This Week in WWE: The Wrestlemania Card Becomes Clearer

Off the heels of a decent Fastlane pay per view, WWE has finally decided on some of the matches they are going to do at Wrestlemania. The company also swerved at certain times on the road to Wrestlemania, and changes were made to matches that we thought were set in stone. Let’s take a look at the 3 WWE brands, and how the main feuds have played out.

RAW

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Drew McIntyre and Sheamus put on a clinic at Sunday’s Fastlane pay per view, beating the hell out of each other with McIntyre picking up the victory. This is actually one of the best results that the company could have booked. Drew looks like a star going into his WWE Championship match against Bobby Lashley at Wrestlemania, while Sheamus looked REALLY strong in defeat. If Monday’s RAW is any indication, Sheamus could be the next contender for Riddle’s United States Championship. This elevates the title, as well as Riddle himself, even further up the card. Lashley fought Sheamus on RAW, and even though it was a victory for the All Mighty, it seems like the cracks are starting to show in the Hurt Business.

Speaking of Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander, they were booked in a handicap match on Monday’s RAW against McIntyre. It did not end well for the former RAW Tag Team Champions, as they were beat by the Scottish Warrior. This led to further issues between Lashley and the rest of the group, and he challenged the RAW locker room to take out Drew. We’ll see where this goes headed into Wrestlemania, but I’d expect Drew to soundly defeat all comers.

As for the current RAW Tag Team Champions, Kofi Kingston of The New Day took on AJ Styles. In a shocker, Kingston actually got the victory over The Phenomenal One, marking a rare Styles pinfall loss. The New Day are trying to get in the head of Styles and his bodyguard, Omos. Will that be successful? Who knows. The match itself between Styles and Kingston was great, and it would not surprise me to see Woods take on Styles this Monday, this time with AJ picking up the win.

Thank goodness the whole RETRIBUTION storyline is ending, and I mean that for all parties involved. We found out that Mustafa Ali as a heel can be a success, while the other members of the group can resume their singles’ careers. I’m most happy for Mia Yim, as the women’s division could use some more wrestlers. While I’m on the topic of things ending, I’m glad that Andrade was able to work things out with WWE. He also doesn’t have a 90 day no compete clause, so he can go to any company he wants. Also, best wishes to Charlotte Flair as she deals with COVID-19.

With Charlotte on the shelf, this left the door open for other wrestlers to compete for Asuka’s RAW Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania. Peyton Royce looked really good, even in defeat, but Rhea Ripley is a slam dunk choice. There’s no better option on the roster right now, and Ripley’s impact is immediately felt. This has potential to be one of the greatest women’s matches in the history of Wrestlemania.

It seems like Naomi and Lana will be Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler’s challengers for the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Wrestlemania, which is fine, I guess. This comes off to me as one of the matches that will take place on the kickoff show. There’s not too strong off a build and Naomi and Lana have not been booked as strong in recent weeks. It might be better for WWE if they put the belts on some fresh faces.

Instead of the original proposed tag team match, it will now be The Miz one on one against Bad Bunny at Wrestlemania. I wonder what caused the last minute change, but my guess is that there was some kind of injury to either John Morrison or Damian Priest. It just seems so last minute.

WWE is hell bent on making this Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon feud work, even finding a way to work Elias into it. Strowman easily defeated Elias on two separate occassions last week, and he has a match with Shane at Mania. Also, a stipulation will most likely be added to this battle. This is good, as a one-on-one encounter between the two isn’t doing it for me, even though I know the match will be good.

Finally, we’re finally getting our conclusion to the rivalry between Randy Orton and The Fiend. The new gear for The Fiend is really cool, and I have to give credit to the designers who created the mask and outfit. There has to be some sort of stipulation to this match as well, in my opinion. We’ve seen Orton and Wyatt fight so many times in the past, so unless this is another wacky stipulation, it’s not enough to pique my interest.

SmackDown

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When it comes to the SmackDown main event at Wrestlemania, the Roman Reigns vs Edge match took a left turn when Adam Pearce added Daniel Bryan to the mix. There were reportedly concerns in regards to how old The Rated R Superstar was beginning to look on screen. So, Daniel Bryan is now added to the main event of The Grandest Stage of them All for the second time in his career. To be honest, I like the change. D-Bry goes in as the babyface, Edge is the tweener, and Roman Reigns goes in as the heel. Plus, if WWE wanted to get the title off of The Tribal Chief, Roman no longer has to take the pin or tap out. Personally, I’d like to see Edge win the title. Acccording to the man himself, the match would take place 10 years to the day he was forced to retire. It would be a fitting moment to see, with 25,000 screaming his name one more time.

We’re finally beginning to see Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks feud going into Wrestlemania. Honestly, this should have happened earlier, but I’m glad they are not going to be a tag team for the entire run. Next week, the two should have a one on one interview with each other, filled with smack talk. Fans seem to want this match to main event Night One, and I agree with that sentiment. Between Asuka vs Rhea Ripley and Banks vs Belair, I’m super stoked for the women’s matches at Mania 37.

Another pair of matches that I’m excited for is Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn as well as Seth Rollins vs Cesaro. I’m grouping these matches together as both have stellar Ring of Honor alumni. With Owens and Zayn, it’s always fun to see these two go head to head in the ring. It’s also fun to see the long time friends and rivals go head to head at Wrestlemania, something I dreamed about in around 2012. Plus, Logan Paul’s involvement with Sami Zayn could add an extra celebrity factor to this match. I expect to see Paul in Zayn’s corner in Tampa. Rollins and Cesaro are two of the best workers within the past 10 years. This battle could go for over 20 minutes and there would be no complaints from me. Can Cesaro swing Rollins 25 times at The Show of Shows?

I understand why WWE is doing Big E vs Apollo Crews at Wrestlemania, it just stinks that we are getting a Fastlane rematch for the biggest show of the year. I’m also disappointed that we are not having that multi person ladder match that we have seen at prior Wrestlemanias. Despite this, Apollo’s new character has been really fun, even with the goofy accent. Let’s give him the belt at The Showcase of the Immortals while Big E can start a Universal Title program.

I’m getting the feel that WWE is considering a multi team tag title match in 2 weeks at Mania. The Alpha Academy, the Mysterios, the Street Profits, and Ziggler and Roode are the four teams most involved in the title picture, and it would be easier if all four of them were in one singular match. As far as who could win, any of the four have a good argument, but I would like to see the father and son duo of Rey and Dominik Mysterio take the belts.

NXT

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There are two storylines that are grabbing my attention more than any other on The Black and Yellow Brand. The first is the feud between Finn Balor and Karrion Kross. The latter is finally getting his opportunity at the title after he was forced to vacate it. On Wednesday’s show, Kross defeated former NXT Tag Team Champion Oney Lorcan. Also, I’m sad that I had to put the former before NXT Tag Team Champion when referring to Lorcan. Due to Danny Burch’s injury, they had to vacate the titles. That’s the last thing I wanted to see. Anyways, the respect feud between Balor and Kross is great, and they should main event one of the nights of Takeover: Stand and Deliver.

The second feud that has me even more excited than the first is the war between Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. The contract signing that closed out Wednesday’s show was a near perfect segment between two of the best talkers in all of WWE. It felt personal, and honestly, I would like them to not lay hands on each other until the Unsanctioned Match at Stand and Deliver. That would add an even more intense element to this rivalry, especially since there’s been months of pent-up aggression. Also, where do Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong lie? Are they on the side of Cole or O’Reilly? Overall, just great stuff in this feud.

WALTER made quick work of Drake Maverick on this Wednesday’s show. That win further showcased him as this dominant monster. This led to Tommaso Ciampa coming out and challenging the Imperium leader for his NXT UK Championship at Stand and Deliver. This is great for all parties involved. We get to witness a physical battle in a few short weeks while raising the bar of the UK Title. Both men seem like future World Champions in WWE, and I cannot wait to see the match that these two have. Side note, I’d have WALTER win.

After Lorcan and Burch had to vacate the NXT Tag Team Championships, a Triple Threat match was scheduled for Takeover. The three teams involved are MSK, the Grizzled Young Veterans, and Legado del Fantasma. It’s a quick fix to solve the issue of the vacated titles, and it makes so much sense to give out the belts at Takeover. As for who could walk away with the championships, let’s give the Grizzled Young Veterans a run. They did well with the NXT UK Tag Titles, and it has been an easy transition to the main NXT brand.

Jordan Devlin continued to impress the NXT Universe with a great match against Kushida on Wednesday’s episode. It was the type of fast paced style we’re used to seeing out of both men. Devlin’s moonsault to the outside was just spectacular. Shawn Michaels came out at the end of the match, during a staredown between Devlin and his Takeover opponent, Santos Escobar, and slid a ladder underneath the ring. A ladder match between these two for the undisputed Cruiserweight Championship? Sign me up, please.

It’s great to see Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart with the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles, but I have no idea who their opponents are going to be at Stand and Deliver. Because the belts are so new, no team has really been built up well enough to get a shot at the belts. The only team that has a legit shot besides Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez, but they are in their own program with Io Shirai. This title picture should get a little clearer on this Wednesday’s show, but that’s not a guarantee.

NXT is doing a really good job with making Raquel Gonzalez a legitimate threat to Shirai’s NXT Women’s Championship. She was able to hit her with a single arm powerbomb on the announce desk while also picking up a victory in the tag team opener. I still expect Gonzalez to take the title from The Genius of the Sky, while Dakota Kai begins to slowly turn on her bodyguard. Zoey Stark looked pretty good in this match as well. She’s beginning to get weekly television time, which is great.

Photo Credit on Featured Image to WWE

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