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WrestleMania 35: Previews, start times, predictions

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WrestleMania 35: Previews, start times, predictions

WWE Smackdown Live at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Nov. 14, 2017.

WWE Smackdown Live at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Nov. 14, 2017.

Noah Powers/The Seahawk

WWE Smackdown Live at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Nov. 14, 2017.

Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Noah Powers/The Seahawk

WWE Smackdown Live at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Nov. 14, 2017.

Noah Powers, Brian Carpenter, and Darius Melton

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Any professional wrestling fan knows that spring means one thing — WrestleMania season.

As we near the end of the Road to WrestleMania, WWE is set to hold its 35th “Showcase of Immortals” this Sunday, April 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The kickoff show goes live on WWE’s YouTube channel as well as on the WWE Network at 5 p.m. ET with the main card starting at 7 p.m. With this installment of “The Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment” comes one of the biggest match cards in recent memory.  

It will feature the first ever women’s main event on the big stage, Kurt Angle’s farewell match, a career-threatening contest for a seasoned veteran and WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H and so much more.  

The historic event is still a few days away, but for now, let’s take a look at what is in store for us this Sunday.  

RAW & Smackdown Women’s Championships — Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Becky Lynch

For the first time in history, WrestleMania will house a women’s main event. We will see “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey put her RAW Women’s championship on the line against the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble winner Becky Lynch and the newly-crowned Smackdown Women’s champion Charlotte Flair. As announced by Stephanie McMahon on the April 1 edition of Monday Night RAW, Flair will also be placing her title on the line making the bout a winner-take-all triple threat match.  

Universal Championship — Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins

Since last year’s WrestleMania, “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar has only lost once. In that same time span, Lesnar has defeated the likes of Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, and current WWE champion Daniel Bryan. His current championship reign has stretched 151 days since winning the title at WWE Crown Jewel in November of last year. Add that to his initial stint as champion and Lesnar stands tall with the longest combined reign at 654 days. However, Seth Rollins has stepped up as the next competitor to attempt to slay the beast after winning the 2019 Royal Rumble match. “The Architect” will attempt to knock Lesnar off his pedestal as he steps into the ring with the Universal champion for the first time since 2015.  

WWE Championship — Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston 

Kofi Kingston made his WWE television debut in January 2008 on an episode of WWE’s rebooted ECW. Since then, he has led an illustrious career including becoming WWE’s first African-born champion. One thing the West Africa native has yet to do, however, is hold the WWE championship. Social media has been raving for some time that Kingston should have a shot, and on the March 26 edition of Smackdown Live, Kingston’s New Day partners Big E & Xavier Woods ran the gauntlet to catapult him into the WWE championship match at WrestleMania.  

Triple H vs. Batista (No Holds Barred/Triple H’s career on the line)

At WrestleMania 21, Triple H and Batista squared off for the World Heavyweight championship. Now, 14 years later, the two will come to blows on “The Grandest Stage of Them All” once again. Their feud was ignited when Batista attacked 70-year-old Ric Flair — on his birthday no less. As it turned out, Flair was just a pawn in Batista’s attempt to challenge Triple H to a match at Mania, which “The Cerebral Assassin” willingly accepted before going a step further and throwing the no holds barred stipulation in the mix. Since then, Triple H’s in-ring career has also been placed on the line.   

Shane McMahon vs. The Miz (Falls Count Anywhere): 

This feud began brewing when Shane McMahon attacked The Miz in his hometown of Cleveland following a loss to The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team titles at WWE Fastlane in February. It was on the following episode of Smackdown Live that McMahon challenged Miz to a match at Mania. The falls count anywhere stipulation was then thrown in.   

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton  

This match will see two of the more stabled veterans on the WWE main roster face off on WWE’s grandest stage. Both Orton and Styles have taken very different paths to get to where they are today. Orton has been under the WWE umbrella since his days in WWE’s former developmental territory  Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) from 2001-2002.  Orton has gone on to win 13 world championships and has become a grand slam champion  after winning the WWE Tag Team championships, the United States championship and the Intercontinental championship. AJ Styles took a much different path to WWE, establishing himself as one of the best wrestlers in the world through his time in the independent scene. Styles has competed in promotions such as Total Nonstop Action (TNA), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and Ring of Honor (ROH) but never had the opportunity  to compete in WWE until his debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble. Many people are calling this a dream match and it should have no trouble living out its expectations.  

Smackdown Tag Team Championships — The  Usos  (c) vs. Ricochet & Aleister  Black vs. The BAR (Cesaro & Sheamus) vs.  Shinsuke  Nakamura & Rusev  

This match will see four exciting teams battle for the coveted Smackdown Tag Team titles. The contest was added on Tuesday’s go home show, which means the story behind this match hasn’t had much time to develop. However, the talent level this bout holds sets it up to be one of the more exciting matches on the card. The  Usos  have been champions since Elimination Chamber, when they defeated Shane McMahon & The  Miz, and are currently on their sixth title reign as Tag Team champions.  Aleister  Black & Ricochet are two newcomers to the main roster,  making their debuts on RAW and Smackdown back in February. Their tag team is fairly new as the duo came together a few weeks ago to compete in the NXT Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament.  Cesaro & Sheamus (also known as The BAR) have become  one of the most successful tag teams in recent memory since coming together in 2016. Currently, they have five Tag Team title runs and will look for their sixth Sunday night.  Shinsuke  Nakamura & Rusev  are still finding themselves as a team as well. The two teamed up back in February after their feud for the United States championship came to a close. With all of the personalities in this contest, we’re in for a good one.   

Intercontinental Championship — Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Finn Balor

Finn Balor looks to regain the Intercontinental title after losing it to Bobby Lashley on the March 11 episode of RAW. On March 25, Balor defeated Lashley and Jinder Mahal in a 2-on-1 handicap match to earn a match against Lashley at Mania for the Intercontinental championship. It was announced on the April 1 edition of RAW that Balor will be coming to WrestleMania as his Demon alter ego, so Lashley may have his work cut out for him.   

United States Championship — Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio

Smackdown’s secondary title will be on the line in a match that Rey Mysterio earned after pinning Samoa Joe in a tag team match on the March 12 edition of Smackdown Live.  This will be Mysterio’s first WrestleMania match since competing in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30.  This will also be Mysterio’s first oneonone match on WWE’s biggest stage since WrestleMania 21.  This will be Samoa Joe’s first time competing at Mania since signing with WWE back in 2015. An interesting nugget for this match is that Mysterio’s son Dominick, who many wrestling fans remember being the center of a custody battle  between Mysterio and his long-time friend/rival Eddie Guerrero in a 2005 storyline, will be sitting ringside for this match. Joe has arguably become the most sadistic superstar in WWE since he joined the main roster in January 2017. Mysterio will once again be the underdog something “The Biggest Little Man” has grown accustomed to when he steps in the ring.    

Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin

In Kurt Angle’s farewell match, “The Olympic Gold Medalist” will face off against a man that has been a thorn in his side for months. Baron Corbin took over Angle’s position as RAW General Manager last August and ever since “The Constable” has done everything he can to make Angle’s life miserable. The two have been in an on-going feud for months,  including Angle costing Corbin a chance to compete in the WWE World Cup tournament at WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia last November. Angle also helped Braun Strowman defeat Corbin in a match at TLC in December, which resulted in Corbin losing his power as RAW GM. With Corbin picking up the win in the two’s last singles match back in February, the stakes are even higher for Angle to end his career with a win and finally put Corbin behind him. This will also be Angle’s first oneonone match at Mania since WrestleMania 21 when Angle defeated Shawn Michaels in what many call the best match of Angle’s career. This will be Corbin’s second career oneonone match at WrestleMania after he was defeated by Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania 33 for the Intercontinental Championship.  

Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

Since returning from his battle with leukemia, which kept him out of action for a number of months, it was a burning question as to who Reigns would face at WrestleMania. Drew McIntyre, who has made his presence known since returning to WWE action, will make a fitting opponent for Reigns on WWE’s biggest stage. “The Scottish Psychopath,” will look to continue his path of destruction while “The Big Dog” looks to make his way back to the top of the WWE ranks. Whatever the outcome, we’re in for a physical match on Sunday night.  

Women’s Tag Team Championships — The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (c) vs. Beth Phoenix & Natalya vs. The  IIconics  vs. Nia  Jax & Tamina

In recent weeks, the tension between these four teams has reached a boiling point. All the while, it has seemed as though the Women’s Tag Team champs of the Boss ‘N’ Hug connection have been the center of attention in RAW’s women’s tag division. This will be the first four-way tag team match since WrestleMania 33 when The Hardy Boyz made their historic WWE return.  

Cruiserweight Championship — Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony  Nese

In what WWE calls the most exciting hour in television, two superstars from 205 Live will have the opportunity to shine on WrestleMania’s kickoff show once again. This will be the third year in a row that the Cruiserweight title will be on the line at WrestleMania and the first time that both Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese will get to compete on WWE’s grandest stage. Murphy has been the champion ever since he captured the title from Cedric Alexander at WWE Super Show-Down in Murphy’s home country of Australia back in October. Since then, Murphy has had four successful title defenses, picking up wins at Survivor Series, TLC, Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber. Murphy has proven to be a tough Cruiserweight title defender and Nese should expect nothing less. This match should be high flying, fast paced and a great way to get the crowd into the show early on.

RAW Tag Team Championships — The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (c) vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder

Following The Revival’s count-out victory over Aleister Black & Ricochet on the April 1 edition of Monday Night RAW, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder confronted Wilder & Dawson, challenging the two to a match at WrestleMania for the RAW Tag Team titles. Leaving fans in suspense, the champions said they would consider it. The Revival posted a video on Thursday, accepting Hawkins & Ryder’s challenge.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

On Sunday, we will witness the sixth annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Since its 2014 inception, we’ve seen the likes of The Big Show, Baron Corbin and Matt Hardy take home the giant trophy. According to wwe.com, the list of participants currently stands at Braun Strowman*, Colin Jost & Michael Che (from SNL), Andrade, Apollo Crews**, Titus O’Neil****, Tyler Breeze***, Jinder Mahal**, No Way Jose, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable**, Kalisto*, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Bo Dallas****, Curtis Axel****, Heath Slater*****, Rhyno**, Viktor****, Konnor****, Ali, Shelton Benjamin*, Luke Gallows*, Karl Anderson*, Matt Hardy*, Jeff Hardy, Otis, Tucker and EC3. Heath Slater enters this match for a record sixth time, the most of any superstar. 

*Indicates previous Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal appearance(s) 

WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal 

The annual WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal enters its second year after its inception at WrestleMania 34. Last year, Naomi eliminated Bayley to take home the trophy. According to wwe.com, the updated list of Superstars set to enter the match stands at Asuka, Carmella, Naomi, Lana, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Nikki Cross, Dana Brooke, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Mickie James and Zelina Vega. 

Predictions

RAW & Smackdown Women’s Championships — Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Becky Lynch: 

Noah: Lynch wins via submission 

Brian: Charlotte wins via submission 

Darius: Lynch wins via pinfall

Universal Championship — Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins: 

Noah: Rollins wins via pinfall 

Brian: Lesnar wins via pinfall 

Darius: Rollins wins via pinfall

WWE Championship — Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston

Noah: Kingston wins via pinfall 

Brian: Kingston wins via pinfall 

Darius: Kingston wins via pinfall

Triple H vs. Batista (No Holds Barred/Triple H career on the line) 

Noah: Triple H wins via pinfall after Ric Flair interference 

Brian: Batista wins via pinfall 

Darius: Triple H wins via pinfall

Shane McMahon vs. The Miz (Falls Count Anywhere)

Noah: The Miz wins via pinfall (bonus points if McMahon jumps off of something) 

Brian: The Miz wins via pinfall 

Darius: McMahon wins via pinfall

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton 

Noah: Orton wins via pinfall 

Brian: Styles wins via pinfall

Darius: Styles wins via pinfall

Smackdown Tag Team Championship — TheUsos  (c) vs.  Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. The BAR (Cesaro  & Sheamus) vs. Shinsuke  Nakamura &  Rusev

Noah: Black & Ricochet win via pinfall 

Brian: The  Usos  win via pinfall 

Darius: Nakamura & Rusev win via pinfall

Intercontinental Championship — Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Finn Balor

Noah: Balor wins via pinfall 

Brian: Balor wins via pinfall 

Darius: Balor wins via pinfall

United States Championship — Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio

Noah: Samoa Joe wins via pinfall

Brian: Samoa Joe wins via pinfall 

Darius: Samoa Joe wins via pinfall

Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin

Noah: Angle wins via submission

Brian: Angle wins via submission

Darius: Angle wins via submission

Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

Noah: McIntyre wins via pinfall 

Brian: Reigns wins via pinfall

Darius: Reigns wins via pinfall

Women’s Tag Team Championship — The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (c) vs. Beth Phoenix & Natalya vs. The  IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) vs. Nia  Jax  &  Tamina

Noah: Banks & Bayley win via submission 

Brian: Banks & Bayley win via submission 

Darius: Banks & Bayley win via submission

Cruiserweight Championship — Buddy Murphy (c)  vs. Tony Nese

Noah: Murphy wins via pinfall

Brian: Murphy wins via pinfall 

Darius: Murphy wins via pinfall

RAW Tag Team Championships — The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (c) vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder

Noah: Hawkins & Ryder win via pinfall

Brian: The Revival wins via pinfall

Darius: The Revival wins via pinfall

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Noah: Braun Strowman wins 

Brian: Braun Strowman wins

Darius: Andrade wins

Women’s Battle Royal

Noah: Sonya Deville wins 

Brian: Asukawins

Darius: Asuka wins

Opinion Editor Darius Melton can be found on Twitter @dariusthewriter. Assistant Sports Editor Noah Powers can be found on Twitter @NoahPowersShwkStaff Writer Brian Carpenter can be found on Twitter @carp_brian28Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to bms8544@uncw.edu.

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WrestleMania 35: Previews, start times, predictions