RAW Deal: Finally at WrestleMania 34
NEW ORLEANS, USA – After months of build-up this year, we're finally at the Biggest Mardi Gras Party Of Them All. Once again, it's time for WrestleMania!
Just a quick recap before I head into my predictions: Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar are having a rematch 3 years later for the WWE Universal Championship. Men's Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura is challenging WWE Champion AJ Styles in a Wrestle Kingdom 10 rematch for the title Styles has. In the biggest cliffhanger of WrestleMania, John Cena is still challenging the Undertaker, who, as of last Monday's episode of RAW, has still not responded.
If last year's WrestleMania was the proverbial passing of the torch to the new generation (symbolized by Undertaker leaving his hat and robe in the middle of the ring, after being defeated by Roman Reigns), this year is the first WrestleMania that celebrates WWE's future. All the young stars are in the process of being entrenched into the system; Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Ronda Rousey, Asuka, Charlotte Flair, and the rest – these are the people we must embrace to lead us into pro wrestling's tomorrow. If you ask me, the whole thing's looking pretty bright with the roster the company's assembled.
We have 14matches to call, so let's not waste any more time! Let's start picking!
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
This match's last vestiges of prestige were lost when SmackDown did nothing with Mojo Rawley, last year's winner, even when he turned heel a while back. That said, they can still get it back with a prominent winner. It's traditionally been used to elevate a younger talent, but this time I think they should give it to a veteran for some recognition. That's why I want Broken Matt Hardy to win this one, because it'll give his career resurrection quite the boost.
Winner: Matt Hardy
WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal
Formerly known as the Fabulous Moolah Battle Royal, this match is a little less prestigious now that it doesn't have a famous female wrestler in its name. Still, it's a nice way to give a woman not competing for any of the women's championships a WrestleMania moment. I'll go out on a limb and give this one to Bayley.
Mustafa Ali vs Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
If you haven't been watching 205 Live lately, you're missing out on some seriously good wrestling. We're talking NJPW levels of good every week.
That said, Mustafa Ali needs to win here, even though Cedric Alexander seems to be the current company favorite. Ali's arc and motivations are more complete, with something concrete to fight for in combating prejudice and discrimination. Alexander just wants to win a title that's been escaping him.
Winner: Mustafa Ali
The Bludgeon Brothers vs The New Day vs The Usos (c) for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
While both the Usos and the New Day have been wonderful as SmackDown tag team champs, this whole story has been to set up the Bludgeon Brothers as the top heel tag team on SmackDown. Even though their characters are a little on the corny side, Harper and Rowan are no joke. The Brothers winning the titles would redefine the tag team division in a good way.
Winners: The Bludgeon Brothers (new SmackDown Tag Team Champions)
Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss (c) for the RAW Women's Championship
This match features an inspiring little story in which Jax is fighting her bodyshaming former best friend Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women's Championship. It's definitely not a bad replacement after Bliss lost Asuka as an opponent with the latter's defection to SmackDown, and not giving Jax the win here would send a bad message to impressionable young minds in the audience.
Winner: Nia Jax (new RAW Women’s Champion)
Braun Strowman and an unknown partner vs Cesaro and Sheamus (c) for the RAW Tag Team Championship
I think it's not a question of whether Cesaro and Sheamus are going to lose, but of who and how Strowman is going about finding a partner. One option is he does it all by himself because he's worth two men, but that's not as fun as getting a good tag team partner. The shortlist consists of rivals Elias and Big Show, as well as a surprise returnee in Rey Mysterio in a remix of the Batista/Mysterio championship team. I'll take Mysterio, please.
Winners: Braun Strowman and Rey Mysterio (new RAW Tag Team Champions)
Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins vs The Miz (c) for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
If we're keeping up the way I'm predicting the whole show to go down, it's going to look like all champions are going to lose their titles. The thing about WrestleMania is that it's such a huge, magical show that you kind of expect things to go your way all the time. People want either Balor or Rollins to win the title, and that's pretty easy to give, so something feels shady about this. I'll go with my gut, however, and go with Balor to win. (Maryse just gave birth, so Miz has to get a paternity leave, right?)
Winner: Finn Balor (new Intercontinental Champion)
Jinder Mahal vs Rusev vs Bobby Roode vs Randy Orton (c) for the WWE United States Championship
Okay, so the thing I said about people getting a WrestleMania moment but it's too good to be true? This may be where it happens. I'd really love Rusev getting a much-deserved title win here (the US Championship was his baby after all, for a time) but given that this is Randy Orton and the company loves Randy Orton, I wouldn't be shocked at all if he ended up retaining.
Winner: Randy Orton
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Man, what a story. This and the WWE Championship story are the ones anchoring SmackDown right now. Here's the thing – despite what looks like a pretty good moment for Bryan and McMahon to win, the former's WrestleMania moment is already being able to return to active competition. Owens and Zayn have to win here in order to get their jobs back and enable the dream matchups with Bryan in the following months.
Winner: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Huh, I only just realized that both sets of GMs and Commissioners are in action this WrestleMania. Anyway, there's no way Angle and Rousey lose this match.
Winner: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
Asuka vs Charlotte Flair (c) for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
So the big questions surrounding this match are 1) why is Asuka not competing on SmackDown Live after making her choice, and 2) is Carmella cashing in her Money in the Bank contract? Something tells me the odd setup is foreshadowing an Asuka loss somehow. I wouldn't be surprised if Flair is the one to break the streak; top brass is pretty in love with her given the number of reigns she’s already had since coming to the main roster. But does Carmella cash in? I'm not sure, but I do think Flair is walking out the champion.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
John Cena vs. The Undertaker
As I mentioned, this is the biggest cliffhanger heading into the show. With absolutely no response from the Deadman so far, is this match a match at all? If the dead don't reply, is anything booked? All the rumors point to an actual match, though, but it seems also as likely that only a confrontation between the two happens.
But if there is a match… I think Taker breaks Cena’s current WrestleMania winning streak.
Winner: The Undertaker
Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles (c) for the WWE Championship
So if I don't have Asuka winning her match, I need Nakamura to beat Styles for the Japanese audience feel-good moment. Now's as good a time as any to pull the trigger, as having these two in the SmackDown main event scene will only be good for the brand.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura (new WWE Champion)
Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar (c) for the WWE Universal Championship
Dana White has announced that Brock Lesnar is returning to the UFC. Need I say more?
Winner: Roman Reigns (new WWE Universal Champion)
Who are your picks? Let's talk about it!
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! On this week’s episode, ECW Original and former Art of War Wrestling head coach Chilly Willy returns to the podcast and discusses his latest ventures! Listen to it here!