John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE WrestleMania 36. It’s the most unique WrestleMania ever because it’s a taped show in front of no fans due to the health crisis that the world is dealing with right now. If they postponed the show for a later date it wouldn’t have bugged me, but I’m also okay with WWE going through with it because it gives us something to watch. It also gives me something to write about. All of these people are bored at home, but for me, it’s business as usual because I am writing as much as I always have. It’s just going to be weird to preview this show with predictions because a lot of things I think if fans were in attendance may not apply now without the fans there. I think some results on this show are going to be different because there are no fans too because WWE might think that it’s better to save a finish for when the fans are back in July or August or whenever it may be.
In addition to not having fans in attendance, it’s also the first WrestleMania that is “Too Big For One Night” as WWE likes to tell us. I think it’s a smart move to split up the 16 matches over Saturday and Sunday. We don’t know what matches are on what day as of this writing, so we’re going to put it all together in one post. It’s also worth noting that Rob Gronkowski is the host, which means there will probably be some segments with him on the show as well.
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: This is going to be the weirdest WrestleMania of all time. There will be no fans in attendance due to the ongoing health crisis. Because of that, I think this show can go in one of two ways: either the show gets treated like the huge attraction it is and the wrestlers all get enough time to put on the best performance possible for fans tuning in, live audience (or lack thereof) be damned; or that Vince McMahon gets his wish to ‘get this show over with’ and each match is booked to go less than ten minutes just so that the wrestlers can do home until the normal life resumes. For this preview, I’m going into it hoping WWE embrace the former attitude, and even if it’s in front of an empty arena, the wrestlers should get enough time in the ring to showcase their skills in front of a potentially-larger-than-normal audience viewing from home.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.)
Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
Alex: I’m torn on this one. On one hand, Otis has genuinely developed a huge and loyal fan following. Remember when he saved Mandy Rose from elimination at the Royal Rumble? I, like most of you, cheered and laughed hysterically at Otis’s antics. He comes across as generally likeable and was the most-cheered person in the tag team Elimination Chamber. On the other hand, Vince McMahon hates fat people and none of those loyal fans of Otis’s will be in attendance to cheer for him. For that reason, I’m going with Ziggler to win in about ten minutes. Vince makes all the final decisions and he comes across as the sort of person that doesn’t think a woman as attractive as Mandy Rose can be with someone like Otis. And he’ll want that message conveyed in this match as well.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Lance: Believe it or not, this is Ziggler’s first singles Wrestlemania match. I am sure he would like it under different circumstances AKA people actually being there, but still cool nonetheless. The Otis and Mandy Rose pairing has done well and the two have good chemistry together. As far as the match goes, I could this getting some time but not going too terribly long. Ziggler will likely lose after a competitive match because WWE love to make him look like a fool whenever they can and the story between Otis and Mandy Rose will continue its momentum.
John: The story has been okay here, but it has been hurt by the lack of fans. The fans love Otis and they felt terrible for the big guy when his Valentine’s Day date with Rose didn’t happen, which led to Ziggler taking advantage of the situation. They will probably either have Mandy help Ziggler win here or maybe she’ll accidentally cost Ziggler and help Otis, which would then be revealed as not an accident. Perhaps Mandy tells Ziggler she’s not interested in him at all and she helped Otis get the win for that reason. That’s where I’m leaning anyway. On another note, it’s ridiculous that it took this long for Ziggler to get a singles match at a WrestleMania and that this is the match, but here we are.
Elias vs. King Corbin
Alex: Here’s how I predict things will go down with this match.
First, Elias will appear with his guitar and will try to get the (nonexistent) crowd to chant ‘walk with Elias’. He will then cut a thousand ‘tough crowd’ jokes that weren’t even that funny when Steve Austin did them, and Austin is a million times funnier than Elias. Elias will then get help from Captain Cringe himself, Byron Saxton, which will make Vince McMahon laugh hysterically backstage. Then Baron Corbin will appear, cut a phony promo about being a king, and will then destroy Elias in about five minutes. This’ll be an insignificant match lacking in storyline background or consequences. Under normal circumstances would be a great way for Corbin to get the crowd to boo him. But in reality, he’ll have a hard time making the nonexistent make noise. Unless that scepter is secretly a wizard staff.
Winner: King Corbin
Lance: This feud has taken better shape over the last few weeks but that doesn’t mean I am overly excited about it. Elias always thrived as a heel and being the babyface in this instance just feels forced. I really like his potential and wish they would use him a little better. Corbin has been using the king gimmick since winning King of the Ring and he is doing his job in making people hate him. Corbin kicking Elias off the stage was a cool visual though, so I will give them that. Ultimately, I think Corbin picks up the win here because I feel like they are going to push him a little bit harder moving forward.
Winner: King Corbin
John: My interest in this match is very low. I think Elias has bombed again as a babyface wrestler and I don’t know why WWE bothered to turn him after his last face run failed. Elias is a heel personality. Corbin was pushed so much in a feud with Roman Reigns that went on for way too long. It feels like Corbin is in a worse spot than where he was before that feud, so that tells us the feud didn’t help him at all. Corbin will probably get the win here because he’s the guy that is pushed more.
Winner: King Corbin
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Kabuki Warriors – Asuka and Kairi Sane (c) vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Alex: It seems that WWE forgot they have women’s tag team titles until this match was announced. Unfortunately, once again we’re once again going to witness the haphazard duo of Bliss & Cross challenging for the titles. As a team they bring very little to the table, with any character progression virtually nonexistent. Bliss is giving me ‘Miz’ vibes, in that she’s shoehorned into whatever midcard position the company demands of her and does it without hesitation. While that’s admirable, it also leaves her stuck in uncreative matches for the most part. And Cross…well, remember how much interest she generated when she was part of Sanity? Seems like eons ago. Anyway, this will be a filler match, likely taking place after one of the bigger matches on whichever night’s card. They might get between ten and twelve minutes for their match, but I doubt it’ll be anything exceptional.
Winners and STILL Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane)
Lance: Bliss and Cross come in as former Women’s Tag Team Champions and they have let this story bloom a little bit more between the two. The Kabuki Warriors, along with the Women’s Tag Team Titles, have been mostly absent from TV lately and this seems like it has been thrown together to get everyone on Wrestlemania. I think Bliss and Cross regain the titles here and I don’t know what the future holds for the Kabuki Warriors at this point. The women’s tag team division has been booked so poorly.
Winners and NEW WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
John: I have mentioned it in my reviews, but I’ll bring it up here too. The last time the Women’s Tag Team Titles were defended in a televised match was the TLC PPV in mid-December. Why even have these titles if it takes over three months to have them defended? It’s a poor effort by WWE’s creative team. Asuka is awesome while Sane has looked more comfortable as a heel, but I think they have lost a lot of momentum as a team. I’ll go with a title change just to change things up with Bliss and Cross working well together as a babyface team. A win by Bliss and Cross would mean they are the first two-time Women’s Tag Team Champions since the titles were introduced over a year ago.
Winners AND NEW Women’s Tag Team Champions: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
Alex: Aleister Black’s entire main roster run can be summed up in one phrase: “I have nothing to do”. Literally. He has squashed countless opponents and won way more matches than he has lost. But despite that he still hasn’t done anything. No big angles, no huge victories, no high-profile confrontations. Now he finally has a bigger opponent in Lashley, which’ll make this a must-win for Black. He actually has a direction to go in right now, and that’s to keep beating as many people as possible. Lashley’s biggest storyline at this point involves Rusev, who isn’t booked for ‘Mania at this time. That is, unless Rusev makes a surprise appearance to mess with the finish. Either way, Black’s taking this one in a match that’ll likely go between five and eight minutes.
Winner: Aleister Black
Lance: Black has always been a favorite of mine and it will nice to see him get a Wrestlemania match, albeit in a storyline with limited heat. Lashley was off of TV for an extended period lately but has returned with Lana still by his side. This should be a nice back and forth match with a lot of athleticism from both men. Lashley is deceptive in how athletic he is for his build and if given the right amount of time this match should shine. I think Lashley wins because I don’t think Lana and his story is over getting some TV time yet, but it should be a competitive match
Winner: Bobby Lashley
John: It’s matchup with two midcard guys with no storyline involved. I don’t know if this was originally going to be on the WrestleMania card or if they just added it to get them on the show. Due to the lack of story, there’s not much interest for this match. I think Lashley will be on offense for most of it and Black will make the comeback to win with the Black Mass kick out of nowhere for the win. Black has been booked as an unbeatable singles wrestler on Raw, so he should continue his winning ways here.
Winner: Aleister Black
Raw Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits – Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins (c) vs. Angel Garza and Austin Theory
Alex: The Coronavirus pandemic is just running roughshod on WWE’s roster, isn’t it? Austin Theory is a last-minute replacement wrestler from NXT, teaming with Garza, who is also from NXT. And I doubt that two NXT guys will win RAW’s tag titles, especially since the current champions won them fairly recently. I also don’t expect much in terms of in-ring action here, especially since the champions wrestle in a way that plays off the crowd. And since the crowd will be composed entirely of empty chairs, they’ll be going back to basics here. It won’t be great, but it won’t be bad, either. Just average.
Winners and STILL RAW Tag Team Champions: The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins)
Lance: This is a big moment for Theory and Garza. Do I think that if everything in the world was normal they would get the nod here? It’s hard to tell. That doesn’t take away from the fact that I have been super impressed by Theory over the last couple of weeks on NXT and Garza isn’t a scrub himself. Montez Ford took a hellacious bump hitting nothing but the floor on Monday night when they were all in a six-man tag match, that included Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, so let’s hope he is alright after that. The Street Profits are a great team and I can’t see the titles being taken off of them just yet.
Winner(s) and STILL RAW Tag Team Champions: The Street Profits
John: It’s another match without much of a story at all, so it’s hard to get into it. I think adding the 22-year-old Austin Theory to the mix last week was very random although they had to do something since Andrade has a legit rib injury. They probably could have picked somebody else on Raw that has nothing else to do. With that said, it’s big for Theory to be part of the show. Theory has a very bright future. The Street Profits recently won the titles an there’s no reason to take the gold off them right now. They should win this match.
Winners: The Street Profits
Smackdown Women’s Title Elimination Match: Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Tamina vs. Lacey Evans vs. Naomi
Alex: I really feel sorry for the SmackDown brand. There’s so much hype around the women’s divisions on RAW and NXT, while SmackDown feels like an afterthought. As proof of that, the SmackDown women’s title is being defended in an elimination match, which is shorthand for ‘we have no storylines, so let’s throw as many people into this match as we can get away with’. That seems like an insult to at least two of the women in this match, given that they put on the best WWE women’s match ever in Brooklyn five years ago. I predict that Bayley and Sasha will make quick work of the other three women, before turning this into a proper singles match. And I also think Sasha will win here, so that she can continue her long-standing feud with Bayley. Which makes me think that these two are secretly former Siamese twins, given that they’re joined at the hip due to how often they’re paired together.
Winner and NEW SmackDown Women’s Champion: Sasha Banks
Lance: Bayley has been champion for a good while now and they don’t seem to hold the Smackdown Women’s Title in quite the same light as they do the Raw Women’s Title. We can eliminate Tamina from winning this match right off the top, although I am sure she will have her moments. Lacey Evans had a championship feud mid-last year but hasn’t down much sense. Naomi is fresh off an injury and they have been working her back into things and I think she has a decent shot to win the title. Banks and Bayley have been friendly, but they will go at each other for the title. I am going to pick Naomi to win the match because I think Banks and Bayley will feud for Women’s Tag Titles, and this gives Naomi some new life.
Winner and NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion: Naomi
John: If they planned things better then it would be a Bayley vs. Banks singles match, but they did not set the wheels in motion for that feud yet. That’s probably going to happen after WrestleMania leading into the spring and summer with Banks likely in the babyface role. If somebody other than Bayley or Banks leaves with title it would be a surprise to me. A few months ago, I thought Lacey Evans was going to win the title here because she was WWE’s pet project that they wanted to push. Then they had Bayley beat her clean at Royal Rumble and that stopped Lacey’s momentum. I think the Elimination Rules will lead to Bayley and Banks as the final two with Bayley getting the pin with a rollup on Banks while putting her feet on the ropes. It should be something cheap like that to get sympathy on Banks. SummerSlam is in Boston in August and if that show happens as scheduled, that’s where Banks should win the title.
Ladder Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Miz & John Morrison (c) vs. The Usos vs. The New Day
(Note: The Miz was sick when WrestleMania taped, so he did not wrestle. Apparently there was some ladder match with Morrison and one of the Usos and maybe one of New Day. We don’t know right now, so it’s tough to predict this match.
Update: There was nothing on Smackdown with regards to whatever the match change will be. That means we’ll find out at WrestleMania.)
Alex: Rumor has it that Miz is sick and isn’t actually in the match. If he’s actually sick, I genuinely hope he and his family are doing okay. And if he is indeed at home, that leaves Morrison with the opportunity to wrestle this match with a mystery partner. This would make sense in a smoke-and-mirrors sort of way, since The New Day used The Freebird Rule to defend their tag titles many times. As for the in-ring action, this will be the obligatory ‘demolition derby’ match that will feature lots of crazy ladder-centric matches. And while it won’t be like the crazy ladder wars of yore, it’ll be exciting nonetheless. These three teams did a great job at Elimination Chamber, and that trend will likely continue at WrestleMania, albeit with more time constraints. As for winners, this is literally a random pick since anyone can win, given the circumstances surrounding the match.
Winners and STILL SmackDown Tag Team Champions: John Morrison and *Mystery Partner*
Lance: We have no idea what we will come from this match. All we know is that it will probably be a ladder match and that John Morrison will be involved. I don’t even know if the Smackdown Tag Team Titles are on the line or not, but for the sake of this prediction, I will say that they are. I don’t think they take the titles off of Miz and Morrison so early after winning them and I could see Morrison winning the match overall. The New Day and The Usos, if they are still involved, have had plenty of time at the top and this match should be a fun watch regardless of what’s happening with it.
Winner: John Morrison?
John: It’s hard to really predict a match when we don’t know what the match is going to be. I think all three teams are very good, the story has been fine and a Ladder Match between the three teams would have been great considering the great athletes that are in this match…plus The Miz is there too. I’m kidding. I like Miz. It’s just hard to write about something that is unknown to me. I think Miz and Morrison will remain the Smackdown Tag Team Champions and leave it at that.
Winner: Morrison and Miz remain Smackdown Tag Team Champions
Intercontinental Championship: Sami Zayn (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Alex: This is my new favorite thing about this year’s WrestleMania. At Elimination Chamber, Bryan pulled a fantastic technical wrestling match out of Drew Gulak with almost no storyline behind it. Now, Bryan will be challenging Sami Zayn, and he will likely do the same. That’s not to say that Zayn is someone that needs carrying; far from it. But the guy recently had double shoulder surgery and has done very little actual wrestling so that his body can recover. And now, Zayn will have a high-profile singles match at WrestleMania. If they get fifteen minutes, this could steal the show. Especially since Bryan is a phenomenal worker on his worst nights. Plus, since he’s rumored to be done as a regular performer and might switch to part-time, this might be the last we see of Bryan in a while. So it would make perfect sense to ‘go out’ on a high note, even if that means losing to Zayn in a dramatic back-and-forth contest.
Winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Sami Zayn
Lance: Zayn finally won a singles title when he won the Intercontinental Title at Elimination Chamber. It was in a 3 on 1 match, but still, it was cool. Daniel Bryan is having a great second act to his career and faced the youngster Drew Gulak at Elimination Chamber and they had a good match. Since Zayn just won the title, and if he was facing anyone else I don’t think he would lose it just yet BUT I think Bryan gets the win here because he is winding down his in-ring career and probably will be pushed while he still can be.
Winner and NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion: Daniel Bryan
John: I want this to be a great match between two of my favorite wrestlers that know eachother very well, but I don’t know what to expect. That’s because Zayn has barely taken a bump over the last six months or more. Zayn hasn’t been the same since he came back from double shoulder surgery and WWE has been smart to make him more of a manager in the last six months or so instead of a wrestler. I’m sure Zayn would love to have a regular match with somebody as talented as his friend Bryan, so here’s hoping they can do some actual wrestling in this match. I’ll go with a win for Zayn since he only recently won the title and I don’t think he should lose it in his first title defense. A cheap win for Zayn is fine with me while Bryan will be okay without the title.
Winner: Sami Zayn
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Alex: I get the feeling that WWE is trying to make this rivalry into the 2020 version of Austin vs. The Rock circa 1999. After all, one guy has a power stable with himself as its leader, and the other one LITERALLY USES THE STONE COLD STUNNER! And while this feud has been fun here and there, especially with Owens getting the upper hand more often than not, I don’t think it’ll end well for Owens at WrestleMania. Rollins will have at least one person in his corner and will continue to play the underdog villain that can only win when he has an unfair advantage. Since this WrestleMania isn’t likely going to be the show on which long-term storylines conclude, they’re going to try and find a way to extend this Rollins/Owens feud as long as possible. To do that, Rollins will get a cheap win after around fifteen minutes, only for Owens to get a much bigger win somewhere down the road.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Lance: This feud has been brewing for a few months now and it will come to a head Saturday. This is actually one of the lone matches in which we know what day it’ll be on. Rollins started the year off hot with the stable including himself, Murphy and AOP. Rollins and Murphy briefly won the Raw Tag Team Titles but since then things have kind of fallen apart. Owens has had a nice run since he has come back from injury and this match has the potential to be a standout. Both men are great workers and looking up and down the rest of the card, this is probably one of the matches I am looking forward too. Rollins picks up the win here with some slight interference from Murphy but I think this feud is far from over.
Winner: Seth Rollins
John: This will probably be one of the best matches on the show because they’re great workers that know eachother well from their days before WWE. Rollins delivered an amazing promo on Raw two weeks ago, then last week he hit Owens with The Stomp and Owens came back with a great promo of his own. The story has been built up well as one of the main angles on Raw since late 2019 when Rollins turned heel. Owens has done well as a babyface. I think Owens should win because he’s never won at WrestleMania before, so he might as well get his first victory here. This is also a rivalry that can continue post-WrestleMania as well.
Winner: Kevin Owens
NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Alex: I honestly don’t care about Charlotte Flair. She is nowhere near as exciting or charismatic as her father, and when I talk to people about her and her accomplishments, the stench of nepotism appears and proceeds to hang heavy in the air. But someone in WWE must love her a lot, because here she is challenging for yet another women’s title at WrestleMania. This will be a solid wrestling match from an in-ring quality standpoint, and I think they’ll do a great job of portraying Ripley as the inexperienced underdog facing off against Charlotte. But despite Ripley’s best efforts, she’ll come up short against Charlotte. This way, they can create a story whereby Charlotte becomes ‘the queen of NXT’ and also the most hated woman on the NXT roster. Hopefully that’ll translate into a rematch for Ripley down the road where she can beat Charlotte in front of a crowd larger than zero.
Winner and NEW NXT Women’s Champion: Charlotte Flair
Lance: I covered NXT for a few months on the site and I saw rivalry build from the ground up. Obviously, Charlotte is one of the leaders in the Women’s Division, not just in WWE, but in the entire industry. Rhea Ripley is a relative newcomer but had really impressed me with some of her matches thus far. This is the lone representation of NXT as a brand, and even though Charlotte is not actually on the show most weeks, this match has a lot of fire and animosity going into it. I think Ripley retains, but only after these two tears the house down. I am actually more invested in this match than the Raw Women’s Title match if we are being completely honest.
Winner and STILL NXT Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley
John: From the moment this was set up two months ago, I thought Ripley should win and I still think that. Flair is the established, bigger name that is there to elevate the younger, rising star by putting her over at WrestleMania. It would have been a much bigger deal with fans there, but they can still do it here and make it a monumental win for Ripley. It’s also a rivalry that can continue when Ripley is on Raw or Smackdown and they can keep going from there. This is the classic story of using the bigger, more established name in Flair to try to elevate the younger star in Ripley by putting her over on the big stage at WrestleMania. I think they’ll have a good match too.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Boneyard Match: The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
Alex: I honestly don’t even want this match to happen because we all know what the end result will be. The Undertaker – who already proved he can whip Styles’ ass at Super Showdown – will stand victorious at WrestleMania over the younger, healthier Styles. This won’t benefit Styles in any way, especially since he doesn’t have that many years left in his own career. Sure, it’ll be much better than almost any match ‘Taker has had since 2013, and it will likely be entertaining while it’s going on. So unless Styles miraculously finds a way to defeat the Undertaker at WrestleMania, this match will be another example of WWE using nostalgia to try and make people happy. But the problem with that is that nostalgia eventually wears thin, and once it does, your present isn’t as good as you’d hoped it would be.
As an aside, this will apparently take place in a literal boneyard, so I’m worried that this’ll have Bray Wyatt House of Horrors-level bad visuals. So be prepared for another one of WWE’s weird match ‘experiments’.
Winner: The Undertaker
Lance: The Undertaker has been going through quite a transition over the past couple of weeks and I can’t say that I hate it. The Deadman gimmick has run its course for the most part and this seems to be a mix between that and The American Badass gimmick from the early 2000s which is cool. I still think that Styles is the best wrestler in the world and these two should have a pretty decent outing just because of that. Styles made it personal by bringing up the Undertaker’s wife Michelle McCool multiple times in promos and it seems to have brought out a mean streak in Taker. I have no idea what a Boneyard Match is but we are all going to find out and be amazed. Taker gets the dub because I can’t see them having him lost at Wrestlemania to many more times.
Winner: The Undertaker
John: The logical way of looking at a match like this would be to pick the full-timer Styles over the part-timer Undertaker because it makes more sense for the full-timer to win. However, when it’s The Undertaker involved in a match at WrestleMania, the logical way doesn’t apply because there are different rules for The Undertaker. The Boneyard Match stipulation means they are taping this match outside the WWE Performance perhaps at a cemetery or some other location like that. Styles will probably get a lot of offense, which could mean assistance from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, but I expect Undertaker to come back and find a way to win. A win for Styles would be great for him although you can make a case that a loss wouldn’t be too damaging to him either. A win for Undertaker seems likely here.
Winner: The Undertaker
Universal Championship: Goldberg (c) vs.
Roman Reigns Braun Strowman
(Note: While WWE is still advertising Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns going into Smackdown, we know that Reigns is not in the match with Reigns even admitting it earlier this week on Instagram. They apparently did Goldberg vs. Strowman instead. On Smackdown, they simply had Michael Cole say it is now Goldberg vs. Strowman with no attempt at an explanation for why Reigns is out of the match. They just said it’s Goldberg vs. Strowman and they showed the graphic that you see above.)
Alex: It seems disappointing that both of Braun Strowman’s World Title matches only happened because of Roman Reigns’ health issues. It would’ve been much more appropriate for a tournament, battle royal, or even a big singles match to determine who’d face Goldberg next. But I guess picking the biggest wrestler on the roster works too. For the match itself, I honestly hope that Strowman mops the floor with Goldberg to re-establish himself as a truly menacing monster. His WrestleMania record is checkered at best, so he needs a huge win to prove he isn’t just another generic big man doing generic big man things. I think a three minute match with Strowman demolishing Goldberg and ‘forcing him into full retirement’ would do wonders to make Strowman look as credible a threat as ever. WWE needs to think about the future, and Strowman is in a much better position to draw in new fans than a guy whose peak in popularity was over twenty years ago.
Winner and NEW Universal Champion: Braun Strowman
Lance: This match was put together because Roman Reigns dropped out of the show for health reasons which is completely understandable. I have been on the record for many years that I think Braun is one of the worst booked big men of all time. Braun does have a tendency to put his foot in his mouth on social media sometimes, but that notwithstanding, he should have had at least one title reign at the top by now. This match probably will not last long and I don’t think there is any chance Strowman wins, especially if the tapings are going to stop for a little bit after this show. Goldberg will probably drop it to Reigns at SummerSlam if that stays on as scheduled.
Winner and STILL Universal Champion: Goldberg
John: I thought WWE should have done the angle to remove Reigns from the match last week on Smackdown. The report of Reigns not being a part of the match was out last Thursday, which means WWE could have aired whatever angle they are planning to take him out of the match. This past Monday, Reigns posted an Instagram video saying he’s not going to wrestle at WrestleMania and WWE is still promoting the match. They want fans to see the storyline play out on Smackdown this week, but this is only one day before WrestleMania will air for two nights. I think WWE could have handled this a lot better. In their defense, it’s a unique situation where a top guy is out of a match and there’s no right way of handling it.
Goldberg should probably keep the title until they can have him properly put over Reigns for the title whenever WWE has a big show in front of the fans. Braun Strowman hasn’t been featured since he lost the IC Title to Sami Zayn in a 3 on 1 match, so it would feel random to get the title on him. The reason to put it on Strowman is because he’s a full-timer while Goldberg is not. I just think Goldberg dropping to Reigns makes the most sense. Even though I don’t really like Goldberg as champion, in the situation we’re in they might as well keep the title on him. I would have no problem with Strowman as Universal Champion. I just feel like WWE is going to want Goldbert to put over Reigns down the road, so Goldberg is going to remain champion.
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c)vs. Shayna Baszler
Alex: Becky Lynch has been one of the most consistently-popular wrestlers of the past two-year period. Her ascent to the top was marvelous and her main-event victory was fantastic, even if the match that proceeded it left a lot to be desired. Now, a year later, I don’t think it’s time for Becky to lose her title. Especially not to Shayna Baszler.
This is just my personal opinion, but Baszler simply isn’t captivating. She’s a poor woman’s Ronda Rousey: she lacks Rousey’s magnetism and doesn’t really feel as scary a performer as she should. I get the feeling WWE wants us to think of her as a female version of Brock Lesnar, but that’s never going to happen because Brock Lesnar is about as unique an athlete as they get. I think Lynch will retain and go on to have the longest-run as RAW women’s Champion in history. She carries the weight of history on her shoulders now, which’ll make her future title defenses that much more exciting.
Winner and STILL RAW Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
Lance: I correctly predicted that Shayna Baszler would dominate the Women’s Elimination Chamber last month and go on to face Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. I won’t pat myself on the back too hard on that one, but this feud has been brewing since the NXT invasion during the Survivor Series build-up. Lynch has been champion since last year’s WrestleMania when she defeated Charlotte and Ronda Rousey and has since run through pretty much every other woman in the division on the Raw side.
I expect this match to be a blood feud with a lot of high impact moves and submissions. Baszler kicks it up a notch when she bit Lynch on the face a couple of weeks ago on Raw and ever since then this has been personal. There are arguments for both sides, but at the end of the day, Lynch can’t be champion forever and I believe the reign stops here. Baszler is a flat out machine and I think she could be a great heel champion that runs through most of the babyfaces on Raw. So while this match is a toss-up, I’m going with Baszler to win.
Winner and NEW Raw Women’s Champion: Shayna Baszler
John: The build has been solid here with Shayna Baszler booked as a strong challenger to the champion Becky Lynch. The way Elimination Chamber went was perfect for Baszler looking dominant and then they have continued the attacks on Raw over the last month. It’s a hard match to predict because you can make a case for either woman winning and it makes sense to me. If Baszler wins, it gives Lynch something to do after WrestleMania because she’ll be in a quest to get her title back. If Lynch wins, it continues the dominance of Lynch that has existed for the last year since she won the Raw Women’s Title at last year’s WrestleMania. I’ve been torn on this prediction for a few weeks. I’m going with Lynch winning to keep the title, but I think they can go back to this match in a few weeks, months or whenever regular shows begin and that’s when Baszler can get the title. I think they’ll have a good match too and it should get a decent amount of time around 15 minutes or so.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Firefly Fun House Match: John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Alex: This is one of those matches that exists to help increase WWE’s exposure during their busiest time of the year. Cena is one of the few WWE stars with some kind of crossover appeal, which WWE wants to use to help boost interest for ‘Mania. And while that’s all good from a business perspective, I have a bad feeling about how this match will end. Wyatt is currently 0-3 in official WrestleMania matches, and last time he and Cena faced off at ‘Mania, he (Cena) and The Rock – a guy on the injured list and a part-timer – mopped the floor with Wyatt and his then-buddies Harper and Rowan. Now, four years later, Cena is a part-timer and Wyatt’s new gimmick is a living cautionary tale of why you shouldn’t do drugs. But people love both Wyatt and his Fiend alter-ego, and they want to see him win. Sadly for him, his opponent is John Cena, a man so righteous and pure that he makes Clark Kent look like Heath Ledger’s Joker (a.k.a. best Joker).
While the logical conclusion to make would be that the regular wrestler would win here, keep in mind that Vince McMahon has history of putting Cena over his opponents for asinine reasons. Remember SummerSlam 2010, when he changed the Nexus match to Cena winning because, “the show must have a happy ending for the children?” I just hope that Cena also learned from that mistake and will use what influence he has left in WWE to ensure that Wyatt doesn’t go 0-4 and become the reverse Undertaker.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Lance: These two had a match at WrestleMania 30 that should have ended with Cena sort of passing the torch to Wyatt. That isn’t what happened, but I don’t think anyone is too blame. Wyatt came back to TV as The Fiend in the middle part of last year after being off for some time and already had a Universal Title reign under his belt. Now, I will go on record to say I HATE the way they did this and I think this match should be for the Universal Title. Wyatt has brought up that past WrestleMania match over the last couple of weeks and it seems to have lit a fire under him to exact his revenge. Cena coming back to face Wyatt I think is good in the sense that this storyline can get closure.
With all of that being said, I don’t think there is anyway Bray Wyatt doesn’t win this match. It’s time for Cena to put some guys over like he did when he was the United States Champion and a win here would do wonders for Wyatt. It will be nice to see Cena back in action though.
Winner: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
John: The story has been okay here with Wyatt wanting to revenge on Cena beating him at WrestleMania six years ago at WM30. The problem with the story is that Wyatt won the WWE Title at Elimination Chamber 2017 in a match that Cena was in and Wyatt also beat Cena in a triple threat on Smackdown two days later in a great triple threat with AJ Styles. That’s me remembering stuff because I’m a freak while WWE likes to ignore details. Anyway, I guess if you want to tell the story that WrestleMania matches mean more than others (which is true) then this is big for Bray’s career.
This is Cena’s first match in over a year and it’s not a regular match since it’s in the Firefly Fun House, which likely means WWE created the Fun House set to have a match. That means it will probably be a stand up brawl type of deal with maybe some table bumps along the way. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I like that it’s going to feel different. A win for Wyatt is the obvious result since Cena’s there to put him over. If Cena wins, I’ll be surprised because we have no idea when he’ll wrestle again or if he’ll have another match this year. I’ll go with Wyatt winning because it’s the right thing to do.
Winner: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton
Alex: I’ll give credit where credit is due. WWE has done a fantastic job with this story. Edge’s return has been nothing short of spectacular, and his rivalry with Orton has been one of the best in years. And Orton has been the perfect villain, doing genuinely evil things while also justifying his actions with a surprising logic that doesn’t often come from WWE storylines. Yet despite that, Edge’s going to win this one. It’ll be a brutal uphill battle for him since it’ll be his first singles match in nine freaking years. But if there’s one thing WWE’s good at, it’s putting on shows that’ll put smiles on people’s faces when necessary. And if there were ever a time when fans needed something positive to cling to, it’s now. Logic dictates that the wounded underdog hero Edge would triumph over the villainous Orton in a brutal fight. And that’s exactly what we’re going to witness at WrestleMania.
Lance: This is the match where I feel they can take the most liberties with the way it is shot. A Last Man Standing Match is one that typically goes all over the arena and they probably won’t lose much from an audience not being there. Orton has taken Edge and his wife Beth Phoenix out already in this buildup so you know this one will get heated. This will be Edge’s first singles match in nine years and it will be interesting to see how he holds up. He isn’t going to work a full-time schedule anymore, but at least he gets to wrestle some of the time and go out on his own terms.
I fully expect this one to go all over the arena and for these two to find creative ways to beat the hell out of each other. This one to me is almost a pick-em, with arguments being made for both sides winning and losing. I think I will pick Edge to win and get that feel-good moment, only for this feud to continue down the line.
John: This is my favorite match on the card because any type of wrestling fan can understand the story and relate to it. Whether you’ve watched guys like Edge and Orton over their entire careers like me or if you’re a 10-year-old kid, you can understand the story of Orton being a jerk that attacked Edge on Raw just one night after Edge made a return at the Royal Rumble after nine years away. Since then, the personal rivalry has continued with Orton attacking Edge’s wife Beth Phoenix, which has led to some personal promos between the two men. Orton has earned a lot of praise for delivering some of the best promos of his career over the last two months and I agree with it because he has done a tremendous job. Clearly, working with Edge has brought out the best in Orton and we all know Randy is most comfortable as a heel. Edge was one of the best heels ever during most of his career, but he is doing very well as a legendary babyface that is also delivering awesome promos.
Picking the winner here is tough because of the situation they are in. It’s another part-timer in Edge facing a full-timer in Orton, so should the part-timer lose? No. Not in terms of the story they have presented because Edge should win to get the win. However, with no crowd there to mark out for the big spots and root for Edge to win this very personal rivalry, maybe Orton should win in order to build to another match for down the road like SummerSlam or whenever the fans are back. I can see it going either way, but I’m still going to lean towards the feel good moment with Edge getting the win. If they get multiple matches out of this rivalry then that’s fine with me as well.
Kudos to Edge, Orton and the creative team in building this match up. They have done a great job. I’m looking forward to it.
WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Alex: I distinctly remember the first time I saw McIntyre after his recent return and NXT run. He was punching someone in the head and I thought to myself, ‘Christ, this guy is massive and terrifying’. And for that one brief moment I think that my mind and Vince McMahon’s became one in the same. I saw good things in McIntyre’s future and here we are. McIntyre had to overcome mediocre booking for the better part of a year, but it will all be worth it when he defeats Lesnar. Although Lesnar’s still a tremendous draw for WWE, he really doesn’t need the title at this point. Lesnar will be a special attraction that will draw in viewers no matter what, but his part-time appearance makes for a bad business model if he’s champion. Even if WWE’s revenue stream is now driven mainly by huge TV deals, people want to see the guy with the belt beat up challengers on a more frequent basis. Lesnar’s deal allows him to do whatever he wants and appear sporadically, which goes against the very purpose of having the champion appearing often enough to keep fans engaged. WWE must recognize that, which is why they’ll get the best of both worlds by having Lesnar lose to McIntyre at ‘Mania.
Winner and NEW Champion: Drew McIntyre
Lance: It’s McIntyre’s time to shine. He got a big pop when he eliminated Lesnar at the Royal Rumble and his momentum has been going up ever since. He has everything Vince loves in a champion. He got the size, the look, the charisma, etc. He is probably the hottest thing in the company right now and when the fans were there, they were behind him. Then you have Lesnar who feels like he has been champion for a decade. Some people love it, some people hate it, but we can all agree that at the end of the day the guy is a star. I think this will be a great match between two bulls that are deceptively athletic for their size.
On the one hand, you could have McIntyre win which would validate his Rumble win and put him right to the top of the company. WWE would have to feel comfortable with putting the belt on him and making him the man for that to happen. I guess they gave it to Jinder Mahal at one point, so anything is possible. I think Drew is ready, though. On the other hand you could have Lesnar retain and just have a familiar champion in unfamiliar times. There is a part of me that thinks that both Lesnar and Goldberg retain if there are no future tapings right now just because they wouldn’t have to market much to get them over. That’s playing it safe and there is no time for that. It’s time to pull the trigger here. McIntyre has been ready since he returned to the company and I think they crown him here. Now granted, he will probably lose it back to Lesnar at SummerSlam or somewhere around there, but I digress. It’s time to crown a new king and make Heath Slater the lone member of 3MB to not win the main title in WWE.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Drew McIntyre
John: The presumptive main event of this show has been built up very well. I know Lesnar has his detractors because he’s a part-timer, but the way he has been booked and performed since the Royal Rumble has been excellent. Lesnar was dominant in the Royal Rumble until McIntyre eliminated him with an impressive Claymore Kick (thanks to an assist from Ricochet with the low blow) and Lesnar sold it so well. When they did that angle on Raw where McIntyre hit Lesnar with three more Claymore Kicks, Lesnar sold it so well. A few weeks ago in an interview, McIntyre thanked Lesnar and Heyman for the great job they have done in this rivalry. I think in the last few weeks, WWE could have had more segments with McIntyre and Lesnar at the WWE Performance to build it up even more, but instead, they kept it simple with Heyman doing promos for Lesnar.
This is another match where I feel like I have to bring up that if the fans were there then it would be a no-brainer for McIntyre to win the WWE Title for the first time in a great moment similar to Kofi Kingston last year, Steve Austin in 1998, Shawn Michaels in 1996 and so on. We have seen those “WrestleMania Moments” so many times over the last 35 years. Sadly, Drew won’t get that moment with the fans there, which makes me think that maybe WWE delays that moment. If you have Lesnar win then it will hurt Drew, though, so I’m still leaning towards a McIntyre win. Think about it this way. The world is in a tough spot right now where most of us are stuck at home with nothing to do because it’s the best way to combat the health crisis. This show is happening because WWE wants to do it for the fans, they want to “put smiles on people’s faces” as they say and in order to do that, a win for a babyface like McIntyre is a way to do that. It’s the same thing every year with Lesnar. Brock doesn’t “need” the WWE Title, but using him to try to elevate others is the right way to book him and the timing is right for McIntyre to win. I’ll be very happy to see McIntyre as the WWE Champion although I feel bad for the guy that he won’t get to have that moment in front of 70,000+ fans. It sucks, but that’s the world we’re living in right now.
I think they’ll have a good match that is one of the better matches on the show. I think it’s going to take two or three Claymore Kicks in a row for McIntyre to get the win. If Lesnar wins, it will piss people off as usual, but the logic behind that is to save McIntyre’s win for a show with the fans in attendance. Since there’s a lot of uncertainty about when things will be “normal” again, I’m going with McIntyre for the win.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Drew McIntyre
Here’s a WWE video about 36 WrestleMania facts as we head into the bonus topics.
The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most
Alex: From a technical, in-ring quality standpoint, Bryan vs. Zayn. From a storytelling perspective, Edge vs. Orton. Both will be fun as hell.
Lance: Probably the WWE Title match between Lesnar and McIntyre.
John: I’ll go Edge vs. Orton. I like Lesnar vs. McIntyre a lot too.
The Match I Care About The Least
Alex: King Corbin vs. Elias. One guy does more talking and guitar strumming than actual wrestling, and the other is King Corbin. Does that sound like a winning formula to you?
Lance: Either Smackdown Tag Team or Smackdown Women’s Title match.
John: King Corbin vs. Elias. Yawn.
Alex: Undertaker vs. Styles. This is a wacky gimmick match, and I get the feeling they might repeat the Wyatt House of Horrors in terms of execution. This will probably be better than that mess, though.
Lance: I am going to go with The Last Man Standing match between Edge and Orton.
John: I think it will be Rollins vs. Owens. It might be Edge vs. Orton, though.
Alex: Goldberg vs. Strowman. Goldberg isn’t in a position to be wrestling long matches, and Braun Strowman shines when he destroys people decisively. This’ll probably like Super Showdown, only with the younger guy winning this time.
Lance: Smackdown Women’s Title match.
John: Goldberg vs. Strowman. Whenever Goldberg is in a match on a show it’s a good idea to pick him to be in the shortest match. His matches are short because he’s old and he was never that good in the ring in his prime. Might as well keep it short.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
Alex: It’s a 6.5 for me. There are three, maybe four matches on the entire card that I genuinely can’t wait to see. The rest could’ve been pushed to later in the year when the Coronavirus pandemic is either contained or eliminated. I have mixed feelings for the rest of the card, especially since this show doesn’t feel like WWE is putting all 100% of their creative efforts into it. I’m also worried how long the matches will be in general, since the past few weeks of WWE shows have all featured matches that’ve been way too short for my liking.
Lance: I am at about a 6.5 for this show. The card has some intriguing matchups and splitting it into two days seems like a good call. I am pleasantly optimistic.
John: I’m in that 6 or 7 range like my buddies here, so if I have to pick a number I’ll go with 6.75. If there were fans in the building and this was the show we got (along with battle royals) then I might be at 7 or higher. I think without fans in attendance, it hurts the quality of the show. I’ll watch and write about it of course, but I think it’s realistic to lower expectations. I’d like to think of myself as an optimist although in this case, I think I’m more of a realist. I’m hoping for the best. On a final note, you may have noticed I picked a lot of babyface wins. That’s not an accident. I think WWE will book this as a “feel good” type of show, so that’s why I picked a lot of faces to win.
John: I’ll be back with a review of WWE WrestleMania 36 on TJRWrestling.net on Saturday and Sunday, so check that out during the show or after it’s over.
If you want to send an email, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Thanks for reading.