1 – Kickoff Match – Cruiserweight Champion Neville vs Austin Aries
Neville was the breath of fresh air the Cruiser division needed, and Aries’ intensity should make this a verrrry good confrontation. But, if Neville is truly the king of the cruiserweights and is the guy to beat, I feel like he should retain and really cement his domination over the roster. Faces usually win at Mania, but in this case I’d rather the heel walk away victorious and then have Aries chase him into another PPV – maybe one where they get on the main card??
2 – Kickoff Match – Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs Carmella vs Natalya vs Becky Lynch vs Mickie James vs Naomi
This is TOO BUSY and kind of a disservice to just about all of these women. I love Bliss but this latest reign isn’t going anywhere so ya might as well give the returning (and hometown!) hero a high profile win. Naomi could move a lot of merch and is just plain fun to watch, so give her a good run and see what happens.
3 – Kickoff Match – Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (announced participants: Mojo Rawley, Apollo Crews, Big Show, Curt Hawkins, Braun Strowman, Goldust, R-Truth, Primo, Epico, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Jinder Mahal, Sami Zayn, Fandango, Tyler Breeze, Dolph Ziggler, Rhyno, Heath Slater, Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Mark Henry, Sin Cara, Titus O’Neil, Konnor, Victor, Aiden English, Simon Gotch)
Braun has to win this. Color me surprised if this doesn’t come down to Show and Braun hurling people out of the ring. If this is indeed Show’s final Mania, it makes sense to give him some kind of hossy brawl… and since Shaq is apppparently not joining the royal, that means Bruan prolly sends Show packing after a couple memorable feats of strength.
PICK: Braun Strowman
4 – Raw Tag Team Champions The Club vs Enzo & Big Cass vs Sheamus & Cesaro (Triple Threat Ladder Match)
I do predict at least one notable injury, as NONE of these guys are known for ladder spots. Get ready for someone to take a bad bump. Also… odds that the Hardys appear either here or Monday on RAW appear to be high. If that’s the case, then you’d think a heel team would have the belts. That means Club wins, and then the Hardys come after them at Smarkamania.
PICK: The Club
5 – Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs Baron Corbin
Give it to Corbin, he’s a lot of fun and he will make a great arrogant asshole champ. Have him hold the belt for a full year, beat everyone without much cheating but LOTS of dickery. Sign me up.
PICK: Baron Corbin
6 – John Cena & Nikki Bella vs The Miz & Maryse (Mixed Tag Match)
Love the Miz / Maryse combo, but they don’t need to win to stay awwwwwwesome. I also can’t buy them winning in just about any situation – Cena and Nikki outclass them both in almost every regard. But, this should be a fun, lighthearted escape from the other matches that may or may not deliver in both story and performance.
PICK: Cena & Nikki
7 – United States Champion Chris Jericho vs Kevin Owens
Hard to imagine Jericho winning this, given that he’s off touring post-Mania and thus has no time to defend the US title. So, KO takes this and probably gains some additional heat by beating Jericho in a heely manner.
8 – Shane McMahon vs AJ Styles
AJ wins. Literally no reason at all for Shane to come out on top. If they were trying to get Shane over as a massive tyrant or something, maybe, but that hasn’t really been the direction of this feud.
PICK: AJ Styles
9 – Raw Women’s Champion Bayley vs Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax (Elimination Match)
I feel it’ll come down to Sasha and Bayley, with the former resorting to some dirty tactics. Sasha won’t win though… at least at Mania. I think she’ll take the title back the next night.
10 – Seth Rollins vs Triple H (Non-sanctioned Match)
I kinda hope there’s a ton of interference with this. Joe should try to take out Rollins, Balor (or Zayn) makes the save. Rollins wins if only because he’ll have to wrestle all through the year and H will likely disappear.
11 – The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns
I love Taker, and will dearly miss his presence and elaborate intro… but he needs to retire before he’s unable to perform. No one wants to see him go out without a proper “last match” so Reigns, put ‘im to bed. Please use this as a way to lean into your cocky, tough, borderline insufferable attitude and become a super heel. Or tweener! Just something that puts Taker’s final moments to good use. Also, god I hope Reigns beats him with a Tombstone.
PICK: Roman Reigns
12 – WWE Champion Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton
This has been a strong feud, but Orton doesn’t need the prestige and Bray has more years ahead of him. Let him leave as champ and finally get some defined character work in over the summer. Make his words mean something!
PICK: Bray Wyatt
13 – Universal Champion Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar
UUUUGH if anything needs a screwy amount of interference, it’s this. Goldberg has already done the shocking 10 second victory bit twice since returning, so at friggin Mania you either have to provide a real match OR be part of a big moment. KO coming to claim his rematch or Austin strolling in ref this match yet again could work, but either way, Goldberg loses the belt. I do wonder if they keep it ‘Berg just to add some extra, assumed prestige to the belt, but ehhhh he ain’t gonna defend it enough to make it matter. And neither will Brock, which is why this seems like a screwy finish for the ages.
PICK: Brock Lesnar
RUNNING TIME: 5 minutes
Up next… Grimm’s picks!