Oh-Lordy. This- for so many reasons – will be a Wrestlemania which will be reported on and reviewed for many years to come.
Gronk. Yep. That’s a thing.
Will going ahead with Mania in front of no spectators prove to have been the right decision? Probably not. In fact, almost certainly not.
But it will be a truly unique Wrestlemania in an era where the ‘E is often accused of being anything but such.
We’re not going to be offering comparable odds – no bookie in their right mind will offer odds on an event that will have already taken place – but we’ll do what we can.
Note: Bar the Roman Reigns & Miz situations, this has been written without any spoilers.
Brock Lesnar © vs Drew McIntyre
There was widespread praise for Big Drew’s BT Sports created promo package – charging around the Scottish Highlands getting ready for his match against Lesnar. Personally, I was curious who the elderly sassy Scot barking belligerent orders at Drew was (was it Drew’s Dad? His Da? Where had he been previously? Can we get more of him please? He was great was ol’ Jose McLothario).
McIntyre had a great performance in what was a fun rumble and is one of the few wrestlers on the WWE roster with a relative size comparable to Lesnar. People go back and forth about whether Lesnar puts better matches on with smaller or bigger opponents, but there’s no doubt that Lesnar’s best matches are when he wants to put on a show.
Headlining Mania should be one of those times – but hasn’t always been. In front of no audience could also affect this match more than most. But hopefully “Big Match Brock” turns up and these two just absolutely batter one another. There will be no doubt about Drew’s motivation in what should be the biggest match of his career.
Wrestlemania is the ‘king maker’ show and one has to assume this is Drew’s night… or Brock beats him in 5 mins with one F-5 and we wait for Roman to come back again.
Prediction: Drew McIntyre Wins
NXT Women’s Title
Rhea Ripley © vs Charlotte Flair
It feels like this feud has been put together to answer the question ‘how do we get Charlotte Flair onto the show’ rather than ‘what’s the best match for the NXT Women’s Title’ – but fortuitously, Ripley/Flair has managed to answer both questions. Rhea has been one of the more unexpected star rises in the last 18 months and utterly deserved – her win over Baszler being one of the highlights of NXT TV last year.
Ripley / Flair should be a fun match; but with the primary focus being getting Charlotte a high profile Mania match rather than a great feud for the NXT Champ, one has to assume that Rhea is retaining here. It’s hard to picture Charlotte moving back (down?) to NXT full-time so you have to guess that Rhea keeps the belt.
But does she win the match? I’m predicting this match ends with a sign of respect between the two (before they go their separate ways) so either Rhea wins a close fought match, or Charlotte wins in a way that she doesn’t take the belt (DQ or count-out). Rhea gets more out a defence than Charlotte does out of a count-out win, so I’m predicting that Rhea wins in what is a career highlight.
Predictions: Rhea Ripley Wins
WWE Universal Title
Goldberg © vs “Roman Reigns”
Let’s address the obvious problem here – The Big Dawg ain’t gonna be at Wrestlemania. That’s not only well known on the ‘dirt sheets’ but has literally been reported on Reigns’ Instagram page. Yet, at time of writing, Roman is still being advertised as a part of the next show. Because WWE.
I’m personally far less offended by this promotional tactic than other people are. I mean, we all knew Rick Grimes was getting written out of the Walking Dead, it was acknowledged in several different forums, but the characters never walked around going “You know, Rick is leaving soon”.
It’s a murky area – but pro wrestling is widely acknowledged as a long running story so I’m fine with treating it as such.
The rumoured opponent for ol’ Goldie is The Monster amongst Men Braun Strowman. Braun’s otherwise absence from the card is oddly telling so it seems like an obvious placement for him. Fresh off an un-interesting IC title reign, is this time when they finally pull the trigger on Braun as World Champ?
My gut says yes. Goldberg is always going to be a short-term attraction and his (quite frankly baffling) beating of Bray Wyatt in Saudi makes even less sense now. Bray vs Cena for the belt; Cena chasing his record breaking title reign, only to be denied by Wyatt – whilst Braun/Roman have a hoss match with Goldberg for giggles seems a lot better placement for the big blue belt (is it still blue?)
Instead, we’re now potentially having Braun get the title at a time when he is less deserving of it than other times in his career. Personally, I’m hoping for a Goldberg win, followed by an open challenge from Matt Riddle the next night. But sometimes we don’t get what we want or what is interesting.
(Final Note – I subscribe to the conspiracy theory that *the* reason this is all going ahead – all of it – is that Goldberg is WWE Champ and is only contracted until Wrestlemania so could leave with the belt should be choose to. We’re doing all of this for Goldberg, kids)
Prediction: Whoever Replaces Roman
WWE Raw Women’s Title
Becky Lynch © vs Shayna Baszler
Writing Rule #1 – Endings are important. And this rule is important when applied to “epic” title reigns. A weak ending, or one that is over protracted takes off the shine when the title reign eventually ends. At Wrestlemania, exactly one year since she won the first women’s main event, against a proven challenger… this is the time for ‘The Man’s’ Epic Reign to come to an end.
I mentioned on the Elimination Chamber preview that I’m expecting this to following the story pattern of the Rocky Films, with Becky Lynch as Balboa. In this scenario, Charlotte Flair / Ronda Rousey are Apollo Creed… and Shayna Baszler is Mr T.
Not only do I expect Baszler to win, it would be interesting to see Baszler absolutely destroy The Man. Have Becky come out with a big entrance, smiling, not taking this seriously. Then have it get really, really violent and Baszler takes the belt.
This further puts Shayna over as a star which is more than deserved after an excellent in-ring 2019, and also gives Becky Lynch the option for some interesting character development – her confidence shot by the high profile loss (have her lose to both Charlotte and Bayley to help them recover from *their* predicted Mania losses) before the eventual rehab and recovery of The Man later in the year, or even at next year’s Mania.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler Wins
John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt challenges Cena for ‘breaking’ him previously… the same Bray Wyatt who then went on to win the WWE Universal Title after his feud with John Cena. Ok then.
As mentioned above, this match makes a lot more sense if The Fiend had kept the title – Cena challenging for his “record breaking” reign *has* to become a story at some-point and probably sooner rather than later (if it’s ever going to happen). It’s also why it wasn’t shocking to see rumours that either man would win here and then go on to challenge Goldberg later in the show (or even the next night).
Bray hasn’t a great record at ‘Mania – from losing to Cena in a match he *really* should have won, to getting squashed by The Rock to, well, the worms thing… Bray needs a positive Wrestlemania performance. Although he may win here, my worry about the lack of audience and the pressing need to do something ‘different’ means that this match has the potential to be the “zaniest” of TAKFA Husky Harris’ career.
I’m fully expecting teleportation. Maybe they turn into WWE2k characters on the PlayStation. There’s gonna be at least one stupid Instagram Filter in the match. I’m expecting this match to be panned by the critics and even moreso when the part-timer (albeit one who has an eventual title chase in him) wins.
Prediction: John Cena Wins
WWE Smackdown Women’s Title Elimination Match
Bayley © vs Lacey Evans vs Naomi vs Sasha Banks vs Tamina
Originally a six-woman match, but Dana Brooke has been very quietly removed from the match (rumoured for coronavirus reasons). I’ve been predicting a Lacey Evans title reign as far back as the Royal Rumble (she seems such a *WWE* wrestler) and I’m going to stick with my prediction here.
One has to assume that the anchoring story of this match will be long running rivalry between Sasha Banks and Bayley. The multi-person format allows for both to interact in a more natural way than a standard “heel vs heel” match and it’s almost a certain lock that one will eliminate the other – Sasha beats Bayley, Evans beats Banks is probably the most likely finish to the match.
It’s not impossible for Bayley to run the whole match and leave still as Champ – she’s done a good job as Smackdown Champ and Wrestlemania history is littered with Champions retaining during massive multi-person matches against the odds (AJ Lee beating literally every other Woman and – I know he didn’t win – but Crash was supposed to keep the Hardcore Title at WM15).
However, I think this is the time that they pull the trigger on the Evans title change as there’s no obvious “new” challenger for Bayley immediately after.
Prediction: Lacey Evans Wins
The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
For those curious what on earth a “Boneyard Match” is, the rumours this morning are that this is essentially a double cage match (Punjabi Prison) but both cages ‘made of Skeletons’. Cool, I guess? Here’s me hoping we were finally getting a return to WCW’s Junkyard Battle Royal.
There’s the basis of a genuinely interesting story here – Styles targets ‘taker after his wife stole Styles finishing move before AJ came to the WWE. I like this as a very unique angle, but it’s been somewhat missed in the mixture of boneyards and Undertaker mocking AJ for not being there at the same time as the likes of Booker T, Kurt Angle and Mick Foley… three men who AJ fought in TNA.
Since losing to Lesnar, Undertaker’s Wrestlemania appearances are no-longer as mystical as the were previously and his loss to Reigns means that there’s no-longer a guarantee of Undertaker winning at all.
A Styles win here – especially with loads of nonsense from the Boneyard and The Good Brothers – is a big benefit for AJ and does no damage to Undertaker. In fact, there’s a chance that as another “boy from the south” that Undertaker will have less issue with losing to Styles.
There’s also a fun character arc for Undertaker to transition essentially into Randy “The Ram” Robinson for his final career run.
But none of this is going to happen. It’s Mania and Undertaker wins.
Prediction: The Undertaker Wins
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Alongside the Zayn / Bryan match, this is the match on the card that feels like it probably took place in front of zero fans previously. KO and Rollins were stalwarts of the US Indie scene for many years, so I wouldn’t be shocked if a Kevin Steen / Tyler Black match took place in some Armory in the middle of Bumfuck, Oklahoma at some point.
Hang on… let’s check! The first meeting between the two was an IWA show in 2006 in Streamwood, Illinois. The card featured Chucky T, Ricochet, Colt Cabana, Matt Sydal, Silas Young, El Generico and was – brilliantly – headlined by a Mad Man Pondo / Sabu match that was almost certainly a technical masterclass. But I digress.
It’ll be interesting to see if Murphy gets involved with this match. Any other year, I’d have said this was a certainty, but – you know – social distancing and that.
I have a slight hope that – with no audience – the wrestlers across the card will work a slightly more flashy match to keep the home audience’s attention. I’d have been attempted to predict this anyway, but here’s my call.
…with a package piledriver.
Prediction: Kevin Owens Wins
WWE Raw Tag Team Titles
The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) © vs. Angel Garza & Austin Theory
The match that was originally rumoured to be the Profits vs The AoP, then became the Profits vs Garza / Andrade is now Profits vs Angel Garza and Austin Theory.
I remember seeing the former EVOLVE Champ Austin Theory on a PROGRESS show last year and I’m not surprised that he’s in high favour with the WWE. To quote Trent Seven, he’s just “so American”. Nothing especially flashy, but a good look and a solid hand in the ring, I’ll be surprised if this is the only time we see Austin Theory on a Mania card in the year’s ahead.
Losing Andrade from this match makes a title change a little *more* likely (it was hard to see Andrade being a double champion) but I still think that Dawkins & Ford retain the belts here over Los Gobernables in what has “opening match at Wrestlemania” written all over it
It’s hard to envisage the benefit from a title swap to Garza/Theory – the Profits look week losing to a slapdash team – and there remains a massive upside to Dawkins / Ford (especially Ford) that will be further cultivated with a win on the big stage here. It will be interesting to see who they go onto feud with next. I’m actually not averse to a feud with a Garza/Theory/Andrade faction in the future, it’s just not right now.
Prediction: The Street Profits Win
Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
I predict that Aleister Black takes Lashley’s head.
He kicks Lana’s fella so hard that we all forget about the coronavirus.
Everything is right in the world.
It’ll be brilliant.
Then we go to Black vs Almas as soon as possible
Prediction: Aleister Black
Elias vs. King Corbin
I saw a comment saying that in many ways this would have been the match where fans left for their toilet break, meaning that Corbin / Elias would have been a no-fans match; coronavirus or not.
Whilst obviously unfair, it’s the match I’m least excited about on the card. It’s nothing against either man – and these previews always have a positive slant because that’s what my genuine opinion is – but this match has ‘mid-card filler’ written all over it with very little sign on how they’ll get out of that.
I’m expecting some perfectly solid wrestling here and I really wouldn’t be surprised to see either man challenging for the IC or US belts shortly after Mania.
Corbin to win by some nonsense only to get twatted by Elias’ guitar afterwards and we can all move onto something else
Prediction: King Corbin
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title
The Miz & John Morrison © vs. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso)
Another match advertised which isn’t going to happen, but unlike the Reigns / Goldberg match (and the Raw Tag Title Match, and Smackdown Women’s matches) there’s a bigger issue at play in that the wrestler who’s “been corona-ed” is the Champion, not the challenger.
It’s been reported that The Miz is in isolation (hope he gets better soon… I like dickhead Miz). It’ll be interesting to see what they do here; maybe we just had Morrison vs New Day vs Usos after Miz is written out – or does Morrison get s stand-in partner? I’m not sure Joey Mercury is available, so who’s the obvious choice? Roode? Rowan? Big Show?
Regardless what happens here, I think we get a title change. As soon as Roman was written out, I was half expecting the Usos to be missing too so the fact they’re not means I’m predicting that Jimmy & Jey get the belts back here.
Losing a three-way tag title match feels like such a step down for Kofi from last year which is a shame, but The New Day are such a great act (and with Woods out) the drop doesn’t feel too much. Still would be nicer to see Kofi back in the singles picture once Xavier is back though.
Prediction: The Usos Win
Last Man Standing Match
Edge vs. Randy Orton
How do you do a last man standing match in an empty arena? How do you return one of the all time greats in front of literally *no-one*? Of all the matches, this is the one that most feels ‘wrong’ to be taking place in this bizarre Wrestlemania. It’s great to have Edge back, but his first singles match should be something for the fans to see live. If you need Edge at Mania, have him in a Tag Match. This feels like a opportunity lost.
A Last Man Standing match should finish with something brutal – some sick bump it’s impossible to return from. Which means that one of these two men – both in their 40s – are going to have to do a physically dangerous match IN FRONT OF NO-ONE. No response to generate the adrenaline. The more I type, the more I realise that the gimmick is the biggest issue.
So… yeah. This match. It’s Edge’s return so the only sensible option here – especially against “up and comer who needs the win” Randy Orton – is for the Rated R Superstar to win here in a feel good moment.
Hopefully this moves them both into something new following Mania and although we’re delighted to see Edge back, one can’t always hope it had been in slightly different circumstances.
Prediction: Edge Wins
WWE Intercontinental Title
Sami Zayn © vs. Daniel Bryan
Say it quietly – we’re about to get Sami Zayn vs Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania. In a one on one match for the Intercontinental Title. And yet there’s somehow very low expectations.
This could be – COULD BE – very, very good. Following Daniel Bryan’s surprisingly stiff match with Drew Gulak, it feels like Bryan has been operating under a rule of ‘do what you want’ in the last few months. Hopefully this continues and Bryan has Sami Zayn’s best match since his NXT Classic with Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura’s presence here – or rather lack of – is interesting. It’s shocking we’ve not had a proper feud between Shinsuke and Bryan since D-Bry’s in-ring return and Sami’s allegiance with him means that we could finally be heading that way after this match.
I expect Daniel Bryan to win here and given him a proper run as IC Champ (that was robbed from him a few years ago with injury) where Daniel Bryan re-established the IC title as the ‘work-rate’ belt and we have months of Daniel Bryan having awesome matches with basically whoever he damn well pleases. Of all things this Wrestlemania Season, this is the thing I want the most.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan Wins
WWE Women’s Tag Team Title
The Kabuki Warriors (Kairi Sane & Asuka) © vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
I kinda feel like; because of how stacked the women’s title scene is at the moment – holding these tag titles for as long as they can is one of the best things for Asuka and Sane. Neither team feels like they should or will turn on each other so I can’t see this being anything other than just a solid mid-card tag-match.
Bliss/Cross are also a fun team, but the kind of team where you feel like the turn of one of them is inevitable. Could be Cross. Could be Bliss. It’s definitely happening at one point, but I feel loss here will start that story (or be a chapter in it) rather than the point that the turn actually happens. It doesn’t feel right yet.
Asuka and Cross in particular should be an interesting match-up with both using the opportunity to show what they can do. I think the Kabuki Warriors win here – maybe then going to defend against Bayley and Banks next.
Prediction: Kabuki Warriors Retain
Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
Boy gets girl. Boy loses girls. Something something Dolph Ziggler. A tale as old as time.
Wrestlemania’s history is full of ‘love’ stories. From the beautiful reunion of Savage & Liz at WM7 to the Jericho / Trish / Christian love triangle at Wrestlemania XX. This is one of those matches which could go many different ways. With less social distancing, you could all but guarantee that Bobby Roode, Tucker and Sonya DeVille would all be getting involved here (they may well all still do) but the coronavirus situation may take some of this away
I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they use this as a clear reason to continue the Ziggler / Otis rivalry for a bit – it’s a good thing for them both right now and keeping Tucker, Deville and Roode (at least) away from the match is tough on the individuals, but right for what’s now.
Something tells me this feud isn’t over yet, so I expect that Ziggler gets the win here via some unintentional / intentional interference from Mandy Rose. Not all stories need to end at Mania. I don’t think this will be one.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler Wins
Those are our Wrestlemania 36 predictions. What are yours? Please leave them in the comments below!