WrestleMania 34 is hours away and the rumors are still running rampant, picking up momentum as we approach the biggest WWE event of the year.
Here is the latest updated card, along with my predictions, for Sunday’s big show:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
Lesnar is on his way back to UFC to resume an MMA career, and while it is likely that WWE will be able to sign Lesnar to a deal that would allow him to compete under both banners.
As for this match, I predict, much like the entire WWE universe, that Reigns will walk away with the WWE title. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if it came due to some interference.
With Lesnar departing, Paul Heyman would be left without a role. A turn on Lesnar would write an end to their relationship from a storyline purpose, but give Reigns a mouth piece to help bring his character to the next level of his development and put him under the wing of one of the best mic-men of this generation.
Winner: Roman Reigns
AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
I am most excited to witness this match which may challenge everyone’s thinking when it comes to the greatest WrestleMania match, or WWE match, of all-time.
It will be hard to sway my opinion on that, as my favorite is the perfect WrestleMania 25 match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, and it would be hard to out-do the often under-appreciated Ricky Steamboat/Randy Savage match from WrestleMania 3.
But Style and Nakamura is a match that will simply crush all the others on the card and should remind everyone around the world what a match between two of the best professional wrestlers around the world can do.
There is no way Nakamura walks out without a WWE title on his shoulder, a fitting chapter in what should be a long rivalry between Styles and the ‘King of Strong Style’ that has a lot of meat on the bone
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
This is truly the best scenario to give Rousey her big WWE debut, while also masking her obvious green abilities in the ring, which have shined through over the past few weeks.
I don’t expect much from Rousey in this encounter. She won’t be in there with a ring technician, so I would expect a lot of holds, submission attempts, trash talk, and smack.
Angle will steal this match. It seems he has a chip on his shoulder to prove that he is worthy of more matches down the line, and perhaps a match against Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35.
The finish needs to be important, and with the continued rise of the women’s division, an ending of Rousey making Triple H tap out to an arm bar would do a lot to further legitimize the women on the roster and, quite frankly, how Rousey’s first match can make an immediate, memorable, impact on the future.
Winners: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka (Smackdown Women’s Championship)
Both Flair and Asuka have the chance to steal the show, should Styles/Nakamura fall short of the lofty expectations.
This match has all the makings of a classic and features 2 of the best on the roster. Additionally, there is a legit debate over whether Flair will end Asuka’s streak or suffer an epic loss to the Empress of Tomorrow.
In the end, I see this 20 minute classic ending with Asuka locking Flair in the Asuka lock to capture her first championship. I do expect a Carmella cash-in, but it will be a quick match. I can see Carmella charging a run down Asuka, who quickly throws her into the Asuka lock for the submission.
From there, I see a year-long build to a Rousey/Asuka showdown at WrestleMania 35.
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
It seems like the deck is stacked against Owens & Zayn as the story of a returning Daniel Bryan, WWE’s comeback story, is too good to end in anything less than true redemption: victory.
But that does little to nothing for Owens and Zayn who are a perfect heel duo that have carved out a great role on Smackdown.
With a roster shakeup on the horizon, Owens and Zayn seem destined for RAW, especially if defeat occurs here.
But, I suspect a heel turn by Shane McMahon, who recently just on the same page as Bryan, so, from a storyline perspective, it makes too much sense for McMahon to turn on Bryan, cost his team the match and open the door for Bryan to head to RAW.
Winners: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The Miz (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor (Intercontinental Championship)
The Miz is making too much history as the Intercontinental Champion, so it’s hard to predict him losing the strap, but WWE is going to want to put a fresh face with the title moving forward.
The issue I have is that with the work that the Miz has done as champion, the build for this match, and this 3-way feud, doesn’t really seem fitting.
Don’t get me wrong, the talent involved do fit, but for all that Miz has done with the belt, and with his character, I would have loved to see a long-build to an up-and-comer who would eventually derail Miz in a career-defining moment, much like when Bret Hart beat Mr. Perfect in their classic Summerslam match in the early 90s.
If a veteran were to rise up to take the strap from Miz, I would love to see it be Daniel Bryan, who has had to take a lot of Miz’s barbs over the past few years when the two were together under the Smackdown banner.
Rollins doesn’t need to win as much as Balor does.
Winner: Finn Balor
Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev (United States Championship)
I hate to be hard on Orton, but he’s a forgettable US champ, and that’s the issue with this title. It needs a star to help re-legitimize it, not an accomplished star like Orton who is clearly just holding the belt to put some star power behind it, although it seems like just another notch on his career resume.
And that isn’t a slight on Orton, who always does solid work. But it just doesn’t make sense to me, for him to have a long run.
Mahal would be a terrific heel champ, as he did a solid job as a heel persona with the championship, and with WWE’s global expansion, Mahal as the US champ does a lot for the company, but also opens up another wrinkle to his character, that could be entertaining.
But, Roode’s title reign was so short, it felt meaningless and WWE needs to fix that. Roode can really do more for the title, long-term, than any of the other competitors in the match can and his win, at his first WrestleMania, is a story WWE would love to tell.
It’s hard to call this one, but as long as Orton drops the title, it will bring interest back to the title.
Winner: Bobby Roode
John Cena vs. The Undertaker
The match that is currently a “mystery” is going to happen.
I anticipate Cena coming out to cut yet another scathing promo on Taker, and perhaps this happens if Cena comes out to be a guest commentator, or decides to sit ringside with fans as a “fan”.
But during this, the lights will go out, the bells will chime and, eventually, the Undertaker will rise.
Now, I am not sure which Taker will appear, but if the “Deadman” gimmick was “retired” last year, it only makes sense for the American Badass to come lay the hurt on Cena and ride off, on his motorcycle, victorious.
Winner: The Undertaker
The Bar (c) vs. Braun Strowman and unnamed partner (Raw Tag Team Championships)
So, who will be Braun Strowman’s partner? Names such as Bray Wyatt, Bobby Lashley, Elias, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, Big Cass (who will be re-branded as Colin Cassady), and even Neville have been mentioned.
Neville could be the big surprise as WWE brings him back as part of the RAW roster and NOT a part of 205, where he was stuck.
Samoa Joe could form one hell of a tag team with Strowman, and his name should be heavily considered due to the potential storylines, but that take Joe out of his rightful spot in the upper card.
However, with Bray Wyatt recently “deleted” and due to his history with Strowman, this seems like the perfect time to bring Wyatt back and help Strowman win his first gold in WWE while giving a re-packaged Wyatt, a much needed victory on the WrestleMania stage.
Winners: Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax (Raw Women’s Championship)
If you told me 6 months ago that Jax would be in line for a title run, I would have groaned. She looked too raw, too green and a bit overwhelmed by big matches.
Fast forward to today and Jax has really improved, so much so, that this seems like the perfect time, the perfect storyline, and the perfect opponent, for Jax to come out on top and start a dominant reign atop the RAW women’s division.
While this all goes down, Bliss will prove her often-overlooked value to the RAW roster, as she will mask Jax’s flaws and make her look like a star, much like Bliss has with this storyline.
It’s sad to see Bliss lose a title that she did a lot of good with, but she may be on the move to SmackDown during the superstar shakeup.
Winner: Nia Jax
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali (Cruiserweight Championship)
As much as WWE needs to revamp (and rename) 205, their cruiserweight division, this match will help put the brand on the map in a big way.
Ali and Alexander will certainly get fans interested in 205, and their characters, but WWE needs to take that opportunity to repackage the brand, perhaps as it’s own “company” (again, please drop the 205 title) and carry the momentum into the future.
Winner: Cedric Alexander
The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
If Reigns aligns with Heyman, wouldn’t it make sense to form a stable by bringing the Usos to RAW?
Okay, so that may be me playing fantasy booker, but the Usos’ time with the tag titles is coming to an end and the Bludgeon Brothers need a big win to really sell their new gimmicks.
Expect carnage, which needs to be ramped up big time to truly sell people on the violence that the Bludgeon Brothers are capable of.
Winners: The Bludgeon Brothers
Women’s Battle Royal
Plenty of legends will get in the fray here, but this will be Becky Lynch’s big win.
The final 3 should be Sasha Banks, Bayley and Lynch and Lynch will benefit from Banks and Bayley choosing to take the opportunity to fight one another in vicious fashion, giving Lynch the chance to eliminate them both at the same time to capture the win.
Winner: Becky Lynch
The Andre the Giant Battle Royal
WWE needs to make this match, and the winner of this match, matter.
The past few winners, haven’t really done anything significant coming off the win, making the shine of a battle royal victory, rather dull.
Give the win to someone who can use it to go on a tear because of the big win. If that’s not the route, then this match will need something at stake (like a title shot at Summerslam) to get anyone to care about it moving forward.
I heard the rumors of a Big Show win, but re-treads aren’t going to do any good. Not for the tournament. Not for the trophy. Not for Big Show.
A returning Colin Cassady makes sense, so does Samoa Joe, who can do the most with the win.
However, Matt Hardy would do some crazy things with the trophy to make this match entertaining. In fact, I chuckle thinking about the next year of him working the win into his character, perhaps using it to channel the spirit of Andre.
I know it’s wishful thinking (I actually see Samoa Joe winning), but this would be epic for WWE if Hardy walks out victorious.
Winner: Matt Hardy
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? November 12, 2018
For Raw, when Smackdown invaded Raw this week, it was an awesome segment from start to finish. After Alexa Bliss announced that Ruby Riott would be the final member of the women’s team, the cameras cut backstage to Becky Lynch attacking Ronda Rousey. Soon after that, Lynch came out with other Smackdown women superstars and a brawl ensued. Lynch broke her nose and had a few facial fractures after Nia Jax punched in the face during this brawl. This led to Lynch bleeding profusely from her nose, but that didn’t stop her from fighting. Lynch then attacked Rousey with a chair and stood tall in the crowd. This made Becky Lynch look like the baddest women on the planet and the WWE universe seem to agree as they were chanting her name throughout this.
For Smackdown, we have a new WWE Champion! Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles after hitting a low blow and then a running knee. Bryan then attacked Styles after the match and shocked the WWE Universe. Bryan now gets to face Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series and some have considered this a “dream match.”
For Raw, the whole ordeal with the tag team Survivor Series elimination match was a mess. Raw opened up with a battle royal to determine who the captains would be for Raw for that match. This battle royal was interrupted by Braun Strowman, so they pushed the match for later in the show. Then, when the match happened, nobody really cared. Lastly, the team that won could only just brag that they were the captains because all the other teams involved in the Battle Royal will be the same teams to represent Raw in the match anyway.
For Smackdown, there was no invasion angle on their show this week, which is confusing. Last year, both brands invaded each other’s show before Survivor Series. But, this time around, Smackdown only invaded Raw. When this doesn’t happen now, it really makes the matches at Survivor Series not feel as important as they should. What really doesn’t make much sense either is that during the show, they showed that security was preparing for an invasion, but it never happened.
The Final Verdict
With these being the go home shows before Survivor Series, WWE usually ramps up the build to these matches by having invasions happen as well as taking a lot of time to talk about these matches. But, with the Becky Lynch injury, she had to pull out of her match with Rousey and find a replacement. WWE also decided to throw the fans a curve ball by having AJ Styles 365+ days reign as WWE Champion come to a screeching halt this week too after losing to Daniel Bryan. As far as which brand had a better show, I will have to say that Raw had the better show this week. Raw did a really good job of building up Survivor Series as well as what is to come after the PPV too. They had time to show what is going to happen next between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as well as Braun Strowman and his situations with Baron Corbin and Brock Lesnar. Lastly, the ending invasion with Smackdown was an awesome moment for years to come. Survivor Series is looking to be a solid PPV and it is also intriguing to see what happens after the PPV too.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? November 5, 2018
For Raw, we have new tag team champions this week after the Authors of Pain defeated Seth Rollins. After Rollins called out Baron Corbin for helping Brock Lesnar win the Universal Championship, Corbin retaliated by having him defend the tag team championship against AOP knowing that Dean Ambrose wasn’t going to help Rollins out. That was the case as Rollins tried to his best to win two on one, only to fail. After the match, Ambrose attacked Rollins again. When I stated last week that this Seth Rollins versus Dean Ambrose rivalry is going to be a slow build, this is a prime example of it and doing it in a effective way.
For Smackdown, we had a great one on one match between Rey Mysterio and Andrade Almas. Before this bout, Daniel Bryan picked Mysterio to be on the men’s team, only for the Miz to question it and say that Mysterio will have to prove it against Almas. Both Mysterio and Almas put on a high flying match which ended when Mysterio hit the 619. After the match, Randy Orton attacked Mysterio too, which questions where his intentions are going forward too.
For Raw, while I do not mind the Bobby Lashley versus Finn Balor rivalry, having them face off against each other every week is not a good way to build up the rivalry. This is the 3rd week in a row they have faced off against each other and it hasn’t really led to anything for either competitor. There are much better ways to help develop this rivalry. Having them fight every week gets repetitive and boring quickly.
For Smackdown, the reveal for the women’s team at Survivor Series didn’t really have the intriguing impact compared to what they are doing on Raw. For Smackdown, there is no team captain and they don’t even have one fully committed to the team. When it was Charlotte’s turn to get introduced, she didn’t show up, instead we got Mandy Rose questioning why others were on the team in her place. While that aspect of the team is interesting, there are still some things left up in the air about this.
The Final Verdict
After Crown Jewel, it felt like WWE was trying to move past that as soon as possible and move onto Survivor Series. This seems like the smartest decision for WWE considering the controversy that was behind Crown Jewel. But, as both brands moved on, they did a pretty solid job of building up Survivor Series. But, I will have to say that Smackdown had the better show this week. They spent all of their allotted time on focusing on Survivor Series and have some pretty interesting stories going into it. While Raw, on the other hand, had some matches that felt like filler and have been extremely repetitive. Overall, WWE needs to ramp up the buildup for Survivor Series, especially considering that this is one of the Big Four PPV’s.
John Cena Addresses Future with WWE, Slowing Down
While WWE superstar John Cena may not be participating in this Friday’s Crown Jewel event from Saudi Arabia, Cena is still committed to performing in the ring, but he won’t be the full time performer that he once was.
Cena, 41, admitted that aging and the importance of maintaining his body moving forward are reasons why he has scaled back in the ring, while also adding that he will always be a part of WWE and will never leave.
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