Wrestlemania 35 Predictions

Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships
Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch

WM - 3

The build to this match didn’t need to be nearly as convoluted as it turned out to be. The story seemed simple enough: Have Charlotte win the Smackdown Championship at TLC, then have Becky win the Royal Rumble and have her say she wants to challenge both champions in a winner take all match. Ronda, who still had unfinished business with Charlotte stemming from a post-match beat down at Survivor Series, would have gladly accepted, as would Charlotte, who would have been motivated to show that she’s the true gold standard of the women’s division.

Instead, it was a story plagued by too much McMahon family involvement and petty social media banter. A great match can overcome and forgive a messy story, though. The final product is what matters; not the assembly process.

Announcing that this match will end the show weeks in advance was a wise move from a marketing standpoint. With such a prestigious spot comes a great responsibility to deliver. Luckily, all three of these performers appear well equipped to handle such a pressure-packed position.

With the No-DQ stipulation that comes along with triple-threat rules, it will be interesting to see just how violent this match gets. Ronda is likely to get some kendo stick-aided revenge on Charlotte, while Charlotte is likely going to spear either one or maybe both women through the barricade at some point. A Charlotte moonsault to the outside also seems like almost a given.

All three participants should be motivated to show a wider mainstream audience just how intense and exciting women’s wrestling can be, which is why this match has the makings to be even better than the Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks triple-threat match at Wrestlemania 32.

There are cases to be made for why either Rousey or Charlotte should win. All along, though, this has felt like this is the culmination point of Becky Lynch’s story with the other two simply along for the journey.

In any sport, you want to give the ball to the player with the hottest hand. Since Summerslam, no one in the WWE has been hotter than Lynch.

There are many scenarios for how this match could end, but there’s only one way it should end: Becky tapping out Ronda with the Disarm-Her to become the new Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion.

Winner: Becky Lynch

Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins

WM - Brock

The build for this match has suffered from basically the exact opposite problem as the Women’s Championship match. That was a case of too much, while this was a case of just not enough.

Seth Rollins being slowed by a back injury following the Royal Rumble coupled with the fact that Brock Lesnar hasn’t seemed interested or invested in promoting this fight has led to a somewhat lackluster lead up to what should feel like a bigger showcase match.

Rollins has spent the last few months trying to recover from a disastrous feud with former SHIELD partner Dean Ambrose. Judging from the pops he’s received on Raw appearances lately, though, it seems as if he’s got the full support from a fan base that admittedly would like to see just about any one take the title off of Lesnar at this point.

AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Finn Balor all laid out the blue print for what type of matches smaller more agile wrestlers should have with The Beast: Take some punishment early, let Brock get cocky/bored/a little winded and then find a weakness and exploit it.

It’s up to Rollins to take that game plan and put his own special spin on it.

There are some interesting potential spots and sequences we could see. A call back to the curb stomp-F5 reversal from Wrestlemania 31 certainly seems within the realm of possibilities. Even better than that would be a re-creation of that incredible elbow drop table spot from the 2015 Royal Rumble.

A 28-year-old Rollins didn’t seem fully ready for the responsibilities of being a WWE champion and a true centerpiece of the show and storytelling. An older, matured, post-knee surgery Seth has a better chance of flourishing in the role.

With Lesnar likely to leave for the UFC to face Daniel Cormier some time within the near future, it makes sense to have Rollins win the title here. From a future booking standpoint, it allows for Rollins to stay on Raw as champion and it would free up Roman Reigns to go over to Smackdown and carry that brand.

Long is the list of great potential championship feuds Rollins could have with the likes of Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman and maybe even eventually Roman Reigns.

Winner: Seth Rollins

WWE Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston

WM - Kofi

“Patience is a conquering virtue” – Geoffrey Chaucer 

Five years ago, Daniel Bryan walked into the Superdome with an electricity surrounding him the likes of which hadn’t been seen since ’97 era Austin.

Even though he’s one of the greatest wrestlers in the world, Bryan somehow managed to ease into an underdog role and garner a cult-like following based on perceived slights about his size and appearance and the WWE’s view of him as a “B+ player.”

At Wrestlemania 30, Bryan walked out victorious as WWE champion surrounded by resounding cheers and a storm of New Orleans themed confetti.

Five years later, it’s now Bryan walking into Wrestlemania 35 with the same belt he won that night against Kofi Kingston, someone who Vince McMahon has called a B+ player, just as he used to refer to Bryan.

Kingston’s performance in both a Smackdown gauntlet match and the subsequent Elimination Chamber final showdown with Bryan have vaulted him near the top of the list of most over superstars in the WWE right now.

Like Becky, Kofi having an easy-to-chant name has helped his cause. “Kofi!” has been one of the loudest chants on Smackdown during the home stretch to Mania, second only to Lynch’s reactions.

A spot that was likely reserved for either Mustafa Ali, a once hotshot upstart turned post-injury afterthought, or a returning Kevin Owens has now been filled by Kingston, an 11-year veteran who has never held a world title.

A long title reign may not be in the plans, but after over a decade of dedication to the company, this seems like the perfect time for Kofi’s Wrestlemania moment.

Winner: Kofi Kingston

HHH vs. Batista

WM-Batista

From a match quality standpoint, the last few big HHH outings against big name foes such as The Undertaker, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Sting have all been disappointments. Add into that the fact that HHH was unable to train and prepare properly for this match against Batista due to a torn pectoral muscle, and it’s easy to come to the conclusion that this one has the makings of a truly plodding affair.

The no holds barred rules and the potential HHH retirement stipulation do add some intriguing facets to what would otherwise be a battle of two old legends well past their respective primes.

Batista, or Dave as HHH likes to call him, has gone on to make a name for himself outside of the WWE as a Hollywood success story, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he can still go in the ring. Hopefully, we see a different level of performer this time around instead of the easily winded Batista we saw at the beginning of his return run in 2015.

This one doesn’t have to be as long or as complicated as it probably will end up being. Brawl a little outside the ring, tease a sledgehammer spot at some point and end this with HHH finally getting his win over The Animal. A post-match respect handshake is an option, especially if it’s truly Batista’s last match ever.

Winner: HHH

Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

WM - Roman

If I was booking this, I’d have Drew squash Roman in about six minutes and establish himself as the new top heel on Raw. It’d allow Roman to show some even more vulnerability and it’d give fans even more of a reason to invest in his comeback campaign.

I don’t see that happening, though, especially since Drew has consistently gotten the better of Reigns in the physical confrontations they’ve had on Raw.

A 10-15 minute match that allows Drew to get the upper hand early and give Roman the chance to make a comeback with his usual Drive By-Superman Punch-Spear big move sequence would be fine.

It’s one of the more interesting matches from a “where are they going to put this on the card” standpoint. I’d stick it somewhere in the second hour to try to give it some proper space from the three big title matches.

Winner: Roman Reigns

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton

WM-AJ Styles

Randy Orton was seemingly born to play the role of the aging WWE machine created star who makes fun of independent wrestlers for actually hustling and grinding and trying to make something of themselves. Orton has been served opportunity after opportunity regardless of conduct and past failures. He’s never had his foot fully pressed on the pedal, but never has it been as much at ease as it is now.

Since losing the WWE title to Jinder Mahal in May of 2017, the 39-year-old veteran has proceeded to tread water ever since. His US championship match at Wrestlemania 34 against Mahal, Rusev and Bobby Roode was one of the most forgettable mid-card title matches in Wrestlemania history.

To say that Orton needed someone like AJ Styles to have a series of back-and-forths with and relight a fire under him would be an understatement.

Luckily, Styles and The Viper have proven they have good chemistry as far as in-ring promos go. The question is: Will that chemistry translate to a good match?

That depends on mainly two factors: the motivation both men have to steal the show and the time they’re allowed to do it in. On a show as jam-packed as this, unfortunately these two won’t receive the amount of time to work that they would at a lesser pay-per-view.

Some great tension and intensity has been created with the long-tenured WWE veteran vs. the former indie star storyline. However, at this point in each of their careers, a win or a loss in this type of match isn’t going to make or break either guy.

Vince McMahon’s favoritism of his WWE created crew over the indie transplants could play the decisive role in who walks away the victor in this one. But more than likely, McMahon would side with the man he wants to see become an animal.

Winner: AJ Styles

United States Championship
Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio


WM - Mysterio

The lack of an Andrade inclusion hurts this match somewhat, and there’s legitimate concern Mysterio might be hobbled by an ankle injury suffered on Raw.

It does have a special feel in the sense that it’s Samoa Joe’s first ever Wrestlemania match, and Rey’s first Wrestlemania match in five years.

Along with Andrade and R-Truth, these two were apart of two fantastic four-way matches for the US title at Fastlane and on the Smackdown preceding it.

Since returning to the WWE back in November, the 44-year-old Mysterio has eased any concerns that he may have lost a step.

Expect this to be a Joe-dominated affair early followed by Mysterio getting some good comeback fire before eventually being caught in the Coquina Clutch.

Winner: Samoa Joe

Intercontinental Championship
Bobby Lashley vs. Finn Balor

Balor

As far as total times go, it’ll be interesting to see which goes longer: Finn Balor’s Demon entrance or the actual match itself.

The match these two had at Elimination Chamber was nothing to write home about. Hopefully, they can recreate the five decent minutes from that meeting and turn this into a quick Finn Balor victory, likely aided by a Lio Rush screw up.

Winner: Finn Balor

Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin

Kurt

Speaking of matches that don’t need to go more than five minutes, Kurt Angle’s farewell tour on Raw and Smackdown has left most fans feeling more concerned than excited for his final match at Wrestlemania. Angle has looked his tread so to speak and he’s not someone who needs to take big bumps at this point in his life.

It would seem then that Baron Corbin would be the perfect candidate for Angle’s last match. Corbin is a younger, bigger heel who can carry the majority of what should already be a rather short match.

Many would likely love to see Angle squash Corbin and walk off into the sunset but the mantra “you go out on your back” is perfect for this particular story.

Corbin retiring Angle would give him the necessary heat to emerge as a top heel.

Winner: Baron Corbin

Shane McMahon vs. The Miz

Miz and Shane

This falls count anywhere stipulation might be enough to save this one from being a basic bathroom break match.

Somebody’s jumping off something in this one.

I’d end it with a brawl out into the crowd and Miz’s father punches out Shane somewhere in the floor seat section to help his son get the win.

Winner: The Miz

Smackdown Tag Team Championship

The Usos vs. The Bar vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev

ON

It can be debated whether or not a “dream match” of The Usos vs. The Hardy Boyz would have been the better option for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship match. Even if was, this one is a nice consolation price.

It includes a proper Mania main card title defense for The Usos and the Wrestlemania debuts of Ricochet and Aleister Black.

The Bar also get the chance to redeem themselves after last Wrestlemania’s Braun Strowman and Nicholas debacle.

It also gives Rusev and Shinsue Nakamura the chance to avoid being forgotten about Battle Royal participants.

A surprise upset by the debuting team of Black and Ricochet is a possibility. But ultimately, the big match experience of the Usos should prove to be the difference.

Winner: The Usos

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Beth Phoenix and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina vs. The IIconics

WM - Beth

Besides a cool-looking Beth Phoenix barricade spot, the four vs. four tag-team match involving all four of these teams from the Raw go home show did not include a lot of memorable moments. In fact, the match was mostly a mess.

Since that lackluster showing came on the heels of a rather off-kilter Banks and Bayley vs. The IIconics match on Smackdown, this four-way match is shaping up to be one of the lower quality bouts on the card.

None of the opposing teams are near the level of Sasha Banks and Bayley, who look poised to use a win at Wrestlemania as a springboard for their campaign to establish the new women’s tag titles as a relevant part of the WWE landscape.

Winners: Sasha Banks and Bayley

Raw Tag Team Championship
The Revival vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 6.32.48 AM

Those thinking that The Revival would reestablish the relevancy of the Raw tag titles have had their hopes dashed. In recent weeks, the duo have been beaten by two teams of NXT call ups: Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa, and Ricochet and Aleister Black.

The last nail in the The Revival’s  coffin could be a title loss to the team of perennial jobbers Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins.

A Ryder and Hawkins title win is worth a cheap pop from a smarky Mania crowd, but it would certainly do no favors to saving the credibility of the Raw tag belts.

Winners: Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

WM - Royal

This contest could be used as a vehicle to establish a running storyline that sees Braun Strowman hunting for Colin Jost in a series of backstage vignettes throughout the show. Jost has played the role of smug outsider well so far and Michael Che’s been fine in his role as failing peacekeeper.

Hopefully the shenanigans can conclude earlier in the match with Jost surprisingly eliminating Strowman or just doing a dash to the backstage with Braun giving chase.

Though there’s a definite leftovers feel concerning the list of participants, there are some involved who have the potential to benefit from the quick spotlight shine winning this match provides.

Andrade is the clear star of this group. The fact that he’s in a match of this caliber instead of a prominent singles spot goes to show that he could definitely use the little push of momentum. It’d also give Zelina Vega a nice big trophy to brag about.

Winner: Andrade

Cruiserweight Championship
Buddy Murphy vs. Tony Nese

wm Buddy Murphy

There were probably better options for Buddy Murphy’s Wrestlemania opponent than Tony Nese. Rey Mysterio, Xavier Woods, Mustafa Ali and Lio Rush are all more well known to WWE’s non-205 Live watching audience.

Nese is a fine enough competitor, but given the run that Murphy’s been on since winning the title in his native Australia, there’s no reason he should lose here.

Winner: Buddy Murphy

Women’s Battle Royal

Lacey

There are enough new faces in this one to make this match feel a bit different than the Evolution Battle Royal. The clear standout and sentimental favorite is Asuka.

Having her win this match to help soften the blow of a recent title loss to Charlotte would make sense.

It could also make sense for someone to start a feud with Asuka by eliminating her last. Lacey Evans is the type of candidate they could be looking for such a role.

There are other storylines worth fleshing out among the other participants as well, especially the drama dynamic between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.

Winner: Lacey Evans

Who Will Interrupt the Elias Performance

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 7.03.11 AMMy top contenders would be Bray Wyatt, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dean Ambrose and Lars Sullivan.

Hopefully, it’s not Hulk Hogan.

 

 

WWE Fastlane Review

A few crowd-popping spots, especially a fantastic match-saving manuever to end an impromptu three-way for the WWE Championship, were the type of short but memorable moments that helped Fastlane overcome its wild seemingly on-the-fly booking.

Mustafa Ali being inserted into the WWE title match, unannounced with no build, was the toughest position anyone was put in all night. But Ali did try his hardest to win over a crowd that wanted to see one man in that role, and that man was not Mustafa.

Kofi Kingston was the hero of the people. But instead he was inserted into yet another unannounced match, a handicap contest against Cesaro and Sheamus. It was a forgettable match which Kingston lost in a little over five minutes. It had an effect on the crowd in a way that certainly wasn’t positive.

Speaking of flat finishes, a predictable Ronda Rousey interference to get Charlotte disqualified led to the kind of middling reaction that reveals how far this feud has fallen since the Royal Rumble.

Shane McMahon’s heel turn post-loss beat down of the Miz in front of his father in the first row and his hometown Cleveland brethren did get the desired heat, and then some.

The Shield match built up fan interest as it went along, and it was nice to see all three members have a genuine celebratory moment together. It was also nice to see the fans finally behind Roman Reigns when he does his big Superman Punch and Spear spots.

A fatal four way bout between Samoa Joe, Andrade, Rey Mysterio and R-Truth for the US Title was a quality rematch of what was a great match from the most recent episode of Smackdown.

There was enough solid wrestling on the card to call Fastlane an above average show. But the booking was certainly not designed to give the fans in attendance—especially those clad in New Day t-shirts and holding Kofimania signs—the show they were hoping for.

The mismanagement of the WWE Championship and Raw Women’s Championship feuds is concerning. Luckily, there are still a few weeks left before Wrestlemania, so there’s enough time left to salvage both of them with the right booking tweaks.

WWE Fastlane Preview

Xavier Woods & Big E vs. Rusev & Nakamura

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 10.00.33 PM

That tweet about sums it up.


Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.51.46 PM

This is the best feud in wrestling right now, so it makes sense WWE would stick this blow off match on the pre-show of a filler PPV.

The cohesion and chemistry between these two has been absolute magic every time they’ve stepped inside the ring.

With a refreshing “how we can we make this match unique and different from the last one” attitude that is sorely lacking from many WWE feuds,  these two are whipping out Canadian Destroyers, top rope power bombs and an array of moves that are consistently wowing and shocking crowds. Their timing is so smooth and their level of difficulty on certain sequences is so on point, the minds of spectators can’t even process it properly.

Wonderfully, baffling awe, that’s what’s inspired by the type of offense and counters we see from these two.

Mysterio is a legend.

Andrade is already starting to flirt with the label one year into his main roster run.


Raw Tag Team Championship
The Revival vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. Chad Gable & Bobby Roode

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.45.27 PM

If this match got 22 minutes and was on an NXT Takeover, this might be a dark horse match of the year candidate.

It won’t get that and it won’t be on that, and plus it’ll be in front of a Cleveland crowd, so there are three external factors working against this intriguing triple-threat tag bout. What’s working in its favor is the level of in-ring resumes of each of the six competitors.

Regardless of constant creative missteps, start and stop pushes and recent burials, The Revival have persevered and are currently vying for 1 and 1A spots with The Usos as the best pure tag team in the WWE right now. Having them face off at Mania and unite the belts isn’t a bad idea.

Gable and Roode have taken a “We’ve got nothing else for you guys , let’s try this” situation and made the best they could out of it (Drake Maverick catering jokes aside), putting together performances that range from oh that’s good to oh that was kind of great.

Ricochet and Aleister Black is the tag team we never knew we needed until now. The Halftime Heat spectacle showed how these two guys can build off of each other, spot and energy-wise. Sans Dream, they’re now proving it against main roster foes and more than holding their own.

The Revival should retain here, especially since the Ricochet-Black slot seemed like it was reserved for DIY before the extent of Tommaso Ciampa’s injury was realized.


Smackdown Women’s Title
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.43.23 PM

Readers of tea leaves may foresee that the Smackdown Women’s Title match at Wrestlemania is shaping up to be Asuka vs. Lacey Evans vs. Mandy Rose.

Bright and vibrant is the hue of green of those two potential challengers.

If the WWE has high hopes for the two beautiful blondes, sticking them with a great worker and match-carrier like Asuka on the biggest stage wouldn’t be the worst idea.

That likely means another Lacey Evans showoff strut to the ring in a match that will likely be just a shade more in-depth than the Smackdown affair we just witnessed.

Asuka should retain, even with potential Evans hijinks. Rose is clearly not ready for a belt yet, but her improvement is noticeable and her potential is easy to see.

The most interesting part could be Sonya Deville’s involvement and whether or not we get a screw up interference that leads to tension between her and Mandy.


Women’s Tag Team Championship
Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Nia Jax & Tamina

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.38.33 PM

This one doesn’t need to be much more than a paint by numbers Raw match.

Sasha or Bayley comes firing out of the gates but gets taken down due to the size discrepancy. Tamina and Nia will work over and dominate one of them for the next five or so minutes. Sasha plays the rag doll well and Bayley thrives in the awaiting a hot tag for the quick fire spot role, so that could be the route to go.

It’s possible we get an outside spot where Nia gets thrown into the post. A Bayley to the rescue saving an almost pinned Sasha spot could be a nice addition.

There doesn’t have to be anything too complicated here. The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection should hold these titles for a while. They’re the right choice to establish the meaningfulness of the belts at Wrestlemania (against Lita and Trish, hmm?).

Tamina should eat the pin. Maybe we get some frustration between her and Nia after the match and have that boil over into Raw the next night. This one doesn’t have the makings of a rewatchable classic. If this goes more than 10 minutes, it’ll have gone too long.


Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Usos vs. The Miz & Shane McMahon

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.33.52 PM

Was the first encounter between these two teams at Elimination Chamber a good match?

No.

Did the last five minutes of that meeting have fans invested?

Yes.

Was a rematch necessary?

Well, for whatever strange nostalgia reasons, fans still seem to be invested in Shane doing big spots and that’s fine, so it is what it is. Plus, the tease of dissension between McMahon and The Miz following their loss to the Usos at that show will likely boil over here and tempers may finally flare up, which could potentially set up the greatest bathroom break match in Wrestlemania history.


The SHIELD vs. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.28.43 PM

Ask any die hard fan of a great band that broke up in its prime and they’ll tell you the first reunion tour is always fun. But that second one always feels like a bit of cash grab.

Now, to be fair, the first SHIELD reunion story line was probably supposed to run its course until this Wrestlemania. Dean’s triceps injury and Roman’s leukemia diagnosis threw a few monkey wrenches into those plans.

It’s weird, as a fan of all three of these guys, I’m just burnt out on all of them at this point.

Five years ago, if you wanted to tell me all three were the future of the business, I’d have signed on for such a statement, knowing full well they were bound to break up at some point.

Back then, they were doing this type of stuff.

For whatever reason (well, there are probably many reasons) it just didn’t happen.

Excuses that creative hampered each of their characters post-break up and failed to strike while the iron was hot on each (A Roman heel turn at any point, giving Rollins a run as a face champion when we was red hot after returning from injury, giving Dean a chance at a title match with HHH at Wrestlemania 32 instead of the Brock match that likely killed his career) are most definitely legitimate.

Or maybe, the tough to swallow pill is that the whole was just greater than the sum of the parts. Because now, here they all are, lukewarm and as bland as ever, ready to take on three generic goon heels that no one cares about seeing being overcome, again.

This world is littered with old tattered leaflets that promised the many next big things that never materialized. Unfortunately, time may remember the Hounds of Justice as just another one.


WWE Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.21.04 PM

Deep down inside, Vince McMahon has likely been waiting and craving for a Stone Cold-esque adversary to come along and look him in the eye and match his brutal intensity.

He may have found such a foe in Kevin Owens.

Owens, who McMahon likely sees as a natural connector to the everyman dynamic of his audience, returned from injury a few weeks ago to put a damper on Kofi Kingston’s post-Elimination Chamber momentum.

It’s been a tough spot to enter for a once dastardly heel trying to transition into a face who uses the corporate approved term WWE Universe multiple times in a promo.

Owens is so damn good on the mic, though, he can pull it off.

Having a bubble vest-clad heat magnet like environmentalist Daniel Bryan to work off of has proved to be a godsend.

Owens’ feud with AJ Styles never got into full gear and failed to meet expectations. His feud with Bryan, however, feels like a fresh start for such a promising talent.

If anyone can make fans forget about those Kofi chants, it’s KO.


Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 9.25.04 PM

Coming out of the Royal Rumble, it seemed like the WWE was doing things right and wouldn’t be able to mess up a seemingly bulletproof storyline for the Raw Women’s Championship main event at Wrestlemania.

Becky won the Rumble and she picked Ronda as her opponent.

Form there, theoretically, you could have gotten a complaining Charlotte who said Lynch wasn’t even supposed to be in the Rumble therefore she was the official last woman standing in the match, and she deserved a title shot. Add in the beat down of Rousey at Survivor Series at the hands of Flair and it’s easy to see why Ronda would accept to get her revenge and acquiesce to a three-way.

Lynch gets to look fearless by saying she’s beat Charlotte already so she doesn’t fear her. There it is, we’ve got ourselves a huge main event worthy match.

Instead, we got a convoluted McMahon Family-heavily-involved mess that has left everyone involved feeling at least a bit diminished, and in the case of Rousey, looking foolish.

A recent Ronda promo where she imitates a fourth-grader learning what the F-word is for the first time was something to behold for all the wrong reasons.

This feud, following suit of the WWE’s overall creative direction, has begun to head off the rails. It’s up to Charlotte and Becky to reel things back in.

Admittedly, this match up doesn’t exactly have a fresh feel, considering we’ve seen these two go at it in the final sequence of the Rumble and in either one-on-one matches or triple-threats at basically every pay-per-view since Summerslam. Still, the bond these two have and the ease with which they work together and feed off each other is always something special to behold.

It’ll be interesting to see if this match closes the show. Becky would benefit from a clean well fought win here. However, a Ronda spotlight-stealing ending is certainly in play.


Notable Absences

  • AJ Styles
  • Braun Strowman
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Finn Balor
  • Kofi Kingston
  • Randy Orton
  • Ronda Rousey
  • Samoa Joe

This Weekend’s Best Wrestling Shows

PWG Two Hundred

Friday March 1st, Globe Theatre (Los Angeles, California)PWG-Logo

At PWG’s last show Hand of Doom, the Los Angeles-based federation waved goodbye to federation regular Trevor Lee, who left for the bright lights of NXT following a loss to world champion Jeff Cobb.

After a successful title defense against Lee, Cobb will now turn his attention to rising star luchador Bandido, the man he beat to win the 2018 Battle of Los Angeles. That 24-minute bout, a triple-threat elimination match which also included current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Champion Shingo Takagi for the first nine minutes, was proof of just how well the powerful 263-pound Cobb and the highly athletic Bandido work together.

The PWG World Tag Team Championship will also be up for grabs when title-holders The Rascalz (Zachary Wentz and Desmond Xavier) defend against The Lucha Bros and LAX. If the Lucha Bros vs. Rascalz and Lucha Bros vs. LAX matches from recent IMPACT television tapings are any indication, this one should be an exciting action-packed affair.

Rounding out the card will be a three-way match: Jake Atlas vs. Jungle Boy vs. Trey Miguel, a tag-team match: Aussie Open vs. Best Friends and three singles matches: Laredo Kid vs. Puma King, Darby Allin vs. Brody King and Jonathan Gresham vs. David Starr.

PWG One Hundred, which took place in April of 2009, featured some of the current best wrestlers in the world: WWE champion Daniel Bryan, former WWE champion Seth Rollins, former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega, former IWGP Tag Champions The Young Bucks and former NXT Champion Sami Zayn.

A decade from now, we may look back at this show in a similar light and marvel at what this collection of performers went on to achieve.


GCW: To Live and Die In LA

Saturday March 2nd, Burning World Studios (Los Angeles, California)GCW To Live and Die In LA

Last November, New Jersey-based promotion Game Changer Wrestling made the trip out west to the Golden State for Joey Janela’s LA Confidential.

That card, which featured former WWE superstars Bob Holly and D-Lo Brown, was headlined by a GCW Championship bout between hardcore legend Nick Gage and actor/former WCW champion David Arquette.

Arquette won’t be returning for this show. Gage’s challenger this time will be Alex Colon, who possesses a bit more experience with hardcore style death matches than the Ready to Rumble leading man.

Colon has had some tough luck in GCW as of late, losing to the likes of Jun Kasai, Daisuke Masaoka and Homicide at recent events. Win or lose, however, the 34-year-old CZW regular, always tries his hardest to put on a bloody and brutal showing. With Gage in the mix, he won’t have trouble meeting an expected high violence quotient.

In a match that has the makings of a much lighter and comedic experience than the Gage-Colon brawl, Joey Ryan will face off against Orange Cassidy for the first time ever.

Former WWE Cruiserweight Champion and current Impact X Division Champion Rich Swann is a standout name on the under card. Swann will do battle with All Elite signee Jungle Boy in a match which should feature plenty of aerial acrobatics.

Rounding out the card will be many of the GCW regulars who were at the LA Confidential show: Eli Everfly, Jimmy Lloyd, Tony Deppen and KTB. Plus, there will be a GCW Hall of Fame introduction ceremony for the late great Invisible Man.


MLW: Intimidation Games

Saturday March 2nd, Cicero Stadium (Chicago, Illinois)

MLW Intimidation Games

MLW returns to Chicago for a three and a half hour taping of its FUSION show on beIN Sports.

The headline match of the card will be a World Title rematch pitting newly crowned champion “Filthy” Tom Lawlor against Lo Ki, the man he beat for the belt last month in Philadelphia. That was a surprisingly quick bout which Lawlor won after Lo Ki passed out from a rear naked choke.

The rematch will take place inside a steel cage.

The tag team titles will also be defended when champions The Hart Foundation, Teddy Hart and Davey Boy Smith Jr., take on MJF and Richard Holliday. Hart beat MJF for the MLW Middleweight Championship in Philadelphia. The two of them have been cultivating an interesting older veteran and young cocky up and comer dynamic.

The former tag team champions The Lucha Bros will also be in action. They will take on Team AAA: Taurus and Laredo Kid.

Various different types of styles will be on display throughout the rest of the card. LA park and Mance Werner will face off in a death match. Puma King and Hijo de LA park should give fans of the lucha libre style a treat. DJZ and Ace Austin will also compete in a Battle Riot qualifying match.


Rev Pro: Live at the Cockpit 39

Sunday March 3rd, Cockpit Theatre (Marleybone, London)

REvPro

Last April, Zack Sabre Jr. and A-Kid had a highly acclaimed, crowd-into-every-move match at White Wolf Wrestling’s Total Rumble 8 in Madrid, Spain.

A-Kid was able to get the best of Sabre in his home country. Now, the roles are reversed. It will be Sabre with the home ring advantage for this non-title fight.

A-Kid’s partner from Team White Wolf, Carlos Romo, will also be in action, when he takes on Rev Pro Cruiserweight Champion David Starr.

Three other singles matches have been announced for the show: Chris Brookes vs. Darius Lockhart, James Mason vs. Kurtis Chapman and Bobbi Tyler vs. Jamie Hayter.

Revolution Pro Wrestling is cementing its status as one of the most quality wrestling products in not just Europe , but the world. If A-Kid and Sabre can replicate the magic they created in Madrid, that reputation should keep on growing.

This Weekend’s Best Indie Wrestling Shows

Progress Chapter 84

Progress

Venue: Electric Ballroom (London, England)

The triple-threat match featuring WALTER vs. Chris Ridgeway vs. El Phantasmo vying for Defiant’s Internet Championship at a Loaded TV taping last December gave us a brief view of the type of chemistry Walter and Ridgeway can have inside the ring.  

That chemistry went as expected, some chops, dropkicks and powerbombs from WALTER, who looked his usual dominant, menacing self.

Lesser known chemistry would be that of Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks, the match that was supposed to happen at NXT UK Takeover Blackpool, but didn’t due to a Banks injury.

Devlin proved himself a worthy adversary for the saver of days, Finn Bálor, at Empress Ballroom. He’s one of the brightest talents on the NXT UK roster, but Banks, a former Progress champ, still presents a formidable opposition and a notable hill to climb.

NXT UK regulars such as Trent Seven, Jinny and Mark Andrews round out a card that’ll please the British faithful looking for hard-hitting action.


AIW: Hail to the King, Baby

AIW - Hail to the King

Venue: Tadmor Shrine (Akron, Ohio)

Legendary former NWA champion Harley Race will make a special appearance on a card that features three standout matchups.

“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams defends his AIW Absolute championship against Pretty Boy Smith. Williams has recently been on the winning side of various tag bouts as a member of Juice Robinson’s Lifeblood stable in Ring of Honor and New Japan, but he was less successful in his last title defense, losing his Powerbomb.tv independent title to Orange Cassidy at Beyond Heavy Lies the Crown. Smooth is nicknamed the “Seven-Foot Savage” but he lists himself as a more modest 6’9’’. Lately, he’s found success in the Pennsylvania promotions Revenge Pro and Ryse.

A three way match will decide the Intense championship, when title holder Matthew Justice takes on Wheeler Yuta and Tre Lamar. Yuta, who has firmly established himself as an indie name to see, defeated Louis Lyndon at AIW’s Welcome to the Party, Pal. Lamar, a frequent tag partner of Chase Oliver on AIW shows, looks to finally prove himself as a singles competitor.

All Elite Wrestling will be represented on the card in the women’s bout, when All In alum Britt Baker takes on the Boricuan Bad Ass Tasha Steelz. This will be Baker’s first match back in AIW since she beat Allie Kat at WrestleRager 3 last August.


AAW: Art of War (Chicago, Illinois)

Art of War

Venue: Logan Square Auditorium (Chicago, Illinois)

No countouts. No disqualifications. Just professional wrestling for the wrestling fan. That’s the simple calling card of Chicago-based AAW.

The Lucha Brothers, Sami Callihan, Eddie Kingston, AR Fox, Sammy Guevara, Curt Stallion, David Starr and a host of other established indie veterans will be on hand to make this year’s edition of the sold out Art of War show another memorable affair.


Women’s Wrestling Revolution: Widowmaker

Widowmaker

Location: NYWC Sportatorium (Long Island, New York)

Psycho Circus 17 will be the prime time main event of New York Wrestling Connection’s Saturday doubleheader at the Sportatorium. But the all-women’s opening show looks to be the superior card top-to-bottom.

Beyond Wrestling regulars such as Kris Stadtlander, Penelope Ford, Skylar and Solo Darling will blend well with an assorted lineup that will be headlined by former WWE diva and TNA knockout Lisa Marie Varon.

Coming off an impressive showing at ICW: Party and Bullshit, Maria Manic is scheduled to take on Vanity.

The tag match featuring the Tournament For Tomorrow duo of Darling and New York local Willow Nightingale will be one to watch, as they take on Allie Kat and Veda Scott.

Speaking of tag teams to watch: Ashley Vox and Delmi Exo will face Harlow O’Hara and Terra Calaway in a rematch of their TFT bout.

This WWR show will likely feature a future NXT Women’s champion, just like the shows of the past.

WWE Elimination Chamber Review

Viewers of tonight’s WWE Elimination Chamber show devoted five seconds of their lives to watching the “which pod will it be, transference of light” shot between Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton in the main event of the evening. It’s easy to wonder about the necessity of such a shot considering Orton winning a gauntlet match on the previous Smackdown Live guaranteed that he would be the final entrant in the six-man main event, not Hardy.

Trading in five seconds of needless time-killing silliness to appease Vince McMahon’s camera angle fetish would prove to be a well worth it audience investment, though, as a riveting 12-minute finishing sequence featured WWE champion Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston battling to near fall-filled perfection.

The “Kofi!” chants were loud, and it was refreshing to hear a crowd actually have energy, support and appreciation for a face in the main event of a WWE show. These days, it seems almost like a foreign concept to have the fans in attendance invested in a main event instead of tired out for it.

The six-man smorgasbord of talent in the Men’s elimination chamber featured praise-worthy performances from Bryan and Kingston. Everyone else filled their role as good appetizers.

That was the well-timed height of what turned out to be a good but nothing special, typical between Rumble and Mania B-show.

The Women’s tag team title match had some weird pacing issues in the beginning. The heat for the match picked up surprisingly enough when Carmella and Naomi entered. The Nia Jax bursting through the pod spot was intense, as was Bayley’s and Sasha’s individual bumps into the metal part of the pods.

Seeing the Boss and Hug connection hoist the newly designed gold after the inaugural win felt like the right move. There were a few mistimes and miscues in this one, notably Mandy Rose being late to break up a Bayley pin on partner Sonya Deville, but overall it was a fine enough match for what it was.

Crowd heat waned for the following two matches, but two title changes in a row seemed to help. The Usos beating Shane and Miz for the Smackdown Tag titles was a welcome surprise. There was also notable excitement for Finn Balor’s intercontinental championship victory. The Coup De Grace always receives a big pop, regardless if it’s coming at the end of a rather ordinary match like the one he had with Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush.

Ruby Riott played sacrificial lamb to a Ronda Rousey, Charlotte and Becky Lynch stare down segment that might have made more sense to do on either the coming Raw or Smackdown for ratings purposes.

Once a member of the “we need three heels from the Raw roster to have a lot of six-man tag matches” trio with Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman saw the other side of the coin tonight as Baron Corbin, McIntyre and Bobby Lashley showed Strowman what it’s like to have strength in numbers.

The Monster Among Men will likely be on the lookout for some partners to join him in his quest for payback. Finn Balor and Kurt Angle are obvious possibilities. Who knows, maybe even a guy like John Cena will return to settle his beef with McIntyre.

The main event featured its fair share of interesting spots that were aided by the Chamber setting such as Kofi Kingston flying off the cage, AJ Styles’ phenomenal forearm to Daniel Bryan on the outside and Jeff Hardy’s Swanton bomb from atop of one of the pods onto a top rope dangling Styles.

It’s easy to believe that Mustafa Ali was likely the initial choice to be the final foe for Bryan before an injury forced him to the sideline. Ali would have worked well in the role. However, judging by how excited fans in Houston were for Kington’s close calls, it seems that Ali’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise.

With tons of momentum built from his recent hour long performance in the Gauntlet match on Smackdown, it can be argued that his performance inside the Chamber was the highlight and peak of Kingston’s career.

The 37-year-old veteran thrived when handed an opportunity he’s clearly been waiting years for. Right now, Kofi’s got the type of heat and fan interest that make him a worthy candidate for a Wrestlemania title feud with Bryan.

WWE Elimination Chamber Preview

Here’s our preview of the seven matches set to take place at the 2019 edition of WWE’s Elimination Chamber in Houston, Texas.

Cruiserweight Championship Match

Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa

Buddy Murphy

Since winning the cruiserweight title from Cedric Alexander in his native Australia at WWE Super Showdown, Buddy Murphy has strung together stellar showings in his last three title defenses against the likes of Alexander, Mustafa Ali and most recently at the Royal Rumble in a fatal four-way victory over Kalisto, Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa.  

Unfortunately for the 205 Live leading man, he’s been relegated to the preshow in his last two big show outings.

Being the guy on the once-a-month preshow and the weekly oft-overlooked C-show is a bless and a curse. Murphy knows the eyes that are on him are more limited than those competing on the Raw and Smackdown brands, but he hasn’t yet let that stop him from rewarding every one of those who devote their glances.

Tozawa, a former Dragon Gate standout who proved himself on the American independent circuit, is always looking to tell a special story with his opponent. He’ll find a worthy adversary in Murphy, who will be just as eager to tell a memorable story in the allotted 9-12 minutes they’ll get to work.

Given his performance as champion, there’s no reason to take the belt off Murphy before Wrestlemania. Tozawa is an opponent that could give him a potential show-stealing bout that will help Murphy continue to create a buzz, regardless of card position.


Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin

Braun Strowman Baron Corbin

The two-minute gong show match at TLC would have been a fine enough end to this feud. But creative doesn’t really seem to have much else for either of these two right now, so extend it must.

After the Brock F-5athon at Crown Jewel and the elbow surgery that soon followed, Strowman has noticeably cooled off and is currently in a bit of a precarious position heading into Wrestlemania. It’s clear that the brass doesn’t view him as a brand-carrying figure at this juncture.

Regardless of what the road ahead has in store, Braun will always have his size, presence and an ability to pull off unique stunts that can wow the crowd.

The no DQ stipulation for this match should provide a few fun antics in a match that’ll likely be the quick spot fest it needs to be. If they really want to kick the shenanigans into overdrive, a Drew McIntyre interference and Kurt Angle save spot is a possibility.


Intercontinental Championship Match

Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor

Balor Lashley

Finn Balor and Lio Rush displayed some good chemistry in their Raw match a few weeks ago. Still, I’m not a huge fan of the handicap stipulation for this one.

Lashley’s enough of an intimidating presence, so it seems unnecessary to have Rush actually be officially in the match instead of being his usual menacing interference waiting to happen self, a role which he’s been thriving in.

In the so-called David vs. Goliath battle between Balor and Brock, Finn played his role perfectly, finding the weak spot of the beast and exploiting it to the fullest. Unfortunately, Lashley isn’t quite the same level of attraction as Lesnar.

They seem ready to do something notable with Balor in the Wrestlemania plans. But I’m not sure if you need to have him win the title here, or keep him in the chase role until Mania. The handicap stipulation does open the door for a few possibilities in the outcome, and it wouldn’t shock me if Rush is there to eat the pin.


WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott

Rousey Riott

Given the seemingly foregone conclusion that the plan is for Ronda, Charlotte and Becky Lynch to main event Wrestlemania in a triple-threat match, it’d certainly be a shock of the century level upset to see Ruby win the belt in this situation. There are some intriguing facets to this match, regardless of how expected the outcome may be, mainly what type of crowd reaction Ronda receives and where she gets slotted on the card.

Crowds have been slowly starting to turn on Ronda ever since she was thrown into a story line with Lynch before Survivor Series.

Charlotte’s vicious kendo stick and steel chair-aided beat down of Rousey after their match in Los Angeles failed to garner the desired sympathy and reaction (a smattering of boos and indifferent groans) the folks behind the curtain were hoping for.

The former UFC star may be losing some of the support of the fans but she has been finding her footing in the squared circle, especially when it comes to her big show matches against the likes of Flair, Nia Jax, Nikki Bella and most recently against Sasha Banks at the Royal Rumble.

What’s interesting about Rousey is that while she may be a more mainstream attraction than any of the other women on the roster, her rookie skill level gives her the chance to believably sell for her opponent, instead of doing short dominant squashes.

It’s one thing to sell for a powerful behemoth like Jax or a proven former champion like Flair, Banks or Bella. The 5’4’’, 122-pound Riott doesn’t quite have those qualifications.

What she does have, though, is a surprisingly strong showing against Rousey under her belt from a Raw match last October. In fact, Riott dominated offensively for a good chunk of that one, even throwing in a few nasty looking fish hooks for good measure, before succumbing to Rousey’s patented finishing sequence and tapping to the arm bar.

Riott, a tried and true veteran of the independent scene, is capable of carrying this match through the early going, with some expected aid and interference from her Squad buddies Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. Maybe we get a near fall or two here to keep the crowd invested, but ultimately, Rousey will take this one in her fashion, after overcoming the odds and escaping the peril.

Post match could be interesting here. In her most recent promo on Smackdown, Charlotte said she’ll have a front-row seat to scout her Mania foe. If we get a face to face of those two after the match sans a suspended Becky, what type of response will it get?


Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Shane McMahon and the Miz vs. The Usos

Usos Shanemiz

Outside of the loss to Braun Strowman and Nicholas at Wrestlemania 34, I’m not sure I’ve seen The Bar have a worse match than they did in the loss to Shane McMahon and the Miz at Royal Rumble. It’s on par with the Enzo hijacks the crowd/Drake pisses himself cluster from Survivor Series.

The McMahon and Miz pairing is fine for some Smackdown promo segments, but in ring, well, it’s Shane and the Miz.

I will say the promo on the go home show between the Usos and the Smackdown tag champs did have some good jabs from both sides. That verbal back and forth affair may prove to be more entertaining than the actual match, though.

When on their game, the Usos are one of the most exciting teams in the business. They’ve proven that for a decade. But they aren’t working with the New Day or The Bar anymore.

Add in the questions about where Jimmy’s head will be at following his recent legal spat, and it’s easy to say that this match isn’t setting up to be a memorable affair. We might get one scary Shane spot, or at least a tease, though, if that tickles your fancy.


Women’s Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber

Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville vs. Naomi and Carmella vs. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan vs. The IIconics vs. Nia Jax and Tamina

Womens

Of the twelve competitors in this match, there is one great worker: Sasha Banks, one very good, sometimes great worker: Bayley and then the rest rate between average and passable.

Does it bode well that the two best workers and biggest stars in this match are on the same team and also starting what should be a 30-plus minute elimination match?

It makes it a bit of an uphill battle for sure. What I do like about this one, though, is that there’s a lot of “prove yourself in a big spot hunger” type of energy from some of the younger, newer teams like Rose/Deville, Morgan/Logan and the IIconics.

When seeing all three of those teams on the main roster for the first time, they all had that “there’s something there, but there’s a long way to go and a lot to learn” feel. But to each of their credit, they’ve all gotten out on the road, learned some and improved.

Then you’ve got the imposing duo of Jax and Tamina, who have of course been blessed with a patented McMahon alliterative nickname Samoan Slaughterhouse (t-shirts to be printed shortly). Nia seems like she’s at least trying not to be quite the botch machine she once was, and Tamina is also there, and big.

Naomi and Carmella will also be involved with this match, probably not doing much of note, but I like both of them and both are worthy of at least one quick moment of shine.

Ultimately, if they feel Sasha’s healthy enough, I could see her and Bayley going wire to wire, likely beating the more imposing Jax and Tamina in the final pairing.

When the first true thought of a women’s tag championship becoming a reality started taking off around the time of Evolution, Sasha and Bayley were the logical choice.

Nothing’s changed since then, especially if a match against two legends like Lita and Trish could be worked out for Wrestlemania.


WWE Championship Elimination Chamber

Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Randy Orton

KOfiAJ.jpg

As someone who is fine with seeing the least amount of Randy Orton in a match as possible, the gauntlet match on this past Smackdown was a win-win. The short, sloppy, largely forgettable segment between Kofi Kingston and Jeff Hardy aside, it was a terrific match and a great exhibition of the talents of all the competitors with Kingston obviously taking center stage as the standout.

Plus, we got minimal Orton involvement, and his win hopefully guarantees that the same will be true again on Sunday, unless it’s a swerve and we’re getting Randy-Bray Wyatt: The rematch no one wants.

Do an RKO, get back on the bus and cash the check seems to be Orton’s itinerary these days. And that’s totally fine for this one.

The fact that Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles—three of the best wrestlers of their generation—could very well be sharing the ring at the same time with the WWE title on the line is special enough. Add in the momentum Kofi built for himself in his “I saw what you did last year, Rollins, and I’m going to match it” performance, and throw in a legend like Jeff Hardy for good measure, and you’ve got the potential for a real spectacle type of main event.

In the end, I’d have Bryan retain, probably over Styles. A Kofi close call could work as well. I’d shy away from having Rowan involved in the ending because judging from that flat finish at the Rumble and the subsequent reactions he’s gotten on television since, I just don’t think anyone wants to see him in that spot, especially in a match with so many guys that are leagues above him.

Notable Absences

  • Alexa Bliss
  • Andrade
  • Asuka
  • Becky Lynch
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Charlotte
  • Dean Ambrose
  • Drew McIntyre
  • Kurt Angle
  • Rey Mysterio
  • Rusev
  • Seth Rollins
  • Shinsuke Nakamura
  • The Bar