So, we’re living in tumultuous times at the moment; since Elimination Chamber, the entire world has fallen apart thanks to the spread of coronavirus, which has significantly impacted WWE’s programming, forcing shows to be held in the empty Performance Center.
As a result of this, for the first time ever, WrestleMania will not only take place in the Performance Center and in front of absolutely nobody, but also be spread across two nights! Because of this, we’ve seen the WWE add a few matches to the card that really don’t have any build or story behind them and have to limp along with their pre-determined stories as best as they can amidst all the chaos we live in right now.
Most of WrestleMania’s build has revolved around a few key matches: Randy Orton attacked Edge and tried to end his career again, even retiring Matt Hardy from the WWE for the time being; AJ Styles made his issues with the Undertaker personal by destroying kayfabe completely and openly criticising Undertaker’s wife; RRoman Reigns, like John Cena, hypocritically criticised his opponent for getting shots he wasn’t earned and volunteered himself to dethrone Goldberg…but then pulled himself from the match because of fears for his health; Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley have traded barbs and invaded each other’s shows, while Shayna Baszler and Becky Lynch’s clash has built in intensity over the last few weeks.
And, of course, there’s the WWE Championship match between Drew McIntyre and Brock Lesnar, which has had a comparatively lacklustre build despite Lesnar actually showing up on Raw on a pretty consistent basis and ending up on the back foot more than once.
Still, though, I can’t really say that I’m super hyped about WrestleMania, or WWE in general right now; putting the show on in these times seems like a bad idea, and in bad taste, and robbing these guys of the response of a rabid live crowd will really suck the life out of anything that happens as it turns out that WWE is a lot more ridiculous without a crowd present.
Yet, it is what it is, so let’s get down to some predictions.
Literally thrown on to the card out of nowhere, this match is so lukewarm and undeserving of being on WrestleMania that it probably would normally be relegated to the pre-show but, as I suspect the WWE is going to do two eight hour nights of wrestling, will probably just be an opening fifteen minute brawl.
Recently, Aleister Black had been having issues with AJ Styles and it looked, for a moment, like he would be part of a tag team match with the Undertaker against the O.C. but, instead, we get this. After mowing down Rusev, to the point where Rusev isn’t even on television any more, you’d think Lashley would get more of a push than this but, instead, we’re gonna throw these two together just for the hell of it.
My prediction: Aleister Black by pin fall.
You would be forgiven if, amongst Asuka’s recent attempts to challenge for the Raw Women’s Championship, you forgot that she and Kairi Sane were the Women’s Tag Team Champions, or that those belts even existed but, wouldn’t you know it, they do exist.
While this match doesn’t really have any real heat behind it, or any real build at all, the seeds were planted through Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss trying to get a shot at the Kabuki Warriors. At this point, though, nobody gives two shits about these belts or who is holding them so we may as well throw them on Alexa and Nikki.
My prediction: Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss by pin fall, new champions crowned.
This feud has been on and off for a while now; it kind of got a bit derailed in recent weeks and, honestly, I almost forgot all about it but, what it boils down to is that awkward, chunky Otis finally managed to ask Mandy Rose out on a date. She accepted, but then Dolph Ziggler got in there before him and, for whatever reason (because she’s a bitch, I guess?), Mandy didn’t tell him to go jump and has been dating him ever since.
The obvious answer here is that Otis’ Heavy Machinery team mate, Tucker, sabotaged his date with Mandy but the WWE (and SmackDown, especially) are so thin on the ground for tag teams (especially real tag teams) that I’d really prefer to not see Tucker turn on Otis here. Instead, we’ll probably see Mandy slap Otis in the face so Ziggler can roll him up and this feud can continue…
My prediction: Dolph Ziggler (thanks to Mandy Rose) by pin fall.
Oddly, rather than having Braun Strowman mow through Sami Zayn and his two cornies and score a dominating victory “against the odds”, the WWE opted to have Zayn win the Intercontinental Championship and, equally oddly, had Daniel Bryan team up with Drew Gulak to “learn” from him.
Bryan seems to have stayed as a face and the pairing seems to have turned Gulak heel; Gulak even earned Bryan this shot at the title by defeating Shinsuke Nakaumra on the final SmackDown before WrestleMania but I kind of suspect that Gulak will be the deciding factor in why Bryan fails to capture the belt here.
My prediction: Sami Zayn by pin fall (thanks to Drew Gulak), championship retained.
This one is a really weird one as we still don’t know what’s actually going to happen as, apparently, the Miz is ill so we’re either going to get a triple threat tag team ladder match, or a triple threat between three individuals, or a straight-up tag team match. We literally don’t know and the WWE have been real assholes about it all so I’m just gonna say that, no matter what we get, the belts won’t be changing hands here.
My prediction: The Miz and John Morrison to win (somehow), championships retained.
As I’ve mentioned in the months leading up to WrestleMania, the WWE’s focus for the women’s division has clearly been on the Rhea Ripley/Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch/Shayna Baszler feuds. Nothing exemplified this more than Tamina, who has been absent for what feels like years, was simply tossed into the mix with no real justification other than Paige just deciding to add her.
This one’s really weird as Michael Cole has been banging on about Bayley has this impressive, uninterrupted reign (despite the fact that she did drop the belt during this reign…) but no one’s really stepped up as a credible challenger. The only hint, for me, towards where this may be going was Sasha Banks’ sly look at the belt when she was added to the match, making me think she’ll take the belt to facilitate Bayley’s turn back to the light side (or return to NXT).
My prediction: Sasha Banks by submission, new champion crowned.
This one has had a little bit more build than Aleister Black/Bobby Lashley, in that, since Roman Reigns finished off his feud with Baron Corbin, Elias has been winding Corbin up and getting in his business.
Yet, there really hasn’t been much justification behind this and it’s not really what I would call a “WrestleMania-worthy match”. It doesn’t really help that I’m not really a fan of Elias’ anyway, much less him as a face as he seems to work a lot better as a heel; hell, I’d probably prefer to see Elias and Corbin team up rather than face off but, either way, I think this will just be here se we can see Corbin lose again.
My prediction: Elias by pin fall.
Forget Becky/Shayna, the real question the whole WWE Universe has had since Royal Rumble was: Who will Charlotte Flair challenge at WrestleMania? Surprisingly, the answer was the NXT Women’s Champion and, since that announcement, they’ve each invaded the other’s show and Charlotte has made no secret about her thoughts concerning Ripley (which kind of makes you wonder why she’d challenge for her belt…).
Yet, Ripley has given as good as she got and has, for the most part, come out on top of the majority of their exchanges. Realistically, this is probably the easiest and laziest way to get the NXT Women’s Championship (and NXT in general) represented on the WWE’s biggest show of the year but there is absolutely no way that Charlotte should be winning here. Ripley is super popular and just reaching her peak; if the WWE reverts to type just to give more gold to Flair, I’ll be pretty disappointed as it’s not like they’ll do it to shine more of a spotlight on NXT.
My prediction: Rhea Ripley by pin fall, championship retained.
This one’s been building since Survivor Series and Seth Rollins’ subsequent heel turn and descent into megalomania; Kevin Owens did have back-up in the form of Samoa Joe (and, briefly, the Big Show) but, with Joe suspended, he’s left to go it alone against Rollins, who will most likely have the Authors of Pain in his corner.
While Owens seems to have thrived in his new, everyman-face role, I still feel like he’s better as a loud-mouthed, scathing heel; similar to Elias, I could see Owens and Rollins working well as a new version of the Two-Man Power Trip because it honestly feels like Owens can turn heel again at any moment and basically invalidate all of his recent character work.
My prediction: Kevin Owens by pin fall.
What’s a bone yard match, you ask? You’re a bone yard match! So, I’m not really sure how this feud really started; the announcers have been pushing this as a deep, personal rivalry even before AJ Styles started referring to the Undertaker as “Mark” and brought his wife into the fold.
Since then, we’ve seen much of the same things we normally see when guys pick a fight with the Undertaker: they call him “old” and “over the hill” and tell him to retire because “his time is past”, Undertaker has attacked and gotten the upper hand and done some spooky stuff, and the prevailing idea has been that AJ (somehow) has awoken the sleeping giant.
I really do feel like a six-man tag pitting Undertaker, Kane, and Aleister Black against the entire O.C. would have been better but it’s not like AJ has anything better to do, so he may as well lose to the Undertaker on the grandest stage of them all. The real question is: Will we finally see the return of the American Bad Ass Biker-Taker?
My prediction: The Undertaker by pin fall.
So, it turns out that the Authors of Pain can’t take their natural place as the challengers for the Raw Tag Team Championships as Akam is injured so, rather than slap together a fatal-four way of some kind, the WWE made the genius decision to throw together Andrade (the WWE United States Champion, I might add!) and Angel Garza and just gifted them the title shot here.
This had annoyed me for a variety of reasons (thrown together tag teams, shots being gifted without being earned, the United States Championship not being defended…), but then Andrade went and got injured and was randomly replaced with Austin Theory, of all people. I guess it will be a simple win for the Street Profits.
My prediction: The Street Profits by pin fall, championships retained.
After he was absolutely decimated by Goldberg at Super Showdown, the Fiend, Bray Wyatt, decided that, rather than invoke his rematch clause or make a play for the Universal Championship, it’d make much more sense to target John Cena as it was because of Cena that the Fiend came into existence in the first place.
I’m struggling with this one; since Cena buried Bray Wyatt the last them they feuded, I can’t really see him losing here and, also, I would much rather have seen Wyatt enter WrestleMania as the Universal Champion so Roman Reigns could unseat him. The WWE seemed to think that “Spear vs. Spear” was more money than, oh, I don’t know, Goldberg vs. John Cena! which would have been my booking choice but what the fuck do I know?
My prediction: John Cena by pin fall, tossing more dirt on Wyatt.
Probably the most intense rivalry heading into WrestleMania, Randy Orton kept us waiting for weeks to explain his actions and why he attacked Edge and tried to re-retire him and, while the actual explanation was a bit limp and predictable, it did lead to an absolutely fantastic promo by Edge (made all the more intense by the empty arena, to be honest).
I am excited for this match, though having it be last man standing with no crowd is going to be a struggle I reckon, simply because it’s Edge’s big return to the ring. While I would have totally understood them reforming Rated-RKO to help keep Edge in the best possible shape, he could do a lot worse than working with Orton, who is a notoriously safe worker.
My prediction: Edge by being the last man standing.
Right, so…the WWE had been pushing this match as “Spear vs. Spear”. It was supposed to pit the solid, committed, full-time worker Roman Reigns against the undeserving part-timer, Goldberg, and no doubt take advantage of the lack of an unpredictable crowd to paint Reigns as an all-conquering hero.
But, right at the last minute, Reigns decided that he wasn’t comfortable competing in the Performance Center due to him being at risk of the coronavirus after his recent leukaemia scare.
The WWE then scrambled together to find a suitable replacement at the eleventh hour and came up with…Braun Strowman, with absolutely no explanation! Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter who they threw in there to face Goldberg; I wasn’t even going to pick Reigns to win, so there’s no way I can see Strowman winning here either.
My prediction: Goldberg by pin fall, championship retained.
I mean, everyone saw this coming, even after Charlotte Flair won the Royal Rumble match. Personally, I would have had Shayna win it as it would have helped the build a lot but, again, what do I know?
The WWE veered oddly, dangerously, close to painting Becky as a bit of a heel before the arenas started emptying; since then, she’s been portrayed as much more of a face in this feud but I still feel like the overarching story is that Becky has become complacent. Her reign has been dominating and untouchable and she’s beaten everyone she’s faced, so of course she’s gonna think she can win.
However, she won’t. Again, I think this’d be better as a quick affair: have Becky get some offense in, Shayna weather it, and then just get caught up in the Kirifuda Clutch to take the belt in dominating fashion. You then do one or two rematches to really help sell Shayna as a rabid, unstoppable threat and steer Becky away from the belt for a while (maybe jump her to SmackDown to challenge Sasha) and give Shayna a dominating run of her own until a new, fresh face can step up to challenge her.
My prediction: Shayna Baszler by submission, new champion crowned.
They’ve been selling this as the “main event” but I’m honestly torn between this, Reigns/Goldberg and Lynch/Shayna actually going on last (hell, you could argue that Charlotte/Ripley would be a good fit, too).
The build to this match has, honestly, been basically the same as the build to any match where someone challenges Brock Lesnar: Paul Heyman has talked his usual talk, Drew McIntyre has put over how he’s gonna win and is deserving and all that, Lesnar has stood around, and McIntyre has gotten the upper hand a few times so the announcers can sell how he “has Brock’s number”.
How often can the WWE run this story? It seems that every year they have to do Lesnar, as the champion, being challenged and usurped at WrestleMania and it’s just so ridiculous. Lesnar should have replaced the Undertaker as the WrestleMania “final boss” and only been given the belt when they had no other choice (or, at least, just for one long, dominating run) but, instead, we get this same story over and over.
Similar to the Universal Championship match, I can easily see Lesnar winning here; there will be no crowd to piss off and it would mean that Drew gets the big pop he deserves later down the line. However, I am so sick of Lesnar and I don’t think the WWE will have both part-time assholes win so I’m gonna hope for…
My prediction: Drew McIntyre by pin fall, new champion crowned.
How do you feel about this year’s WrestleMania? Do you feel the WWE should stop running shows until the crowds can come back? Is this going to be the most lacklustre WrestleMania ever without a raucous crowd? Write a comment below, pop back for my results break down, and stay inside, wash your hands, and stop bloody panic-buying!!