By Rob Siebert
It’s not WWE’s fault, of course. But boy this really sucks.
Wrestlemania at the Performance Center. Wrestlemania with no fans. Wrestlemania with “social distancing.” All because of this damn Coronavirus.
Still, despite some awkwardness, I’ll credit WWE with making the best of an awful situation. They’ve gimmicked up some of the marquee matches, presumably to make them look different. They’ve split the show into two nights, which some would argue should have been done years ago.
The promos overall have been much better. Edge and Randy Orton, for instance, did some of the best mic work of their careers. Even the Undertaker got in on that action this past Monday.
But of course, problems persist. Several wrestlers, most notably Roman Reigns, have either opted out or been forced off the show due to complications related to the Coronavirus. So some of the matches I’m laying out here may not be the ones we end up getting. It should be noted that, as far as we know, this entire show has already been taped. So these matches have already occurred.
That being said, let’s take a look at what I call the “Silent Wrestlemania.” We’ll start with the matches that have biggest question marks hanging over them. Beginning with a match that might have main-evented the show…
WWE UNIVERSAL HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Bill Goldberg (c) vs. ?
As he’s immunocompromised due to his history with Leukemia, Roman Reigns has opted out of this match. Can’t say I blame the guy. Plus, let’s face it: It’s not like he’ll never get another title match at a Wrestlemania again…
So now the pressing question becomes, who do you plug in to replace him? Who’s worthy of challenging Goldberg in a marquee Wrestlemania match for the Universal Title?
There’s been a lot of buzz about Braun Strowman taking that spot. He’s certainly the biggest star they’ve got who isn’t already booked for a match. But I don’t know that he’s ready for that big a match. WWE is still trying to rebuild him after all those months of bad booking.
Bray Wyatt is another popular theory. As the show takes place over two nights this year, they can have him wrestle Cena one night, and Goldberg on the other. If that’s the match, the Fiend should definitely get the belt back.
One name I haven’t heard very much is Sheamus. He was mowing down opponents before everything was shut down, and getting babyface reactions in the process. He’s a dark horse candidate. But one that might give Goldberg an interesting match.
In the end, unless they decided to make Bray Wyatt the challenger, I think you give Goldberg the victory here. Let him retain so he and Roman can have their “Spear vs. Spear” match whenever things get back to normal. Plus, Goldberg’s mystique revolves around him winning, and winning decisively. This would be a nice little notch to add to his belt.
PREDICTION: Bill Goldberg
TRIPLE-THREAT LADDER MATCH FOR WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Miz & John Morrison vs. The New Day vs. The Usos
Yeah, this one’s not happening either. At least not as advertised.
Apparently the Miz showed up to a taping sick, which was one of the things that prompted Reigns to bow out. So obviously, Miz is now out too.
What they do here largely depends on who they had at the building when this was taped. They could have plugged an NXT guy in there to be Miz’s replacement. Matt Riddle comes to mind. He one half of the NXT Tag Champs, but his partner Pete Dunne is stuck overseas due to flight restrictions.
But I would think the more likely solution is to simply have John Morrison defend the titles by himself. The New Day and the Usos are no stranger to big matches like this. So let them do their thing, and then Morrison can sneak in the back door and swipe the belts.
PREDICTION: The Miz & John Morrison
Elias vs. King Corbin
Because they’re splitting the show into two nights, they obviously need to pad the card out a little. Which is ironic, because there’s usually such a struggle to get everybody and their mother on to the Wrestlemania card.
In any event, that’s how Elias vs. King Corbin winds up on Wrestlemania. Vince McMahon is high on Corbin. Plus, he just knocked Elias off a balcony on Smackdown. So barring a surprise appearance by someone like Jeff Hardy, Corbin takes this one home.
Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
I’m not sure this was the kind of big Wrestlemania match Bobby Lashley had in mind when he came back. But hey, it could have been worse. He could still be stuck with Rusev.
Allegedly, had they not gone with Drew McIntyre as this year’s Royal Rumble winner, Aleister Black was on deck. That should tell you all you need to know about who’s winning this match.
PREDICTION: Aleister Black
Dolph Ziggler vs. Otis Dozovic
Ziggler sent out a really depressing tweet on Monday: “15 years in the making & I am less than 1 week away from having as many singles matches at #WrestleMania as Michael Cole”.
Oh, what might have been…
There are bound to be shenanigans in this match. Mandy will obviously be out there. You’ve got to believe Tucker will be in Otis’ corner. Bobby Roode and Sonya Deville could be in the picture as well.
Dolph Ziggler should win this match. Despite never having had a singles match at Wrestlemania, he’s won all kinds of singles titles. Otis, on the other hand, is still relatively new to the main roster,and has spent most of his career in a tag team.
But here’s the rub: Dolph should win the match, but Otis should get the girl. Whoever is pulling the wool over Mandy’s eyes should be discovered, and she should leave Wrestlemania with Otis. Now if only there were fans in the building to give that moment the epic pop it deserves.
PREDICTION: Dolph Ziggler
WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Kabuki Warriors (c) vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
Kairi Sane has been highly conspicuous by her absence these last few weeks. Heck, this year in general. So Asuka has had to do virtually all the heavy lifting on the Kabuki Warriors’ side of the build-up to this match. Reportedly, she’s been at home with her husband in Japan, having recently been married. She will however, be part of this match. Hopefully to take the pinfall.
Yes, when they’ve both been around, the Kabuki Warriors have proven to be a nice shot in the arm for WWE’s otherwise pitiful Women’s Tag Team Division. But it’s time to switch the titles. I say give them back to Alexa and Nikki, and then have them actually jump across brands to defend them. Rematch the Kabuki Warriors on Raw, then go against Sasha and Bayley on Smackdown. Clearly they’re looking to put stars on NXT. And now that everything is at the Performance Center, there’s no better time to defend the belts on that show. You’ve got some of the best talent in the world. Use it!
PREDICTION: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
FATAL FIVE-WAY MATCH FOR WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE:
Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Naomi vs. Lacey Evans vs. Tamina
Originally, this was announced as a Six-Pack Challenge. But this match was another victim of Coronavirus paranoia. Carmella would have been a natural participant, but apparently opted out of the show altogether. Dana Brooke was to have been in it, but she wound up in quarantine. Ergo, we have a Fatal Five-Way.
This is yet another instance where they should have simply let Bayley and Sasha wrestle. My guess is it comes down to those two anyway. And what the heck? Let’s put the belt on Sasha and see if she can hold on to a main roster championship for once. That naturally leads into a feud with Bayley, which it feels like we’ve been waiting on for decades.
PREDICTION: Sasha Banks
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Street Profits vs. Angel Garza & Austin Theory
Austin Theory. Y’know, the guy who lost to Tyler Breeze last week? Yeah, he’s got a tag title shot now.
Not that it makes much of a difference. They’re working to establish the Street Profits as Raw‘s top tag team. No reason to have them drop the belts here, even if it were Andrade with Garza.
PREDICTION: The Street Profits
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Sami Zayn (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Well I’ll be damned. Sami Zayn is the Intercontinental Champion. I didn’t expect it. But I won’t complain about it. It does suck, however, that Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro have to essentially serve as his henchmen.
There’s no reason for them to put that hideous looking new IC Title on Bryan. His M.O. these days is obviously to help get other talents over, a la Drew Gulak. So he’ll give Zayn the biggest win of his career, and then I’m guessing he goes away for a little while. He’s about to welcome a second child into his family, after all.
PREDICTION: Sami Zayn
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
It feels like these two were put together out of attrition. Neither had an organic opponent, so they were put together.
Still, there’s been some decent mic work leading up to this one. Particularly Rollins’ promo about being responsible for the Performance Center, NXT, etc.
The fact that Rollins brought up Owens’ Wrestlemania record makes me think they’re giving Owens the win. Raw needs top babyfaces right now. Drew McIntyre is obviously being groomed for the top spot. Aleister Black seems like a natural pick for that role. Owens is too. So let him get a big moment here.
PREDICTION: Kevin Owens
NXT WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Keep in mind, they wanted Charlotte to be the one to finally beat Ronda Rousey at last year’s Wrestlemania. Becky was not supposed to be in that match. So despite how backward it seems, Charlotte Flair is walking out of Wrestlemania with the NXT Women’s Title.
Still, all is not lost for Rhea Ripley. For my money, Charlotte been in two show-stealing matches at Wrestlemania. The first against Sasha and Becky, the second against Asuka. If she and Rhea give us that caliber a performance, it almost won’t matter who wins. Especially if Charlotte cheats to win, or Rhea hangs in there with her and just comes up short.
PREDICTION: Charlotte Flair
The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
“Graveyard Match.” That’s what they’re trying to say here. I think AJ even said something to that effect recently.
This is a match I’ve been asking for since Styles first came in. Who could possibly be better equipped to give Undertaker a good match? Granted, I was expecting the match to take place in a ring. In a big arena. In front of people…
I stand by what I’ve said previously. There’s no reason for the Undertaker to lose at Wrestlemania ever again. Yes, the Streak is long dead. But an Undertaker victory is a feel-good moment. Almost a rite of passage. So let him have it.
One thing we’ve definitely learned this year? If you want a Wrestlemania match with a WWE legend, just attack their wife. Apparently it works really well.
PREDICTION: The Undertaker
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
I know a lot of people didn’t like the biting angle they did with Shayna. But I loved it. I thought it made Shayna look like a vicious predator willing to do things Becky hasn’t seen before.
There was some buzz recently about Vince McMahon supposedly not thinking Shayna Baszler is worthy of this spot. First of all, she most certainly is. Secondly, who else could they have put with Becky? Rhea Ripley, I suppose. But that ship has obviously sailed. No one else was ready for her. And frankly, if Shayna doesn’t win the belt here, I’m not sure who they put with Becky next. It’s Baszler’s time. Plain and simple.
PREDICTION: Shayna Baszler
FIREFLY FUNHOUSE MATCH:
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena
Without the crowd, it almost feels like a waste to even have Cena this year. Could he have given us an IOU for Wrestlemania next year?
I’m sure this will be something akin to the House of Horrors Match Bray had with Randy Orton a few years ago. Again, I like that they’re mixing the card up so not everything takes place in an empty building.
The outcome here should be pretty simple. Cena won at Wrestlemania XXX. The fans all knew it at the time. And as Bray has never really been the same since, I’d say we’ve been vindicated. So let’s correct that mistake and put him over here.
Now if only we could correct the Undertaker/Brock Lesnar match from that night as well…
PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt
LAST MAN STANDING MATCH:
Edge vs. Randy Orton
Edge may actually be right about making Randy Orton better. This is undoubtedly the hottest Wrestlemania match he’s been in since the main event against Batista and Daniel Bryan.
In terms of having the best build-up, this match wins and it’s not even close. It sucks that Edge’s first Wrestlemania back has to be in an empty Performance Center. But all that quiet has allowed him to cut two of the best promos of his career. Hell, Orton even had one of his best. This has been a great story. The veteran star comes back and gets betrayed by his former partner.
While Undertaker vs. AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena are taking place in constructed sets (at least that’s my assumption), I’d wager this match is the one that goes all around the Performance Center. Something like the brawl Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa had on NXT a few weeks ago. I also wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Beth Phoenix cameo in here somewhere.
As for the winner, is there any doubt?
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
In a way, Roman Reigns pulling out of the show is a blessing in disguise. There was some early buzz about Reigns and Goldberg supposedly getting the main event spot. Nothing against either guy. But that would have been really, really wrong. Roman headlined four Wrestlemania cards in a row. Let someone else have a turn.
Whether it’s in a jam-packed venue in Tampa, or an empty performance center, it’s important for Drew McIntyre to main event this show. Even though the show is way too long nowadays and the fans are usually tired and cranky by the end, the main event of Wrestlemania still means something. If WWE is serious about wanting to make Drew McIntyre a star, there’s no better way to anoint him as such than having him headline this show. In theory, anyway. Roman Reigns never quite got that big coronation, did he?
Barring Vince McMahon changing his mind as he’s famous for, and opting to give Brock another surprise Wrestlemania win, I don’t see any reason why McIntyre shouldn’t win this match. I don’t care who’s in the building. This is his night, and it’s his time.
PREDICTION: Drew McIntyre
Email Rob at at email@example.com, or check us out on Twitter.