It’s that special time of year, folks.
Give or take, we are now about two months away from the Royal Rumble, and about four-and-a-half months away from WrestleMania. This is the time of year when you start seeing rumors and speculation about what we could be seeing at WrestleMania. We’re already seeing some of the directions on WWE television, but otherwise, it’s just the rumor and speculation that I mentioned. It happens every year. Sometimes, those rumors end up being true, more or less. Other times, what we get is not what we heard we would be getting.
If you watched this week’s episode of Raw, you saw Asuka take on Nia Jax in a non-title match. You also may or may not have noticed Raw commentator Byron Saxton say that if the match would be “WrestleMania main event worthy.” I didn’t catch that when I first watched the episode, but I tend to ignore most of what is said on WWE commentary, anyway, so that couldn’t be helped. Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp is reporting that Saxton’s line wasn’t just some random hyperbole that he came up with to hype the match. The report says that Saxton was given that exact line to say, but a reason for doing so is unknown, at least of the moment I type these words.
That got people to thinking… is WWE going to try and push Asuka vs Nia Jax as a “WrestleMania main event” for next year’s event? Excuse me for a moment while I produce everything that I just ate for lunch so that I can look at it again.
Maybe we are getting Asuka vs Nia Jax to close out Mania. Maybe we’re getting Asuka against someone else. Obviously, we don’t know what the plans are quite yet, but it’s fun to think about. When you look at everything going on in WWE right now, there really aren’t a lot of “worthy” main events for WrestleMania 37. I want to take a look at some of the matches we could/should be seeing when the event finally arrives. The only common thread between all of them is that they’re realistic in one way or another. I’m not just picking Random Midcarder A vs Random Midcarder B because I happen to be a fan of both of them. These are in no particular order, by the way.
Roman Reigns vs The Rock: We’ve all heard about it. We’ve all thought about it. It seems like a very logical continuation of the current story involving the Anoa’i family that we’re seeing play out every week. Roman Reigns has become a bit of a mafia boss, and has seemingly recruited his cousin, Jey Uso, to be by his side. If Jey is there, you might assume that Jimmy will end up being there, too, once he’s ready to return to in-ring action. We’ve seen Roman’s father, Sika, and his uncle, Afa, stand by his side, too. The popular thinking is that the new “Samoan Dynasty” stable will run roughshod on Smackdown until the family’s most famous member decides to return to WWE and try to put an end to what they’re doing to the name and legacy that the family has had for decades.
At first glance, I dig the idea. Having The Rock return to the ring for the first time in four years would be a huge deal, both in and out of wrestling. His return would get a tremendous amount of mainstream publicity, and we all know how much mainstream publicity makes Vince McMahon’s nipples erect. The story makes sense. In kayfabe, why wouldn’t The Rock return to try and take Reigns down? Rock’s grandfather, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, is one of the patriarchs of the family, as far as their lineage in the wrestling industry is concerned. Any “dirt” on the family name affects him just as much as it does anyone else.
The more I think about it, though, the more iffy it all becomes. There is one very important variable that will affect some of my interest in a possible Reigns vs Rock match… live crowds. Rock returning to the ring, as mentioned, is a huge deal. Frankly, it’s too big to happen in a Thunderdome-like setting, with crowd reactions being directed and nothing really seeming genuine. If WWE isn’t able to have live crowds, even at reduced capacities, by the time the Royal Rumble comes around, I don’t think this is a match that should happen. There is also a report out that says WWE is looking to do something “different” for the Royal Rumble, and that would include having fans in attendance. That’s a start, sure, but if things go right back to a virtual audience after the Rumble, then my concerns remain.
If things reach a point where WWE can start having fans in attendance for their shows again, I am all for this match happening. All. For. It. The build would be amazing. Rock would be able to deliver intense promos without having to dip into the sophomoric insults well too often, due to how serious the story is. Rock, Reigns, Paul Heyman, and The Usos… the promos alone for that match would be out-of-this-world, especially if Rock can be more focused and driven, and not just insinuate that the heels are gay, say they enjoy monkey semen, and that they shove random objects up their anuses.
Brock Lesnar vs Bobby Lashley: Honestly, The Hurt Business has saved the idea of this match in my eyes. From the moment Lashley returned to WWE, a match with Lesnar is what everyone has talked about. It’s a very natural pairing. They’re both super jacked, have won national championships in college as amateur wrestlers, have had successful MMA careers, and have held World Titles as pro wrestlers. Spare me the “BROCK DID IT ON A HIGHER LEVEL” talk, though, will you?
At many times in his current WWE stint, Lashley has been what can only be called a disappointment. Not his fault, of course. WWE just doesn’t know what the hell to do with 98% of their roster. At that point, a “damaged” Lashley would’ve been a terrible opponent for Lesnar. Even at the beginning of The Hurt Business, as I mentioned a million times, Lashley would often look like a goof against the likes of Apollo Crews, Ricochet, Cedric Alexander, and… well, just those three, because that’s all Lashley faced for 284 consecutive weeks. The company finally righted their wrongs with time, and now Lashley looks like an absolute star. THIS version of Bobby Lashley can be a great opponent for Lesnar.
As we’ve seen on many occasions, Brock seems to appreciate opponents that can take an ass whooping, but that can also dish one out. He shouldn’t have anything to worry about when it comes to Lashley standing tall in the ring. These two would gladly beat the shit out of each other, and we would all be better off for it.
Does the WWE Title come into play here? It has been said that Brock would be open to a WWE return if the right story and the right opportunity comes up. Do you picture him coming back for a few weeks of promos and appearances, followed by a single match? Based on predictions I’ve seen from people around Milana Vayntrub’s internet, the most popular pick is that Lashley ends up becoming the WWE Champion before Mania, and then ends up calling Lesnar out on television on multiple occasions. Lesnar finally shows up, we get our Mania match, Lesnar puts Lashley over, and then we probably don’t see much of Lesnar again while Lashley enjoys the “rub” that one gets when they defeat Brock. I don’t know about all that. I think Lashley should come out victorious if they do square off against each other, but Brock returning for just one match? As happy as he is living on his farm with his family? I know he’ll be offered a lot of money, but a one-match return that he’ll be on the losing end of? I just don’t see it. I could see him returning for a brief stint. Another one-year deal, maybe, or perhaps a WrestleMania-to-SummerSlam contract. That’s a different discussion for a different day, though.
Asuka vs Ronda Rousey: This is the REAL reason the company wants to have it in our head that Asuka, specifically, could be involved in a WrestleMania main event match.
If you look at the matches that Ronda has had in her career, she has faced off against the best of the best and the biggest of the big of this generation of main roster women. Her last match was a Triple Threat against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. She had a singles match against Bayley on an episode of Raw. She went one-on-one with Sasha Banks at the 2019 Royal Rumble. Nikki Bella? Natalya? Nia Jax? Mickie James? Alexa Bliss? She’s faced them all. Do you know who she hasn’t faced yet?
The current Raw Women’s Champion is now at the two-and-a-half month mark of her title reign. It’s not out of the question for her to still have the title come WrestleMania. The day of Mania will be the 218th (217th if it happens on a Saturday and we’re getting another two-day Mania event) day of her reign. That might sound like a long time, but even if it ended at 218, there would be three longer reigns in the what would then be five-year history of the Raw Women’s Title. If we reach that seven-month mark, the question on the minds of Raw commentators and everyone else would be wondering who can put an end to her dominance. Enter… one of the most dominant performers WWE has had in years. The woman who went 18-0 in televised non-tag matches until dropping the Raw Women’s Title at WrestleMania 35. The woman who never got a chance to regain said title, by the way.
There is one potential monkey wrench that can be thrown into these plans, however. While we’re waiting for the inevitable return to the ring for Ronda Rousey, there is also another woman on the Raw roster that is going to be returning to action on the Road To WrestleMania… Charlotte Flair. At the last update we were given, she could be returning in March. That sets up a variety of options for her. Does she step right back in and get inserted into the title picture? It is Charlotte Flair, after all. Does she get a “secondary” feud for a few weeks, making her the next-in-line for a title shot after Mania is over? How about just keeping her off of television until the night after Mania, when the company loves to have tons of debuts and returns? I don’t want another Triple Threat at Mania. I don’t want Asuka vs Charlotte again. If we’re getting Asuka in a main event slot, it has to be against Rousey. *folds arms and pouts*
Edge vs Randy Orton: Another one that everybody is predicting, but for good reason.
Personally, I don’t want to see them face each other again. We got them in a damn near 40-minute match at WrestleMania this year, followed by a 45-minute match at Backlash, which was THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH IN THE HISTORY OF EVER, YOU BITCHES. At least I think that’s what I think WWE was calling it. That’s too much. I don’t need to get anything else. Unfortunately, WWE doesn’t give a fuck about what I need.
What’s important to WWE right now is the story they can tell. Edge made his triumphant return to the ring at the Royal Rumble, only to be attacked by Orton. They had their match at Mania, which Edge won, followed by their Backlash rematch, which Orton won. Yes, that makes Orton THE GREATEST WRESTLER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER, YOU FUCKING PISSANTS, but they’ve both won one match in this feud. Clearly, that means we need the rubber match so that they can finally go their separate ways.
For those of you that want to see this match, be careful what you wish for. 40 minutes, 45 minutes… I hope they’re not building to a 60-minute Ironman Match for the feud ender. With my luck, it would be a 60-minute Ironman Match that ends in a tie, and we don’t get current WWE CEO/President/Chairman Adam “Vince Who?” Pearce making them fight in Sudden Death, meaning that they have to do another match at the next pay-per-view where THERE MUST BE A WINNER, YOU HOES.
As much as I don’t want to see this one happen again, I think it’s a guarantee if Edge returns from his torn triceps. If you go by the original time frame of recovery, he should be ready to go again in mid-February, which would allow for plenty of time to return and set up the match at Mania. I love Edge. I do want to see him return, but I just want to see him face someone else. Anyone else, really.
Roman Reigns vs Big E: Hey, if we can’t get The Rock to return, Roman is going to need something special to do at Mania. For a while now, people have been demanding Big E get a major singles push, and with the WWE Draft splitting New Day up, we might be on the verge of getting just that.
What could help this is the fact that Daniel Bryan is reportedly next up to feud with Reigns. If, as most expect, Reigns comes out on top in that feud, it allows Big E to have time on Smackdown where he can build himself up to the main event level. Keep in mind that many WWE viewers still see him as a “tag team guy” and don’t yet see him as someone who is on the same “level” as Reigns right now. There are a bunch of names on Smackdown that E can face and have good matches and/or big wins against. Aleister Black, Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode… Jey Uso… just to name a few. If E gets some wins against the likes of people like that, it boosts his profile immensely.
If you want an added bonus, look no further than the extra people involved in this story. With Jey Uso pledging allegiance to Reigns, and the assumption that Jimmy Uso will do the same, that gives Reigns two people that are like brothers to him to watch his back. Where… oh, where… could Big E find two people who are like brothers to him to watch his back? They should probably be a tag team or something to truly counter having The Usos on the other side. Hmmm… I don’t know. Tough one. Yes, I know Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are on Raw, but I’m not saying these people need to keep appearing on each other’s shows or that we should get a trade to reunite New Day on Smackdown again. It’s WrestleMania. Both brands are in the same place at the same time. They can easily accompany E to the ring. If you want to be cute about it, you could have them come out for the save on an episode of Smackdown after a couple weeks of “your boys aren’t here to save you anymore” taunts from Reigns and The Usos. No matches. Just a run-in to save their partner. That will squash the complaints of people who would be up in arms about WWE never respecting their own brand split.
Now, if we get this match, do we get another magical moment for a New Day member at WrestleMania? Kofi, of course, got his moment at WrestleMania 35. Could WrestleMania 37 see Big E win his first World Title? If so, do we go ahead and pencil Xavier Woods in for his World Title victory at WrestleMania 39?
Rey Mysterio vs Dominik Mysterio: Right off the bat, let me say that I know this one isn’t happening. At least not at WrestleMania 37. If you’re going to do this one, damn, it almost has to be Rey’s final match, doesn’t it? If that’s the case, it won’t be for a while, as Rey is making it sound like he might have a few more years left. He recently did an interview where he said that he’s turning 45 in December (even though his Wikipedia page says that he’ll be turning 46), and that he can’t see himself wrestling until he’s 50. That starts the countdown to his retirement. If he feels like he wants to go out sooner than later, you can bet your sweet patootie that Dom is the best choice for his final match. You can also bet said patootie that it would be a Mania main event, especially if we end up getting another two-night event.
I feel like I have to keep clarifying this, but I know this one isn’t happening in four months. At the very earliest, I could see it happening at Mania 38 in 2022, depending on injuries and if WWE can find a way to write the Mysterios out of a feud with Seth Rollins by then. In the aforementioned Rey interview, he also said that he doesn’t know who he wants to wrestle in his final match, and that there are a bunch of options.
Respectfully, Rey… no, there aren’t.
This is it. This is the money match for his final in-ring performance. When you think of “passing the torch” in wrestling, it’s usually involving two people with no real connection other than Wrestler A is getting ready to retire while Wrestler B is reaching the prime of his career. In this instance, you have an actual father-and-son combination, able to perform together at a high level and not just one “special attraction” match. If there was ever an opportunity for Rey Mysterio to “pass the torch” to someone, it would be in his final match to his son. If WWE wants it to be extra special… if they want a real “WrestleMania Moment”… have Dom win the match, and then have Rey unmask in the middle of the ring, handing the mask to Dom in an almost literal “passing the torch” moment. A lot of people have said they feel Dom will take over the Rey Mysterio gimmick when his dad retires, using the name and the same ring attire. You can have the moment with the mask without having Dom BECOMING Rey Mysterio, if that’s the direction everybody wants to go in. That’s the beauty of the scenario… it allows for some wiggle room.
Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins: We’ve reached the part of the proceedings where I’m just throwing things out off the top of my head now. If for some strange reason WWE decides to take the Universal Title off of Roman Reigns before Mania, a lot of signs point to Daniel Bryan being the one who would take the title from him. If for some strange reason WWE decides to not only take the Universal Title off of Roman Reigns before Mania, but to not even have him in the Universal Title picture at Mania, then Bryan vs Seth Rollins is the direction we need to be taken in.
We haven’t seen these two square off since June 2019. We haven’t seen them face each other in a singles match with real importance and consequences… ever. Think about that for a moment. They’ve had a ton of matches against each other, albeit mostly of the tag variety when Rollins was a member of The Shield, but no true blue singles matches with bite to them. Not in WWE, not in Ring Of Honor, not in wXw, and not in any other promotion that they happened to be with at the same time. Maybe it’s time that changes.
If you want a high quality Mania main event, look no further. Put these two in the last match, with the Universal Title on the line, and watch them perform magic. Not much else needs to be said, really. Unfortunately, the odds of this happening are incredibly slim, barring a major injury to Roman Reigns in the next couple months.
Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus: Because WWE is incapable of subtlety and nuance, they’re really laying it on thick with this “hey, Drew and Sheamus are old buddies” story that we’re getting on Raw every week. Logic would indicate that we’re going to witness a turn. Well, I guess it wouldn’t be a turn because Sheamus is already a heel. Unless, for some reason, we get a double turn as McIntyre stabs Sheamus in the back. The point that I’m trying to make is that we’re clearly going to be getting a match between them before too long.
Right now, I don’t think the match would be a main event, but only because the WWE Title is in Randy Orton’s possession. It would make a lot more sense for a Sheamus “turn” to take place because he’s trying to get his hands on the WWE Title. Drew wins the belt back, Sheamus buddies up to him, and then POW, right in the kisser. There’s not a lot of real reason for Sheamus to attack Drew otherwise. If you can put the WWE Title into play here, then yes, you have a WrestleMania main event on your hands. I have no doubt in my mind that these two would deliver a great match. WrestleMania, a title match, the main event spot, a tried-and-true angle, and two master storytellers in the ring… yeah, we’d be looking at a 20-minute fight that would have both men battered and bruised by the time it was over.
Randy Orton vs John Cena: Well… here we go. Two of the greatest to ever do it. Both locks to headline their own WWE Hall Of Fame class one day. Perhaps each other’s greatest rival.
They were involved in a Triple Threat (with Triple H) for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 24, but other than that, they’ve never faced each other at WWE’s biggest event. They also haven’t had a televised match against each other since February 2017, and that was their first televised match against each other since October 2014. It’s as “fresh” as an Orton vs Cena match can possibly be.
A lot has been made in recent years about who is the greatest WWE Superstar of all-time. For a while, WWE commentary was all over Cena as being the best as he moved closer to, and eventually tied, Ric Flair’s World Title mark of 16 reigns. Then, Cena started doing more and more movies, which meant wrestling less and less. That’s when the talk shifted to Orton possibly being the best, even with two less World Title reigns than Cena and Flair.
A lot of dominoes need to fall a certain way for this one to happen. If Edge is ready to make an in-ring return before WrestleMania, then he’s definitely getting the Orton match. Drew McIntyre could regain the WWE Title. Cena could be busy filming another movie. Injuries could happen. One of them could be arrested for fucking a chicken. You just never know. WWE will trip all over themselves to build this match, though, if they can. A Cena victory breaks his tie with Ric Flair and assures that WWE will probably call him the greatest ever. An Orton victory will probably assure that WWE calls HIM the greatest ever, since he defeated the man who is tied for the record and he’s still going strong every week. Hook this one up to Vince McMahon’s veins.
Sasha Banks vs Bayley: This one could’ve been a guarantee if WWE was able to hold off a little longer on splitting She-Generation X up. It seemed like we were building for these two to have their big match at WrestleMania, but then the company pulled the trigger… for a random episode of Smackdown in September, Hell In A Cell, and a random episode of Smackdown in October. Huh?!? That almost seems like a waste, doesn’t it? Their story had such a big build, with such a lengthy backstory, that holding off for a few more months wouldn’t have been a bad idea. It is what it is, though.
With Sasha defeating Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Title, and then breaking her own curse by successfully defending the title, we’re moving them on to other things right now. Sasha appears to be moving to a title program with Carmella, while it remains to be seen who Bayley’s next feud will be against. Bayley put out an interesting tweet, though, which got me to thinking that we may not have seen the last of her and Sasha fighting. In a Quote Tweet to the official WWE account, Bayley made sure to mention that she’s done with Sasha “for now” and that their feud isn’t over until she says it is. Would it be the strangest thing ever if Sasha retains the title against Carmella, then goes on to feud with someone like Zelina Vega or Natalya? Bayley, on the other hand, could feud with Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, or someone like Billie Kay. It doesn’t take much effort to get through a couple months there.
Then, in January, we have something I haven’t even mentioned in this column… the Royal Rumble winner getting their World Title shot at WrestleMania. There’s only two pay-per-view events before the Rumble. Technically, you could forget anything I said about Zelina Vega or Natalya earlier. Sasha is set to face Asuka in a non-title match at Survivor Series, which means a title match against Carmella could come at the following event, and maybe another match with Carmella at the Rumble. Bayley has a couple months of those random feuds, and then she can win the Women’s Rumble to put her smack dab into Sasha’s life again.
I’m totally fine with them facing each other again if they actually stay away from each other for the next two-ish months until the Rumble is over. You should be, too. You know they’ll deliver.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Jon Moxley: When you’re part of, arguably, the Promo Of The Year (more on that in a bit) and then go on to have a successful AEW World Title defense in a violent war, you’ve had yourself a good week. Mox continues to take on all comers, but also continues to beat all comers. Sure, he might be on the verge of facing his most difficult challenge yet (more on that in a bit, too), but he’s building his profile and helping to make the AEW World Title one of the most prestigious titles in the business.
- The Jon Moxley/Eddie Kingston Promo On Dynamite: What. A. Promo. From beginning to end, everything about it felt real and from the heart. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think there was some legitimate bad blood between the two of them. They both did a tremendous job at selling their upcoming match, pointing out that it would take nothing less than death for them to lose. I love what Eddie Kingston has been able to accomplish in his brief time with AEW. I’ve always known he was one of the best talkers in the business, but I’m glad he’s getting to showcase himself to a bigger audience now.
- The Young Bucks: They won the AEW Tag Team Titles in an absolute tag classic, but they also had an entertaining victory over Private Party earlier in the week. As I mentioned in my Full Gear Running Diary, the Bucks vs FTR match was a great tribute to many of the great tag teams that have come before them. It’s the type of match with so many “Easter Eggs” in it that you almost have to watch it multiple times to catch them all. I’m very eager to see the direction things go in now that Matt and Nick have tag gold around their waists.
- Jey Uso: In the last five weeks, Uso has picked up victories over AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Kevin Owens. That’s three of the best WWE has to offer. In any other situation, if someone picked up wins over those three names in a short period of time, you’d be preparing to see them become the World Champion because they’re on an insane roll. He simply continues to entertain with any and everything he does.
- Darby Allin: Even the people who have been hyping him up are probably surprised that he defeated Cody to become the new TNT Champion, but here we are. I don’t know if we should be expecting a lengthy title reign, but with his in-ring style and zero concern for his own health and safety, it’ll be entertaining, however long it lasts.
- Riddle: Without commenting on his current situation out of the ring, you can say that he had himself a good week. He won a match to qualify for Team Smackdown at Survivor Series, and then had another match in the same episode of Smackdown where he scored the pin in a Match Of The Night tag contest. He’s got a good amount of momentum going into one of the company’s biggest events of the year, which is a good spot to be in.
- Sasha Banks: She has finally rid herself of Bayley… for now. As expected, her match against Bayley was very good. You expect nothing less when those two face each other. She also got rid of her own curse, finally getting her first successful title defense as a member of the main roster. Now, with a non-title match against Asuka coming up at Survivor Series and Carmella waiting in the wings, it will be interesting to see if she can keep her momentum going.
- Kenny Omega: I don’t need to say much, because I’ve talked about it a million times now, but I’m glad that we’re finally getting what could be the 2020 version of “The Best Bout Machine” in AEW. He has an AEW World Title match coming up, and he could very well be the person who dethrones Jon Moxley.
- Drew McIntyre: It wasn’t a huge week, so it doesn’t take much to make the back end of the rankings. With a WWE Title match coming up next week and momentum built up ahead of said title match, that’s all Drew needs to land here.
- Pat McAfee: He’s someone that could end up being one of the most hated men in NXT history. He’s so good at making you want to punch him in the face. That type of heat is only going to help Pete Dunne, Danny Burch, and Oney Lorcan moving forward.
This Week’s Playlist: “Hawái (Remix)” by Maluma & The Weeknd… “Heavyweight” by DJ Paul & Riff Raff… “Free of Dem” by J Boog… “No One” by Maoli… “So Incredible” by Maoli… “Melia” by Josh Tatofi… “Sweet Memory” by Josh Tatofi… “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” by Josh Tatofi… “Wade In Your Water” by Common Kings… “Lost In Paradise” by Common Kings… “She’s Music To Me” by Ekolu… “I Love You Girl” by Ekolu… “It’s The Way I Feel About You” by Ekolu… “Shores Of Waiehu” by Ekolu… “Just One Night” by Ekolu… “If I Was Your Man” by Ekolu… “Honestly” by Ekolu… “Down In The Valley” by Ekolu… “Stuck On You” by Ekolu… “Everything I Own” by Ekolu