As of now, the WWE’s creative plans for both brand’s world and mid-card championship matches are set to be contested in singles bouts at WWE WrestleMania. Bray Wyatt will defend his WWE Championship against Randy Orton, Goldberg will put his newly won WWE Universal Championship on the line against Brock Lesnar, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho will finally collide over the WWE United States title, and it appears Dean Ambrose will face Baron Corbin for the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
By all accounts, a multi-person ladder (or other gimmick) match was taken off the table by WWE officials early on in the process. That leaves the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal as the lone men’s bout with multiple competitors, tag team matches notwithstanding.
It is worth mentioning that, at one point, WWE officials were also considering not having the IC or U.S. titles be a part of the WrestleMania card, but the fluid creative process had a domino effect on the under-card. Owens and Jericho were always a part of the plan, but RAW’s mid-card title was inserted later in the build. On SmackDown, Vince McMahon and WWE officials heavily debated switching the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz to Ambrose, but ultimately went with the Lunatic Fringe.
The WWE hasn’t officially announced an Ambrose-Corbin match for WrestleMania as of yet, but that is the plan behind the scenes. And according to a new report, expect some type of hardcore gimmick to be attached to the match April 2 in Orlando. The WWE Universe has been teased with that plan over the last few weeks, evidenced by Corbin getting the upper-hand on multiple occasions, tossing Ambrose onto a WWE production table and then crushing him with a forklift.
Since the WWE brand extension last July, SmackDown has widely been perceived as the better product, but one clear flaw that remains is their lack of overall depth. The blue-branded WWE superstars, however, perceive that as an opportunity and that’s what Baron Corbin has taken advantage of. Ambrose recently did an interview with Planeta Wrestling (transcription provided by Wrestling Inc) to talk about his angle with The Lone Wolf.
“Nothing is set in stone yet. Baron Corbin seems like he wants a piece of me and that means I want a piece of his ass too, you know what I’m saying? If it comes down to that then – Baron Corbin is one of those guys that’s an up-and-comer on SmackDown Live. A year ago he was just coming out of NXT or whatever, he’s a blue chip prospect. He’s starting to get some experience under his belt and get some big matches, big wins here and there. It’s something I can sink my teeth into, a new challenge. Hot young stud coming up and in this situation I have the more experience, so I’m going to have to use that to my advantage.”
Another major reason for the WWE moving forward with a hardcore stipulation involving Baron and Dean is the way last year’s WrestleMania match played out between Ambrose and Brock Lesnar. The bout was a No Disqualification match, but Ambrose was very vocal about his displeasure in how it played out. Dean revealed that he tried to test the limits, but The Beast wanted a tamer match considering he was on the verge of a return to the UFC and needed to preserve his health.
WWE officials allowed kendo sticks and chairs during that match, but the reception was lukewarm at best. The entire program was received negatively, causing Vince to make Brock a top priority for this year’s event. Lesnar, as noted, is taking on Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship, while Ambrose appears to have been knocked down a peg. However, he may get the type of match he wanted last year against someone like Corbin, who while is certainly part of the WWE’s future, is not protected on the level as someone like Brock Lesnar.
[Featured Image by WWE]