With the rumor mill running rampant amid WWE’s potential resigning of the Hardyz, Finn Balor’s imminent return from injury and the alleged formation of a Triple H led heel faction predicting this year’s card is no easy task. Add in the high expectations and recent commercialization of the insanity that is the post Mania edition of RAW and the fact SmackDown is live on Tuesday this week, some of what we expect may be intentionally held off for television surprises and a ratings bump. That being said, to quote the legendary musical group A Tribe Called Quest, “scared money don’t make none”. Let’s dive in.
Cruiserweight Title: Austin Aries vs. Neville (C)
Austin Aries challenges Neville for the Cruiserweight title in a match I expect to be one of the best WrestleMania has to offer. Its pre-show placement while aggravating, may be a blessing in disguise in terms of the time these guys are given to put on an athletic and exciting bout. I keep going back and forth on this one. Neville has done a great job carrying the division for the last several months. At the same time there has been a huge amount of time spent building Austin Aries on television these past months and his talent on the microphone makes him an ideal centerpiece for the division going forward. The “King of the Cruiserweights” gets his comeuppance in this one via Aries signature submission “Last Chancery” in “The Greatest Pre-Show Match That Ever Was” and there’s a good chance we see an obligatory WrestleMania rematch the next night on RAW.
Winner: Austin Aries
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is the most inconsequential match taking place this Sunday. That being said I expect some to see some entertaining back and forth between the Usos and American Alpha somewhere in this match as well as some cool moments provided by Braun Strowman and the Big Show as they send most of the competition crashing to the floor. While Braun Strowman is certainly the favorite here I can see a moment where somehow some way both he and Big Show end up on the apron separated by one of the turnbuckles trading punches and…BOOM the “Helluva Kick” knocks both giants to the floor and Sami Zayn wins the match. From not having a match at Mania and almost being fired on RAW this past week to winning the battle royal WWE’s biggest underdog pulls off the shocking upset.
Winner: Sami Zayn
SmackDown Women’s Championship 6-Pack Challenge: Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss (C)
The rumored movement of the SmackDown Women’s Championship match back to the main card gives me hope that the six pack challenge advertisement isn’t a lock and we may see Asuka lay waste to the entire division and walk out with the belt. While that bit of fantasy booking is far from guaranteed, what I am certain of with this one is that Alexa Bliss is not leaving WrestleMania as champion. The hometown favorite Naomi reclaims the title she was forced to relinquish due to injury in a fast-paced, albeit short match.
RAW Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Ladder Match: Enzo and Cass vs. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Gallows and Anderson (C)
I love that WWE added the Ladder Match stipulation to the tag team title bout. It makes the feud between the three teams feel fresh and adds that shot of adrenaline the match would otherwise be missing. I expect a lot of great spots from Cesaro in this one, from death defying uppercuts to insane suplexes and beyond. Look for Gallows and Anderson to unleash their full arsenal of extreme brutality and unique double team offense as well.
While the WrestleMania ladder match has seen fan favorites emerge victorious the last two years (Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder respectively) I’m calling for Gallows and Anderson to break that trend and successfully defend their titles. This match plays to the strengths of Gallows and Anderson who are without a doubt the superior tag team in the match. The obnoxious heels coming out the next night and proclaiming themselves the “Kings of the Ladder Match” would serve as an easy way to bring back the Hardyz to massive fanfare.
Winner: Gallows and Anderson
RAW Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax vs. Bayley (C)
The Fatal 4-Way Elimination match for the RAW Women’s Championship is a potential show-stealer. I expect it to go long, be very physical and incredibly dramatic. I think it’ll be a while before we see an elimination here but the first one to go is Nia Jax. There’s going to be some cool 3 on 1 teamwork spots against the most powerful participant in the match but ultimately Charlotte plays a key role in eliminating Nia Jax. Tough to call but Charlotte hooks her in the “Figure-8” submission, then Bayley and Sasha cover Nia while she’s locked in and eliminate her. Nia then gets up and destroys Charlotte leading to her elimination almost immediately and sets up an angle between the two going forward and a possible Charlotte face turn. So we’re down to Bayley and Sasha Banks.
The Sasha Banks heel turn is imminent and the seeds will be sown at WrestleMania. “The Boss” will utilize some dirty tactics here after a nice one on one confrontation with her “best friend” Bayley, be it an eye rake or grabbing the tights on a roll-up and Sasha Banks walks out as Women’s Champion. In the spirit of friendship and competition Bayley asks Sasha for her rematch on RAW the next night. Sasha agrees and then we all watch as “The Boss” rips Bayley’s huggable little heart out, completing her ascension to the role of top female heel in WWE.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Stay tuned for the rest of my WrestleMania predictions over the course of the weekend.