Last year, the WWE booked three matches on the WrestleMania kickoff show, one of which was a title match. That’s noteworthy because WWE officials had internal debates in recent weeks regarding whether two of their championships will be defended on the show at all this year. That championship match last year saw Kalisto defend the WWE United States title against Ryback.
As of several weeks ago, the WWE 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 forced her to relinquish her title, where plans may have been in place for a multi-woman tag match rather than a championship bout.
Both WWE titles are now officially part of the big show in Orlando. Two weeks ago, Daniel Bryan announced that Alexa Bliss will defend her championship against every available woman on the WWE SmackDown roster. That was scripted in a way to keep the door open for Naomi’s return, but it also left an element of surprise at their disposal with the potential that former female WWE superstars could return to participate in the match. As of now, the bout has five female participants confirmed.
On last week’s episode of WWE RAW, Mick Foley booked a triple threat bout for the RAW Tag Team Championships. Gallows & Anderson will defend their belts against Cesaro & Sheamus and Enzo & Big Cass. This will be the first ‘Mania for the champs and Enzo & Cass, as they arrived in the WWE right after last year’s event. Cesaro and Sheamus have performed on the grand stage before, of course, but this will mark the first time they will team up together.
Last year, under the six-hour format, the WWE put on 11 planned matches and one impromptu battle between The Rock and Erick Rowan that lasted less than 10 seconds. This year, there are now 15 matches under consideration, with the recent news that the long-rumored Big Show/Shaquille O’Neal match has been scrapped. In light of the WWE brand extension, there are now nine championships on the main roster.
As of the day before WWE Fastlane, WWE officials were planning on at least five title changes at WrestleMania. 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. The first step in that process was having Bayley beat Charlotte for the RAW Women’s Championship at WWE Fastlane, which likely cut it to four, but that’s no longer a certainty either. There has also been some talk of adding Dana Brooke and/or Nia Jax to the RAW women’s match.
Fast forward to now where the latest report indicates that the WWE has definitive plans to have three title changes on April 2. It’s unclear whether officials have changed their mind in regard to the fourth, but there will be no less than three as of now. Plans as of two weeks ago called for the Universal Championship, WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship, and United States Championship to go home with a different WWE superstar that brought it with them to Camping World Stadium, and the RAW Women’s title was originally among those to change.
Brock Lesnar will defeat Goldberg, 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 stay beyond the originally proposed one match at WWE Survivor Series, the WWE Universal Championship plans were laid out from November through WWE WrestleMania, and WWE officials haven’t strayed from those plans. The icon is expected to put an end once and for all to his rivalry with Lesnar, with The Beast finally getting a win in the feud that is 13 years in the making.
Baron Corbin was a relatively new proposed champion, but WWE officials have not been as pleased with Dean Ambrose’s Intercontinental Championship reign as they had hoped. They are granting The Lunatic Fringe the type of match this year, however, that he was campaigning for a year ago with Brock Lesnar, with the addition of a hardcore stipulation that was expected last week, but Ambrose was held off of WWE SmackDown to sell injuries from the forklift attack.
Randy Orton winning the WWE Championship at ‘Mania was among the original five changes planned for Orlando, but that may still be under debate as of now. The news also seems to indicate that Neville will remain Cruiserweight Champion as he will face Austin Aries in what is shaping up to be the most anticipated Cruiserweight match since the rebirth of the division.
The lone title match that seems the most in danger of being on the show would be the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match, but the seeds have been planted for American Alpha to defend against The Usos. Scrapping the Shaq and Big Show match may have opened the door for the teams to square off on the kickoff show. There have not been this many matches on WWE’s grand stage since 1991 when there were 15 bouts at WrestleMania VII.
As noted, there was once an idea to change eight WWE championships so things are still subject to change. Less than two weeks out, there are plans for no less than three. A plan has also been in the works to crown Enzo & Cass for the first time since they arrived in WWE, but there is more talk of waiting until the RAW the night after ‘Mania to go through with that.
[Featured Image by WWE]