With WWE Fastlane over and done and the overbooked (but mostly excellent) matches behind us, it’s finally WrestleMania time! After the final pay-per-view before the Show of Shows, where does WWE stand? How will/could matchups shape themselves in the next four weeks leading into the big weekend in New York? I’ll take a look at all the big titles and feuds, including those in NXT now that champion Tommaso Ciampa is out for the foreseeable future. No spoilers from future NXT tapings are involved in these predictions and everything is based on what we’ve seen on TV through March 14th and my own desire to see as good a TakeOver/Mania card as possible, no matter how many hours it takes.
NXT Takeover New York/New Jersey/Yonkers/Newark
NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler (c) v Bianca Belair v Io Shirai Shayna Baszler has held the title since October and no real threats have stood in her way. With no spoilers for upcoming tapings, I believe that a triple threat would be the way to go with Bianca Belair and Io Shirai taking the match with the champ. The only wrench in that argument is the triple threat Raw Women’s Championship match happening at Mania itself. I’m sticking with my guns though, and having Io and Bianca continue a feud through the Spring and Summer. Winner: Bianca Belair
NXT Tag Team Championships: War Raiders (c) v Forgotten Sons: I know, I know. The way things are shaping up with the Dusty Classic has the semi-finals as Mustache Mountain v Forgotten Sons and #DIY v Ricochet/Black…Blackochet…Flippy Flippy Black Black…whatever. With Ciampa out indefinitely (and even without that, he has the NXT Championship to consider), I see Ricochet and Black in the finals. Moustache Mountain is the sentimental pick here, but they’re needed in NXT UK for the time being and if Forgotten Sons doesn’t win a big-time match soon they should all be sent back to being background for the Sons of Anarchy spin-off. Ricochet/Black have a solid future on the main roster now, so Forgotten Sons goes over via shenanigans, pitting a high profile War Raiders team against a heel team they can just crush while they figure out a way to get Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly back into contention. Winners: War Raiders
NXT UK Championship Match: Pete Dunne (c) v WALTER: This should be a hard-hitting affair that pops the crowd every time WALTER slaps Dunne in the chest or Pete bends WALTER’s fingers in an unnatural direction. This should be Pete Dunne (and potentially British Strong Style)’s last NXT UK hurrah to help fill the ranks in NXT for the next year or so. WALTER wins in a brutal match. Winner: WALTER
NXT North American Title Match: Velveteen Dream (c) v Matt Riddle: This will be an excellent match between two of the biggest personalities in NXT. The clashing styles will be interesting to see mesh together, but considering what both have shown so far in their NXT careers, this one should blow the roof off the place. I think some shenanigans will be up later on in the night, but we’ll see. Winner: Matt Riddle
NXT Championship Match: Johnny Gargano v ???: Here’s where things are going to get interesting. With the recent call-ups to main roster and the devastating neck surgery that has sidelined current champion Tommaso Ciampa for upwards of 9-10 months at current estimates, who is left in the main event scene of NXT? Assuming that there’s enough time to not go into panic mode, I think this could be a great opportunity to further the future storylines and current feuds on NXT. There are only a few people who could really fill any slot vacated here and Johnny Gargano is currently at the top of that list. He gets a spot no matter what. I would go all out here and throw three more near main event names into the mix, giving fans a fatal four-way for the vacant title. Gargano v Adam Cole (BAY-BAY) v Keith Lee v Dominick Dijakovic for the vacant title. Lee and Dijakovic can continue their feud, offering some real athleticism and some real big bodies. Cole and Gargano give us the straight wrestling and charisma needed to take this to the next level. Before he moves to main permanently, Johnny Takeover finally wins the big one by pinning Adam Cole. Winner: Johnny Freaking Wrestling
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy (c) v Cedric Alexander: Buddy Murphy waits for his opponent from the current 205 Live number 1 contender tournament. Cedric Alexander is the popular favorite to win and make it to a second Mania in a row. While Drew Gulak and Oney Lorcan are great, I think that Alexander is really the only choice to foil Murphy and win the title. Winner: Cedric Alexander
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal: Really, not much has come from the previous winners of this match that gets everyone not already on the card a spot and a payday. No judgement, but when the previous winners are Cesaro, Big Show, Baron Corbin, Mojo Rawley, and Matt Hardy (I honestly forgot he won last year with Bray Wyatt’s help)…I’m just not sure where this year will go. Maybe we’ll get some good looks at current NXT stars like Velveteen Dream or Matt Riddle. Winner: Does it Matter? Fine, Rusev.
[Redacted] Women’s Battle Royal: Naomi won the first, mostly anti-climactic WWBR last year in New Orleans. I expect to see some call-ups and a few call-backs, but I think this one has Ruby Riott written all over it. She’s had a push towards the main event overshadowed by Ronda, Charlotte, and Becky, and deserves some sort of recognition for her efforts. With the Riott Squad on her side, she’s my pick. Winner: Ruby Riott
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) v Nikki Cross: This is perhaps the only match I can think of that I want to see for Asuka. While Mandy and Sonya are showing relationship strain just as they both are fighting for space on top of the SDL division, another, much bigger triple threat match is happening much later on. Two women’s title triple threats in one night would be too much. I am convinced that Nikki could put on a good match win anyone, lose, and still be a credible threat to anyone else on the roster. This would be a really fun match that would pop the live crowd hard, especially if it lived up to their NXT matches. Winner: Asuka
Wrestlemania Main Card
Grudge Match: AJ Styles v Randy Orton: We live in a world where this is going to happen. Randy may be at the tail end of his career (as AJ might be, at close to 42), so this is the perfect place to showcase what has made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer. With the storyline build up of “King of the Indies” vs “Big League Randy,” this might get a bit chippy. If we don’t see a 450 Splash into an RKO I’ll be disappointed. Winner: The Audience
Grudge Match: Shane McMahon v The Miz: With The Super Best Friends now all broken up and Miz’s dad super sad, we’ve come to everyone’s favorite moment at WrestleMania: a 49-year old executive who throws punches like a six-year old with cerebral palsy gets to look like a threat to a younger, more athletic, actually trained wrestler. For the first time in over a decade, Shane McMahon is a full-fledged bad guy, running down the crowd and the talent alike. This one’s going to take the full time to build up and make it worth watching. Best of luck. Winner: The Concession Stands at MetLife Stadium
Grudge Match: The Divas of Doom v The Samoan Slaughterhouse: After the unprovoked attack by Beth Phoenix on the clearly exhausted Tamina at Fastlane, this match that people have been wanting to see…let’s not kid ourselves. There is exactly one person in this match that anyone actually wants to see in the ring anymore and she’s the retired mother of two working on her Masters degree. Mrs. Copland vs Nia Jax might have the size/power draw, but I’d much rather see her give the rub to a newcomer like Lacey Evans (I can’t believe I typed those words) or even Rhea Ripley. Oooh, can we trade Nia, Tamina, and Nattie to NXT UK for Rhea? Winners: The Divas of Doom
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) v The Hardy Boyz: After their fog-encased promo on a dark stairwell last night, it seems like The Hardy Boyz are the current target for the Samoan twins. With Matt going through a resurgence of all of his past vessels and Jeff being…well, Jeff, The Hardyz are on what might be their final run as a team. As we see with many late Attitude/Ruthless Aggression era superstars, the years are catching up. It might not be the last year for either of them individually, but one more run as tag team champions is certainly a possibility. Winners: The Hardy Boyz
US Championship Match: Samoa Joe (c) v John Cena: With all the talk about Cena being R-Truth’s childhood hero (despite being six years older than the 16-time champ), there’s no way this match doesn’t happen come hell or high water. What a great opportunity for Cena to give the crowd a chance to truly cheer him against one of the best heels in the game. Joe picks up the win and makes the US Title relevant for the first time since Cena himself last held it. Winner: Samoa Joe
No Holds Barred Match: Triple H v Batista: In the battle of who can destroy kayfabe first, Paul Levesque is just a bit behind Ronda Rousey, but not for lack of trying. After Brass Body took septuagenarian Ric Flair out on his birthday a few weeks back, the poor man’s Obadiah Stane has been slathering to get into a fight. After this week’s Raw, the two will meet in an epic No Holds Barred match, which I can only assume means that someone’s going to bust out a piledriver. Winner: Batista, leading to HoF next year
Retirement Match: Kurt Angle vs ???: Well, in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Olympic Hero Kurt Angle announced that his last match would be at WrestleMania. While I’m sure a line of people are available to have this match with him, most of those are already spoken for on this mammoth card. While a lot of people have suggested that Cena take on Kurt in a rematch of Cena’s first match on SmackDown, I’d rather see Angle give the rub to someone he sees as a worthy successor. Buuuuuut, all the people I want to put in that slot aren’t quite worth the spot yet. Maybe a tournament to pick Kurt’s last opponent? Include Apollo, Chad Gable, Shelton, Bobby Roode? I feel like this one will go weird instead of majestic like Flair’s retirement with HBK and we’ll end up with Angle vs Baron Corbin. Maybe we’ll be lucky and Finn Balor losing on Raw was the way to free him up for this match. Winner: Kurt Angle
Intercontinental Title Match: Bobby Lashley (c) w/Lio Rush v ???: With the backstage exclusive segment that showed Lio Rush hinting at his own desire to hold the IC strap, we might get some shenanigans in this match. But who will be Lashley’s opponent at Mania? With no automatic rematches when convenient, Finn Balor isn’t a great pick for this spot. We’ve seen that match too much for a Mania spot. But who else is available? At this point, I would pull someone from SDL to fill this spot. When my earlier predictions are proven wrong, things will shake themselves out, but I think Kevin Owens swaps brands to take on Lashley. Winner: Kevin Owens
Live From New York Match: Braun Strowman v Colin Jost: Just f-----g why?
Grudge Match: Roman Reigns v Drew McIntyre: After the brutal, CZW-lite attack on the leaving Dean Ambrose on Raw, Drew McIntyre has pencilled himself in as Reigns’ next opponent (see what I did there?). This will be a physical match with both men stepping it up to cement themselves as main event players for Seth Rollins’ Universal Title moving forward towards SummerSlam. With Roman’s literal new lease on life, he gets a feel-good moment of his own (FINALLY) at Mania without completely tearing down the dastardly McIntyre. Winner: Roman Reigns
Raw Tag Team Championships Match: The Revival (c) v Gloriousness v Aerial Evil: I am a mark for tag teams that have actual names and until I hear official ones, I’m going to keep coming up with alternatives. Pinball Wizards. The Devil and Daniel Flipster. Trampoline Darkness. Anyway, after the triple threat at Fastlane and the continued fighting on Raw, this match seems like a sure bet. Winners: Aleister Rickman
WWE Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) v Seth Rollins: I can’t with Brock anymore. The Universal Title cannot mean anything while he holds it hostage. I know part of me is being worked pretty hard, but seeing him throw the belt backstage and not even bother to bring it to TV just pisses me off. He can be a featured attraction for a few more years and never touch a title again. For the good of having a respectable, relevant second title, Seth Rollins MUST win this match. Winner: Seth Rollins
WWE Championship Match: The New Daniel Bryan (c) v Kofi Kingston (New Day and Rowan banned from ringside): After this week’s epic SmackDown Live, Kofi Kingston must withstand a gauntlet of a 13x WWE Champion, the Samoan Submission Machine, two of the toughest competitors in all of WWE, and Rowan. If he can do that, he will face Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. This is the feel-goodest feel-good story of the current WrestleMania extravaganza and must, MUST end in Kofi finally winning the WWE title (being the first black man to win that particular title since The Rock in 2013, which is a whole different conversation). Winner: Kofi Kingston
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey (c) v Charlotte Flair v Becky Lynch: For all the convolutions and kayfabe-shattering tweets, this is the match I think most fans are clamoring to see. After seven-ish hours of wrestling, these three women will beat the s--t out of each other and show that women’s wrestling is exactly what they have said it is the entire time: awesome and worthy of respect. Friends work snug and these three are going to leave everything in the ring. I’m honestly not sure who taps here, but either way, the Disarm-her will get ratcheted in and The Man will finally have come around. Winner: Becky Lynch
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