Based on the WWE’s recent formatting changes for its big four pay-per-views, fans should expect the main card of WWE WrestleMania to run a jam-packed four hours, preceded by a two-hour kickoff show. Last year’s WWE WrestleMania kickoff show hosted three matches, 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.
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 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. Last week, 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 also leave an element of surprise at their disposal with the potential that former female WWE superstars could return to participate in the match.
And on Monday’s episode of WWE RAW, Mick Foley booked a triple threat bout for the RAW Tag Team Championships. Despite their best efforts, 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. It’ll also mark the first time Cesaro and Sheamus team together on the grand stage.
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. There are six marquee bouts either written in stone or being discussed that won’t have championship gold involved.
As of the day before WWE Fastlane, WWE officials were planning on at least five title changes at WrestleMania, according to a 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. And it may have even been reduced to four depending on plans for the RAW women.
Keep in mind that everything is subject to change in the WWE, but current plans call 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. The RAW Women’s Championship was among those to change, but Bayley beating Charlotte at WWE Fastlane could have scrapped that idea.
This means that Brock Lesnar will defeat Goldberg, Randy Orton will dethrone Bray Wyatt, 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, 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 expected this week on WWE SmackDown.
Randy Orton winning the WWE Championship at ‘Mania has to be the most surprising of the bunch, considering Wyatt just won the title a month 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. Aries has to get through a Fatal Five-Way match Tuesday night on WWE 205 Live but is expected to win.
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. WWE officials are just deciding if making it official overloads the card. There have not been this many matches on WWE’s grand stage since 1991 when there were 15 bouts at WrestleMania VII.
But as of now, there are least four championship changes earmarked for the show, though there was once an idea to change eight so things are still subject to change. A plan has also been in the works to crown Enzo & Cass for the first time since they arrived in WWE, but talk has been centered around the idea of waiting until the RAW the night after ‘Mania to make that switch.
[Featured Image by WWE]