The WWE’s biggest show of the year, WrestleMania, comes your way exactly four weeks from this Sunday, with WWE Fastlane set as the lone remaining pit stop on the road to Orlando on April 2. The WWE Universe will have a much clearer picture of the WrestleMania card during the fallout to WWE Fastlane, though the card is just about complete backstage.
Based on the WWE’s recent formatting changes for its big four pay-per-views, fans should expect the main card to run a jam-packed four hours, preceded by a two-hour kickoff show. Last year’s WrestleMania kickoff show hosted three matches, one of which was a title match. That’s noteworthy because WWE officials have had internal debates in recent weeks whether two of their championships will be defended on the show.
As of several weeks ago, the SmackDown Women’s Championship and the RAW Tag Team Championships were in jeopardy of being showcased at WWE WrestleMania. This was even before Naomi’s injury that forced her to relinquish her title where plans may have been in place for a multi-woman tag match rather than a championship bout.
Last year, under the six-hour format, the WWE put on 11 planned matches and one impromptu battle between The Rock and Erick Rowan. This year, there are 16 matches under consideration, but it will be difficult for all of them to be on the show. In light of the WWE brand extension, there are now nine championships on the main roster. There are seven marquee bouts either written in stone or being discussed that won’t have championship gold involved.
But perhaps more importantly, WWE officials are currently planning on at least five title changes at WrestleMania, according to a new report from SportsKeeda. At one point, there were apparently designs on changing seven to eight titleholders, but Vince McMahon and top WWE officials instructed the writing team to reduce that number. In any event, there are five WWE championships that will definitely change hands.
Keep in mind that everything is subject to change in the WWE, but current plans call for the Universal Championship, WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship, RAW Women’s Championship and United States Championship to go home with a different WWE superstar that brought it with them to Camping World Stadium.
This means that Brock Lesnar will defeat Goldberg, Randy Orton will dethrone Bray Wyatt, Bayley will emerge from the rumored fatal four way match with the RAW Women’s Championship, Baron Corbin will become a champion in the WWE for the first time and Kevin Owens will take the U.S. title from former best friend Chris Jericho.
Once Goldberg agreed to an extension, the WWE Universal Championship plans were laid out from November through WrestleMania, and WWE officials haven’t strayed from those plans. The icon is expected to beat Owens this Sunday and then put an end once and for all to his rivalry with Lesnar, with The Beast finally getting a win in the feud, 13 years in the making. Bayley has been locked in for a WrestleMania title win for some time, even though she’s expected to lose it this Sunday at WWE Fastlane.
Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens are relatively new proposed champions, but WWE officials haven’t enjoyed Dean Ambrose’s run as Intercontinental Champion and once Chris Jericho secured the U.S. title it only made sense for Owens to take it from him when their storyline culminated.
Randy Orton winning the WWE Championship at ‘Mania has to be the most surprising of the bunch, considering Wyatt just won the title three weeks ago and his ascension has been a long time coming. The news also would seem to indicate that Neville will remain Cruiserweight Champion as he’s been rumored to face Austin Aries after dispatching Jack Gallagher this Sunday.
As noted, the RAW Tag Team and SmackDown Women’s Championships are not locks to be defended at WrestleMania. The other match in danger of being dropped is the bout of behemoths between Big Show and Shaquille O’Neal. Even if all three of those are wiped, that still leaves 13 matches which is on the hefty side. There haven’t been that many contests since 1991 when the WWE booked 15 matches for WrestleMania VII.
Other matches being discussed or penciled in not yet mentioned here include American Alpha defending the SmackDown Tag Team titles against The Usos, Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker, Triple H against Seth Rollins, AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon, John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. Miz and Maryse, Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe and, of course, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Enzo & Big Cass are expected to emerge from WrestleMania weekend as the new RAW Tag Team champs, but that title switch may not come until the WWE RAW the following night.
[Featured Image by WWE]