Despite being the biggest, highest profile annual wrestling event in the world, WrestleMania is not above creative choices. Booking Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar in the WrestleMania 34 main event (and booking Lesnar to win)? Booking The Bar to finish up their reign as Raw Tag Team Champions by dropping the titles to a ten year old and Braun Strowman in what was more or less a squash? While wrestling booking is always subjective to a degree, these are the kinds of choices that mean fans can’t take for granted that Vince McMahon and company will always know what’s best.
WrestleMania 35 marks a return to the New York Metropolitan area. While none of WWE’s festivities are set for Madison Square Garden, this nonetheless still has the feel of homecoming for WWE. It’s the company's biggest market historically and where greats like Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan won their first world titles, besides being the home of the original WrestleMania (and the tenth, twentieth, and twenty-ninth editions). Given this history, there is some pressure for WWE to put on a great show.
Moreover, with major stars like The Rock and Batista expected to return, all time greats like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and The Undertaker conceivably in the mix, and current in ring wizards like Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, and Seth Rollins in featured roles, there is every potential for WWE to have a great ‘Mania on its hands.
But what if WWE comes up short? This article takes a look at five possibilities that we hope don’t come to fruition for WrestleMania.
20 The Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels
The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are all time greats to be sure, worth particularly distinguished legacies at WrestleMania, and two excellent matches with each other to look back on. After HBK returned to the ring to face off with The Phenom and Kane at Crown Jewel, some have suggested he might follow it up with one more stadium match against his old rival.
That would be a big mistake.
There’s little chance of Michaels and The Undertaker doing anything but tarnishing the memories of their great work a decade ago if they go one on one again. Moreover, if each man does wrestle at WrestleMania 35, they’d be best served to draw attention to current stars rather than staying tied up with each other.
19 Brock Lesnar Retains
Brock Lesnar is a uniquely credible athlete on the WWE landscape, and WWE has done a good job of keeping him special as a dominant part time act.
As a world champion, however, Lesnar has gone stale and has frustratingly kept the Universal Championship from having a regular presence on Raw. It’s understandable that WWE would reset his reign after Roman Reigns had to step away from the ring, but under no circumstances do the fans want to see his reign carry far into 2019. WrestleMania has to be the time that Lesnar loses the strap for good, to a full-time star fans want to see defend the belt on a regular basis.
18 Ronda Rousey Vs. Stephanie McMahon
There are some intriguing possibilities for Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 35. She may face off against some permutation of Becky Lynch and/or Charlotte Flair. Early reports suggested Cris Cyborg May Cris over from MMA to finally realize a version of their dream fight.
While it doesn’t seem likely, another possibility would be for WWE to carry last year’s storyline into this spring with Rousey going one on one this year against Stephanie McMahon.
To be fair, McMahon may be the most famous woman in WWE after Rousey and she has proven herself as a competent wrestler under the right circumstance. There is such a complete credibility gap between McMahon and Rousey, though, that the matchup would feel ridiculous, and anything but a complete squash would feel totally self serving for the McMahon clan.
17 Triple H Beats Batista
Triple H vs. Batista has been a penciled in WrestleMania match since the Evolution reunion on the thousandth episode of SmackDown. When Triple H got hurt at Crown Jewel, it seemed to derail those plans, but the latest reports suggest The Game is expected to be back in ring shape in time for ‘Mania.
The obvious feel good story to tell if the match does come to fruition, is for a The Animal to pick up one last big win against the guy who largely made his career in the first place, then ride off into the sunset. However, The Game has a bit of a reputation for winning big matches without a clear rhyme or reason. He's also lost three straight 'Mania matches, so therein lies the possibility he gets one win back. Hopefully he wouldn’t send off Batista by beating him after all these years.
16 Kevin Owens And/Or Sami Zayn Thrown In The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are two of the best in ring workers in WWE. Moreover, both in feuding with one another and as a heel tandem, they’ve told some incredible stories over the last three years.
However, coming off of a long program with Shane McMahon on SmackDown, the duo debuted on a Raw and quickly got lost in the shuffle, including losing lousy programs to Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley. WWE has alluded to both men returning soon and hopefully they’ll have the hands to tell a meaningful story going into WrestleMania, rather than getting wasted in forgettable battle royal runs.
15 Shane McMahon Vs. Daniel Bryan
Last spring, WWE seemed to tease dissension between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon as the authority figures on SmackDown. They made up and wound up being tag team partners for Bryan’s comeback match at last year’s WrestleMania. But now that Bryan is a heel, might WWE revisit the issue.
To be fair, WWE seems committed to a storyline between McMahon and The Miz for now. Hopefully Shane-O-MAC won’t shift his focus to Bryan, if only because that either means McMahon would be challenging for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania over more deserving stars, or else Bryan would have prematurely moved out of the title picture.
14 Becky Lynch Vs. Charlotte Flair
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair have had a very good rivalry in recent months. Their issue caught fire when Lynch turned heel, and oddly enough grew more popular, then grew all the more intriguing when Flair, too, turned heel.
For as good as the matches these two have been involved with have been, there issue, at least as heads up opponents, is starting to feel played out. If WWE were to stretch their program all the way to WrestleMania, it would be detrimental to the SmackDown women’s division on the whole. At minimum, if their beef does continue, hopefully it will be with Ronda Rousey in the mix to bump them up to main event contention.
13 Samoa Joe Left Off The Card
In his two years on the main roster, Samoa Joe has feuded with no lesser names than Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and AJ Styles. Still, the guy has yet to work a WrestleMania match. Some of that comes down to timing as Joe had only recently joined the main roster leading up to WrestleMania 33 and was hurt and held back for his return until right after WrestleMania 34.
Still, for someone as skilled, who has been a workhorse against a variety of opponents, Joe deserves to get to work in front of a WrestleMania stadium crowd. That’s all the more true given he’s no spring chicken, and may not have a great many years left in his tank to perform at this level.
12 John Cena Walks Out WWE Champion
When John Cena tied Ric Flair’s sixteen WWE-recognized world title reign mark in 2017, it was, in and of itself, a marker of the kind of legacy WWE wanted to represent him as having—that of an all-time great. It also established a foundation, though, for Cena to one day eclipse The Nature Boy’s record.
As Cena grows more and more part time and grows more invested in his Hollywood career, his days as a viable world champion may be winding down. In a sense, it makes sense for the biggest star of the last generation to get his last big title win at ‘Mania. However, there are so many younger full time talents who could benefit so much more from that kind of win at this point. Hopefully, if Cena does win world title number 17, it happens in another context.
11 Jinder Mahal Gets A Singles Match
The Jinder Mahal experiment of 2017 was an abject failure as a career lower mid-card guy predictably floundered when positioned as WWE Champion for half the year. The last gasp of that experiment saw Mahal plugged into the United States Championship picture for WrestleMania 34 and even went so far as to win the title.
Mahal moved to Raw and cycled back down the card. With another WrestleMania season upon us, might WWE try to cash in on his former world champion status for another meaningful fun? Hopefully not. Mahal is precisely the sort of talent the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is built for and there are no shortage of guys better suited to singles matches for the biggest show of the year.
10 The Cruiserweight Championship Defended On The Pre-Show
The last two years, the Cruiserweight division has had matches more than worthy of the WrestleMania mid-card, in Neville defending against Austin Aries, and Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali competing for the vacant title.
‘Mania is a long show as is, and it’s somewhat reasonable that WWE would deem these matches less of a draw, particularly to the casual audience, than matches featuring better established stars. Nonetheless, given how well received 205 Live, and particularly Buddy Murphy’s efforts have been over the last year, hopefully WWE will give this title and its contenders a proper main card spotlight this year.
9 Randy Orton Beats AJ Styles
One of the reported WrestleMania 35 matches from the SmackDown side is AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton. It’s a reasonable enough choice, to combine Orton’s established star power with Styles’s more recent main event status and WWE Championship reign. In particular, if Styles is going to be out of the world title picture, this is a solid spot to keep him among the upper crust of the roster.
However, if Orton were to beat Styles, it may be too big of a loss for the Phenomenal One to recover from. For all his tremendous efforts over the last three years, he belongs toward the top, and it would be a shame to see him shunted down the card.
8 Braun Strowman Vs. Dean Ambrose
Braun Strowman’s status as a world title contender is in question after failing to defeat Brock Lesnar at Crown Jewel for the vacant Universal Championship. There’s still an opportunity for him to turn his fortunes around at the Royal Rumble, but it seems more likely that his main event journey will be deferred.
One possibility would be, similar to WrestleMania 34, to slide Strowman into another title picture. Strowman challenging Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship makes sense enough on paper as a pair of fringe main event guys. However, Ambrose has reinvented himself in his heel persona now, and deserves better than the more than likely destruction he would face at the hands of the Monster Among Men.
7 Nia Jax Challenges For A Women's Title
Nia Jax remains relevant on the WWE landscape if only for her size and family connections. In particular, her sheer physicality makes her one of the very few credible opponents for Ronda Rousey for all of her shoot legitimacy. Moreover, her monster heel gimmick immediately puts her in the conversation of Royal Rumble contenders.
Jax’s time in the title picture is up, though, after losing decisively to Rousey at TLC. She isn’t established as a safe or all that entertaining worker and there are for more interesting workers for each women’s championship. That list includes, but is not necessarily limited to Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey, Asuka, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Alexa Bliss.
6 Tommaso Ciampa Called Up Straight To The Mid-Card
Tommaso Ciampa has been nothing short of a revelation in his role as the lead heel in NXT. At this point, there’s little question he will get his call up, and it’s just a question of when it happens.
WWE’s record of successfully transitioning top NXT talent to the main roster is checkered to put it kindly. There’s no guarantee that Ciampa will thrive on the main roster. Hopefully WWE will have the patience to bring him up on his own terms and as a big deal, and not run the risk of him getting lost in the shuffle in a WrestleMania season alongside a bloated roster that includes part timers.
5 New Day Vs. The Usos Vs. The Bar
The New Day, The Usos, and The Bar are three very different, very good teams that WWE has justifiably features heavily in recent years, and particularly in different permutations with each other this past year. All three units no doubt deserve a main card spot at WrestleMania and they undeniably have chemistry.
The thing is that every combination of these teams is completely played out. While match qualify may justify continuing the trend, it would serve these men best to have fresher things to do at ‘Mania. There's nothing they can do that would make a proposed 'Mania match feel any more special than previous encounters.
4 A Long Rock Promo
There’s no question that The Rock is the biggest celebrity affiliated with WWE, and he was one of the greatest promo men in the history of the business. If his appearances at WrestleManias XXVII and 32 proved anything, though, it’s that there certainly can be too much of a good thing.
Getting a Rock promo on Raw is still special, and given the right dance partners to tango with, like Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 31, he can still work some ‘Mania magic. However, given a long leash, his monologues at WrestleMania run the risk of further bloating too-long cards, and WWE doesn’t need that this spring.
3 Finn Balor Stays Lost In The Shuffle
Finn Balor debuted on the main roster off of a highly decorated run in NXT and got the big push of becoming the first Universal Champion. His shoulder injury totally derailed his momentum and he hasn’t really been a factor in the main event since.
Balor has only worked one WrestleMania now—a losing effort in an Intercontinental Championship match. For his talent and unique connection to the fans, hopefully he will garner a better featured spot this year, rather than the opposite extreme of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It feels long overdue for Balor to have a high-profile spot.
2 Dolph Ziggler Vs. Drew McIntyre
Despite getting a less than sterling reception from hardcore fans when they debuted on Raw as a duo this spring, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre wound up an entertaining. The Scottish Psychopath was a good, believable heater in The Show Off’s corner, they turned out to make an excellent tag team, and following their split, the matches between them have been good.
Given their talent and intertwined storylines, many fans anticipated an eventual WrestleMania match between Ziggler and McIntyre. However, now that the match has already happened, and McIntyre has emerged the decisive victor, the idea of these guys meeting again at WrestleMania feels redundant, and like it will put both men into a tedium if repetitive storylines for months to come. It's better for these two to go their separate ways.
1 Carmella And R-Truth Go Their Separate Ways
Carmella and R-Truth have been one of the surprise success stories for WWE in 2018. The comedic pairing has offered Carmella an extra base of personality to work from, while the relative newness if her act has made truth feel a lot fresher. The oddball dynamic between them and their proclivity for dance breaks offered some of the most fun moments of levity for SmackDown and the second season of Mixed Match Challenge alike.
There’s usually a shelf life on mid-card comedy acts, but it’s hard to imagine either of these stars, or WWE being better off for a split going into WrestleMania season.