We gave you Part 1, and now Sam Fels and Bryan Fonseca return with Part 2 of our Wrestlemania preview. Expectations, predictions, observations, and inevitable disappointments (we hope not this time!). Here we go.
SNia Jax and Shayna Baszler (Women’s Tag Team Champs) vs. Tag Team Turmoil winners
Fels: Hard to guess with this one because we don’t know who they’ll be facing. It’s probably where they’ll split Nia and Shayna, whom they’ve done nothing with, and it’ll probably be over Reginald, because WWE loves to insert men as the fulcrum of their women’s storylines. I have a sneaking suspicion Lana and Naomi are going over here as the women’s tag division continues to be a bunch of three week old earwax.
Fonseca: Here’s hoping that whoever wins the tag team turmoil on Night 1 wins this tag match so we could end the Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax pairing. Baszler should be among the most badass heels on the planet. She had an excellent run fulfilling that role during her time in NXT, and her turning on Jax to succeed on her own has been long overdue. It was pre-COVID, so maybe we’ve already forgotten how exceptional her debut on the main roster was, but the fact that little has come from it has been disheartening. Baszler is a mixed martial artist who would legitimately win a Brawl 4 All if the WWE were to resurrect that idea (they shouldn’t), and she should have a solo women’s championship run sometime in 2021.
Riddle (U.S. Champion) vs. Sheamus
Fels: I’ll do my best to put the pain of watching Riddle to the side (hey wrestling companies, watching accused rapists isn’t fun for a lot of people!). My gut tells me Sheamus will get the reward for being the good soldier and putting on some great matches with McIntyre the past few months, and they like to jump the U.S. title around anyway. But Vince loves Riddle, so this could go either way. Probably a surprise on how good it’ll be... assuming you can forget the subtext with Riddle.
Fonseca: Riddle probably retains because it appears that the WWE has big plans for him; plus, we might get another Sheamus and Drew McIntyre feud this year, which the company has gone in and out of recently. They battled on Raw last month and at Fast Lane less than three weeks ago, but it doesn’t appear they’ll be kept away from one another for too long. We know the WWE likes to do this, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Depending on how McIntyre’s bout with Lashley goes, that possible Sheamus rivalry may or may not be for the WWE Championship. Still, it would be surprising to see Riddle hold the title for less than two months after winning it in February.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Fels: Every fan worth his or her salt has wanted these two to get a Mania match ever since they joined the company. Sadly, it’ll be completely shit on by having a human can of stale Monster Energy Logan Paul around. This has had next to no build, which is even more infuriating because we know how masterfully these two can craft a story. Still, if they’re given even 10-15 minutes, these two can’t miss. Hopefully they leave the shitty, silly stuff to a minimum and let these two go. I don’t have much hope, though. Maybe when Triple H takes over he’ll have these two run the Mania program they deserve. I find myself saying that a lot, though.
Fonseca: Logan Paul is less needed in a WWE ring than he is a boxing ring, especially considering the angle he’ll be involved with during WrestleMania. This is WrestleMania, fam. We don’t need Logan Paul, Jake Paul, Ron Paul, Chris Paul, or Aaron Paul. Maybe only Jayson Paul because it would be great to see him in the WWE again. But all Zayn and Owens need is time — and for you to let them create.
They embarked on one of the most legendary rivalries in independent wrestling history prior to joining the WWE, wrestling as Kevin Steen and El Generico. They would almost kill each other repeatedly for however long the match would last, and if they channel that, this could very well be the show-stealer, if at least on night two of WrestleMania.
Big E (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Apollo
Fels: This is another match I’m looking forward to greatly. I was really tense about the pivot for Apollo, because there were so many ways it could have gone wrong with the focus on his Nigerian heritage, his accent, the new garb, and WWE hasn’t earned any benefit of the doubt in dancing on this line. But they’ve threaded it nearly perfectly, and he’s finally got depth beyond just being, “super athletic guy.” Feels like he’s getting this so Big E can move on to the top of the card where he belongs, but these two should bring the heat. Other than Cesaro, Apollo is the biggest candidate for a coming-out party this weekend.
Fonseca: Big E was on my short list of potential Royal Rumble winners this year because I foresee him having a huge 2021 that may lead to a World Title run before the year is over, if not by next WrestleMania SZN. That said, he’s either in line to lose the Intercontinental Championship to a finally blossoming Apollo Crews, or he retains to keep this for a fairly lengthy time. He’s already at over 100 days, for what it’s worth. Crews is finally getting a decent push on the main roster after being rushed up from NXT years ago. Him leaning into his Nigerian heritage could’ve been awkward seeing as how the WWE has missed in this realm, as Sam alluded to, especially since it could seem that most wrestlers of color have to have gimmicks that reflect their background; otherwise, they get lost in the shuffle to (insert white guy here), which is entirely unfair. (Super American, though, unfortunately.)
But when executed, it could be done well, as has been the case with Crews, who needed a shake-up. The Intercontinental Championship would be good for Crews to have as his next step, and a continuation of this angle could also be welcomed between the two.
The Fiend vs. Randy Orton
Fels: I’ve been more on board with this than most, if only because Alexa Bliss has been eating up her role so thoroughly. People shit on Randy’s matches, especially at Manias, but his last two have been more than acceptable. If The Fiend doesn’t destroy him though, they’ll have completely neutered and ruined one of their best character ideas in years, which is exactly what I expect to happen, though with some shenanigans.
Fonseca: Given that The Fiend should probably tear through Orton, as Sam noted, he probably won’t, which is unfortunate as it would be a satisfying conclusion to their rivalry. That doesn’t mean a back-and-forth couldn’t be good, though. Alexa Bliss has been great and should obviously be heavily involved, but this match should be one of most interesting of the night; it damn near has to be given how frequently they’ve ended episodes of Raw over the last few months. Orton probably shouldn’t win, though, if we’re being honest.
Asuka (Raw Women’s Champion) vs. Rhea Ripley
Fels: I would hope this is finally when they let Asuka have her moment in the sun. They’ve given her basically nothing to work with since she took the title after Becky Lynch left. Rhea Ripley is indeed a star, and having her lose a second straight Mania match would blunt her a bit. But only a bit. There’s more than enough time to rebuild her. And again, Asuka retaining sets up a third clash with a returning Becky Lynch for SummerSlam, which could headline that show. Give it to me. This one should be a blinder if given the proper time.
Fonseca: Rhea Ripley doesn’t need the title so soon after debuting on Raw officially, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want her to have the title yet. Asuka has had the title since SummerSlam, which was on August 23. She’s one of the great talents the WWE has, but Ripley’s bound to be a huge star that could carry a main roster division already. She could also work face or heel, as demonstrated by her longstanding feud with Toni Storm on NXT, which was revived a bit late last year. Becky Lynch gave birth in December and is expected to return sometime this year. For all we know, it could be during WrestleMania, which she main evented two years ago. Lynch-Ripley-Asuka could make for an amazing triple threat match at some point — ideally, we’d add Baszler to make it a fatal four-way — but for now, expect great things from Asuka and Ripley regardless of who wins.
Roman Reigns (Universal Champion) vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan
Fels: It’s been a wonky build at times, but Daniel Bryan couldn’t really be ignored in what could be his last Mania. It feels like this was done to get the title off Roman without him actually eating the pin, and I expect it to go to Edge. Really, making it a triple threat means there isn’t a wrong answer here, as any winner could slide easily into a singles rivalry with one of the others. With Bryan involved we know this will be a classic, and it needs it, because the main event of Wrestlemania hasn’t really been good since he was last in it in 2014 (though Roman-Brock at 31 is underrated). I think Edge gets it here, with some kind of surprise. But all I want is a great match, and we’ll get it.
Fonseca: Since Reigns turned fully heel last year (finally!!), he’s been arguably the most captivating WWE wrestler to watch. Edge has been gunning for that mantle since he’s returned, and Daniel Bryan’s possibly as good as he’s been in this presumably final run with the WWE. My personal dream scenario for Reigns at the time his title run (avoided saying reign twice on purpose) began on August 30 at Payback was for him to feud with Jimmy Uso, which he did brilliantly, and then lead into a WrestleMania bout with The Rock — the actual head of the table in their family. Seeing as how WrestleMania is in Tampa, Florida, not too far from The Rock’s home in Miami, it seemed like a logical set-up, but alas, we’re here.
Still, this triple threat match should be very good, at least, with a good chance of it being remembered as a true classic if everything clicks. As much as I’d personally like to see Reigns continue as Universal Champion because of how great he’s been, it would be the perfect time for Edge or Bryan to have what may be one final title reign (okay, fine). The smart money is on Edge, but it’s hard to argue with any result.