TJRWrestling WWE WrestleMania 37 Preview (April 10 & April 11)

TJRWrestling WWE WrestleMania 37 Preview (April 10 & April 11)

John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE WrestleMania 37 preview. There are 14 matches over two nights. I’m a big fan of the two-night WrestleMania as a concept because for me as a writer it allows me to focus on the seven matches on Saturday night that may take three hours or more and then three more hours on Sunday night. It’s better than watching and writing about a seven-hour show. I’m most excited, more than the matches themselves, for the crowd reactions. Even though it’s going to be something like 25,000 people in a 75,000 seat building, it’s better than all of the silence or fake crowd noise we have heard for the last year. As for the card, some of it I’m excited about and some of it I’m less enthused. However, I know it’s going to be such a thrill for the wrestlers to be in front of the fans again, so I’m happy for the superstars that have busted their asses without fans and now they get to be rewarded to be in front of the crowd again. After this, there are no fans until maybe for a few more months, so enjoy it while it lasts. I’m going into Wrestlemania with a lot of optimism. We all need more of that in our lives after enduring what we have had to go through over the last year.

We know that Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan is going to headline night two at WrestleMania, but what about night one? I wasn’t sure what it was going to between Banks/Belair or Lashley/McIntyre, but it seems like we got confirmation from Stephanie McMahon during a podcast appearance on the Bill Simmons Podcast today. I think both matches are great choices. Stephanie made it pretty clear that Sasha vs. Bianca will headline Night One of WrestleMania and I posted the audio clip right here. Congrats to the ladies. Of course, any WWE fans knows that WWE considers multiple matches to be the “main event” of the show, but most fans only consider the last match to be the actual main event. It does make sense since Bianca was the Women’s Royal Rumble winner. It also means Smackdown matches will headline both nights. Watch it all on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network for those of us elsewhere in the world.

Joining me for the preview are Alex Podgorski and Lance Augustine. Here are some thoughts from Alex and then we’ll get to the preview.

Alex: WrestleMania. The biggest WWE show of the year. The culmination of all their storylines over the past year. This is going to be an interesting event. I’m curious to see how they manage having live fans in attendance. On one hand, that’ll make for an interesting case study for other events and venues looking to do the same. On the other hand, wrestling fans will finally have a chance to cheer and boo like the old days, which will lead to tons of wild reactions.

As for the matches themselves, I think that there will be a fair mix of good matches, average matches, and some truly dreadful ones. It’s unfortunate, but there are still some people that think part-timers and non-wrestlers should be given marquee roles on the biggest wrestling event of the near in North America. I just hope that the top guys and girls really take this opportunity to put on the best matches they can so make up for the fact that some matches will be the absolute pits on this show.

(Note: All graphics are from WWE.)

 

WrestleMania Matches That Will Take Place on Saturday, April 10

Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (c) vs. AJ Styles & Omos    

Alex: I predict a title change here. Styles is tremendous and seems to have found an interesting gimmick with Omos as his version of Diesel. At first, I thought they would do Styles (with Omos) vs. Big E after Omos pulled him out of the Rumble match. But I guess they changed their minds at some point. That said, I wouldn’t put it past Big E’s now-former stablemates to try and ‘get revenge’ on Omos for robbing their friend of his chance at glory.

I think this match will go around twelve to fifteen minutes with Styles (ironically) doing most of the heavy-lifting for his team. He’ll be there to fly around and do the exciting stuff while Omos will land some big power moves and one-on-two moves on both Kingston and Woods. I just hope that WWE book this match in a way that promotes Omos and showcases his strengths. We have all seen Styles showcase his talents many times before. They have built this guy Omos up so much that it only makes sense for him to be the one to pick up the win for his team on WWE’s biggest show of the year.

Winners and NEW RAW Tag Team Champions: AJ Styles & Omos

Lance: Styles and Omos have worked surprisingly well together which is why the pairing is still hanging around. Styles is one of the best performers of all time and it doesn’t seem to matter what situation you put him in because he will thrive. Kingston and Woods are still teaming as The New Day, even with Big E being on a separate show. That’s awesome though because these guys work really well together. There isn’t a lot going on with this match as far as heat, but everyone in this match is talented, so they should be fine. I can’t see The New Day losing the titles quite yet, but I also don’t think this will be the only shot Styles and Omos get.

Winner(s) and STILL RAW Tag Team Champions: The New Day 

John: It’s an interesting spot to debut Omos. I think it’s intriguing because people are going to see what this giant of a man can do after seeing teases of his power in the last few weeks. The New Day won the titles recently, so you could say they deserve a longer run, but they’ve had plenty of runs in the past. I think Styles and Omos winning is very likely with Omos playing a big factor in the match.

Winners AND NEW Raw Tag Team Champions: AJ Styles & Omos

 

Tag Team Turmoil Match: Naomi & Lana vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke vs. Riott Squad (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan) vs. Natalya & Tamina

(Note: The winners will challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Titles on Night 2. More teams may be added to the match with Carmella/Billie Kay shown on a graphic that was tweeted by WWE, but then taken down. They will probably be in the match and that’ll be announced on Smackdown.)  

Alex: This is the token ‘throw-as-many-people-on-the-card-as-possible’ match that happens every year. To be honest, though, I have zero interest in this match. WWE’s women’s division has gotten a bit boring over the past year, especially after Becky Lynch went on maternity leave. And none of these teams really stand out as credible threats to the champions. No matter who wins this match, I don’t think it will be that exciting. Women’s tag team wrestling hasn’t been great since the 1990s and I don’t see any of these teams setting the world on fire anytime soon. But since the champions must have challengers, I guess I’ll go with Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke, simply because I’ve seen them promoted more often than anyone else already announced for this match.

Winners: Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke

Lance: For now, these are the teams that will be competing. Things change all the time, but I think this has been finalized for the most part. The winners of this match will go on to Night Two to take on Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for The WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. These are teams that are just thrown together, sans The Riott Squad, which makes it harder to predict. Will one of these teams that are thrown together emerge and win the titles? I can’t say with any certainty, but this is a prediction, so I will go with The Riott Squad because of the history they have together, and literally nothing else.

Winners: The Riott Squad 

John: It’s a nice way to get more women on the show while also trying to get the fans to care about the women’s tag team division a bit more. I think a babyface team should win this since the champions are heels, so I’ll go with Naomi and Lana. If it’s Mandy/Dana or Riott Squad then that’s certainly fine too. Mandy is probably my favorite woman out of that group and I think she’s underutilized, but I think the story of Lana getting her first title in WWE at Wrestlemania with Naomi could feel like a big deal. You can still

Winners: Naomi & Lana

 

Damian Priest & Bad Bunny vs. The Miz & John Morrison  

Alex: I’m not a fan of celebrities wrestling pro wrestlers. I think it screams of desperation and scraping the bottom of the barrel by WWE. Especially when said ‘celebrity’ isn’t even an athlete, but a musician. As such, I really don’t care about this match at all and think it will suck. Priest will do most of the work for his team while Bunny will land maybe five or six moves before tagging back out. But as much as I would want to see Miz and Morrison win do preserve whatever dignity and respect for pro-wrestling they have left, it’s not happening. A celebrity isn’t going to wrestle for WWE if they’re going to lose, even if that were the only logical conclusion one would have if this were any other crossover event. Use this time to grab a drink or go to the bathroom. It won’t be any good, no matter how much ‘training’ the non-wrestler has put in over the past three months.

Winners: Damien Priest & Bad Bunny

Lance: This match doesn’t do much for me. I know, breaking news. Regardless of how Bad Bunny is in the ring, there is just something missing about this match. It should be fine and I don’t think he will embarrass himself, but who knows. Morrison and Priest being added to this match had been rumored for months and actually got announced recently. It’s hard to care about a match that will have zero follow-ups because I can’t see Bad Bunny being a regular character. I think he and Priest pick up the win regardless.

Winners: Damian Priest and Bad Bunny 

John: My interest in this match is low. I couldn’t tell you a thing about Bad Bunny before he appeared at Royal Rumble. Since then I did my research and I think it’s a no-brainer for WWE to use a guy like him that is a legitimate wrestling fan. In addition to that, a lot of people within WWE have talked about how hard he has worked going into the match, so maybe it will be better than we think. It sucks that John Morrison is reduced to a comedy guy in WWE most of the time because he’s such a talented in-ring performer. I’m less of a Miz fan, but he seems like he will do any feud with anybody and try the best he can. There have been a lot of bad Miz feuds over the last couple of years, though. It should be a nice showcase for Priest to show off his power. I think Priest and Bunny winning is pretty much a lock and that Bad Bunny will probably pin Miz to win the match.

Winners: Damian Priest & Bad Bunny

 

Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins  

Alex: This will be the longest and most competitive match on the show. Both guys are incredibly talented and have shown how well they can wrestle many times before. If they get at least fifteen minutes to wrestle in the way they want, then this could steal the show, at least for night one anyway.

As for a winner, I’m going with Cesaro. Rollins is an established top guy that can lose to a guy like Cesaro and not really suffer any adverse effects. For Cesaro, winning here is critical because he has spent such a long time treading water that he really might sink if he doesn’t get a big win. He’s one of my favorite wrestlers in WWE and I really hope to see him finally get at least something of a decent singles push.

Winner: Cesaro

Lance: If anyone deserves to have a solid match at Mania, it’s probably Cesaro. This guy has been dealt the worst hands a worker could have for a good chunk of his career, and he has still persevered. Rollins is a WWE guy through and through, from the way he works to the way he carries himself outside of the ring. Normally, guys like that aren’t very good and don’t do much for me, but Rollins is awesome. The brand was hurt while he was gone tending to his family, but now that he’s back, he will pick up right where he left off. I could see this being something that Rollins pushed for because he thinks Cesaro hasn’t been booked the best, and if that’s the case, good for him. As far as the match, both men will hit their normal spots, but I think Cesaro doing a big swing will be the spot of the match. He could spin someone like Rollins for hours. I actually think Rollins might do the job here and give Cesaro a little bit of a bump up. If that happens, I think it would be a good way to start a Cesaro push.

Winner: Cesaro 

John: This is my favorite match on night one and I think it has a very good chance to be the best match on the entire WrestleMania card. It all depends on if they get the time to have a WrestleMania classic that I know they can do. Cesaro signed a new contract earlier in the year, he’s been racking up the wins ever since and this feud has been built up for about two months. Cesaro and Rollins are really close friends too since they used to travel together, train on the road and I’m sure Seth is motivated to help his friend have the biggest moment of his WWE career so far.

Cesaro is the guy that people talk about when they are asked who the most underutilized guy in WWE is. Calling him “underrated” would be wrong, but he has been underutilized until now. It took a long time for Cesaro to be booked this way with a concerted effort to give him a singles babyface push. They are focusing on Cesaro giving Rollins the famous “Cesaro Swing” a lot, so it wouldn’t shock me if we see the longest Cesaro Swing in a WWE match with maybe 30 swings or even 37 since it’s WrestleMania 37. I hope they get 15-20 minutes, I hope they have a hot match that the crowd is hot and that it has a lot of great nearfalls. In the end, I see Cesaro kicking out of The Stomp from Rollins and Cesaro will win with the Neutralizers perhaps off the top rope or something spectacular. If Rollins wins, I would be very surprised. I trust these guys to put on awesome match here. I’m excited about it.

Winner: Cesaro

 

Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon  

Alex: This is going to suck. Shane McMahon has proven himself to be the phoniest ‘performer’ in WWE, and his antics more than anyone else’s make WWE seem like a clown show. This is a 50-year-old man whose idea of wrestling training is doing weekend MMA bootcamps and pretending he’s still 30. But none of that delusion will help him against Strowman, who will make minced meat out of him in ten minutes and much of that ten minutes will feature posturing, grandstanding, and talking, because what else can Shane do?

There is no real reason to watch this match aside from seeing Braun land two or three moves on Shane and then pin him. There’s no reason for Shane to do any stupid dive; we’ve all seen him do that at WrestleMania 32. And Shane won’t have anyone backing him up, so he’ll be in there with Braun all alone. I’m sure Braun will have to sell for Shane (because, you know, his last name and all that), but the match will still end with Braun winning.

Although, I’m really sure that a win won’t lead to anything substantial for Braun; he was a white-hot act three years ago, and how he walks around with train noises like he’s Thomas the Tank Engine. If he were able to leave, I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumped to AEW before this year is over.

Winner: Braun Strowman

Lance: I believe this is being booked this way because Shane McMahon is going to take a huge bump off the cage. I also believe that this will be a way to make Strowman look like a dominant monster. This match shouldn’t be a complete waste of time, like some of the other ones, though. I think Shane will get some kind of offense in, but it will be after he runs away for the first part of the match. When Strowman catches him, though, it’ll all be downhill from there. I am a fan of Shane as a performer, but what they are doing with this storyline is lost on me.

Winner: Braun Strowman 

John: It’s a match designed to put over Strowman in a big way. Clearly, Vince McMahon must have felt like Shane McMahon was the right guy to make Strowman more popular. I don’t agree with the choice, but I’m not sure what else they could have done with Strowman. I’m not sure why they are doing a Steel Cage Match instead of some other gimmick where they can brawl around the stadium and do a stunt bump to end the match (like Shane/Miz two years ago). My guess is that maybe they will bring a table into the ring somehow and Braun will throw Shane off the cage through a table. Something big like that should end it. It should be a Braun win and keep it under ten minutes. The longer it goes, the worse it will be. I can see Strowman in a WWE Title feud after WrestleMania, so they are going to want him to look impressive here.

Winner: Braun Strowman

 

WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

Alex: When I first saw this match-up, I was convinced that Drew was going to beat Lashley and have the big celebration he was supposed to have last year. Now, however, I’m not so sure. Lashley comes across as a dangerous force and has done a great job of building himself up from a midcarder to a real main-event-level threat.

As for Drew, well, I just don’t find him that interesting anymore. Yeah, he comes to the ring with a 4-foot sword, but so what? With the exception of his recent match with Sheamus, McIntyre has started to bore me. Plus, where does McIntyre go from here? We’ve already seen him have a world title reign and it was decent but nothing special. However, there’s a potential story to be told of Lashley destroying one babyface after another until someone new comes along and dethrones him later this year. I think that would be much more interesting than WWE repeating last year’s results but with a live audience.

Winner and STILL WWE Champion: Bobby Lashley

Lance: Finally, Bobby Lashley is being booked like the absolute monster he should have been years ago. Aside from his promos bring average, which has improved immensely, he has the look and in-ring work of a star. His reign at the top has been long overdue. Breaking up the Hurt Business wasn’t great, but we all know why it was done. McIntyre had the unfortunate distinction of having a WrestleMania moment in front of no fans last year. That leads me to believe this match might actually open the show. We hear the rumblings from McIntyre wanting to be the first person through the curtain in front of fans, and I think he is owed that. The dude has been on fire over the last year and has been one of the most dominant champions the WWE has had in quite some time. His latest series of matches with Sheamus was slugfests, and I think this match will be much of the same. Both guys are great workers and can really use a mix of power and athleticism. They will be fired up in front of the people and I think it’ll work to their benefit.

I would love for Lashley to retain, but it just feels like they are going to get everything they can out of the Drew McIntyre character, and frankly, I don’t blame them. This will be his true WrestleMania moment and the match should be very good. I will say that I could see Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin getting involved in the finish since they are at odds with Lashley right now.

Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Drew McIntyre 

John: I’m looking forward to the match. Their PPV match last year was nearly one year ago, so it will be fresh when they are out there in front of the crowd. If it opens the PPV that’s fine with me because the crowd would be really hot for everything that they do. I fully McIntyre to get a superstar entrance that is going to look amazing and that these guys are going to put on one of the best matches of the weekend. I’m not necessarily one of those guys that prefers heavyweights or smaller guys, but I think it’s cool that you have these two big guys that are such awesome athletes competing for the most prestigious title in WWE. McIntyre is in the prime of his career that is coming off the best calendar year of his career while Lashley is performing so well at age 44 (he’ll be 45 in July). It feels like they are both performing at their best, so to me that gives this the “big fight feel” that we all want to see in a major championship match at WrestleMania.

The storyline they did over the last month wasn’t that interesting with Lashley trying to get other wrestlers to take out McIntyre, but it was a way to kill time on television. In the end, it’s all about the former champion trying to get revenge against the guy that cost him the title since Lashley attacked McIntyre after Elimination Chamber, which allowed The Miz to become the WWE Champion. Since it’s a revenge story, it makes a lot of sense for McIntyre to win the title back. With that said, if Lashley got that long title reign where he beat everybody that comes after him and has a dominant heel run as champion I’d strongly support that too because I’ve been a Lashley fan for over 15 years.

My lean is to go with Drew McIntyre because I expect a lot of babyface wins on these shows that have fans for the first time in over a year. They are going to want the fans to be happy with the results and I think that’s why Drew should win. If Bobby gets the title back in the future, I’d fully support that. It’s not like McIntyre needs to hold it for most of the next year again. I just think for this show, it makes a lot of sense for Drew to win. Here’s hoping they get a chance to put on a classic because I think it’s going to be an awesome match.

Winner AND NEW WWE Champion: Drew McIntyre

 

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair  

Alex: Any person with two working brain cells can see that Belair is winning this match. No matter how much nonsense WWE’s bookers might throw at her, she’s going to beat Sasha at WrestleMania. The main brands are desperate for new, fresh faces, and Belair is the right choice. She’s one of the most complete performers in their women’s division, and she’s marketable as a star. The only real question is how long this match lasts. Rumor has it that this might be the show-closing match for night one. If that’s the case, then I predict they go around twenty minutes and have an NXT-style match. If they go in that direction, then you can expect a lot of tense near-falls and high-intensity sequences here. Sasha will be more brutal and aggressive than she has been in a long time, but not even making callbacks to her NXT days will be enough for her to beat Belair on this night.

Winner and NEW SmackDown Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair

Lance: This match has been building since Belair went the distance and won the Women’s Royal Rumble. They have had multiple shots at the Women’s Tag Team Titles, but have come up short due to some miscommunication between the two. When Belair first came on the scene, I don’t think I was the biggest fan. It just seemed like she was missing something. I no longer feel that way in the slightest. I love the gimmick and think she is really good in the ring. Banks’ accomplishments have been plentiful and I think she will go down as one of the best women’s wrestlers in WWE history. A trailblazer if nothing else. This match will have some good fire to it, but it’s time to crown a new face of the women’s division. I am all in on Bianca and the WWE should be too.

Winner and NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair 

John: This should be an interesting match between two incredible athletes. I know it means a lot to plenty of WWE fans since it is two black women headlining WrestleMania and I’ve seen Sasha/Bianca talking about how much it means to them as well. Some fans may not realize it, but Banks is the younger of the two women at 29 years old while Belair is 32 years old. Banks has also been wrestling for about a decade while producing some of the best women’s matches in WWE history over the last six years. In Bianca’s case, she’s still new because this is her “rookie year” on Smackdown and she has a lot to prove. I think Bianca is going to deliver because I was so impressed with her performance in the Women’s Royal Rumble in January when she was very entertaining for one hour in that ring.

I think the build for this match could have been a lot better. Having Banks and Belair fail repeatedly in Women’s Tag Team Title matches didn’t help either of them. Since then, they have had Banks be more aggressive (not as a heel, but just a babyface with an edge) and have clearly positioned Belair as the true babyface in the match. Since they have had about two months to get ready for the match, I think they have likely practiced a lot to the point that they should have it planned out in a very detailed way. I expect a good match at least, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s great because Banks makes everybody better and Belair is such a great athlete that I think she’s going to impress a lot of people. Both women are going to be key figures in WWE over the next five years or more. Banks is already one of the biggest women’s wrestlers in WWE history and this is the launching pad for Belair to be elevated into superstardom. I think Belair will win here. I’ll be surprised if Belair isn’t celebrating as the new Smackdown Women’s Champion.

Winner AND NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair

 

WrestleMania Matches That Will Take Place on Sunday, April 11

United States Championship: Riddle (c) vs. Sheamus

Alex: I have no idea who I’m supposed to root for in this match. Sheamus has been the aggressor for most of this feud. But Riddle’s character is straight up unlikeable. He’s every bad stoner stereotype combined and now apparently he has this magical ability to shoot CGI birds out of his ass. And here I thought the Fiend and the Firefly Funhouse were proof positive that WWE’s Wellness Policy doesn’t apply to the writers.

Anyways, don’t expect much from this match. It’ll be your typical average PPV opener with average action and the same features and sequences you’ve come to expect from WWE’s bloated midcard. Sheamus will try his typical power moves and his kick, but Riddle will probably find some goofy distraction that will get him the victory. I just hope that they leave the wacky CGI stuff to Riddle’s entrance and don’t actually make it part of his match.

Winner and STILL United States Champion: Riddle

Lance: Riddle won the US title in a triple threat match with Bobby Lashley and John Morrison and has been featured on TV prominently since being doing so. Sheamus has had some battles with Drew McIntyre that have been a highlight on the programming over the last couple of months. This match doesn’t have a lot of heat since it seems like it was thrown together to get both guys on the show, but I think they can still pull something out. Sheamus will get a lot of offense in and look good throughout. I don’t see them taking the title of Riddle so soon after winning it, though.

Winner and STILL United States Champion: Riddle  

John: Sheamus won a non-title match over Riddle to set up this title match. They have wrestled many times in the last few months, and they work very well together. Sometimes the style of wrestlers match perfectly. These guys look like they are having a lot of fun when they’re in matches together. I think Riddle should probably keep the title in his first WrestleMania match to give him a memorable victory over an established name like Sheamus. If they open night two it wouldn’t be a bad idea because I think Riddle is popular with the fans and this is going to be a very good match.

Winner: Riddle

 

Women’s Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Winners of Tag Team Turmoil Match 

Alex: I just don’t see the champions losing here. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler have been solid as an odd pairing team and none of the challenging teams are even remotely close to them. And while I can see the challengers coming close to winning – especially after Dana Brooke lands some kind of crazy power move on the much-heavier Nia Jax – the champions will still retain. Having the champions lose now just wouldn’t make sense. They’ve managed to score wins over Sasha and Belair twice now, and those two were hyped up as the two biggest singles stars in the women’s division. If Jax and Baszler could beat those two, then any challengers – whether they’re the duo I picked or a duo one of my colleagues picked – don’t stand a chance in hell.

Winners and STILL WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler

Lance: I have incorrectly predicted that Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler would lose their titles the last two Pay-Per-Views, but it was against Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair in fairness. I have The Riot Squad winning on Night One and in this scenario, so I am not going to pick against the champs. I am not sure where they are moving with these two teams or what the future holds, but I am reserved to the fact that they will hold on to them for a little bit longer. I like The Riott Squad a lot and think they have good potential as a team, but unfortunately, I don’t book the show.

Winners and STILL Women’s Tag Team Champions: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler  

John: I am getting tired of the Jax/Baszler pairing and I think it’s time for a title change. Since I have Naomi/Lana winning the Women’s Tag Team Turmoil match on Saturday, they are my pick to become the new Women’s Tag Team Champions. Plus, there’s a bit of history there since Nia Jax tormented Lana a lot going back to last fall when Jax put Lana through the announce table many times. This would be sweet revenge for Lana. They also have Reginald involved to help Jax and Baszler, so maybe they do a spot where Reginald screws up, that leads to Jax/Baszler arguing and Naomi can hit a big move to get the win for her team.

Winners AND NEW Women’s Tag Team Champions: Naomi & Lana

 

Kevin Owens  vs. Sami Zayn (w/Logan Paul) 

Alex: WWE has actually done something clever here. Logan Paul is one of the most annoying and despicable people on the planet, so it makes sense for Zayn to align himself with him to get extra heat from the crowd. He’ll be an absolute heat magnet during this match, though hopefully he won’t take the spotlight off of Zayn as he goes to war against his longtime friend. I predict an intense fight here out of Owens and Zayn. They’ll go fifteen or perhaps twenty minutes and they’ll have some callbacks to their earlier matches and even to some of their fights before coming to WWE. It’ll be an intense back-and-forth war. But it won’t be a genuine classic, simply because I can see WWE pulling one of its classic tropes. At some point, Owens will be in control and Paul will either get on the apron or do some kind of stupid distraction and Owens will fall for it. Owens will probably go to attack him and Zayn will use that distraction to score a cheap win. I mean, why else would WWE involve someone like Paul if he’s not there to ruin what would otherwise be an awesome match?

Winner: Sami Zayn

Lance: Is there someone I care less about than Logan Paul? I am sure there is, but I would have to dig deep. I understand him being there is a publicity thing for WrestleMania, but you could have gotten someone cooler for my money.  Now, on to the stars of the match. For guys that are as close as they are and as big of wrestling fans as they have been, this has got to be the coolest thing, right? Two friends wrestling each other at the biggest show of the year. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Zayn has been really good in his role as of late and has played up the conspiracy theories against him nicely. I always thought Zayn was a little underrated, so I am glad he is on the show here. Owens is also great and these two will have a great battle. They know each other in and out and this one if given the time, should be a standout. I am going to give the win to Owens, even with Logan Paul at ringside.

Winner: Kevin Owens 

John: This is one of my favorite WrestleMania matches. I don’t know much about the Logan Paul dude, but if he’s popular on Youtube and might bring some attention to WWE then that’s fine with me. My interest is in my fellow Canadians named Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn having an awesome singles match on the biggest stage of them all. They are legitimate best friends that came up in the business together over the last 15 years and now they get a singles match at WrestleMania together? I’m sure this means so much to them as well as their families. I’m so happy for them.

I think Owens is going to win the match, Zayn is going to blame his “friend” Logan Paul for costing Zayn the win somehow, and then Paul is going to punch Zayn to knock him out since Paul is apparently a boxer sometimes. I’m hoping they get 15 to 20 minutes like the Rollins/Cesaro match on night one, but it wouldn’t shock me if they are cut short. I think this will be a lot of fun.

Winner: Kevin Owens

 

Nigerian Drum Fight for the Intercontinental Championship: Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews

(Nigerian Drum Fight is like a Street Fight. No rules except win by pinfall. Weapons are allowed.)

Alex: I think the only reason this match exists here is because they needed some way to make up for the botched finish that happened at Fastlane. The stipulation makes sense since Crews beat Big E up at Fastlane and wasn’t in the mood to have a standard wrestling match. And even though I think Crews’ gimmick is a bit silly, I still think he should win here. Big E has bummed around the midcard long enough and should move up to becoming a world title challenger. He doesn’t need the Intercontinental title anymore. In fact, here’s what I predict happens not just at WrestleMania, but over the coming months. Big E fights hard against Crews in this match but loses. Then on the following RAW, he wins a big match to become next #1 contender for the WWE Universal Championship, and beats the champion soon afterwards. Then at the next draft, The New Day are drafted back to SmackDown and there is a ready-made feud for Big E to have with Kofi and Xavier over the fact that he achieved more success without them. It would be a fresh and interesting feud, but to get there Big E needs to leave the midcard, which requires Crews to beat the crap out of him at WrestleMania.

Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Apollo Crews

Lance: These two had a match at Fastlane a couple of weeks ago and the ending was… ugly. Even if by design, it just didn’t look good and kind of took away from the match a little bit. Now, I think this match will make up for it a little bit. This is being billed as a Nigerian Drum Fight, which we have defined as being a fancy way to say it’s a Street Fight. Both of these guys are good in the ring and it will be nice to see them have a collision course with a more fitting ending. Is it time for Crews to win the IC Title? I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a good match. I expect this makes up for the ending of The Fastlane outing.

Winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Big E 

John: This match has one of the better builds to it even though I think what they attempted to do at Fastlane with a short match was a bad idea. They should have gone the disqualification route, kept on brawling, and then built to this match. Instead, that bad finish has tarnished this feud a bit.

The story has been about Crews turning heel because he failed to beat Big E in the past. That has led to repeated cheap attacks for Crews. That means the story calls for Big E to get revenge and by that I mean Big E should retain the title. I think Big E’s going to have a very long reign as Intercontinental Champion, possibly for a whole year (he won it on Christmas last year) and then in early 2022, he’ll get that main event push. If that main event push happens earlier then that’s fine too, but I think it’s going to come next year. Is this me predicting Big E to win the Royal Rumble next year? Yeah, I think so. Big E wins here in what should be one of the more unique matches since it’s like a Street Fight with weapons involved. I think these guys will do well and maybe surprise some people with how good of a match it is.

Winner: Big E

 

Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Rhea Ripley  

Alex: This should be a great match. Asuka is without question the best women’s wrestler on WWE’s roster and Ripley has proven herself more than capable in NXT. They will have an intense match with lots of close near-falls and clever wrestling sequences. If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because it is. Like the Rollins-Cesaro match on night one, I think this has the potential to be one of the best matches on the show, simply because it’s a straight-up wrestling match without much of a story. There’s no need for a deeper feud here, just two athletes that in this case happen to be fighting over a coveted championship. As for a winner, I’m going with Ripley, even though I’d personally prefer Asuka retain and have an even longer reign. I’m going with Ripley simply because WWE’s patterns are so predictable. You don’t promote someone to the main roster from NXT during WrestleMania season for them to lose at WrestleMania. And besides, while this match lacks a story, there’s a ready-made story to tell with Ripley as champion. If she wins here, she can have a feud with Charlotte, who beat her at least year’s event for the NXT Women’s Championship. With Ripley and Charlotte likely on the same roster, Ripley will have a reason for revenge and will challenge Charlotte to prove that last year’s loss was a fluke.

Winner and NEW RAW Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley

Lance: Rhea Ripley looks and works like a star. I will get that out of the way off the top. She is athletic and towers over a lot of her contemporaries. She has the goods to put the women’s division on her back and be one of the stalwarts in the division. Asuka has had an impressive run since joining the company and picked up where she left off after getting pulled up to the main roster. Both of these women have their own styles with Ripley being more of a powerhouse, while Asuka uses more of her mind in the ring. They should complement each other well and have a lot of back-and-forth moments. I just feel like it’s time for Ripley, and Belair for that matter, to take the steps needed to make both of them stars. If this match gets the time it deserves, it could make Ripley a household name. Here’s the start of something new.

Winner and NEW Raw Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley  

John: Asuka has held this title for most of the last year, so I’ll go with the popular pick that is Rhea Ripley leaving with the Raw Women’s Title. I think the build has been weak since Ripley only showed up on Raw a few weeks ago even though she was the Royal Rumble runner-up and then wasn’t booked on any shows for over one month. The reason for the lack of build might be because they had Charlotte Flair originally set to face Asuka, then that got sidetracked because WWE thought Charlotte might be pregnant and she’s not. Anyway, they put Ripley in the match. It wouldn’t shock me if they decided to add Charlotte at the last minute because if she’s healthy I doubt she’s going to be off the card.

My concern with a match like this is that the crowd may not be that interested. We think Ripley is a heel in the feud, but it hasn’t been fully established. Asuka is a face that is well-liked by the crowd and the work should be good. I just think you need more of a story going into a WrestleMania match. Anyway, the match should be pretty solid since they are two of the best women’s wrestlers in WWE, so hopefully there’s chemistry between them. Ripley winning is the popular choice and it’s also the right choice.

Winner AND NEW Raw Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley  

 

“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (w/Alexa Bliss) vs. Randy Orton  

Alex: This is going to be extremely weird. These two had a WrestleMania match four years ago and it was dreadful. And unfortunately, I have the same sinking feeling about this match for similar reasons. There’s no stipulation announced, but you can be sure that The Fiend (and Alexa) will play some sort of weird mind games to further get under Randy’s skin. There will be very little action here with Randy spending more time going after Alexa in the early parts. Then, alas, we will have a repeat of Hell In A Cell 2019, with Orton landing tons of finishers and even some punt kicks to the head, but they won’t be enough for him to beat The Fiend. After all, the Fiend came back after supposedly being burned alive. What’s an RKO compared to fire? To that end, I expect this to be an overly long match with lame theatrics followed by the Fiend winning. I don’t think it’ll be a good match by any means; but then again, I don’t think that the Fiend’s purpose to begin with.

Winner following nonsensical shenanigans: ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt

Lance: Alexa Bliss and Randy Orton had a “match” at Fastlane that ended with The Fiend making his return. This was the first time he was on WWE programming since Orton thought it was appropriate to set him on fire. The Fiend is now decked out in burned attire and while it was super hokey what they did at Fastlane, this is one of the longer feuds running currently. Longer feuds don’t necessarily translate into good things and this is a prime example. Overall, the match should be fine, but it’s hard for me to get over some of the stuff they have done leading up to this. At this point in his career, Orton is just doing it for the love of the game. He doesn’t need money, but I am sure he doesn’t mind doing creative stuff and being in big spots. I have no idea where they are going with this. Is this the blowoff? It would be weird if it was because it would completely bury The Fiend losing twice. I don’t think they will go that way and that he will pull out a victory one way or another. Look for Bliss to be involved in the finish.

Winner: The Fiend 

John: This feud has had the longest build of any WrestleMania match since it goes back to late last year leading into the TLC match when Orton lit The Fiend on fire. Now The Fiend is back (as a babyface?) seeking revenge against the man that tried to burn him to death. While I’m not into all of the crazy, wacky theatrics involved in the feud, from a performance standpoint I think Alexa Bliss has done a great job in the story and Randy Orton has done okay for the most. I’m not sure what kind of version of The Fiend we will see in this match whether it’s the guy that is in a burnt outfit or back to the regular-looking Fiend. Anyway, it should be a win for Bray Wyatt’s unique alter ego. It also wouldn’t shock me if the feud continued so that they can do a cinematic match at the next PPV Money in the Bank, but this one will be in the ring in front of the crowd. That makes sense since the fans are back.

Winner: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

 

Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan

Alex: As soon as Bryan was announced for this match, I knew he was losing. As great of a wrestler that he is, he is not someone around whom SmackDown will build itself as a brand. I just can’t envision WWE doing the exact same thing as WrestleMania XXX with Bryan beating two of its top singles stars, especially since there’s no rabid, vicious crowd turning on Reigns. They’ve turned on Edge plenty enough, but Reigns is not in the same position as Randy Orton was seven years ago. Reigns, despite playing a heel, has done remarkably well and has become less of an outright villain and more of a grey character. Some people still late him, but others have started to support him. WWE knows this, which is why they don’t want him losing to Edge. That’s why Bryan is here: to take the fall for Reigns so that he can continue his dominant run. Then, as I mentioned earlier, at some point in the next few months, Reigns will be challenged by Big E, and it will be Big E that wins the Universal Championship in time to start a feud with his New Day comrades.

Winner and STILL WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns

Lance: I don’t think Daniel Bryan needed to be added to this match, but I think I can speak for every wrestling fan when I say I am glad he was. Reigns and Edge would have been fine, but Bryan just takes his up a notch. Since Edge returned, he has had a few outings, but the thing with me is that he looks older and older every time I see him. Now, before I get roasted, I know how long he has been at this, but it also needs to be said. I am not going to sell Reigns anymore; everyone knows how I have felt about him over the last couple of months. His eventual babyface turn will be something, to say the least. Bryan is an interesting addition because I think he has a realistic shot to win the entire thing. I mentioned in our last preview that Bryan is on the downside of his career and what better way to go into the sunset than having a run with The Universal Title. I think the match was also built this way so that Reigns could lose the title, and not take the fall. It seems like they may still be building him up as a dominant heel.

I could see something similar to WrestleMania XXX where Bryan has his moment and the crowd loses their mind. Now, this might just be wishful thinking and they have Edge winning it, but a man can dream. I believe it’ll end with Bryan either pinning and making Edge tap out and sending the crowd home on a happy note, though.

Winner and NEW Universal Champion: Daniel Bryan 

John: I like what I wrote about this match this past Sunday in my look ahead to WrestleMania, so I’ll include that here:

All three outcomes would make sense to me:

* Roman Reigns keeps the title because he’s arguably the best thing going in WWE in the last year. His two opponents might not be active at every PPV either, so it makes sense to keep the title on Reigns.

* Edge winning would complete his comeback story from last year, then coming back from the arm injury to win the Royal Rumble and get the WrestleMania title match. Even though he’s a heel now, it would be a way to complete that comeback angle. Also, since Bryan is in the match, Edge could beat Bryan, and then Reigns is protected.

* Bryan winning would give him another WrestleMania moment seven years after WrestleMania 30 when he main evented in a triple threat to become WWE Champion. This time, Bryan would become Universal Champion for the first time after finding a way to get in the match. They could have Bryan beat Edge to keep Reigns looking strong even without the title.

My prediction is that Daniel Bryan is going to win the Universal Title because I think WWE will want to end WrestleMania with a babyface win to send the fans home happy. Is it a lock? Absolutely not. It’s just my feeling right now. They could give Reigns a month or two off if he wants it while Bryan could feud with Edge over the title. I don’t think Bryan needs a long title reign either. Reigns will probably get the title back by the summer. I also think they are going to have an incredible match that will probably be the best match on either night of WrestleMania. I’d expect over four stars on my ratings scale and possibly close to five stars as well.”

That’s what I already wrote about the match and I’m going to stick with that prediction. I think my favorite thing about the match is that I’m really not sure who is going to win. Unpredictability is wonderful. What I am confident in predicting is that this is going to be an outstanding match of the year. Daniel Bryan doesn’t have bad matches and has several classics at WrestleMania just like Edge. I don’t know if Roman Reigns has had a great WrestleMania match yet, so I’m sure he wants to deliver an all-time great match on the big stage. I see this going 20 to 25 minutes and in the end, I have Bryan beating Edge to win with the Yes Lock submission. Is it a lock? Absolutely not. I just think WWE wants to send the fans home happy and the best way to do that is a win for Daniel Bryan.

Winner AND NEW Universal Champion: Daniel Bryan

 

BONUS TOPICS!

The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most

Alex: For night one, Cesaro vs. Rollins. Cesaro is one of my favorite wrestlers in WWE and I really want to see him win. For night two, the main event triple threat match, just because I want to see if my theory is correct.

Lance: Overall, I will go with Lashley and McIntyre actually. The story is good and I am excited to see what they can do.

John: I think Reigns vs. Edge vs. Bryan is the most intriguing because I’m not that sure who is going to win and I think it might be the best match too. I like Lashley vs. McIntyre the most on night one.

 

The Match I Care About The Least

Alex: There’s a bunch here since this card really does have some stupid matches and dumb stories. But for brevity’s sake, I’ll pick Shane vs. Braun for night one and Riddle vs. Sheamus for night two.

Lance: There are multiple, but to pick, I will go with Priest and Bad Bunny vs. Miz and Morrison.

John: Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon. My interest is low there.

 

Longest Match

Alex: The Universal title triple threat match.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it went around thirty minutes, especially since it seems like this company seems determined to re-create the main-event of WrestleMania XXX, albeit with a different winner this time.

Lance: I will go with Reigns vs. Edge vs. Bryan just because all three of these guys are stars and it’ll probably be the last match as a whole.

John: I think Reigns vs. Edge vs. Bryan is most likely to go over 25 minutes, so that’s my pick.

 

Shortest Match

Alex: Miz and Morrison vs. Damien Priest & Bad Bunny. One of these people is not a trained wrestler so they can’t do much with him. I think this match will be around eight minutes long.

Lance: Strowman vs. McMahon.

John: Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon.

 

Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)

 Alex: 5.5 – Aside from a handful of matches, there’s nothing truly exciting for me at this year’s WrestleMania. WWE’s booking ideas have hit rock bottom and it shows. Many of the matches on this show have dumb stories behind them or feature characters that few people would find genuinely interesting. So it will be up to the small handful of main-event matches (plus Cesaro vs. Rollins) to really carry this to a passable show. On the other hand, I really hope having a live crowd will be worth it. I really hope they take advantage of the situation and make tons of noise. There hasn’t been a ‘good’ WrestleMania crowd in ages, so I hope they scream their lungs out to make this a show to remember.

Lance: I am going to go with a 7 on this one, but I am leaning a tad lower. I am a big fan of “quality over quantity” and some of these matches on this show are throwaway for a WrestleMania. I will say though, the matches I am excited about, I am high on. I will give it a higher rating because I want them to under-promise and over-deliver.

John: It’s a 7.5 for me because there are enough good matches on the card to keep me interested. I don’t know if I’m being overly optimistic, but as I mentioned in the opening, I feel like the energy of the fans is going to make it a better show and as long as the best matches are given time, these wrestlers will deliver in the ring. Some of it is predictable while other matches are a tossup. I’m excited about most of it.

 

In Closing

John: I’ll be back with a review of WWE WrestleMania 37 on TJRWrestling.net on Saturday Sunday night. It will be live, so check that out during the show or after it’s over.

You can also tweet me @johnreport or Lance @Collectiveheel with any comments as well.

If you want to send an email, send it to me at [email protected] as well. Thanks for reading.