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CHECK OUT THE WADE KELLER PRO WRESTLING PODCAST AT PODCAST ONE PREVIEWING WRESTLEMANIA 34 WITH FORMER WWE CREATIVE TEAM MEMBER MATT MCCARTHY HERE.
So it’s possible, even likely, that I’m going to get all of these wrong.
1. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Pre-Show)
Predicting a winner for a pre-show battle royal is hard work, especially when you consider that WWE have ostensibly announced all the entrants already and my prediction isn’t among them. That said, I’m holding the course.
If you want the battle royal to mean something you can’t give the win to a relative unknown and you can’t give it to someone winding down their career. It has to be someone recognisable who can get a good push out of it.
Winner: Big Cass
2. Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali (Cruiserweight Championship, Pre-Show)
It’s a shame that this match is on the pre-show but at the same time there really is no room on what is an incredibly well stacked card. The title tournament on 205 Live has been quite tremendous but the lack of Cruiserweights on Raw has tanked visibility, severely damaging brand recognition.
That said, whoever becomes the new champion will be a first time champion and could potentially lead 205 into a new era. An era of great quality matches that people watch and characters that people are interested. Just because that moment is not today, doesn’t mean that moment is not coming.
And to be fair, they really can’t lose with this one.
Winner: Mustafa Ali
3. WrestleMania Women‘s Battle Royal (Pre-Show)
There are a lot of people in this match who have been playing out great storylines and working hard but the only room on the card is here. Once again, a shame.
The only actual active storyline going into this battle royal, and really the only established reason to watch, is Sasha Banks and Bayley feuding. Now if you’ve read my article on the upcoming shake up you’ll know that I expect these two to have a match at Backlash, but I am also expecting Bayley to move from Raw over to Smackdown.
A win here gives their storyline a new twist.
4. The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship)
This has the potential to be the match of the night. Three of the best will put on a rematch from Monday Night Raw all the way back in April last year and that match was amazing too.
Seth Rollins is verging on the grand slam and would be the last member of The Shield to achieve this. Meanwhile, Finn Balor is inches away from his first championship gold. The Miz is about to reach a heroic milestone as having spent the most accrued days as Intercontinental champion. That’s huge. Everybody in this match has a lot to gain and nothing to lose.
My predictions see a championship trade this year. They also see a new grand slam champion. Everybody deserves it. Only one man can win it. Seth has gone from Shield guy, to corporate guy, to Shield guy again. It’s time to take the title and strike out on his own.
Winner: Seth Rollins
5. Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev (U.S. Championship)
Even with the addition of Rusev this is still a match that people aren’t so hyped about. That doesn’t matter though. Even though Orton and Roode are naturally slower paced competitors, Mahal and Rusev are not and all four of these men are very familiar with each other. This is another one where even if the vastly unpopular Mahal takes the title you really can’t say that Mahal is being pushed too hard when he’s at this level.
This combination could make magic but there can only be one US champion. I expected Orton to take the title at Fast Lane to make the grand slam before his move to Raw but now I’m expecting he might just take the title with him.
Winner: Randy Orton
6. Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
There is no room for Owens and Zayn over on Raw given the enormous beef over there. There is also a lack of top heels if they leave Smackdown.
Daniel Bryan is also the ultimate underdog, so yes, he can and should lose his return match. Shane should take the pin sure but Bryan’s team should lose the match. Bryan needs to take losses in the same way that Johnny Gargano does in order to re-establish his underdog baby face credentials.
Winner: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
7. Braun Strowman & TBA vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Championships)
This is the match I’m least excited for. Admittedly, I like all three of these men but this match is more a necessity than something to really look forwards to. Take away the mystery partner element and there isn’t actually all that much to sink your teeth into.
As far as mystery partners go my hope is that it’s Bray Wyatt and the reunion of the two will propel Wyatt on to something valuable. Samoa Joe, Elias and Bobby Lashley are also names that have been mentioned. Whoever they are, I expect that they’ll be a tag team champion before the night is out.
Winner: Braun Strowman & TBA
8. Charlotte vs. Asuka (Smackdown Women‘s Championship)
This match is probably the biggest women’s wrestling match in history. The two top names in the industry, both made that way by WWE and NXT, meet for the first time one on one but can either one afford a loss?
When Asuka’s streak is broken, and it will be, it’s not going to be on a random Smackdown. It’s going to be at a big show, potentially at next Wrestlemania. Because of that, if Asuka wins the title then she will be holding it for a full year Lesnar style. As such, this is the perfect time for Carmella.
It’s rumoured that Carmella will cash in and fail, turning the match into a triple threat and allowing Charlotte to keep her title. Personally I see it going the other way. If Carmella can pull a Rollins, pinning Charlotte to claim the title, that gives us an immediate high profile Carmella vs. Charlotte feud and keeps Asuka away from the title for a little longer.
9. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey
This is a spectacle rather than a competition. Three of the people in this match are already household names in the wrestling business. At the end of this match, that needs to be four, otherwise what on Earth was the point?
Winner: Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey
10. The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
This is another one that has immense potential to entertain. The Bludgeon Brothers will add an extra element of brutal physicality to two of the best high flying entertaining teams in history.
The Usos, having done everything they can on Smackdown, are heavily rumoured to be moving over to Raw. The Bludgeon Brothers are the favourites for the titles but honestly I think they need a little more time to establish themselves or, like Asuka, they’ll just end up too far ahead of everybody.
Winner: The New Day
11. Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Raw Women‘s Championship)
This storyline has garnered a lot of negative press. Alexa Bliss has been the champion for almost a year. Something’s got to give.
Winner: Nia Jax
12. A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
It’s being heralded as a dream match by the WWE marketing team but will WWE let these two go? If the producers step aside and just let this happen it could be a strong style work of art that turns New Japan fans to the dark side of the WWE. It neutered, this would still be tremendous but Shinsuke Nakamura has not shone since his arrival on Smackdown.
No excuses; this has to steal the show.
Winner: A.J. Styles
13. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (UV Championship)
Let’s not be silly.
Winner: Roman Reigns
I’ll see you for another live Twitter session during Wrestlemania 2018.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS PREVIEW: Do Something: McNEILL Previews WWE WrestleMania 34! (with a Wrestling History Lesson)