Posts tagged Undertaker
Ruthless Aggression - Super Shut Down

Super Showdown sucks, and even the company knows it. Pierce Rob and Chris talk about why it's time for Taker and Goldberg to shut it down. Plus, the greatness that was NXT Takeover XXV. Then, the week in 2003 gives way to a great segment with The Rock and Booker T, and Matt Hardy defending the Cruiserweight Championship against Rey Mysterio in Smackdown's main event.

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 523
Smackdown 198

As Justin Bieber readies to drop much anticipated new music, enjoy this Barber's Chair playlist of the best hits in Bieberveli's arsenal! 
Apple Music: https://apple.co/2HdG2yN
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2HbTcME
Tidal: http://bit.ly/bieberveli

Throw your diamonds up for more than a decade of heat with the new TIDAL-exclusive Roc La Familia playlist from The Barber's Chair! The greatest hits from the most prolific label in hip hop history.
Listen here: https://tidal.com/playlist/dfcd8a98-7eb0-473e-8666-170acc564443

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

WrestleMania might be over but you can still rep Becky Two Belts with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

First Black Champ - Triple H, You Play Spades?

First Black Champ is back and better than Crown Jewel, so it's only right we talk about everything that went wrong. In the aftermath of D-Generation X vs. the Brothers of Destruction, Cam Quotes & JR Bang have a very interesting discussion on old wrestlers in main event matches and what’s next for the men involved. Plus, the seemingly dismal future of the WWE Universal Title, and the most important question in regards to the next level of the show: do we stop saying “nigga” and rebrand? All that and more on this new edition of the #FirstBlackChamp podcast.

Ruthless Aggression - Katie Vick & No Mercy

Sans Pierce this week, Rob and Chris relive another week of RAW and Smackdown from 2002, including the infamous and unobjectively terrible "Katie Vick" angle. Plus Brock and Taker end their feud inside Hell in a Cell at No Mercy, and Torrie Wilson's dad gets wet.

All that and some talk on Smackdown 1000, Evolution and Crown Jewel.

Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31

First Black Champ - "It's Hobo Shawn Michaels"

Saudi Arabia's relationship with the WWE is in flux, but it’s beyond the current controversy in the Middle East. DX returns… again, and Cam Quotes & JR Bang try to gauge when nostalgia won't work, no matter how much it's marketed, leading to a whole lot of old wrestler talk that bleeds into a conversation about the World Cup. Plus, why Bobby Lashley’s heel turn on RAW is a good thing, and how it should be done to make fans care. All that and more on this week’s #FirstBlackChamp Podcast!

Follow Cam Quotes: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang: @jrbang

Ruthless Aggression - Crown Jewel in Jeopardy

More soundboard shenanigans on this week's Ruthless Aggression! Pierce is back with all-new stupid sound, wrestling-style. Lots to cover on this week's show, plus RAW, Smackdown and a weird episode of TNA featuring Chris Rock! If you don't listen to Ruthless Aggression, come down here and GET YOUR ASS KICKED!!!

Topics:

Controversy surrounding WWE, Saudi Arabia & the upcoming Crown Jewel show
People complaining about their memories being ruined
Evolution PPV update
Mae Young Classic
Smackdown! 1000 this Tuesday
Favorite SD! moments
SD! Mount Rushmore
WWE 2K19
Ruthless Aggression
RAW 489
This Week in TNA
Smackdown! 164
King of the Ring

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

Grab your official Barber's Chair merch as well!
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega

WWE Super-Show Down 2018: Results, recap, analysis
  1. Time for the second of WWE’s three big international WWE Network events this year, Super Show-Down from the Melbourne Cricket Ground! This show originally aired at 4:30 AM on Saturday. We did not write this at 4:30 AM, just so you know.

This opening video is pretty awesome, I’ve gotta say. So was the pyro!

The Bar vs. The New Day - Smackdown Tag Team Titles

The New Day went with Woods and Kofi, which isn’t my *favorite* New Day pairing, but still good nonetheless. All possible pairings are good, if we’re being honest.

The match was what you would expect it to be, considering it’s two of the best tag teams in recent memory. The New Day retained after about 15 minutes of back and forth action, as Kofi got the pin on Cesaro. Not too shabby for the longest reigning tag team champion in WWE history.

Chris Novak: Thought this match was just fine. Both are capable of better and they’ve shown it, but that’s okay. This served as a perfectly fine opener. So far, so good here.

Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair - Smackdown Women’s Title

Robert O’Neill: Charlotte won by disqualification, but Becky retained. It wasn’t their best match, but I like the finish. There’s nothing wrong with doing that for a “heel” champion, even though Becky really isn’t technically a heel. Charlotte is getting a rematch on Smackdown where Becky will lose the title if she gets disqualified. It’s good storytelling for sure.

Chris Novak: Pretty much how I see it. This is the best series of matches between women superstars in quite some time, and so I’m glad they’re getting time to work. This was another good one (although the one at HIAC was better). Nonetheless I’m excited for SmackDown.

Elias and Kevin Owens vs. John Cena and Bob Lashley

Robert O’Neill: Ah, man. Elias and Owens were great to start the segment, as usual. Owens screamed “I TOLD THEM SUPER SHOW-DOWN SHOULD HAVE BEEN HELD IN CANADA.” It’s the little things he does that makes him so good.

Anyway this match was mostly a showcase of how John Cena can still wrestle, and he showed off his new finisher, the Lightning Punch, which is just a punch. It’s absurd and hilarious, in an ironic way. It made a ton of people on Twitter mad, so it’s a good move. Cena cut a nice promo thanking the crowd after the match.

Chris Novak: First off, Cena’s Insta post had me rolling. Secondly, this was fine. The Lightning Punch is ridiculous but it’s supposed to be. I miss seeing Cena on a week-to-week basis. I’ll say it. Hopefully we get more of Cena down the line.

Asuka and Naomi vs. The IIconics

Robert O’Neill: Awesome moment to start the match, as Billie and Peyton cut a promo about how happy they are to be in Australia. Really nice stuff.

After a solid contest, Billie and Peyton got the win. Good for WWE. They don’t always do the hometown winning thing, and you can tell it meant a lot to both of them. This video of the two of them watching their families react is also well worth your time.

Chris Novak: Yeah the match was… okay. It was okay at best, but it provided a very feel-good moment for them. Something you don’t often see them do for villains, but nonetheless, this was good stuff. Good for Billie and Peyton.

AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe - WWE Title

Robert O’Neill: For the first time in recent memory, WWE started a blood feud match with both guys wildly brawling and striking instead of just locking up and doing a typical chain wrestling start. That’s how they should start these every time. The match was as brutal and physical as expected, and Styles retained when Joe tapped to the Calf Crusher. That’s certainly one way to end the match. I like it, it’s a definitive ending to the match and the feud, I guess, but it would have been nice to see Joe get some time with the belt.

Chris Novak: It is what it is. Joe was a villain who I don’t think NEEDS the belt. The end result would’ve been wanting to see Styles win it back from him anyway. So it’s like, hey, if he’s just one of the harder nuts for Styles to crack, that’s fine. This was one of the best matches they’ve had together this year, which is saying something, because the previous two at SummerSlam and at HIAC were both awesome.

Riott Squad vs. Ronda Rousey and The Bella Twins

Robert O’Neill: I think first and foremost, Liv Morgan deserves a lot of credit for getting right back in the ring with Brie Bella after the incident a couple weeks ago. I know it was an accident and Brie wasn’t being malicious, but if I was in Liv’s shoes, I would probably have some reservations.

The match was quite good. You knew the result going in, but the Riott Squad continued to look strong, and Rousey got the win by locking the armbar in on both Logan and Morgan which made for a super cool visual. There was no turn by The Bellas after the match, so that will have to wait.

Chris Novak: I’m quite surprised we didn’t get the turn in this match. But I’m guessing it’ll happen on Monday night in Chicago. Nevertheless, like you said Rob, this match was a lot of un. And that’s to be expected really when you take a look at the competitors here.

Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy - WWE Cruiserweight Title

Robert O’Neill: Buddy Murphy is another hometown hero! He came out with the Australian flag, which was pretty neat.

205 Live is the best hour of wrestling of the week every week, and these two are the brightest and the best. This match was pretty nuts. Murphy kicked out of a Lumbar Check which is very rare, then managed to score the pinfall and win the title in his home nation. Good stuff.

Chris Novak: WWE REALLY and I mean REALLY shied away from their usual tricks. Because they had TWO matches with hometown heroes, and they BOTH won. Shout out to Bud Murphy, who absolutely deserves this upcoming run with the Cruiserweight Championship. He’s been incredible and I’d love to see him intermingle with some of the guys on Raw and SmackDown someday down the line. He is that damn good.

The Shield vs. The Dogs of War

Robert O’Neill: The Shield did the crowd entrance, which looks really cool when they do it in a huge stadium like this.

I don’t think it’s possible for The Shield to have a bad six-man tag, dating back to their original run. They just get it, and it shows. Ambrose got the win on Ziggler after a long and physical match, and I like that finish because Ambrose has been the main part of the story the last few weeks.

Chris Novak: Yeah, that finish was outstanding to be honest. Great six-man tag here. Looking forward to seeing how things turn out from here.

The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan

Robert O’Neill: Whoa, okay. Bryan caught Miz with a Small Package about two minutes in and got the win. I don’t love the decision to have both Bryan and Styles win, but the eventual match should be good, and this keeps the Bryan/Miz feud running strong.

Chris Novak: I have no idea how to properly rate this or state what happened here. Cause… I was not expecting that. At all.

Undertaker vs. Triple H

Robert O’Neill: This was made a no disqualification match at the last minute. Such drama!

Naturally, that stipulation came into effect almost instantly, as Kane and Shawn Michaels got involved, as did steel chairs and, this will surprise you, sledgehammers. The match was exactly what you would expect given everyone involved. Slow, overbooked, nostalgic, and not the worst thing in the world. Triple H won with the Pedigree for THE LAST TIME he’ll ever face The Undertaker in a singles match… maybe.

Chris Novak: God help me, this match was… these guys need to just quit while they’re ahead. Like, it was a spectacle, and all that, but whoosh. Especially ‘Taker. Go home and watch Tucker Carlson, dude.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: This wasn’t a glorified house show like the Greatest Royal Rumble, but it wasn’t… not that. I mean, there was one title change on this show compared to zero at GRR, but aside from that, everything kind of went as expected. It was a fine show, but it certainly didn’t live up to the domestic pay-per-views WWE has put on pretty much all year. If nothing else, I’m looking forward to seeing where the stories go from here. C+

Chris Novak: The show was solid. You had two must-see matches (CW Title, Joe/Styles) a couple very good ones (Becky/Charlotte, Riott Squad/Ronda&Bellas, Shield/Dogs of War) and some things in between. I’ll be generous and give this a B- but that’s because I’m easy to please.

First Black Champ - the Oral History of the Undertaker
Ruthless Aggression EP 31 - All In preview
Ruthless Aggression EP 28 - It was you, Hunter

Rob Pierce and Chris review RAW 480 and Smackdown! 155, highlighted by Triple H looking for the culprit who beat up Shawn Michaels last week, and Brock Lesnar defending his #1 contenders match for Summerslam against Hollywood Hulk Hogan! Plus Ronda Rousey shines in her Monday Night RAW debut, Lincoln Ricketts joins Pierce to preview the final three nights of the G1 Climax, and we preview what we have in store for Summerslam week! (note: it has nothing to do with Summerslam).

Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Linc: @MaAdLyNx

Ruthless Aggression EP 25 - Hogan Still Sucks
Ruthless Aggression ep. 19 - Show Me the Money
Brock retains, the Deadman returns, & Rousey delivers in an epic Wrestlemania

Robert O’Neill: WELP. It’s 4 PM. That means it’s time for Wrestlemania 34!

Chris Novak: [Extremely Scott Hanson voice] Seven hours of sports entertainment starts… RIGHT NOW!

Robert O’Neill: John Cena is in the crowd, because he’s attending Wrestlemania as a fan. I love it.

Chris Novak: Okay! So. The Andre started things off here. And Matt Hardy won thanks to Bray Wyatt. Looks like they’re going to go with these two as a pairing, which is fine with me. Either it means that Bray will be with BOTH Matt and Jeff Hardy. OR it means that Jeff is gonna get a singles run. EITHER WAY, this works well for me. Bray needs a refresh, and working as a babyface may very well help his cause out.

Robert O’Neill: Happy for the Laughing Man!

Chris Novak: Oh, cool. Here come the cruiserweights. They get to work in front of a damn-near full crowd, because they did the smart thing and let the crowd in super early. This is fantastic, to be honest. Ali looks like Sub-Zero, which is a heck of a look. Cedric gets the dub! I thought Mustafa was gonna win, but Ceddy is far from undeserving. Crazy to think what’s happened in the last two years for him ever since that match against Ibushi at the CWC. Good for him.

Robert O’Neill: Awesome stuff. If you don’t watch 205 Live, do you.

Chris Novak: WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal Time!

Robert O’Neill: Well, that was fun. I have various nitpitcks about it, but all in all it was a cool way to get everyone involved. The Bayley/Sasha stuff continued and Naomi had a surprise victory, which was cool.

Chris Novak: Made… not a lot

Robert O’Neill: BURN IT DOOOOOWWWWWNNNNNNNN. IC TITLE TIME. Here we go.

Chris Novak: Seth is a freaking White Walker. All hail.

Robert O’Neill: Why would Miz send the Miztourage to the back in a triple threat match? It’s a No-DQ match! Don’t be noble, be smart!

Chris Novak: Dad Miz is gonna do it all by himself. Okay, Finn, your entrance was awesome. Super-duper awesome.

Robert O’Neill: Really cool and important stuff by Balor. I like it. This match has also been predictably awesome so far. I don’t think any other match could have better opened the show. Rollins won after a pretty insane stretch with callbacks to a lot of other moves they’ve done in the past few weeks, and all three Shield members are grand slam champions now, so that’s neat.

Chris Novak: That was a fantastic opener. I’ll have to hum over the others, but that’s easily a Top 10 opener of all time at Mania.

Robert O’Neill: Time for ASUKA and Charlotte!

Chris Novak: Charlotte comes out on a throne to “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (her father’s theme!) and then her music plays. That entrance was so damn good. Here comes Asuka, who has 3D graphics in her entrance! They’ve got the presentation down pat so far.

Robert O’Neill: Every entrance has kicked ass so far tonight. Charlotte and Asuka are going pretty nuts. I liked Asuka countering the moonsault into a triangle choke and Charlotte doing a SPANISH FLY. Holy crap, Asuka tapped out. I’m stunned.

Chris Novak: That one will be controversial… An unbelievably good match, though. The streak’s payoff would’ve been hairy either way. They broke it the best way they could’ve here.

Robert O’Neill: A ref came down and said something to John Cena, and Cena went in a dead ass sprint to the back.

Chris Novak: I guess ‘Taker is coming!

Robert O’Neill: Jinder won the fatal four-way to become the US Champion. That was out of nowhere. Quick match. It is what it is.

WWE

WWE

Chris Novak: Alright, that’s the biggest dud so far on the card. Expectedly so. Don’t get not putting Rusev over. Anyways, Steph/HHH vs. Ronda/Angle is next.

Robert O’Neill: Triple H and Stephanie had a cool entrance. Angle’s entrance was Angle’s entrance, and Ronda looked like she was gonna kick someone’s ass.

Chris Novak: Holy shit, that pop when Ronda came into the match! What a professional wrestling match!! That was everything that pro wrestling should aspire to be. Ronda looked AWESOME in this match. The spot with her punching Triple H repeatedly was great. And then the armbar on him too! Eventually, Steph and HHH go for double Pedigrees, but Kurt sends HHH flying, and Ronda puts her in the armbar! She tapped! WHAT. A. MATCH.

Hahahaahahaha and now we get New Day-Usos-Bludgeon Brothers. What a hoot this show is.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, I can’t believe how good that Ronda match was. That was Wrestlemania in a nutshell right there. It was a spectacle and it damn well delivered. I’m interested in seeing where Ronda goes from here.

Can we talk about the New Day’s entrance?

Chris Novak: Died laughing watching the little people in pancake suits. Okay, so… that match was abbreviated. The right call was made to have The Bludgeon Brothers win, though.

Robert O’Neill: Absolutely. Really don’t gain anything from having the New Day and Usos feud again, no matter how good it was.

WWE

WWE

Chris Novak: And… here comes The Undertaker… NOPE THAT’S ELIAS

Robert O’Neill: I WANT TO WALK WITH ELIAS

Chris Novak: Oh… welp. Uh… here comes that man.

Robert O’Neill: The pop when the gong hit is why Undertaker still comes back. Also holy shit this is happening.

Robert O’Neill: They did exactly what they needed to do. John Cena talked shit all month and Mean Mark showed up with receipts.

WWE

WWE

Chris Novak: Oh man. That Bryan entrance was special. Oh and here comes Owens and Zayn from behind! That was some fun. And surprisingly, a Bryan win! Thought that Shane would cost him the match. But! They didn’t overthink it, I guess. Alright, we’re doing Nia-Alexa next.

Robert O’Neill: Bryan got the victory but that match didn’t seem as good as it could have been. It’s not his fault though. The moments made were amazing.

Chris Novak: Hopefully this ends well...

Robert O’Neill: I liked Nia/Alexa. People complained about it but it was fine. Nia won and Alexa took a bunch of crazy bumps.

Chris Novak: Okay, sure. I guess that worked in the end. Intrigued to see Nia’s title reign from here on out. Think she can very easily be built up into a babyface monster.

WWE

WWE

ANYWAYS NOW IT’S TIME FOR NAKAMURA-STYLES!

Robert O’Neill: THEY HAVE A FULL BAND FOR HIM!

Chris Novak: Awesome entrance, with Nita Strauss of Alice Cooper performing “The Rising Sun.” Let’s sit back and watch this.

Robert O’Neill: That was fine. It was never going to live up to the expectation people had. I liked AJ winning with one Styles Clash, because he rarely does it, so it SHOULD be important and lethal. AND SHINSUKE TURNED HEEL AFTER THE MATCH

Chris Novak: THAT… that was surprising. Apparently heel Nakamura is superior. So, this should be fun to watch going forward! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. The Bar’s entrance is tremendous.

Robert O’Neill: So Braun Strowman teamed with… a child! And won the tag titles. All hail Nicholas!

Robert O’Neill: Well, here we go. Roman vs. Brock.

Chris Novak: Yeesh...

Robert O’Neill: Boy, oh boy. I have some thoughts on that main event. First of all, the crowd with their stupid ass chants got incredibly annoying in a hurry. Like, get over yourselves. Lesnar winning was a genuine shock and taking six F5’s to do it makes Reigns look strong. But you know what else makes him look strong? Winning. And capping off the story you started three years ago instead of chickening out. Is Lesnar not going to UFC now? I guess we’ll see.

Chris Novak: Got a lot of thoughts to air out here. I don’t know if all of them are safe to right now. I’ll let this simmer, and come back to it later.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: All month long it seemed like this would be an all-time great Wrestlemania. Was it? I mean, it depends on your definition. It wasn’t in the top 3, but I think you can make an argument for it being in the top 5, despite a couple bumps in the road. The first two hours were excellent, and Ronda Rousey had the match of the night despite everyone saying she wasn’t gonna be good at this. The two title matches were confusing, but I’m very excited for Styles vs. heel Nakamura. I have no clue what happens with Lesnar and Reigns now, but I’m glad that some new mid-card feuds were ignited as well. Overall, I think I would give Wrestlemania 34 a solid B.

Chris Novak: It’s a Top 10 WrestleMania for me, although the last hour really aided it in not being a Top 5 WrestleMania for me. Everything else pretty much knocked it out of the park, with only *some* questionable decisions along the way. B+ show for me.

Wrestlemania Predictions

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

T.C.: With the Andre documentary being promoted, I’m surprised that this one is on the pre-show this year. While there haven’t been many competitors announced so far, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say the most likely of the announced participants to win would be Dolph Ziggler. It’s a safe pick, and he isn’t doing much else (the story of the last three years of his career).

Prediction: Dolph Ziggler

Robert: These things are always super hard to predict. Maybe Bray Wyatt comes back as… not Bray Wyatt and wins it? Maybe Dolph Ziggler wins, squanders the opportunity, and complains about it for the millionth time? Maybe Big Show wins again? I truly don’t have a read on this. I guess I’ll take Bray.

Prediction: Bray Wyatt

Chris: Honestly, like always, I have no idea where this is going to go. It’s the match with the least amount of build so far, and I guess that makes sense, in a way. It would be cool if Mark Henry showed up and won it. But, I doubt it. Now that I know he’s in the match, I predict Elias will win, and then give the performance of a lifetime later on in the show.

Prediction: Elias

WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal

T.C.: With the Sasha Banks vs. Bayley feud coming to a head, I can see a situation where they both brawl to the back, effectively eliminating each other. Initially I was going to say that Ruby Riott would walk away the victor here. However, I think we get a main roster debut of Ember Moon, who should be dropping the NXT Women’s title about 24 hours earlier.

Prediction: Ember Moon

I’m almost more excited for this than the women’s Royal Rumble, if only because it probably won’t be littered with legends. It’ll be a lot of NXT and WWE women, as it should be. I think Bayley and Sasha Banks will prevent each other from winning, and it’ll be someone from Smackdown as a result. Becky Lynch? Sure! Let’s go with Becky Lynch.

Prediction: Becky Lynch

Chris: FKA the Moolah Battle Royal, but Moolah is trash. So, they changed the name. The only substantial hype this match has going into it revolves around Bayley and Sasha Banks. Which might tell you that they probably SHOULDN’T be in the match, and instead have a standalone match on their own. Oh well, I guess. Those two are the only ones who I could see winning this whole thing. If they want to tell this story the right way, then Bayley has to win it to drive Sasha over the edge.

Prediction: Bayley

WWE Cruiserweight Championship tournament final: Mustafa Ali vs. Cedric Alexander

T.C.: Cedric Alexander has been getting a push towards the Cruiserweight title since about December, but several issues out of his control have prevented him from climbing that mountain top. I predict that he’ll finally have his moment, a WrestleMania one, this Sunday.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander

Robert: Do you watch 205 Live? No? Why? You need to. It’s incredible and these two are two of the best. This match should really get the crowd going, and I hope they don’t give it the first slot when people are still getting in the building and getting situated. Give it the middle or last preshow slot and let ‘em rip for 15 minutes.

Prediction: Mustafa Ali

Chris: If you haven’t watched any of 205 Live in the post-Enzo Amore era, do yourself a favor and do that. It’s absolutely sensational, and they’re putting on a stellar in-ring product on a weekly basis. Mustafa and Ceddy are two CWC originals, and they definitely deserve the spotlight they’ll be given. Part of me has wondered what’s taken so long with Cedric, but I think he’ll have to wait a little longer. Mustafa Ali is my pick to win the CW Title.

Prediction: Mustafa Ali

WWE Universal Championship - Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns

T.C.: I honestly believe the whole “Brock Lesnar is returning to UFC” thing is a red herring, but we’ll just have to wait and see. I’d like for them to go the route of having Brock win here, as it would add some unpredictability. But we all know that Roman will come out victorious here. Hopefully, we can get Heyman teaming up with Reigns at the end, which could freshen up his character going into his title reign.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Robert: If you have a problem with Reigns or this feud’s build, I don’t think we’ll agree on much. I’ve loved it. And I’m going to love Reigns winning and the title being back in the fold on a weekly basis.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Chris: Roman Reigns wins here to get the Universal Title, thus ending this three-year feud and sending Brock back to UFC in a few months. Easy call.

Prediction: Roman Reigns

WWE Championship - AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

T.C.: This one has match of the night written all over it, and they should be able to deliver a clinic in about 12-15 minutes. Nakamura is the favorite here, and he should be getting the W when it’s all said and done.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Robert: It’s still wild that this is happening at Wrestlemania, isn’t it? Styles and Nakamura have been all over the world and now they’re finally meeting on the big stage. I think Styles has been a great champion, but it’s Shinsuke’s time.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Chris: As good as both these guys are, I hope that everyone’s heightened expectations of this match doesn’t hurt them if they “fall short.” That being said, they will probably put on an A-grade match. Nakamura gets his crowning moment, and wins the WWE Championship.

Prediction: Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship - The Miz (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor

T.C.: Rumors have been going around over the last week regarding Samoa Joe getting added to this match, making it a Fatal Four Way. For sake of this post, I’ll act like that won’t happen. Instead, I have Finn Bálor pulling away with the Intercontinental championship in his first reign.

Prediction: Finn Balor

Robert: This is a sneaky contender for match of the night, if only because how well these three work together. Pick any two and we’ve seen at least one great match, so there’s no reason that shouldn’t carry over into a triple threat. I think Miz needs to retain and become the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time, because he’s made that belt mean more than anyone in decades.

Prediction: The Miz

Chris: I’m lowkey telling you what my match order prediction is here as well, so pay attention here if you must. Miz, Rollins and Balor have all stepped their games up in the past couple months. Rollins in particular has looked awesome, and Finn has, too. We know how good Miz is by now, so that’s no surprise. I suspect these three will help put on a damn good opener to start us off. I don’t think there’s gonna be a title change, though. By hook or crook, Miz will retain his IC Title.

Prediction: The Miz

United States Championship - Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Bobby Roode vs. Rusev

T.C.: The logical thing to do here would be to place the United States championship on the most popular guy in the match. I’ve been watching the product since 1998, and full time since 2002...so I’m used to the WWE not going the logical route. Look for Randy Orton to win and retain his title.

Prediction: Randy Orton

Robert: It’s pretty wild that Wrestlemania falls on Rusev Day, huh? Anyways, adding Rusev to this match really saved it for me. Orton and Mahal don’t do anything for me, especially after watching it all last summer. Roode is fine, but his slow style makes him hard to watch. With all that said, with how much crowd support Rusev has, they HAVE to give him the title.

Prediction: Rusev

Chris: This match looked like a bit of a dud. Then Rusev showed up! I’ll keep this short and sweet here: Rusev is the guy to win this match. You don’t put him in it if you don’t give him the title. At this point, it’s a must.

Prediction: Rusev

Raw Women's Championship - Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax

T.C.: I don’t expect this one to be long at all. I could see a scenario where Nia Jax blacking out on Bliss, getting hit with a disqualification by the referee. Moments later, Ms. Money in the Bank, Carmella takes advantage and cashes in on the unconscious champion and goes home with the Raw Women’s title.

Prediction: Alexa Bliss by DQ, Carmella cashes in MITB

Robert: As someone who has been with Alexa since day one, I’ve enjoyed her title run(s) far more than most people. WWE is getting to the point, though, where they need to do something with Nia instead of having her lose to everyone. There’s always one head-scratching decision per Wrestlemania though, and I’ll use mine right here.

Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Chris: Gonna keep this short and sweet, too. Nia Jax HAS TO WIN. She has to win and must win in a squash-type deal. If they have this match be lengthy, it will be a disservice to both of these ladies and the program. I know people want long women’s matches, but Nia-Alexa is not the type of feud to do that. And it’s not the kind of match, either. If Alexa somehow retains, it would be a monumentally poor decision. That’s no knock on her. Just the story that they’re telling here. Although she could definitely use time away from the belt, in my opinion.

Prediction: Nia Jax

Smackdown Women's Championship - Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka

T.C.: This one is sure to give Styles vs. Nakamura a run for their money, as both women definitely know how to put on a show. It would be foolish for the winner of the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble to lose her title match at WrestleMania. With that being said, look for Asuka’s streak to make it out of New Orleans alive and well.

Prediction: Asuka

Robert: This is probably the most realistic shot we’ve seen where Asuka could lose her streak. I don’t think she will, but Charlotte at Wrestlemania would certainly be a good time and place to drop it. However, I think Asuka prevails.

Prediction: Asuka

Chris: Yep… I think this is the penultimate match on this Mania card. It’s been a while since Charlotte has had the spotlight on her, considering her run on SDL has made her lose all her luster. I think that changes come Sunday in NOLA. Her and Asuka put on a fantastic match, but it will be Asuka who wins the SDL Women’s Championship.

Prediction: Asuka

Raw Tag Team Championships - The Bar (c) vs. Braun Strowman and TBD

T.C.: I don’t care what other fans have said about this feud, I’m enjoying it, and I’m enjoying seeing Braun Strowman add more range to his character. You can risk placing the tag titles on Braun temporarily, and then vacating the titles the next night on Raw. Pull the trigger, WWE.

Prediction: Braun wins by himself

Chris: So, first prediction: Samoa Joe is Braun’s partner. Second prediction, Strowman and Joe win the Tag Team Titles.

Smackdown Tag Team Championships - The Usos (c) vs. New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers

T.C.: The biggest story in this one even before Fastlane, was how the Usos have never competed at a WrestleMania. It’s time for them to get their moment, and I see one of the twins getting the pinfall over a member of the New Day. This way, you keep the Bludgeon Brothers safe, and they have the case for another title shot going into Backlash.

Prediction: The Usos

Robert: Can’t wait for this one. The build has been awesome and we already know what the New Day/Usos feud was capable of. I think it’s time to get some fresh blood in though and give the titles to the Bludgeon Brothers.

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

Chris: Finally, at long last, The Usos are on the main card. This should be an outstanding showcase, and a deserved one for the SDLive tag division. I can’t decide if they’re going to throw The Usos a bone or crown new champs. But then again, what’s the point of hyping up Harper and Rowan all these months then? Bludgeon Brothers, for the win, and our second title change of the night.

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon

WWE

WWE

T.C.: There is no way Stephanie McMahon isn’t tapping out to Ronda Rousey at the end of this match. Would also be kind of neat to get Shayna Baszler and Sonya Deville in to celebrate with Ronda after the match.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle

Robert: They’re not going to have their biggest female attraction of all time lose her first match.

Prediction: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey

Chris: This is an easy one. I don’t think this will last very long at all. Angle and HHH duke it out for the most part, HHH eats some offense from Ronda, and Ronda rips Stephanie’s arm off to give her and Angle the win.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle

Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

WWE

WWE

T.C.: If Owens and Zayn lose here, they won’t be reinstated back to the WWE roster. As of now, there’s no room for them over on Raw, and I’m honestly tired of them playing Frogger between rosters. Look for them to come away with not only their jobs, but their first WrestleMania wins.

Prediction: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens

Robert: This is going to be special, obviously. Daniel Bryan returns to the ring in the same place as he had his biggest career win. The goodwill probably won’t last long, though, as I expect Owens and Zayn to win via some sort of shenanigans from Shane McMahon. I don’t trust him.

Prediction: Owens and Zayn

Chris: Daniel Bryan makes his in-ring return, and what a moment that will be. In the same building where he won the WWE Title four years ago, no less. Bryan and Shane’s tenuous relationship has me thinking that shenanigans are going to happen here. So, I think Owens and Zayn get their jobs back after Shane turns on Bryan and costs them the match.

Prediction: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens

John Cena vs. The Undertaker

WWE

WWE

Robert: Assuming this happens, it’s probably going to be pretty dumb. Once you get past the spectacle of two of the WWE’s best of all time fighting on a huge stage, it kinda becomes a dud. Maybe it’s because Undertaker is about five years removed from his last good match or because Cena’s been annoying during this whole build, but it really doesn’t do anything for me. I guess I’ll pick Cena to win? I don’t know. Neither party gains anything with a win or loses anything with a loss.

Prediction: John Cena

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XXX

The second it was announced that WrestleMania was returning to the Superdome in New Orleans, I knew I would be going.

It wasn't a surefire decision; there were many factors that needed to play itself out in order for me to be in NOLA right now, but at the time, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be down here breaking my WrestleMania virginity.

The Superdome is the site of my favorite WrestleMania: WrestleMania XXX. It's not the greatest - to me X-Seven is the standard for what a Mania should be - but XXX had all of the intangibles: a ferocious crowd, intriguing feuds, an influx of past, present and future, and a captivating babyface the crowd could embrace. Oh, and the unthinkable happened. Top to bottom, XXX is the most entertaining WrestleMania in recent years.


Three Kings

XXX was billed as the true return of Hulk Hogan to the company after years with TNA. He was tabbed to "host" WrestleMania, which is hard to do when you don't even know where you're hosting the show. It's the SUPERDOME, Terry... not the Silverdome.

And then... the glass broke, and the stadium went into a frenzy. Stone Cold Steve Austin standing face to face with Hogan in the center of a WWE ring. It's something we as fans have wanted for decades: the two biggest stars in their respective companies in the late 90s finally meeting.

When you didn't think it could get any better, The Rock's familiar voice hit the loudspeakers and out came the Brahma Bull, who's wrestled both Austin and Hogan in legendary WrestleMania matches. Three of the four stars on WWE's Mount Rushmore together for the very first time gave me goosebumps. It was a WrestleMania moment that will endure for ages.


From B-plus player to World Champion

The story of Daniel Bryan in WWE is so genuine. We all know about Vince McMahon's obsession for big guys and how size may have derailed a few guys from reaching the top of the company. One look at Daniel and you could see an extremely talented worker - perhaps an Intercontinental Champion - but a world champion was out of the question.

The thing about Daniel Bryan is he has what so many other superstars lack - heart.

That beating heart was felt all throughout the Superdome that night as Daniel got through not just Triple H to open the show, but then defeating the other two members of Evolution, Batista and Randy Orton, to win the WWE Championship in the main event. The purity of Daniel Bryan is so easy to get behind. He's the most relatable everyman the WWE has had since Austin, only moreso. Everybody has been told in one way or another that they're not good enough, that they don't measure up to the competition, that they'll never achieve their dreams. They said the same thing about Daniel. He proved everyone wrong.


The end of the streak

There isn't one superstar more synonymous with WrestleMania than the Undertaker. Sure the event was built off the back of Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels is nicknamed "Mr. Wrestlemania", and Stone Cold, John Cena and Roman Reigns have all headlined the show at least three times. But the Deadman has what they don't.

The Streak.

For 21 consecutive appearances, the Undertaker walked down that long aisle to the ring, got the 1-2-3, and walked back victorious. The Streak became a sideplot to the big event; you didn't just watch WrestleMania for the spectacle, you watched to see who will finally put an end to The Streak.

And then, Brock Lesnar became the one in 21-1, dropping Taker with three F5's before earning the shocking pinfall win. Go back and watch the ref's 3 count and listen to the split second of stunned silence in the air while the crowd digested what they just saw. They couldn't believe that this unstoppable force was reduced to a mere mortal, and very dominantly I might add. We knew Taker didn't stand a chance against Brock in a normal match, but this is WrestleMania. The Deadman doesn't get defeated at his show, in his yard.

But all great things must come to an emphatic end. Fans complain about the streak ending, mainly the fact that it ended to a part-timer in Brock instead of a wrestler that could have benefitted from the rub, like CM Punk. But this couldn't have ended any other way. Brock ending The Streak will live on in WWE history.

As far as Taker goes, they call WrestleMania "the showcase of the immortals." There's no greater immortal to grace the WrestleMania stage than the Undertaker.

Raw, Smackdown put forth strong go-home efforts before Wrestlemania

Robert O’Neill: Wrestlemania go-home Raw! Villanova vs. Michigan! It’s a loaded television night!

Chris Novak: “Ronda Rowdy.” Oh, Kurt.

Robert O’Neill: Kurt Angle’s constant battle with the English language aside, that was a hell of a way to open the show. The build to Angle/Ronda vs. Trips and Steph has been virtually perfect. I can’t wait for it.

Chris Novak: The segment was what it was, but I do agree with you. They’ve done a solid job here of building this up, I will say. Steph throwing Ronda through the table was a nice touch and a nice batch of revenge after Ronda sent HHH through the table at Elimination Chamber.

Robert O’Neill: Bayley vs. Sonya Deville was a pretty good match. Sonya continues to improve. After the match, Sasha saved Bayley from a beatdown and Bayley wasn’t appreciative in the least. Could it be that Bayley is the bad friend and not Sasha?

Chris Novak: Well, no. Sasha wanted Bayley to raise her hand, which is the pettiest thing.

Chris Novak: Okay, that was an AMAZING MATCH between Seth and Finn. The go-home show for Mania just produced a 4.5-star match, and I’d be tempted to even go a tick higher. Just absurdity. Seth is so good again, and Finn is still a very good in-ring worker. Loved ALL the callbacks they had in that match, too. Goddamn. That has me hyped.

Robert O’Neill: Seth and Finn should fight forever. Good lord what a match.

Chris Novak: They’ve put on nothing but good matches since they started feuding. I’ll say that much.

Chris Novak: I’m not certain what the point of this Cena stuff is right now. I guess they’re just gonna have Undertaker show up impromptu on Sunday? Weird build to this whole thing. Having Taker not show up the WHOLE way towards Mania is a misstep, in my opinion. But hey, we’ll see what happens Sunday, I suppose.

Robert O’Neill: I find myself having mixed feelings. On one hand, yeah, it’s kinda dumb to have no build (look at Undertaker/Bray Wyatt). On the other hand, these are two of WWE’s biggest stars of all time. How much build do you really need? Would it have been that much better if Undertaker came out and cut weird cryptic promos on Raw the past few weeks? It’s 2018. You know what you’re getting from him

Robert O’Neill: Goldust and Matt Hardy first wrestled each other in WWF in 1999. It’s 2018 and they had a match on Raw. I love stuff like that. .

Chris Novak: Okay, Braun and “BRAINS” Strowman was an incredible bit. I still have no idea who Braun’s tag team partner is going to be on Sunday. But this was hilarious.

Robert O’Neill: Braun’s comedy stuff has been amazing this year. From the MMC to working with Elias to this. He’s great.

Chris Novak: Haven’t been much of a fan of this whole Alexa-Nia feud. But they both seem like they’re cool with it in interviews? Whatever. Nia needs to win on Sunday in emphatic fashion for this to work. If they try to drag this out with a long match, it’s a mistake. If they have Alexa go over, it’s an even worse mistake. I’m not wholly optimistic, either.

Robert O’Neill: I’ve been team Alexa since day one, so I’m biased here, but having her retain the title probably isn’t smart.

Robert O’Neill: Rhyno is built like a refrigerator with legs.

Chris Novak: He really, truly is. I for one cannot wait for Elias’ performance on Sunday. I’m wondering who’s going to make a cameo. Jeff Jarrett? The Rock? Both? Either way, even without a match, Elias has something that you feel like you can’t miss and that you feel like is must-see TV. They’ve done a great job with him and building him up to be an attraction. It’s great stuff.

Robert O’Neill: The final segment between Roman and Brock was kind of tame but given how they’ve built up to it, I really can’t nitpick it too much. It’s a match I’m incredibly excited for, and I think it’ll be even better than the first time they met.

Chris Novak: Y’know, you say it’s tame. But I enjoyed it a lot. They played off the locker room stuff they alluded to earlier on in the feud. I don’t know if it was great to have Brock get the last laugh (again) but they did its job and there’s legitimate heat on Brock. It’ll be 50/50 in New Orleans, like you’d expect. But they won the crowd over with this feud. Point blank, period.

Quick Results
Bayley def. Sonya Deville
Seth Rollins def. Finn Balor
Matt Hardy def. Goldust
Elias def. Heath Slater
Asuka & Dana Brooke def. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Welp. The Road to Wrestlemania has concluded, and frankly I think both shows did a great job taking that final step this week. Everything got lined up nicely for Sunday night, and I think every match on the card has a certain level of intrigue and importance. As far as this show specifically, Rollins/Balor could very well be the TV match of the year so far (depending what you think about Rollins’ marathon gauntlet match performance) and I always appreciate seeing Goldust in action. The Cena stuff could have been better, but it is what it is. I think bookending the show with Ronda/Kurt/Steph/Triple H and then Roman/Brock shows the level of importance of those two matches. B+

Chris Novak: A B+ for me too. The Seth-Finn match was exceptional, and everything else hit all the right notes. I think they took time to take in every possible situation going into Mania, and gave it all the appropriate time. It’s certainly one of the better go-home shows in recent memory, which 1) Says a lot about recent memory and 2) Shows that they have the depth of talent to pull such a feat off. Good going.

Robert O’Neill: Away we go! Final show before Wrestlemania, and Daniel Bryan is here to open the fun.

Chris Novak: Makes a bunch’a sense to open with this. Bridgestone Arena looks sold out and they’re going bananas.

Robert O’Neill: Bryan and Shane being friends makes me most uneasy.

Chris Novak: Yuck… it’s Charlotte-Nattie again.

Robert O’Neill; Well, they pretty much did the same thing as last week with Charlotte and Natalya, complete with a tease from Carmella. It was a bad match because Natalya is awful, but the Charlotte/Asuka stuff afterwards was solid.

Chris Novak: Hey, Happy Rusev Day, Rob.

Robert O’Neill: Can we talk about Aiden English rapping?

Chris Novak: We should. He had bars. Rusev getting the win here has me intrigued. They don’t USUALLY do that if the guy is going to win at Mania but… they have to belt him right? Oh, there’s Orton with an RKO outta nowhere again. Once again, they have to belt Rusev right? Right???

Robert O’Neill: Yes. WWE has done dumb stuff in the past, but if they don’t let Rusev win on Sunday they may lose the crowd *very* early in the night.

Chris Novak: Not gonna lie, pretty fun 8-man tag featuring the Andre Battle Royal guys. Solid stuff all around here. Corbin getting the win was a nice touch, I suppose. They’re doing the best they can with the Andre buildup, and to their credit, a lot of guys are getting work from it.

Robert O’Neill: Primo was in this match! That was wild. The Andre will be fine I guess. It is what it is. Back in the day they had a 30-man battle royal before Mania started and it was a dark match. Thanks to the Network, they don’t have dark matches anymore.

Robert O’Neill: Kevin Steen and Sa- El Generico are in the arena! They weren’t invited to this show!

Chris Novak: Nice touch to have them show up before Mania. Sami cut a promo like an effective heel. Who would’ve thought THAT would happen? They’ve done a good job in the last 2-3 weeks in building up this feud after it dragged on and on.

Robert O’Neill:My biggest post-Wrestlemania wish is that they continue to use Benjamin and Gable correctly like they did the past few weeks. They can be in higher card Smackdown matches to get guys over. They’re very good in the ring. Styles and Nakamura are going to blow the roof off the Superdome and I’m here for it.

Chris Novak: Hell of a main event, hell of a way to send us off. They built up Nak-Styles entirely through mannerisms, and it worked well. I, for one, can’t wait for this match on Sunday.

Quick Results
Charlotte Flair def. Natalya
Rusev def. Jinder Mahal
Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Mojo Rawley & Primo def. Tye Dillinger, Zack Ryder & Breezango
AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura def. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: In my opinion, Smackdown had less work to do than Raw. I mean, Nak/AJ, New Day/Usos, and Charlotte/Asuka practically build themselves. Not to mention the fact that Smackdown’s build benefits from having Daniel Bryan’s first match in three years. As a result, this show focused on building the “lesser” stuff like the US Title fatal four-way (RUSEV DAY), and the Andre Battle Royal. It was successful. B+

Chris Novak: It’s a B+ for me, as well. Like Rob said, a lot less work to do. But they still succeeded in it. I think more Tag Team Title stuff would’ve been helpful, but they already did enough in the past few weeks to get me excited and amped up for that. WWE’s hitting all the right notes right now. Hopefully that leads to an awesome show on Sunday.

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

WWE

WWE

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

WWE

WWE

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

WWE

WWE

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

WWE

WWE

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.

Excitement levels for Wrestlemania matches

It’s Wrestlemania Week, and things are shaping up. In terms of match quality, this maybe the strongest card to date. While there might be some matches that are placed on the card for its storyline, each match brings something different to the plate. Let’s see how each match sizes up and which match can bring us the most excitement at Wrestlemania 34.

WWE

WWE

Universal Championship -- Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns

Roman is the most polarizing figure on the WWE roster and while he gets his boos, his work level is amazing and he has given us great matches in 2017. His first match with Brock was a good bout no matter the negative reaction he was receiving. This match may be short but Roman & Brock can give us a great hard-hitting affair.

Excitement level: 4

WWE Championship -- AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

It’s AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, even without a proper build, this is one of the most anticipated matches in the WWE Universe. Let’s get to it.

Excitement level: 5

WWE

WWE

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H

This match is a reminder to the WrestleMania 31 incident between Rousey and The Rock along with McMahon and Triple H but with Angle in The Rock's place. Angle fits as he has had problems with Triple H since Survivor Series. The big factor is Rousey as this is her first in-ring wrestling match.

Excitement level: 3

SmackDown Women's Championship -- Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka

Streak vs. Title, this is something that we have been waiting for since Asuka’s main roster debut. This can eclipse Wrestlemania 32’s triple threat match as the best women’s match in Wrestlemania history.

Excitement level: 5

Raw Women's Championship -- Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax

Look, I’m not going to lie, I wanted Sasha & Bayley to be in this spot because of their history, feud and in ring wrestling ability. Bliss/Jax’s feud is built upon weight shaming and it looks one-sided. Hopefully this match goes quickly and Jax wins the belt.

Excitement level: 2

Intercontinental Championship -- The Miz (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

The Triple Threat between these men last year was a preview on how great this match can be. Seth & Finn’s technical prowess w/ the character work of The Miz will give us a great match on a stacked card.

Excitement level: 4

United States Championship -- Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Rusev vs. Jinder Mahal

A match that should be on the kickoff show, I really hope its on the pre-show. This feud started because of a countdown list and it has gone nowhere since. Randy is the clear star of this match because of his name but this isn’t a match everyone will be running to especially on this card. I almost gave this a 1 but with the inclusion of Rusev, it jumped up a notch.

Excitement level: 2

Raw Tag Team Championship -- The Bar (c) vs. Braun Strowman & TBD

The Braun Strowman angle is pretty interesting even though he buried the tag team division. The mystery partner element is also a nice twist because we all want to know who can compliment Braun against the Bar(PLEASE LET IT BE NEVILLE, then I will upgrade this to a 4).

Excitement level: 3

Cruiserweight Championship-- Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali

If the WWE wants us to take the cruiserweight division seriously, they need a spot on the main show. Cedric Alexander has been the most consistent worker for 205 Live and Mustafa Ali has been the heart of 205 Live especially with his recent performance in the Cruiserweight Tournament. This match can be the fire the division needs for WWE’s audience.

Excitement level: 4

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

The only wrestlers announced for the match are Matt Hardy, The Revival, Mojo Rawley, Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger. I’m sure it will be exciting but there is no real payoff for this match.

Excitement level: 2.5

WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal

Superstars from Raw, Smackdown and NXT will compete in the event. Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Natalya & the Riott Squad have entered so far and it’s the first one ever. Sasha & Bayley’s feud is the major component in this match and we know what they can do in the ring.

Excitement level: 3.5

WWE

WWE

The Undertaker vs. John Cena

Thank God for Cena’s promos the last few weeks, the build of this match before his promos was dreadful because we did not want to see John against an seemingly retired man in the ring. Will the undertaker come out in his original undertaker outfit or will he ride down in his American Bad Ass gimmick?

Excitement level: 4

WWE

WWE

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

With Owens and Zayn now "fired" from SmackDown after beating up McMahon -- and then Bryan two weeks ago, this sets up a perfect tag team match between both sides. The return of Daniel Bryan alone equals a 5 for excitement.

Excitement level: 5

SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers

The Usos vs. The New Day can have a high profile match at Wrestlemania and we wouldn’t complain. The addition of the Bludgeon Brothers spices things up, bringing a monstrous factor to the match that we haven’t seen in a tag team match in quite some time.

Excitement level: 4

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XIX
WWE

WWE

If you’re posed with answering the question, “What is the greatest WrestleMania of all time?” chances are you have an instant reflex. The choice that many people pick is WrestleMania X-Seven. For good reason, too. X-Seven was the culmination of the greatest boom period that the wrestling business ever saw. While watching the event, whether it was live or even now, you get the sense that you are legitimately watching the end of an era. It was a special night in Houston, to say the very least.

WrestleMania X-8 had the unenviable task of following up this incredible show. Apart from one match (Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock) the consensus thought is that it was a whiff. The same, however, cannot be said about the one that followed X-8.

In my opinion, WrestleMania XIX is every bit as good as WrestleMania X-Seven. I can take a step further and say that it’s a better show from top-to-bottom, too (with one very large exception, of course).

The show starts off with the WrestleMania debut of Rey Mysterio. Mysterio, a staple of the Cruiserweight division in WCW and the previously ECW, too, made his first arrival in WWE in the summer of 2002. He quickly ascended up the ranks and proved why he was so regarded as one of the best high-flyers in the game. He faced Matt Hardy, the Cruiserweight Champion (you read that right, if you’re unfamiliar) in a pretty scintillating opener. Hardy won dirty, and while they could’ve given Mysterio his due here to start the show, he would eventually go on to win the Cruiserweight Championship in Anaheim later that year from Hardy to culminate this feud.

Next was a match that, well… okay, this was probably the worst Undertaker match in a few years. He faced The Big Show and A-Train in a handicap match, partly because they’d taken out his partner, Nathan Jones. Yes, you may remember Nathan Jones, “The Colossus of Boggo Road,” who was too green to be in this match that they had him taken out. To be fair to him though, they booked this well, had him show up and land a few kicks in before Taker hit A-Train with a Tombstone.

Third up was a Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match. Trish Stratus became the Women’s Champion after defeating Jazz and Victoria, the reigning champion going into the event. For the time they were given (7:17) the three women made the best of it. Trish got her WrestleMania moment (A YEAR AFTER SHE SHOULD HAVE IN TORONTO) and would set the tone for the remainder of the year (Writer’s Note: You should check out the No DQ Match that Trish had with Victoria back at Survivor Series. This whole feud was actually pretty good for this era).

After setting the world on fire in the fall of 2002, the SmackDown! Tag Team Division got the spotlight on the main card. Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) faced Los Guerreros and the ragtag team of Chris Benoit and Rhyno. Benoit and Rhyno came together shortly after Edge suffered a debilitating neck injury the month before, and quickly were able to make an impact. It would, however, be the new kids on the block who got the victory, as Benjamin and Haas walked in and walked out as WWE Tag Team Champions.

WWE

WWE

Things really kicked up a notch next. Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho fought in one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time. It was arguably the match of the night on this evening in Seattle, Washington. A year after being on the losing side of the Undisputed Championship Match, and a year after being a complete afterthought in his feud with Triple H, Jericho brought his A+ game and delivered in the biggest spot yet in his career. Michaels won via a rollup, and Jericho delivered a kick below the belt to leave Michaels laying. It’s classic Y2J and classic HBK. This is one of my favorite Mania matches ever, and part of what spurred this event to be an all-timer.

Now… the next match was tough to swallow. Triple H and Booker T fought over the World Heavyweight Championship. Going into the night, Hunter berated Booker, telling him that “People like him don’t get to be World Champion.” There’s a lot of code and racial undertones here, and it makes the decision to have Hunter go over Booker even worse. Even WORSE was the fact that it took one Pedigree to do it, AND the fact that it took Triple H nearly 20 seconds to finally get a pin on Booker. And there wasn’t even any other near fall. It’s the worst part of this match and the worst booking decision in WrestleMania history. Luckily, the rest of this show helps ascend it up high.

WWE

WWE

Mr. McMahon and Hulk Hogan fought in a Street Fight that was “20 Years in the Making” next. This was a beautiful disaster, and booked exactly how it should go. You got blood, you got weapons, and you even got “ROWDY” RODDY FREAKIN’ PIPER showing up for the first time in a WWE ring in nearly TEN years! Hogan got the better of Vince in a very memorable Street Fight that got this event’s momentum back.

Then came Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock for the third time in Mania history. The match’s video package is extremely memorable, spliced with the theme song for Mania -- Crack Addict by Limp Bizkit -- and the story was simple. Rock had felt he’d done it all… except beat Stone Cold at WrestleMania. And so, in his third try, after three Rock Bottoms, Rock got the three count on his contemporary and biggest rival to leave XIX as a winner. This would prove to be Stone Cold’s final match of his career, and he went out as best he could.

WWE

WWE

The finale of this event pit two of the best to ever do it against each other. Brock Lesnar, the 2003 Royal Rumble winner, capped off an incredible first year in WWE against another man known for his impeccable rookie year: Kurt Angle. The reigning WWE Champion squared off with “The Next Big Thing” in a match that had two of the best amateur wrestlers the company had against one another. The match is a thrilling watch, even now. Lesnar’s failed Shooting Star Press is one of the more unfortunate moments in WrestleMania history that luckily didn’t turn into a total disaster for him. He was still able to finish the match, and it took three F5’s to finally put Kurt down for the count.

WrestleMania XIX is in a 1a/1b situation with X-Seven for me. These are the two greatest Manias ever in my book. The card has a big blemish on it from Booker/HHH, but the rest of it more than makes up for it. Austin-Rock III and HBK-Y2J are two all-time great matches, and Lesnar-Angle is a great main event that crowns what is, at worst, the second-best rookie year in the company’s history. WrestleMania XIX is, without a doubt, my favorite WrestleMania ever.