SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
So it’s possible, even likely, that I’m going to get all of these wrong.
Follow @Colohue for updates.
1. New Day vs. Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura (Pre-show)
Firstly, it’s very telling that New Day were not formally announced in this match. Big E and Xavier Woods were. So what’s Kofi doing?
This is very much an “at least they’re on the show” sort of match. The New Day are always a great way to pump the crowd up, meanwhile Rusev and Nakamura are in danger of losing even more momentum after a fast start. That said, this could actually be very interesting. Big E vs Rusev is always a very physical match up that plays to underutilised features of both men. Meanwhile, the creativity and athleticism of Woods and Nakamura has great potential.
As it’s a pre-show match, the faces should win but we actually have two pre-show matches. With Kofi being opressed by WWE at the moment, holding down the rest of New Day could be very good storytelling. Meanwhile, Rusev and Nakamura simply need the win more.
Winner: Rusev and Nakamura
What If?: Kofi isn’t in this match, and doesn’t come down with his team at all?
2. Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade Cien Almas (Pre-show)
The feud that keeps on giving; Mysterio’s huge global popularity is doing wonders for the WWE new boy Andrade and the two have combined to put on some great matches. This should be more of the same, for which I have no issue. Really, the crowd and everyone watching at home are the winners here.
By and large, Andrade has come out the winner in this feud. For the long term that’s the right move as Mysterio is unlikely to have too many years left at the top level and will do wonders by giving back in that time. At this point though, leading into a Wrestlemania where both men seem likely to feature in a multi-man match, either for the US title or a battle royal, this is the right time to end the feud with a face win.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
What If?: Zelina Vega’s hurricanrana is better than Rey Mysterio’s?
3. The Revival vs. Black and Ricochet vs. Gable & Roode (Raw Tag Team Championships)
On paper, this should be a tremendous match, with six of NXT’s finest smashing into each other. A lot of these men have a lot of experience of each other, which should allow for a lot of different combinations and well rehearsed flurries of offense.
The Revival are the champions, but they’ve been defined down recently by the arrivals of Gargano, Ciampa, Ricochet and Black. That works fine with Sheamus and Cesaro on SmackDown Live, who are seasoned WWE veterans who have had strong runs as both Raw and SmackDown tag team champions recently. The Revival are yet to win a match as champions and tonight should be the night. The raw tag team scene has been a low point all year. A match with the array of talent that they have here could turn the whole thing around.
Winner: The Revival
What If?: Because of the pace and familiarity of the participants, this ends up match of the night?
4. Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Nia Jax & Tamina (Women’s Tag Team Championships)
Always the likely title match after Boss and Hug won the belts, this is very much the old big woman vs little woman battle, with Sasha Banks’s speed and guile relying heavily on Bayley’s additional power and creativity. Put simply though, Banks and Bayley are far better for the belts than Jax and Tamina are and, having announced that they will take on all comers on all brands, a change now could really upset momentum going into Wrestlemania.
The plan next month seems quite clear. There seems almost a guarantee that the champions will defend against multiple teams at once. The names for who they could be is extensive. Sharai and Sane? Rose and Deville? Duke and Shafir? Nikki and Brie? Trish and Lita? The names are extensive.
Winner: Sasha Banks and Bayley
What If?: An open challenge segment follows this match, with multiple teams throwing their hats in to challenge at WrestleMania?
5. The Usos vs. The Miz & Shane McMahon
The titles seem very much a means to an end in this feud. With the recent return of the Hardy Boyz, another multi team match between The Usos, The Hardyz, The Bar and The New Day seems likely for the future. McMiz doesn’t really seem to suit that narrative.
Instead, a Shane McMahon heel turn has been rumoured for months and The Miz could really have his position on the card cemented by this. Logically, as with the whole feud so far, this will surely come down to something involving Mr Miz. For me though, The Usos should be the champions going into Wrestlemania.
Winner: The Usos
What If?: After losing the match, Shane McMahon loses his temper with The Miz, leaving he and Mr. Miz to storm off together?
6. Asuka vs. Mandy Rose (Smackdown Live Women’s Championship)
Rose and Deville had a great showing at the Elimination Chamber and with neither Lynch nor Flair available, this is likely one of the stronger options for competitors for Asuka. With Deville’s “help” on the outside, Asuka could leave this match looking particularly strong.
She is absolutely not losing the title though.
What If?: We get the arrival after the match of my favoured Wrestlemania challenger, Rhea Ripley?
7. The Shield vs. Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley
This could go in many different ways. With Ambrose leaving, he could take the pin here, keeping the heels looking strong without defining down Roman or Seth Rollins. Roman could also take the pin, sending a message to those that used to boo him that this will be a different Roman Reigns and stopping any possible resurgence of those boos from coming too early.
It could also be a Shield procession, with all three heels taking a significant beating and then going down for the count without much contest.
Finally, there’s the “it’s not long until Wrestlemania and people keep forgetting about the Universal title match” route. Late in the match, with everyone in pain, Brock Lesnar could arrive and throw some people around, particularly Rollins, his Wrestlemania opponent, and Roman Reigns, his long term rival.
So there could be many results. I’m going for a heel win.
Winner: Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley
What If?: Brock Lesnar F5s Dean Ambrose so hard that he’s never seen in WWE again?
8. Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens (WWE Championship)
The absence of Kofi Kingston from the pre-show suggests that this match may become a triple threat but that’s not a result I can bank on. Kevin Owens returning so soon, despite being a popular option for Bryan’s Wrestlemania opponent, suggests that the plan might just have changed. Do I see the title changing hands? No. If anything, we need to end this match knowing what the Wrestlemania plans are for Bryan, Owens and Kingston all at once.
Rowan is likely to play a major role here. Owens is unlikely to lose his return match. Together with all of this, I would suggest that Kofi comes down to ringside to act as an equaliser for Rowan but ends up accidentally costing Kevin Owens the match. This could then lead into a triple threat at Wrestlemania.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
What If?: Kevin Owens isn’t a face after all?
9. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
These two have been at war since August; a full six months. Yet, their matches continue to deliver huge. Charlotte enters a sort of Flair trance after she’s taken a real beating, showing off how intensely resilient and aggressive she can be. Meanwhile, Lynch’s naturally physical in ring style coupled with her ability to offer a verbal beat down with a physical one mean that these two have created magic. This could certainly be another one.
Recent comments from Ronda Rousey suggest that we might see her today. Her “I’ll do what I want” attitude puts her up against a newly face Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. A clean win for Becky Lynch seems written in the stars but doesn’t look good for Flair going into the main event of Wrestlemania.
Winner: No contest
What If?: I’m right about all of this and we end up with run ins all over the shop?
I’ll see you for a live tweeting session of Fast Lane 2019.