SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Onto night two of WrestleMania hailing from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan – WWE Universal Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: Edge won the Royal Rumble and chose Roman Reigns as his opponent for WrestleMania, but Daniel Bryan came up between the two PPV events and was added to the match.
Edge returned from a career ending injury at the 2020 Royal Rumble, returning to the business he loved that was taken from him and began his pursuit of a title he never lost. A lot of his momentum was sapped when the pandemic hit and the crowds vanished and halted altogether when he was injured during a match with Randy Orton. He returned at, and won, the 2021 Royal Rumble, which left Edge with a decision to make. Who was the champion Edge was going to face at WrestleMania?
Roman Reigns believes himself to be the number one guy in all of the WWE. When he talks about being the “head of the table”, not only is he is being literal when it comes to his family and posse, but he is also referring to his position in the WWE. He is the draw that provides for all of the employees of the company. In order to save face, Reigns could not take the chance that Edge would choose another champion to challenge so he called out to Edge. Reigns told Edge that if Edge wanted the biggest draw for WrestleMania, Edge would choose Reigns. He gave Edge an out saying that it would be inevitable that Edge would lose and that he should choose one of the “lesser” champions.
At the Elimination Chamber PPV, the (male) champions were to defend their titles inside the Elimination Chamber match but Reigns but the kibosh on that idea. He would only agree to face the winner of the match that night. Daniel Bryan won the chamber match and Reigns came out to immediately fulfill his championship defense obligation and quickly finished off an already beaten and battered Bryan. Then Edge speared Reigns making his choice known.
Daniel Bryan “complained” to management that he should receive a fair shot at Reign at Fastlane. Bryan earned that shot after jumping through some hoops. Edge was not happy. Edge did not just want to win, he wanted to defeat the top guy in the WWE, and he felt Bryan wasn’t that guy. Edge inserted himself into the match at Fastlane as a special enforcer. As the match at Fastlane went on, Edge could see the Perfect Moment of him being the conquering hero at WrestleMania, slaying the dragon after coming back from the dead as the perfect culmination of the hero’s journey, all off that, slipping through his fingers. Edge snapped and attacked Bryan costing him the match.
Unfortunately for Edge, the outcome of this action dashed his hopes of a one-on-one match with Roman Reigns when Brian Danielson was added to his match.
Prediction and Analysis: The addition of Daniel Bryan means that Reigns can lose the title and still be protected. This gives Edge and Bryan a shot at winning. With this being the final match of WrestleMania and the first major WWE event with fans, Vince will want everyone to go home happy. Therefore, by analysis, Daniel Bryan winning is what I think happens. This does not necessarily mean he would be the top guy for any length of time, he could lose at the next Smackdown for all we know. Edge can be a choice since he is positioned as a tweener in this and is my emotional pick. With this, Edge can feud with say a Seth Rollins over the title while a much more dangerous and unstable Reigns seeks to punish Bryan for costing him his title. The only way I think Reigns wins is if there is a huge post-match surprise say, a Rock or John Cena appearance physical or otherwise.
The Fiend vs. Randy Orton
Story in a nutshell: Thanks to Alexa Bliss’s help, The Fiend roses from the ashes like a demented Phoenix to end Bray Wyatt’s long-time rival, Randy Orton.
August 23, 2016 Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt resumed a feud that had been interrupted by a legitimate injury suffered by Orton. Unable to get any traction in their feud thanks to the continued interference by the Wyatt family, Orton changed tactics. On October 25, 2016 Orton helped Wyatt in a match and on November 1, 2016 Wyatt returned the favor. With that Orton was in the Wyatt family.
This was all a ruse by Orton who used this alliance to learn all of Wyatt’s weaknesses ultimately leading Orton to the Wyatt compound. Orton burned down the compound and eventually won the WWE Championship from Wyatt at WrestleMania 33.
Unfortunately, the destruction of the Wyatt compound had an unintended consequence. (The following is implied by the story and never outright stated): The compound likely held the remains of Sister Abigail and its destruction unleashed a power that came to rest within Wyatt ultimately giving birth to the Fiend.
The Fiend set out to get revenge on all who Wyatt had perceived wronged him, eventually only pausing when confronting Alexa Bliss during his feud with Strowman. This awakened something within Bliss (Sister Abigail herself perhaps?) and she joined with the Fiend. Orton and Wyatt entered each other’s orbit again and began a campaign of psychological warfare leading to an inferno match where the Fiend was immolated by Orton.
With the Fiend out of the picture, a despondent Bliss continued her psychological and supernatural attacks on Orton until the Fiend regained enough strength to return, which he did at Fastlane. Now they settle the score at WrestleMania.
Prediction and Analysis: Fiend will win. I do expect some sort of transformation for the Fiend either before, during, or after the match and maybe the return of the Firefly Funhouse Friends. Fiend won’t be the only one transformed. Bliss did say that the Legend Killer dies at WrestleMania. I found her choice of words intriguing. It wasn’t “Orton dies”, it was his sobriquet dies. I think this might end in a change in the Orton character.
Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews – WWE Intercontinental Championship Nigerian Drum Fight Match
Story in a nutshell: After losing several matches and failing to win the Intercontinental title from Big E, Apollo Crews brutally attacked Big E and embraced his Nigerian heritage leading to this match.
Trying and failing to win Big E’s spot as Intercontinental Champion, Apollo Crews took Roman Reigns advice to heart and grabbed his “spot” by brutally attacking Big E, taking Big E out of action for a bit. Apollo Crews embraced his Nigerian heritage including adopting a Nigerian accent. He challenged Big E to a Nigerian Drum Fight match. What is a Nigerian Drum Fight? No idea. I expect no DQ plus other shenanigans.
Prediction and Analysis: Big E has been dominant in the matches he’s had with Apollo, so a win by him solidifies Big E’s position as the top of the mid-card and ready to join in the hunt for the big championship at the expense of Apollo sliding down to the Murphy level. I do think Apollo’s gimmick will let him climb back up if the company has faith in him. An Apollo victory, though, solidifies him in the mid-card, while Big E remains mired in it. Logically, I’d prefer one guy you can build into a star moving up the card even if one falls down the card over making two mid-carders. Emotionally, I want Big E to win and continue moving up the card. However, it isn’t about what I want or what I think is best. This is the WWE so 50/50 it is. Apollo wins.
Asuka (c) vs. Rhea Ripley – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Story in a nutshell: With no one having been prepared for Asuka, WWE had to go and get Rhea Ripley to challenge for Asuka’s title.
Unfortunately, this has been a snake bit program (from a purely booking point of view). First it looked like Lacey Evans with Ric Flair’s help was going to win the title from Asuka to set up Charlotte vs. Ric. Evans’s pregnancy scuppered those plans. Then Charlotte challenged Asuka but a COVID-19 positive from Charlotte changed things again. Then they went to Rhea Ripley. They did the “tag team partners can’t get along” where Ripley turned on Asuka cementing her as the heel for this match.
Prediction and Analysis: They obviously debuted Ripley before they originally intended and ordinarily would have been on the Raw after WrestleMania. This whole thing has been damaging to Ripley and the only way you may salvage things is if Ripley dominates Asuka and embarks on an epic title reign. On the off-chance Becky gets added to the match, of course Becky wins. A Becky vs. Ripley feud would be just what is be needed to breathe life into that division.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn w/Logan Paul as Guest
Story in a nutshell: Kevin Owens has had enough of Sami Zayne’s persecution complex and seeks to end it as Logan Paul, there at Sami’s invitation, looks on.
For months Sami Zayne has believed that there is a conspiracy against him, going so far as to hire a documentary film crew so he can prove his point. Sami tried to enlist his estranged former best friend Kevin Owens to support him. When Kevin didn’t, Sami attacked him. Sami then enlisted Logan Paul to help debut the trailer for the documentary. Sami thinks he and Logan have hit it off when Logan clearly wants nothing to do with him.
Prediction and Analysis: The only time “fight forever” is an appropriate chant are when these two are in the ring. Feel-good win for Owens and Logan (and maybe his brother) will get their shots in on Sami.
Riddle (c) vs. Sheamus – WWE United States Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: Riddle is an oblivious idiot and Sheamus is going to try to put him out of our misery for the United States Championship.
When I said Riddle is an oblivious idiot, I was not insulting him. That is literally what his character is, an oblivious idiot that is a fighting savant (when it suits the bookers). Sheamus, fresh off of his loss to Drew McIntyre, stepped in a pile of Riddle and went off on him (now THAT one was meant as an insult to the Riddle character). After Sheamus beat Riddle in a non-title match, Sheamus earned this match.
Prediction and Analysis: I can’t see Riddle losing here. Best case scenario for Sheamus at this point is getting into a best-of-seven series with Riddle and them forming the Cannabis Bar.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Tamina & Natalya – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: The winner of the women’s tag team turmoil match on night one of WrestleMania faces the tag team champions, Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler.
Prediction and Analysis: Nia Jax and Baszler lose to Natalya & Tamina who have been booked strongest and right now are my personal favorite choice.