WrestleMania is the biggest night in wrestling, and over the past few years, Vince McMahon and the WWE have opted to go with older stars and big moments, rather than dream matches that would please the fans, and while every card has been fairly good, it would be good to see a great card with plenty of great wrestling, rather than needing the show to be saved by a few big moments. Obviously this list won’t be to everyone’s taste, and won’t in all likelihood happen, but these are 8 RAW and 8 Smackdown (+1 combined match) that I think we’d love to see in 2018 in New Orleans.
Author's Note: Obviously I know the WWE isn’t going to run a card with 16-17 matches, but these are just some ideas for bouts that we could and should see. I would much prefer to see WWE run a two-night WrestleMania event, with one during the day Saturday and another on the traditional Sunday night, giving all the matches and performers much more time. While I know they won’t go with this format, it would certainly help fans not sit through a 6-7 hour event, and would be much more enjoyable for all.
22 SmackDown And RAW – Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has become a staple of WWE’s grandest show since WrestleMania XXX, and the list of winners include Cesaro, The Big Show, Baron Corbin and Mojo Rawley. While none of them have truly gone on to bigger and better things since winning this bout (unless Corbin successfully cashes in his Money in the Bank contract), the ideal winner for 2018 should be a future star in the WWE.
While it might not be the most exciting match, it seems like it is here to stay, and as it provides a young star an opportunity to thrive on the biggest stage the WWE has to offer, it can be used incredibly effectively. Obviously this one features competitors from both brands, which is why it’s included as a bonus at #17, and again it will feature the debut of an NXT sensation, this time being Aleister Black (the former Tommy End), and will see him make a grand entrance to SmackDown Live.
Ideal Winner and New SmackDown Live Member: Aleister Black
21 RAW – “Broken” Matt Hardy Vs. Bray Wyatt
Ever since Matt Hardy returned to the WWE, fans have been clamoring for the “Broken” gimmick, which made him the most popular wrestler in the world during 2016, to come with him, but unfortunately due to legal issues with Anthem Sports, it hasn’t happened yet. But with Matt constantly teasing us on Twitter, it’s bound to happen, sooner rather than later.
When it does happen, there is one feud that could be remembered throughout WWE history, and that’s with the Eater of Worlds, Bray Wyatt, and if they embrace the odd, downright crazy stylings that Matt favored in TNA, it could be incredible. Obviously you have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy a feud like this, but it’s worth it once you see just how wacky and entertaining that Hardy is, so entertaining in fact that he should be able to eat a clean pinfall here without major damage to the character, because Wyatt desperately needs a win at WrestleMania.
Ideal winner: Bray Wyatt
20 SmackDown Women’s Gauntlet Match
Simply put, the SmackDown Women’s roster has been booked 100 times better than that of their RAW counterparts, and that leaves them with several contenders entering WrestleMania season, so why not have a women’s gauntlet match to decide who will challenge Charlotte Flair for the title? What’s interesting about this is, there could be several RAW performers in this match, as they have voiced their displeasure with the way RAW has been booked. As such, the opportunity to join SmackDown Live and get a shot at the title would be an easy and interesting story to tell.
The fans are still behind Becky Lynch, so I’d have her go from start to finish, somehow pulling off the victory over Nia Jax as the last contender, until Daniel Bryan emerges, announcing he has signed a new star. Enter Asuka. She would come out and destroy Lynch, and while you might not like Becky eating the loss, her performance made her look like a star already, and would set up Asuka vs. Charlotte, which is a must-see bout.
Ideal Winner: New #1 contender – Asuka
19 RAW – Kurt Angle Vs. Samoa Joe
When Kurt Angle’s return to the WWE was announced early in 2017, fans went crazy with anticipation, and although he has been less than stellar in his job at the moment (it’s always hard when the company give little to no creative freedom), and with rumors of his impending return to the ring, fans are undoubtedly excited. There are many options for his opponents at SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and even WrestleMania, so there is time to match him up against the greats of today that he never got to face, but for the biggest show of the year, why not go back to one of his best opponents from his days in TNA?
In Samoa Joe, Angle could have some of his best matches yet, and on a grand stage like WrestleMania, we could see a big hoss battle that the fans would truly enjoy. Although it may be a risk with Angle's neck, Joe is a safe enough worker that he could get him through out. This would also be Samoa Joe’s first WrestleMania appearance, and it sure would be a memorable one.
Ideal Winner: Samoa Joe
18 SmackDown – Mike Kanellis Vs. Tye Dillinger
WrestleMania often has a very boring pre-show (in the case of the matches anyway), but by stacking it (assuming they stick with the one night WrestleMania show, opposed to my view in the introduction), they should begin to treat it as a positive, and give it great matches with even better stories. The best way to do that is present midcard performers who are looking to rise in the future, and just give them the freedom to perform and do what they want in the ring.
Two talented performers who could be future main event stars are Mike Kanellis and “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger. The story could be a basic one, with Mike & Maria showing the world the power of love, only for the Perfect 10 to try seduce Maria from what she preaches. While the WWE could probably come up with something a bit better storyline-wise, this match would be great, as both men are phenomenal performers.
Ideal Winner: Mike Kanellis
17 RAW – The Shield Vs. The Club
While the RAW main event scene is stacked with talent, it seems that no one is truly getting over, and that leads to guys like Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Dean Ambrose, who are all liked by the fans, but not at the level you’d expect. So with Brock Lesnar and his opponent (keep on reading!) battling for the WWE Universal Title, it leaves these kind of men without a match, so why not begin to reform The Shield now, as their reunion would be a major deal?
Sure, people might look at this as a way to get Roman Reigns over, but this reunion and bout at WrestleMania would achieve two goals: it would make Reigns a long-term heel as he turns his back on his brothers, and it would make Finn Balor the company's top heel in the near future, as he is absolutely incredible in that role. It’s unlikely this will happen, but with so little room on the card, it may be the only way to get these guys in a meaningful spot at WrestleMania.
Ideal Winners: The Shield
16 SmackDown – Randy Orton Vs. Sami Zayn
Both of these men are quite curious cases at the moment, with Orton engaged in a rivalry with former jobber-turned WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, while Zayn struggles to find his way on the main roster, but if they both put the effort we know they can into a match, this would catapult the Underdog from the Underground to the top of the SmackDown Live card. The story to this would be a long one, but if the WWE can let these two be themselves, it could reinvigorate both men’s careers.
First off, I’d have Orton regain then lose the WWE title to AJ Styles (using his Spiral Tap to do it), with Orton becoming more and more frustrated at “indie guys” and their …dives, which would revert him back to not the Legend Killer, but the Indie Killer, having his career come full circle. I’d then have Zayn cost SmackDown a win in the Survivor Series match (by missing a …dive), with Orton turning heel and punting him in the head, making him miss serious time, and this would lead up to a bout at WrestleMania, which would be great, as both men are good workers and play to their characters incredibly well.
Ideal winner: Sami Zayn
15 RAW – Neville (c) Vs. Ricochet – Cruiserweight Championship
Neville has been on an absolute tear since joining the Cruiserweight division, and although 205 Live is arguably failing, he has been the shining star of the division. And after defeating Jack Gallagher, Austin Aries and TJP, it looks like The King of the Cruiserweights is running out of serious competition. With rumors that Ricochet is on his way to the WWE, this creates an absolute dream match for WWE’s biggest show of the year.
While most fans won’t want to see Ricochet in the cruiserweight division, it’s where he will shine early on, and if the WWE let the high-flyers be themselves on the biggest stage, these two could produce a match that fans would be talking about for generations to come. For fans of independent wrestling, this is a major dream match, so if WWE could stop pushing the 205 division to the side and focus on making them a key part of the big event, they could have quite possibly the best opening bout in WrestleMania history.
Ideal Winner and new Cruiserweight Champion: Ricochet
14 SmackDown – John Cena Vs. Kevin Owens
John Cena has a fantastic record at WrestleMania, but as his career winds down, it’s about time that he puts a future star over on the grandest stage, so why not give that win to one of his best recent rivals, The New Face of America, Kevin Owens. Sure, some people would love to see either of these men in the title picture at this time of year, but there are better options for the SmackDown Live championships, so this would give both men something significant to do, and would be yet another amazing bout for the stacked card. There may be other matches these two could have, but with so much talent and so little time, this would be a great option, as it seems there could be genuine animosity (from a kayfabe perspective) between the two, and we know that their characters and in-ring work would both bring out the best in each other.
Ideal Winner: Kevin Owens
13 RAW – The Miz (c) Vs. Jeff Hardy – Intercontinental Championship
Ever since WrestleMania 32, and the night following when The Miz reunited with his real life wife Maryse, he has been on fire, and has been the most interesting part of whatever show he’s been on, but lately it looks like he is splitting with Maryse and has lost a lot of steam in the feud with Dean Ambrose, but there’s no one better to hold that Intercontinental Championship, and he should hold it all the way to WrestleMania where he gets challenged by now single Jeff Hardy. Jeff is incredibly popular with the fans after all these years, and no one in the company draws genuine heat like The A-Lister, so it would be a great, character driven bout, but in the end, The Miz is the future, and one of the best Intercontinental Champions of all time, and he deserves a successful defense at ‘Mania.
Ideal Winner: And still Intercontinental Champion The Miz
11 SmackDown – Rusev (c) Vs. Baron Corbin – United States Championship
This match may not happen, as we don’t know how the WWE feels about Rusev and how they will book him upon return, but these two are going to be key players for the company going forward, so this is definitely a chance to see how they go in a singles match on the biggest stage of the year. At this point, I’d still imagine that Corbin is holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, and with RuRu holding the U.S. title, it would prove how highly the WWE think of both men.
While this might not be a high-flying, technical classic, it would be a great match nonetheless. These two would offer a hard-hitting slugfest, and that would be a welcome break from some of the other matches featured in this article, but in the end, Rusev would keep possession of his title.
Ideal Winner and still WWE United States Champion: Rusev
10 RAW – Sasha Banks (c) Vs. Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship
This is a match that all fans have been waiting for since the epic bouts these two had in NXT, but unfortunately, both of them have been woefully misused during their run with Monday Night RAW. That can be turned around soon, and that could help the build to this epic clash live up to the fans' lofty expectations. Obviously, this would need time, as both their bouts in NXT went 15 and 30 minutes, and if they get that time, with Banks reverting back to her heel "Boss" persona, they could create history. With Triple H gaining influence behind the scenes, it would be smart of the company to go this way (and they probably will), and it will be a major success, as long as the WWE don’t try and promote this as a "history-making affair," as it will happen on it’s own.
Ideal winner and still RAW Women’s Champion: Sasha Banks
8 SmackDown – The New Day (c) Vs. The Usos Vs. American Alpha Vs. Breezango
SmackDown Live has been very up-and-down since 2016’s brand extension, but the one constant has been the tag team division, and how poorly it has been handled. But with American Alpha due to return to TV soon (no idea why they were gone), the arrival of The New Day and the vast improvement of the now-dubbed "Fashion Police," good times could certainly be on the horizon. It will be tough for SmackDown Live to operate with only four top tag teams for the next 10 months, but if they can book it correctly, this will be a fantastic story and great match, and who wouldn’t want to see a WrestleMania edition of the Fashion Files?
The SmackDown Live tag team division didn’t even feature at this past WrestleMania in Orlando, so this would be a huge step up for them, and if they are given the right amount of time, it could be a very enjoyable segment.
Ideal Winners and New Smackdown Live Tag Champs: Breezango
7 RAW – The Revival (c) Vs. Cesaro & Sheamus – RAW Tag Team Championship
After a few years together in NXT, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder have proven that they are one of, if not the best single tag team in the entire wrestling industry, and they’ve had fantastic matches with anyone they cross paths with. But with a severely lacking RAW Tag Team division, they will have to settle for defending their titles against the makeshift duo of Sheamus & Cesaro. With all four men being fantastic, on their own and together as tag teams, this could be a fantastic match, and while the heel vs. heel dynamic might be odd to some, it could be a fresh take on the generic tag team bouts WWE usually showcase. The division is severely lacking at this point, so it will be hard to tell where they go after this, but one thing is for sure, The Top Guys should reign for quite some time.
Ideal winner and still RAW Tag Team Champions: The Revival
5 SmackDown – Charlotte (c) vs. Asuka – SmackDown Women’s Championship
As we’ve mentioned in this piece already, the SmackDown Live women’s roster is quite crowded, and with Charlotte reigning supreme at the top of the division, there are plenty of challengers waiting to face her on the grandest stage.But only one comes out on top, and that’s The Empress of Tomorrow, the most dominant woman to ever step foot in the WWE, Asuka.
This would be a clash of titans, and if the right story is told here, this could be the defining moment for women in the WWE, as this has the potential to steal the show. If the WWE allow them to go all out, it could solidify both as all-time greats. We don’t know if the WWE has any interest in calling the longest-reigning champ in NXT history up to the main roster anytime soon, but if they do take the risk, this is the biggest match they can book, and will make both megastars.
Ideal Winner and new SmackDown Women’s Champion: Asuka
2 RAW – Brock Lesnar (c) Vs. Braun Strowman – WWE Universal Championship
WWE seem very insistent on booking Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a rematch of their WrestleMania 31 bout, and while it will be a big-time bout, making fans wait for Strowman vs. Lesnar would be much more enjoyable for the fans. Reigns should get his rematch at SummerSlam, and with the predictable fan reaction, he shouldn’t be crowned in his 4th straight WrestleMania, and that leaves just Strowman to challenge Lesnar.
If the company books it right and keep them apart until then, it will be a titanic clash, on the level of Hogan vs. Andre. Obviously the company has put the relatively young title on Lesnar for a reason, and that’s to give the new champion a rub, and that should be Braun Strowman, who will prove equally as dominant as Lesnar (but barring injury, is sure to show up every week on RAW).
Ideal Winner and New WWE Universal Champion: Braun Strowman
1 SmackDown – AJ Styles (c) Vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – WWE World Championship
After the confrontation these two had during the fantastic men’s Money in the Bank ladder match (at a very poor event, but that’s already been covered), it should no longer be a question for the WWE which match should headline WrestleMania 34, as these two could easily have the greatest match in the history of the event. With the history the pair share in Japan, and their amazing talents in the ring, this could be a story for the ages, and while WWE is struggling with ratings, they may look to give the fans this one early.
But if WWE can be patient and let this be the first encounter between the two at WrestleMania, it will be an absolutely incredible event. The pure electricity in the air during their showdown should indicate to management that this is a match fans are wanting to see, and with the greatest prize in sports entertainment on the line, these guys can truly usher in a new era for the WWE.
Ideal winner: New WWE Champion Shinsuke Nakamura