The two biggest matches at WrestleMania 34 will be Brock Lesnar defending the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns and John Cena wrestling The Undertaker for the first time at a WrestleMania. That’s according to Dave Meltzer in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The Lesnar vs. Reigns match has been the plan since last March (before last year’s WrestleMania), so that’s no surprise. Cena vs. Undertaker was expected, but not really known for sure.
It was noted by Meltzer that The Undertaker was backstage at Raw this past week in Birmingham and we already know he’s been advertised for the Raw 25 show on January 22 for a while. That’s likely where this angle with Cena and Undertaker will take place. It’s possible they could also use the Royal Rumble to set up the match because last year Undertaker worked the Royal Rumble (some people even thought he might win it) and set up his WrestleMania match with Roman Reigns when Reigns eliminated him. A lot of people hated Reigns at #30 in the Rumble last year, but I thought it was needed to set up the Undertaker match.
What’s interesting about this story is that on this day last year I wrote about how Undertaker vs. Cena was the original plan for last year’s WrestleMania (around November 2016) and then they changed it to Reigns vs. Undertaker instead in early 2017.
As always, plans can change on a whim as it relates to Vince McMahon’s decision making, but it seems likely that they will stay the course with Undertaker vs. Cena considering they are two of Vince’s favorite wrestlers and two of the biggest names in WWE history.
Will this be the retirement of The Undertaker? Who knows, but he turns 53 years old before WrestleMania. He likely doesn’t have that many matches left. Undertaker is going to be paid very well to work this one match, so as long as his body can handle it (he’s likely been training hard for months) then it’s his right to do it if he wants. Taker’s match with Roman Reigns was average at best and you can tell that Taker can’t move as well as he did earlier in the decade. Vince loves the guy, though, so as long as Taker can go it’s obvious that Vince wants to feature him. I wouldn’t do it, but that’s up to Vince.
My good friend Steve Melo made the graphic up top (hopefully nobody steals it) and this poster for Undertaker vs. Cena that I wanted to share. He’s a great graphic artist and I think this looks awesome while using a bit of an older pic of Cena from his “World Life” days.
Triple H Talked About Ronda Rousey Potentially Signing With WWE
There was a report on TMZ on Wednesday about Triple H meeting with Ronda Rousey and her agent in Los Angeles for a dinner that was likely a business meeting. It got a lot of people talking of course because of the rumors of Rousey heading to WWE at some point this year, but there hasn’t been an official announcement.
Here are some comments from Triple H to the Associated Press talking about Rousey. Here’s what he had to say:
“We are talking to Ronda, as we’ve been for a while. She has a lot of things going on. We have a lot of things going on. But we have a great relationship with her, a very friendly standpoint for a long period of time now. It was great to catch up with her.”
“We have nothing to announce at this time. But she’s a huge fan of what we do and she’s incredibly interested in what we do and the opportunities that lie there. We’re fans of hers and incredibly interested in what those opportunities could be with us. But there’s a lot of things to walk through. We’re talking. We’re having conversations.”
It was noted by Dave Meltzer that Rousey has been in talks with WWE since last summer, has trained to wrestle and worked out at WWE’s Performance Center. Meltzer believes WWE planted the story with TMZ by making them aware of the meeting and having TMZ there to take photos. WWE and TMZ working the marks? Shocking!
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) January 10, 2018
Triple H was in LA along with Stephanie McMahon and others from WWE (Shawn Michaels, The Miz, Maryse, Mark Henry and New Day) at the Television Critics Association panel.
I think Rousey’s going to be a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble and if she is, she’s probably going to win the Royal Rumble as well. Paying her a lot of money to lose her first match doesn’t make sense to me.
IN OTHER NEWS
– It was reported by Squared Circle Sirens that Candice LeRae is expected to sign with WWE soon. The signing was confirmed in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter as well. LeRae is married to NXT star Johnny Gargano and she’ll likely start in NXT soon as well. LeRae is a Canadian born wrestler that’s 32 years old and started wrestling in 2002, so she has a lot of experience. LeRae was also part of the Mae Young Classic. It’s not a surprise that she ended up getting a WWE deal.
– Our new news guy Tommy Dinardi has an update on all 12 teams set for WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge that is set to begin next Tuesday night on Facebook.
– WWE Raw viewership numbers were okay this week with 2.76 million viewers according to ShowBuzzDaily. The college football championship on ESPN did a huge number with 27.38 million viewers. Raw’s three hours did 2.99 million viewers (the best of the three hours), hour two did 2.78 million viewers and the third hour did 2.50 million viewers.
This is the last week where Raw is facing strong competition from football (until September), so they should average closer to 3 million viewers next week and even higher on January 22 for the Raw 25 episode.
As for Smackdown viewership numbers, they did 2.60 million viewers according to ShowBuzzDaily. That’s down from 2.72 million viewers from last week, but usually Smackdown gets around 2.5 million viewers, so the numbers have been encouraging to start the year.
– Vince McMahon’s Twitter account shared this video featuring a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. for Monday’s Raw. Vince called him his hero. Great video like all of WWE’s videos.
My hero. pic.twitter.com/6tHG15Z7fs
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) January 11, 2018
– It was reported in the Wrestling Observer by Dave Meltzer that there may be as many as nine NXT women in the women’s Royal Rumble match. That’s because there are 19 women on WWE’s main roster that would be in the Rumble, so they need more. If they go with nine from NXT (who I assume would stay in NXT post-Rumble) then that means there would only be spots for two surprise entries.
– Gabe Sapolsky is signing a deal with WWE as a consultant according to PWInsider. Sapolsky has been helping out at NXT tapings for several months. Sapolsky runs the Evolve promotion that is almost like a WWE feeder system with how many guys they have had come through there. Sapolsky used to be the main booker for Ring of Honor and worked under Paul Heyman in ECW as well.
THE VIDEO SECTION
Here’s a video of Triple H talking about when he met Dusty Rhodes for the first time. Cool story.
The Smackdown “best friend” tag teams of Breezango and The Ascension are featured in a video where they impersonate eachother.
The end of this week’s Total Divas (I may have watched some of it) focused on Natalya winning the Smackdown Women’s Title at SummerSlam in August. Here’s a clip of that with Natalya being greeted backstage with hugs by a lot of people including her husband Tyson Kidd.
THE PLUG ZONE
– Check out my exclusive column for The Comeback with five pros and cons about the women’s Royal Rumble match on January 28. Here is one of my positive points.
This match is huge for women’s wrestling. It should be celebrated and I’m glad that WWE is making a big deal about it. I joke about how often WWE tells their talent to mention this is a “history-making” match because it’s very repetitive, but I don’t blame WWE for it. They should be proud of the fact that they have gotten to this point.
Whether WWE calls it the “Women’s Evolution” or “Women’s Revolution” is something people have joked about for years because it seems like they change their mind on that all the time. The point is, women’s wrestling is much more important in WWE in the last couple of years than it ever was in the company’s history.
While I am optimistic about the match, I have some concerns with it too, so check out the column to read all about it.
– Here’s Kurt Zamora with the NXT review for this week featuring a NXT Tag Team Title main event match. They also set up a huge match for NXT Takeover Philadelphia.
I’m working on a huge column for The Comeback looking back at some of WWE Monday Night Raw’s biggest moments. I’m not going to reveal the details of it yet, but it will be posted on Monday and it’s going to be big. Today is actually 25 years to the day when Raw debuted on January 11, 1993. In case you haven’t seen the full episode before, here’s the main event with The Undertaker beating Damien Demento.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with another news update.