A year ago I offered some delightfully wrong (but also sometimes not too far off) predictions for WrestleMania 35…
I did predict Triple H vs Batista, Becky Lynch winning something for a change and Charlotte & Ronda Rousey in the main event. Half-credit also to me for hoping to see New Day evolve beyond just a tag team. Other than that it’s a lot of woof. A year before that I said that WrestleMania would feature Charlotte vs Asuka, and a year before that I predicted, uh…the Undertaker in the main event? That’s a half-credit.
Whatever. It’s the post-Mania season and, judging by WWE’s current ratings, everyone has moved on until at least SummerSlam, so what else are we going to talk about? It’s time to hop in our Deloreans, grab our Time Stones or crank our Time Turners…whatever you need to do, because it’s time for some WAY TOO EARLY predictions for WrestleMania 36!
I’m calling it: “WRESTLEMANIA: JUST PIRATE IT” (name subject to change)
The big dance is coming to Tampa Bay next Spring and judging by the state of the company today I think we can safely predict a handful of key matches that will be featured eleven months from now.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL(E)
Year seven of this and none but the first have produced any memorable finishes. Let’s predict Lars Sullivan goes ham and looks to win, only for Tyler Breeze to get a surprise victory, just because.
CHYNA MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL(E)
I predict the big story of this match will be the unveiling of the new “Chyna” trophy and rebranding of the match in her honor. As for the winner…I don’t have a place for Charlotte anywhere else on the card so there you go. The Queen wins the prize.
US TITLE MATCH: RICOCHET(c) vs SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
This would be a good use of both men who aren’t likely to be any higher on the card a year from now. Who knows, maybe the fast and flashy Ricochet can motivate Shinsuke to put some pep in his step for the biggest show of the year. He’s basically in semi-retirement now and Ricochet is the future…and the winner.
IC TITLE MATCH: ANDRADE(c) vs CHAD GABLE
Chad Gable is among the most criminally underused talents on the roster right now. He’s Kurt Angle’s mini-me and the fact that the Olympic Legend came and went without even the slightest rub being given to the new kid is incredible. Now that his time with Robert Roode is over, I’m hoping he spends the next year building a name and casual credibility as a mid-card superstar. An IC title win would be a nice capper to that journey.
TAG TITLE MATCH: SETH ROLLINS(c) & AJ STYLES(c) vs KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN
Kevin Owens’ face run ended a little too quickly for my taste but he’s too good as a heel to complain about it. Surprisingly, so is Sami Zayn. Hopefully, the Canadian duo finds their way back to each other soon because they could provide a serious boost to a flailing tag division. As for the other two men, what else are they going to do at WrestleMania? They’re likely to spend the rest of this year fighting off and on for the Universal Title, but with Brock Lesnar’s UFC career seemingly ended, it’s only a matter of time before he gets his claws back around the meat-strap. Pair them up and let them add some main-event legitimacy to the division for a while. They can drop the titles to KO and Sami and move on to something else after Mania.
TAG TITLE MATCH: SASHA BANKS(c) & BAYLEY(c) vs KARI SANE & ASUKA
Yes, I’m predicting that Sasha returns to the company, gets a big push as a heel and proves she never should have been underappreciated in the first place. After that, a proper do-over with Bayley and the tag belts can last a few months before Kari and Asuka take the cake. Whatever happens at the show can happen, but there must be a pirate-themed something with Kari Sane and that giant Buccaneer ship at Raymond James Stadium.
FINN BALOR vs DANIEL BRYAN
Neither one of these guys are likely to be in the main event a year from now, not since one of them was a title holder this year and the other can’t seem to break through to the next level. Have we had a significant match between these two…ever? I don’t know what the angle would be but with Bryan as a heel I know it would be great. I would also give Bryan the win since he’s the more likely of the two to slide back into the main-event after Mania. That being said, for that very reason I think Finn Balor would win, just because there are few things Vince loves more than giving someone he doesn’t plan on pushing a victory over someone he does.
BRAY WYATT vs SAMOA JOE
Why not? It’s a match between two men with very little apparent chemistry who have nothing else to do at WrestleMania. It would probably end up the most fun 10-minute match of the night. It would also be a match between two big guys who ought to be dominant but who tend to lose every big match they’re in. For that reason, I predict a double-DQ finish that ruins whatever fun the actual match had built up.
NEW DAY vs UNDISPUTED ERA
Kofi’s title run isn’t going to last forever, but hopefully he and the New Day itself don’t just slide back to six-month give-and-take feuds with random tag teams. I predict the Undisputed Era will debut alongside Smackdown’s move to Fox, giving them a big six-month push before crossing paths with the New Day. All that’s left is a big clash on the biggest show, leading to endless rematches over the Spring. Undisputed Era ought to win but this being WWE, they won’t. They’ll lose to New Day and then win the rematch to make everything nice and pointless.
RETIREMENT MATCH: TRIPLE H vs RANDY ORTON
Yeah, it’s time. Triple H seems like he has enough self-awareness to know better than to keep going out there at age 55, 60, 65, looking worse and worse with every outing. He’s not had a great singles match since Roadblock, 2015 and ending things on the highest note possible is the best way to go. As for his opponent, it would feel cheap to call up HBK to do the deed. You might want some NXT hotshot to be given the nod, but do you really trust Vince not to screw up that NXT guy? I think someone with history who is also on his way out the door in a few years makes the most sense. Flair went out via HBK (two years away from retirement). Batista went out via Triple H this year. I’m sure Randy Orton will go out in a few years too (he’s only 39 but he’s been doing this for a long time and has a ton of money). It feels right letting Triple H go down for good via an RKO.
WWE TITLE MATCH: ALEISTER BLACK(c) vs DREW McINTYRE(RR)
Drew wins the Rumble. Drew competes for the title somewhere in the middle of the WrestleMania card. Drew loses. That’s about as WWE as you can get, yes? Black retains and drops it to Drew the next month in a match seen by 1/10th as many people.
Because that’s how you make a star.
WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: BECKY LYNCH(c) vs SHAYNA BASZLER
Baszler is everything WWE wanted Ronda Rousey to be. She’s the present and future of women’s wrestling. I love Becky, who has the personality and pedigree of a champion, but Baszler is a unique generational talent. She’s grasped the game and adapted to it from a different sport better than anyone since Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle. Great character work, promos, it-factor, believability in the ring, you name it. She’s the next face of the division for a decade.
UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH: BROCK LESNAR(c) vs JOHN CENA
The only reason I could stomach another Brock Lesnar title run is if it ends with John Cena beating him to secure the magic #17.
THE ACTUAL MAIN-EVENT
THE ROCK vs ROMAN REIGNS
Yep. It’ll cost Vince more money than he’s ever spent on a single match, but he’ll pay it. Right now the Rock is earning about $20-30mm per film, not counting bonuses and such. Vince would have to drop $50-$100mm to make the match happen, and he will.
It’s Vince McMahon; who the heck knows.