt Angle to either find a partner by the next evening or risk being stripped of the championships.
What Will Likely Happen: Some rumored partners for Braun Strowman over the last few weeks have been Big Cass and Samoa Joe. However, if Braun is forced to decide on a partner prior to the start of the match, Elias is the only one who makes sense. Either way, Braun Strowman will be walking out of New Orleans with his first championship.
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali for the Cruiserweight Championship
The Cruiserweight Championship has been vacant ever since former champion Enzo Amore was fired back in January. Shortly afterwards, a tournament was announced for the vacant championship that will end on the Grandest Stage of Them All. I honestly was expecting Drew Gulak to defeat Mustafa Ali in their match, as Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak already had the seeds planted during the whole “Zo Train” angle. However, it’s understandable that the company would want to distance themselves from that whole debacle.
What Should Happen: I expect this one to be on the kickoff show, but hopefully these two competitors get more than enough time to show off their stuff. I was expecting Alexander to defeat Enzo Amore back at the Royal Rumble, but unfortunately he didn’t get his opportunity then. He should get it at WrestleMania.
What Will Likely Happen: I don’t see Mustafa Ali defeating Cedric Alexander in the finals, as Alexander’s push has been in motion since December. It’ll be smart to stay the course and allow that push to pay off.
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
Dissension between Kurt Angle and The Authority has been brewing ever since Angle was brought back as Raw general manager after WrestleMania 33, which had seemed to hit its peak when Triple H asserted himself into the 5-on-5 at Survivor Series, turning on Angle in the process. Insert Ronda Rousey - who had her own not so friendly encounter with The Authority at WrestleMania 31 - and you have an obvious showdown.
What Should Happen: With what is being touted as the biggest free agent signing in WWE history (and it’s hard to argue with that), the only logical thing to do is have the team of Rousey and Angle go over here. This is Kurt Angle’s first match at WrestleMania since he originally left in 2006, as well as Rousey’s first match ever. The sight of both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon tapping out simultaneously would be a joy to see, but realistically we’ll have to settle with Stephanie doing the honors.
What Will Likely Happen: There is literally no way that they’ll go any other route here with this match. If so, I’ll go on Instagram Live and eat one of my socks.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Salute to long-term booking with this one. This one has been in the making ever since Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were drafted to Smackdown after WrestleMania 33. Over the past few months, the inclusion of Daniel Bryan has been ambiguous, as he’d not been officially cleared to compete yet (although I believe they’ve known for a while, but kept it under wraps until recently). Now with Bryan back in the fold, we can finally get the payoff necessary, and one we’ve always dreamed of.
What Should Happen: While it would be a shocker to have Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens take the L here, I’d love the see the possibilities with these two trying to regain their jobs on Smackdown (as well as Raw), to no avail. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon haven’t been on the best of terms recently, and a feud between the two could be in the works. Would love to see how Owens and Zayn get involved with that down the line.
What Will Likely Happen: With the stipulation of Owens and Zayn being rehired if they win, you’d have to end this one with Shane McMahon eating the pinfall and the unruly duo getting their jobs back. Going forward, there’s still so much to touch base on as far as the rocky relationship between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon goes, and the two being on the losing end at WrestleMania is a good start.
Undertaker vs. John Cena
As of now, the match hasn’t been announced yet. The build has been VERY subpar, but for a match between two icons that hasn’t happened one on one in 12 years, you can rely on that more than anything. Will Undertaker be the Phenom or return as the American Bad Ass?
What Should Happen: Although John Cena has been on the losing end a LOT since returning from hiatus on Christmas, he can afford another one here, and it gives him a natural story for his next feud following WrestleMania. This SHOULD be the last match Undertaker has in his career, and what better way to ride off into the sunset with a victory....which brings me to my next point.
What Will Likely Happen: For one of the most old-school minded competitors on the roster, I can see Undertaker willing to do the honors here as it’s his last match. Undertaker’s record at WrestleMania doesn’t mean that much anymore after the streak, so it wouldn’t hurt at all, and it will still give John Cena a good rub going into his next program.