WrestleMania 35 is almost here. It’s eight days away, so we are in the home stretch with one more episode of Raw and Smackdown to go until we get to WWE’s biggest (and longest) show of the year on Sunday, April 7th.
This is my last WrestleMania News and Rumors column. I did it for five weeks just to update you (and myself) on everything we knew going into WrestleMania. Next Friday, we will have our exclusive “TJRWrestling WrestleMania 35 Preview” column that will cover the show, so I don’t need to do this column again.
The start time for the WrestleMania Kickoff Show is 5pmET/2pmPT with the main show beginning at 7pmET/4pmPT. The main card may run five hours (that’s not confirmed), so if you watch everything it may run about seven hours. It’s going to be a long night. For more info on the schedule, I checked WWE Network’s schedule and they list the show at 5 hours 30 minutes, so that’s even longer.
WWE Network is currently listing #WrestleMania to run 7.5 hours counting the Kickoff Show or 5.5 hours for the main show. Whether it goes that long or 30 minutes less, it’s going to be a long night. pic.twitter.com/wWh0qQsHsh
— John Canton (@johnreport) March 30, 2019
Before we get to the matches, here are some notes on other things involving the show:
– Alexa Bliss is the host of WrestleMania. It’s possible that she’s in the battle royal too, but she’s not announced for it yet.
– Elias will have a musical performance on the show. I expect an interruption. More on that later.
– Joan Jett, who is a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, will sing her hit song “Bad Reputation” for Ronda Rousey’s entrance at WrestleMania. That should be great.
– Yolanda Adams will be there to sing “America the Beautiful” at the start of the show. She is the girlfriend of Titus O’Neil too.
– Michael Che and Colin Jost from “Saturday Night Live” will be the special guest correspondents. They will also be in the men’s battle royal.
Let’s get to it because I have plenty of thoughts on this lineup, especially the main event.
The Matches WWE Has Announced
Raw Women’s Championship:Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
It was certainly a newsworthy week for these talented ladies. On Monday, WWE announced that they would be the main event of WrestleMania, which means the last match of the show. There was a lot of press for that with WWE thrusting this information onto the media while Ronda, Charlotte and Becky all appeared on ESPN on Tuesday morning.
On Raw, there was a Beat The Clock challenge where the three main eventers easily destroyed the Riott Family. Lynch won the challenge, which was pointless. It was lame, but that’s Raw these days.
This week on Smackdown, Charlotte Flair was given a Smackdown Women’s Title match against Asuka even though it was never advertised. There was supposed to be a four-woman match for a title shot against Asuka, but apparently, Vince McMahon changed his mind a few hours before the show. That led to Flair beating Asuka for the SD Women’s Title in a match that went about 20 minutes. Great match that I enjoyed a lot, but it also pissed off a lot of fans.
I understand a lot of the complaints for Flair’s win because it was completely unnecessary since Flair is already in the WrestleMania main event. Asuka’s SD Women’s Title reign wasn’t booked that well aside from beating Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble. Her match with Mandy Rose at Fastlane (rumor was that she would face Mandy again at WrestleMania) was not that interesting, so Vince probably felt that a title change was necessary.
The title change didn’t bother me much because I like Charlotte, the match was great and it felt like a big deal. Plus, as I noted last week on Twitter, Flair won zero matches this year. She lost at every house show (she’s a heel, that’s what heels do), she barely wrestled on TV and she failed to win at the Royal Rumble and Fastlane.
As for Asuka, it does suck for her. However, she has also lost something like five matches in her WWE run over the course of four years, so I think there are a lot of other wrestlers in WWE that could complain about booking more than her. I’m not that worried about her future. I think she’ll be fine. There was a guy tweeting me last week saying he hopes Vince McMahon dies because of this title change. It was a little much. I mean, if you are that mad about wrestling booking and title changes, then I would advise that maybe you should watch something else with your free time.
Now that Flair has the SD Women’s Title to go along with Rousey’s Raw Women’s Title, there are several scenarios that WWE can do at WrestleMania. I read the Wrestling Observer Newsletter where Dave Meltzer mentioned several things are possible. I don’t think he knows and I doubt Vince McMahon knows because if he does, between now and Monday at 8pmET, Vince can change his mind.
Here are some of the options they have:
– Winner Take All: The winner of the match would win both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Titles. Assuming that is Becky, they can put her on Raw or Smackdown, then have her vacate the other title when they do the Superstar Shakeup on April 15/16, which is a week after WrestleMania.
– Raw Women’s Title Only: Since that’s what the match originally was, that could be what they stick with since Lynch chose to challenge Rousey for her title at WrestleMania.
– First Fall Wins with Each Title on the Line: According to the Wrestling Observer, this is likely what WWE is going to go with. The easiest way to explain it is that if Rousey or Flair lose, the person who beats them gets their title.
I think this is what WWE will go with because WWE could want WrestleMania to have Lynch with the Raw Women’s Title, Flair to remain the Smackdown Women’s Title and Bayley/Sasha Banks to retain the Women’s Tag Team Titles. They are WWE’s Four Horsewomen, so a final shot of those four women with titles could be how they sign off at WrestleMania. I’m starting to think that’s a strong possibility.
– Two Fall Match with Both Titles on the Line: This would be similar to the WrestleMania 2000 show with Kurt Angle defending (and losing) his Intercontinental and European Titles in the same match. I don’t think it’s a good concept, which is why WWE has avoided doing it again in the last 19 years.
This Monday on Raw, the trio of Rousey, Flair and Lynch will face the Riott Squad in a six-woman tag. If either of Rousey, Flair or Lynch turns on the other, they are out of the WrestleMania main event. That’s a ridiculous stipulation considering it’s a meaningless tag, but at least it gives them a reason to work together.
Who wins? Becky Lynch. If she doesn’t win the main event, I would be very surprised. Then again, I thought there was no way Roman Reigns would fail to beat Brock Lesnar last year in the main event of WrestleMania, yet Lesnar retained. I was very surprised about that finish. I don’t think there will be a swerve here. Lynch will take Ronda’s title from her. Four Horsewomen celebration with their titles is what will end the show.
WWE Universal Championship:Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
There was a promo from Seth Rollins on Raw this week with Paul Heyman there to interrupt. Rollins did the usual bit about how confident he was against Lesnar and Heyman replied talking about how great Lesnar was. Rollins went up the ramp, got in Heyman’s face to intimidate him and let Paul know that “WE” (Rollins and the WWE Universe) will beat Lesnar for the Universal Title.
Brock Lesnar will be on Raw this week to further build the match with Rollins. They should probably do a brawl or some kind of interaction to make people care more. The build has been fine, but I wouldn’t say it’s been that interesting or memorable in any way.
Who wins? I hope Rollins wins, but you can’t have every face win every title and every match at WrestleMania. There are rumors that this is the end of Lesnar’s current WWE deal although he can always re-sign as he has in the past. Since WWE is doing the Saudi Arabia show on May 3rd, maybe Rollins will get the title there. I don’t know. I hope Rollins wins it here.
WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston
The match that has been obvious for over one month now is finally official as Daniel Bryan will defend the WWE Championship against Kofi Kingston. #KofiMania is here, my friends.
They made it official after Kofi’s New Day buddies Big E and Xavier Woods won a Gauntlet Match similar to what Kingston had to go through a week earlier. I think fans knew it was coming, so there was no point in delaying it any more.
I can’t decide if this is my favorite match on the show or if it’s the women’s main event. I like Lesnar/Rollins too. I think all three matches are going to be around four stars out of five or better. That’s something to get excited about because there hasn’t been a WrestleMania where the top three matches had the potential to be that good in a long time.
Who wins? Kingston should win, but as I mentioned with Rollins, you can’t put every babyface over. I just feel like the story is strong, the fans are really behind Kofi and it would be a cool story. With that said, Bryan is (in my opinion) the best overall performer in WWE that’s consistently awesome, so if he continued his title reign that would be fine with me too. I think a lot of fans will be angry if Kingston fails to win here. Put the title on Kingston. That’s what I would do.
I know there are “rumors” (I put that in quotes for a reason) that Big E and/or Xavier Woods might turn on Kingston during the match or after the match if Kofi fails to win, but I hope not. I hope New Day sticks together for the rest of their careers. All of them have said they want to be together until they retire, so let’s see that happen.
No Holds Barred Match: Triple H vs. Batista (Triple H must retire if he loses)
(Does it look like Batista’s nipples are removed in that image? It’s not like I was seeking them out, but it’s a weird omission from the graphic!)
Triple H did a promo on Raw where he read a letter from Batista and his lawyer saying they want Hunter to put his career on the line. Hunter agreed to it, so it’s official.
Batista will be on Raw this coming Monday in Washington, DC, which is where Batista is from although he lives in Tampa now. There could be a physical altercation with Batista and Hunter. It wouldn’t shock me if Batista got in a cheap shot to get the advantage going into WrestleMania.
Who wins? Triple H will win. I would be shocked if he lost because he obviously has a lot of matches left in him since he’s helping to run WWE for the next two or three decades. Batista’s a movie star that’s likely wrestling his last match here, so Hunter wins and that’s the end of Batista as a wrestler. Put Batista in the Hall of Fame as a headline act next year.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
This rivalry has gotten a lot of attention on Raw over the last three weeks after McIntyre beat up Reigns. McIntyre also beat Dean Ambrose twice (Dean doing the jobs on his way out of the company) and also beat Seth Rollins although that was due to a distraction. The point is, McIntyre is on a hot streak because WWE is booking him to be a top guy like they should.
Last week on Raw, Reigns got in Drew’s face to accept his WrestleMania challenge to make this match official. I liked the intensity shown by both guys. Drew has been a standout performer on Raw over the last couple of months. I’m happy for him.
Who wins? I want McIntyre to win because it would be huge for him. It can be argued that Reigns should win to get revenge for McIntyre beating him up to start this feud, but once again, you can’t have every face win every match. This is the biggest match of Drew’s career and if WWE is serious about pushing him (obviously they are), then putting McIntyre over is the right call here. They can also explain it in the story that Reigns is back in the ring, but he’s not himself yet, so that can make him look more beatable when McIntyre wins.
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
There was only a bit of a build to this match on Smackdown this week. Randy Orton showed up during the Styles match with Kurt Angle and he dropped Styles with a RKO. Angle responded with an Angle Slam for Orton. It felt rushed because it was.
Who wins? I’m starting to lean more towards an Orton victory since there are going to be so many faces going over. Might as well have a heel win. I don’t think it matters that much either way. It should be a fun match between two veterans that have had different journeys to get where they are, but both men are two of the best wrestlers of this generation. Give WWE credit for saving their first PPV singles match for WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (Angle’s Retirement Match)
It appears this is going to be the match with WWE loving the idea that people are mad about it because it gets heat for Corbin, who Vince McMahon likes a lot. For those that hope John Cena will somehow be a part of it and show up to challenge Angle, it doesn’t appear likely. Here’s a song for you to listen to.
I have my doubts about Cena being in an actual match at this year’s WrestleMania. He’s filming a movie in Vancouver. I doubt he wants to take bumps and risk injury. That’s why Cena is more likely for the Elias segment or something else on the show including Cena possibly saving Angle after this match.
Who wins? Corbin will likely win because most wrestlers lose retirement matches. Some of them win, so maybe Angle finds a way to get the W, then Corbin attacks the match and Cena makes the save. That would be fine, I guess. I just think it’s more likely that Corbin wins.
Falls Count Anywhere:The Miz vs. Shane McMahon
They added a Falls Count Anywhere stipulation to this match after The Miz requested it and Shane agreed to it. This has been building since Crown Jewel in early November, so it in terms of build, it’s one of the most well booked matches on the card.
Who wins? The Miz winning is a lock. He’s the face, he’s the full timer and it would allow him to get revenge for Shane beating up his dad. I’m tired of the annual Shane McMahon match. There are so many great talents that could be doing more on this show.
Intercontinental Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Finn Balor
If you pay attention to the advertising for WrestleMania, most of the graphics they have show Balor in his “Demon” Balor look, so that likely means he’ll be in the Demon look for the match, which makes sense considering it’s a title match at WrestleMania. Why did they put the title back on Lashley a few weeks ago when Balor already had the title? I think they did it to justify Balor going back to the “Demon” Balor, which will probably be set up on Raw this week.
It wouldn’t shock me if this was the first match on the main card, but they may opt to go with the men’s battle royal instead.
Who wins? Finn Balor. This seems like a lock.
United States Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
The build for this match has been weak. It exists, but there’s not much to talk about. Mysterio got a pin on Joe in a tag match and here we are. I’m happy that Joe is wrestling at his first WrestleMania after dealing with injuries in the past. With that said, I would have liked Mysterio vs. Andrade more or a triple threat between them would have been cool.
Mysterio has done promos with his son Dominick the last two weeks. Dominick is a trained wrestler now, so perhaps WWE will sign him to a deal or maybe Rey wants him to get more experience elsewhere.
Who wins? I’m leaning towards the champ retaining the title. Since Rey has brought Dominick into this, Joe might attack Dominick at ringside, which can lead to Rey getting distracted and Joe wins.
Andre The Giant Men’s Battle Royal
Here are the 29 names for the men’s battle royal that WWE announced yesterday: Braun Strowman, Colin Jost & Michael Che of SNL fame, Andrade, Apollo Crews, Titus O’Neil, Tyler Breeze, Jinder Mahal, No Way Jose, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, Kalisto, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Heath Slater, Rhyno, Viktor, Konnor, Ali, Shelton Benjamin, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Otis, Tucker, EC3. There will likely be more names added.
The only storyline going into the show is that there will be some comedy bits with Strowman, Jost and Che. It doesn’t excite me at all. If anything, it makes me feel bad for Strowman for being subjected to be a part of this farce.
A wildcard name not listed is Lars Sullivan. We know that WWE wanted to debut him earlier this year, set him up with a big push in the Royal Rumble, set up a WrestleMania match with John Cena and go from there. However, Lars had anxiety issues and has not appeared on the main roster yet. I think it’s very possible that WWE will choose to “debut” him here and have him win the Royal Rumble. It would be like what they did with Baron Corbin a few years ago too.
Who wins? I may make Lars Sullivan my official pick, but I’m not sure yet. There are a lot of ways it can go.
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Sasha Banks and Bayley (c) vs. Tamina and Nia Jax vs. Natalya and Beth Phoenix vs. The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay)
This could get messy with four teams involved, but usually these matches feature two people in the ring and the other six will be on the apron. If they did it elimination style then that would be a better match. Since it’s the first time the Women’s Tag Team Titles are at WrestleMania, I would be surprised if this gets bumped to the Kickoff Show.
Who wins? Banks and Bayley should retain. I would be surprised if they failed to win.
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
Here are the women announced for the Battle Royal so far: Asuka, Carmella, Naomi, Lana, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Nikki Cross, Dana Brooke, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Mickie James and Zelina Vega. There will be more names added.
The biggest favorite is Asuka just due to how she has booked during her WWE career. There’s been a tease of a Mandy/Sonya split, so maybe that will be accelerated here with Mandy dumping out Sonya or vice versa.
Who wins? I’ll go with a name not listed yet: Lacey Evans. I think WWE has high hopes for her and having her win this will give her some positive momentum as a newcomer. If not her, then I think Ruby Riott, Mandy Rose and Asuka should be considered possible winners.
Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony Nese
This will likely be on the Kickoff Show, which is the usual for the Cruiserweight Championship. They will work hard and have an entertaining match although I don’t think the crowd will care that much because Nese is barely a face.
Who wins? Murphy has held the title for about six months, so Nese winning makes a lot of sense to me.
Current Champions Without A Match Right Now
Raw Tag Team Champions – The Revival
Smackdown Tag Team Champions – The Usos
The above tweet from Scott Dawson put an idea in people’s minds that maybe WWE will put The Revival in a match against The Usos at WrestleMania to see who the better team is. However, there are some tag teams out there like Aleister Black/Ricochet, The New Day, Cesaro/Sheamus and even Zack Ryder/Curt Hawkins that aren’t listed in the battle royal, so maybe there will be some multi-match match featuring the teams or separate matches for both shows.
Big Names Without An Obvious Match Right Now
The Undertaker – The expectation is there’s no match for The Undertaker at WrestleMania, but he may appear on the show. He is expected to wrestle at WWE’s next Saudi Arabia show on May 3. As you can see from a recent Instagram post that Taker posted, he’s in great shape for a 54-year-old man and recently lost 25 pounds.
Good for him. Losing weight is always nice to see, but I still don’t think he should be wrestling much at all. The bump card is full.
John Cena – I think he’ll either interrupt Elias, then get put into a match with him and beat him in two minutes (without bumping much at all) or he’ll save Kurt Angle from an attack from Baron Corbin. With Cena busy making movies, it doesn’t make sense for him to risk his health by having wrestling matches.
Here’s the rundown of the card one more time. I’m not going to guess the order. That doesn’t interest me. I think putting the women’s match on last is the right call and I’m happy for the talented ladies involved.
* Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
* Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
* WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston
* No Holds Barred Match: Triple H vs. Batista (Triple H Must Retire if He Loses)
* Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles
* Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
* Falls Count Anywhere Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz
* United States Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
* Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (Angle’s Retirement Match)
* Intercontinental Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Finn Balor
* Women’s Tag Team Championships: Sasha Banks and Bayley (c) vs. Tamina and Nia Jax vs. Natalya and Beth Phoenix vs. (The IIconics) Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
* Andre the Giant Men’s Battle Royal – Braun Strowman, Colin Jost and Michael Che are in it.
* Women’s Battle Royal
* Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony Nese
There are 14 matches. Add one or two more for the Tag Team Titles and that’s likely the whole lineup.
I think the match quality will be very good all night long, but a seven hour show in an open air stadium will make it tough on the crowd to stay interested the whole time. It’s just not easy to be “hot” for that long.
That’s all from me for now. I’m going to try to relax a bit this weekend before things really start getting busy on Monday and then for about 10 days after that. I still plan on posting a retro column tomorrow too. I can’t stop completely. Thanks for reading.