SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Fans are back. The significance of that sentence and the fact that it’s tied to WrestleMania can’t be overstated. Here’s to hoping everyone in attendance at Raymond James Stadium is safe and courteous when it comes to all COVID-19 precautions in the building.
With that PSA out of the way, let’s dig in further. For the last year, we’ve all been stumbling around a dark room when it comes to pro wrestling. What has worked and what hasn’t, who’s over and who isn’t, who deserves more and who doesn’t all were a matter of opinion. They were guesses. Some more educated and others perhaps, but they were guesses nonetheless.
This year at WrestleMania, the light gets turned on. We’ll get to see what’s what and utilize the reactions of the audience to determine success. WrestleMania 37 marks the return of the biggest wrestling show of the year. Maybe more importantly though, the wrestling equation will be balanced once again, too.
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley – WWE Championship
McIntyre will get to be the first guy to walk out in front of fans in a long time and he deserves it. McIntyre has held down the fort in a trying year and this match has been built successfully enough to be worthy of its spot. With McIntyre’s promo work and Lashley’s credibility due to protected booking throughout the last six months, you get a hot match between winners. The result here isn’t transparent, but given the return of fans and Drew’s journey being directly tied to this moment, he needs the win to bring everything full circle.
Riddle vs. Sheamus – WWE United States Championship
Riddle and the scooter are going to make me start ripping shots on a Monday night. The silliness drags Riddle down. Period, end of story. He has what he needs in the ring to be a top guy, but the scooter is his ceiling. Sheamus, though an MVP of the year thus far thanks to his television matches, isn’t in a stronger position from a booking perspective either. For better or worse, you can tell Vince McMahon loves this version of Riddle and the belt will stay with him because of it.
Randy Orton vs. The Fiend
None of what has transpired between these two is for me. If I want a cinematic endeavor the likes of what we’ve seen play out, I’ll go watch a movie. That said, I can admit that even though it isn’t for me, overall, it’s been a decent piece of business for WWE. All parties involved have played their part well and the story is logical if you sit down to think about it. If logic rears its head into the finish, The Fiend walks out on top.
Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Call me old school, but I like a good build that’s rooted in the championship and the championship alone. Ripley and Asuka are there. Ripley has come across like a star and defining her as a title contender out of the gate was necessary to cultivate the proper reaction to her. I’ll call it now and say this is a top 5 WrestleMania 37 match when the weekend is said and done. Ripley can’t have a repeat of last year and a title win is a good step to make sure she doesn’t. She’ll get it here.
Natalya & Tamina vs. Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose vs. The Riott Squad vs. Lana & Naomi vs. Carmella & Billie Kay – Tag Team Turmoil WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship #1 Contender Match
This is like the Chicago Bears quarterback situation. If you have two quarterbacks, you have none. Here, if you have five potential challengers to the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship, you don’t have any. The tag team belts exist to curate stakes and they are criminally underutilized in the women’s division. Lana & Naomi are the most focused on babyfaces in the group. Over? No. Just most focused on and that’s enough to take the win.
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Lana & Naomi – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Why mess around? Lana & Naomi are going all the way. Maybe Lana will even put Nia Jax through a table to really bring the story all the way back to its roots.
Bad Bunny & Damian Priest vs. The Miz & John Morrison
So, we know how this is going to end. Bad Bunny is getting the pinfall and he and Priest will stand tall. How will they get there, though? Look for Priest to own most of the action from his side. Bunny will show his abilities here and there, but Priest will carry the load and shine with it. Miz and Morrison will continue to play the perfect heel foil and the result will be an entertaining match that none of us will want to admit was entertaining.
The New Day vs. A.J. Styles & Omos
What can Omos bring to the table in the ring? That’s the story of this match. If he can bring something, there is enough talent around him to fully capitalize. If he can’t, WWE may have a disaster on their hands. Either way, Omos and Styles need the win, because Omos needs credibility as a big man in the company. I’m predicting a good showcase and a victory to get him on the right track.
Big E vs. Apollo Crews – WWE Intercontinental Championship
This is one of the best built matches on the card. Both Big E and Crews have thrived in their roles. The Crews reinvention as a heel has released a confidence that intensifies every segment he’s in. As for Big E, well, serious is the way to go. In taking a slightly different tone around his act, he presents as a legitimate top star. He also has the higher ceiling and he’ll win to keep upward trajectory moving up.
Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
Too much of the build for this has been rooted in the Cesaro Swing and Seth’s suits. Now, I do like the suits, but not as a means to develop angles. Look, I kid, but as much as I like the prospects of this match on paper, it’s a step down for Seth Rollins. That said, the narrative skews right toward Cesaro and WWE will use this match as a potential launching pad for him opposite Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship in the semi-near future.
Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon – Cage Match
You guessed it. The worst feud of the show award goes to this debacle. Let’s remember, shall we? Forgetting lines during a promo, train sound effects during a match, and working to build sympathy on a monster babyface by telling a bullying story? Miss, miss, and miss. Be ready for a stunt show and one that Braun Strowman will win.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
The idea of this match at WrestleMania is great. The build itself? Not so much. Where are the stakes? More can be done to hype this by simply playing off the Owens and Zayn history together. Maybe they will in the ring, but in the ring was never the issue. Bottom line? We need to see a Stunner at WrestleMania. We will and Owens will triumphantly earn the 1, 2, 3 win right after.
Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair – WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
When you have the caliber of star like a Banks or a Belair, it’s hard to fully cripple a top-level feud. WWE flirted with that by having Belair and Banks bicker for four weeks on television while taking losses, but the match itself is on nonetheless with the momentum pointed in the right direction. Since January, the SmackDown story has revolved around Roman Reigns and Bianca Belair. Belair needs and will get the win here to solidify her regular place at the top of cards for years to come.
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Edge – WWE Universal Championship
The pivot away from Edge will always be a mystery to me. The guy didn’t have to win the Royal Rumble match and yet he did, but then cooled off immediately after. That’s why we are where we are. Edge seems like a good guy in real life, but in a wrestling ring he can find a deeper place to work from as a heel. To that end, he’s slotted properly now. Daniel Bryan will play the role of the sympathetic babyface, while Roman Reigns will continue to do his thing as the Head of the Table. I see WWE sending their fans home happy and Daniel Bryan winning the championship is the perfect conduit to execute that properly.
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