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
Lio Rush Backstage Reputation
WWE superstar Lio Rush has been in the middle of a confusing wrinkle in his association with Bobby Lashley, who seems to be done with Rush, but still teaming with him.
Lashley attacked Rush following Fin Balor pinning Rush in their handicapped match at Elimination Chamber, which cost Lashley his Intercontinental Championship despite not being pinned.
It’s been an interesting direction for Rush’s character, and according to PWInsider’s Mike Johnson (h/t WrestlingNews.co) Rush may have a reputation backstage.
“It appears Lio Rush is done with Bobby Lashley. I can tell you behind the scenes there were not a lot of people surprised at that and not a lot of people surprised that Lio took the pin. There are times Lio has a reputation for rubbing people, including other workers, the wrong way. Whether that was being held against him and that was part of the reasoning for him losing or whether it was just a decision to protect Lashley and shift the belt to Finn Balor, I guess we’ll have to see based on how Lio is presented in the weeks and months to come.”
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 11, 2019
For Raw, The Revival finally were able to become tag team champions. After months and months of seeing them go up against Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, it was about time WWE finally decided to shake things up in this rivalry. The tag team division got the attention it deserved this week and all of these guys were able to put on a great match. Hopefully, things start to go into a more intriguing direction now that the Revival are the champions.
For Smackdown, the gauntlet match they had between all of the competitors in the men’s elimination chamber was a great way to close out their show. Kofi Kingston ended up replacing Mustafa Ali after Ali announced he was injured and would not be able to compete in the match. Kingston put on a show as he defeated Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, and Samoa Joe before losing to AJ Styles. Randy Orton ended up winning the gauntlet by hitting an RKO out of nowhere on AJ Styles to end the show. This match has really good build up going into the PPV and now after Kofi Kingston’s last minute placement in this match, it really does leave it up in the air who could win at the PPV.
For Raw, Ruby Riott beat Nikki Cross and it was a quick match, which was won by Ruby Riott. Riott has a match on the PPV against Ronda Rousey and there has been minimal effort to build up this match. Rousey is more focused on her Wrestlemania match than this one and it is clear by the WWE is looking at it.
For Smackdown, they had a promo with the women’s tag teams from Raw building up their elimination chamber matches, and one of them was so bad that it has to be mentioned. When it was Nia Jax and Tamina’s time, Nia Jax kept cutting off what Tamina was saying by talking over her. This happened a few times and who knows if WWE meant to do this or not, but either way, it was painful to see.
The Final Verdict
With these being the go home shows before Elimination Chamber, WWE seemed only to really focus on two matches for the whole PPV. Those matches were both the Elimination Chamber matches, which do have big implications. But, WWE still should at least put effort into building up the other matches. Some of these were announced the day of this week’s show. Smackdown had the better show this week as a whole. A great gauntlet match and proper time put into all of their brand’s matches is the main reason why. In conclusion, WWE is more focused towards Wrestlemania so expect any of these PPV’s in between to shake things up going towards the biggest show of the year.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 4, 2019
For Raw, the whole back and forth rivalry between Jeff Jarrett and Elias was entertaining. What started at the Royal Rumble and has carried over for the past few weeks, seeing Elias and Jarrett exchange guitar shots had a throwback feel to it. Along with that, Road Dogg being in the corner of Jarrett really brought times back. Lastly, Elias ended up winning the match, which helps give him momentum going into whoever his next rival will be.
For Smackdown, Mustafa Ali and Randy Orton put on the best match during their show this week. Ali’s high flying against Randy Orton’s slow attacking pace was a great matchup of styles and it showed. Orton ended up winning after hitting an RKO from the top rope and gives him the upper hand towards the Elimination Chamber match.
For Raw, the lack of featuring the tag team champions on their show this week was evident. While they did have a number one contenders match featured this week, the winners ended up being the Revival. This is a match that we have already seen one too many times and if there isn’t a different result this time around, then what is the point of the Revival facing off against the tag team champions.
For Smackdown, after R-Truth shocked the world last week by defeating Shinsuke Nakamura to win the United States championship, you would think that we would get a segment of him celebrating this victory the next week. Instead, he wasn’t even really on the show this week. As good as R-Truth is, at least a 30 second segment would’ve been better than nothing from him.
The Final Verdict
Both shows were average this week. They did help build the Elimination Chamber as well as still pushing Ronda Rousey versus Becky Lynch as the main event of Wrestlemania. But, there was lots missing from both brands this week. Both shows were missing champions this week and didn’t even bother mentioning them. As talented as the champions currently are, each one should get respective time. With that said though, I will have to say that Raw had the better show this week. A debuting EC3, a solid double match with Ronda Rousey, and a decent main event gave Raw a better show this time around. In conclusion, WWE still has some work to do when building up these next two PPV’s, hopefully, they can put on better efforts that they did this week.
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