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WrestleMania Bubble Watch: Who’s locked in, and who might be out

There are no more detours on the road to WrestleMania. WWE’s tour of Canada is over. They have a few stops to make along the east coast before heading west, making sure to take that left turn at Albuquerque and following I-40W all the way to Hollywood.

April may seem like a long way off, but we are just five short weeks away from what’s being billed as the biggest WrestleMania of all time. And the card is filling up fast.

While only three matches have been made official, but — apologies to Adam Pearce for infringing on his schtick — there are 13 bouts I believe you can go ahead and lock in for April 1-2 in Los Angeles. The participants for some of these matches aren’t quite clear yet, however.

Let’s assess.

Here’s what’s been announced so far:

  • Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes for the Undisputed WWE Universal Heavyweight Championship
  • Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
  • Bianca Belair vs. Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, there will be no major changes here. There is a remote possibility that one or two Superstars could be added into the mix for a World Championship opportunity, but the likelihood of that happening appears to be dwindling by the day.

Last week, I couldn’t rule out Becky Lynch, Bayley or both women being worked into the Raw Women’s Championship match despite failing to qualify for Elimination Chamber. After what we saw go down this past Monday on Raw, however, I can definitively say that Bianca Belair will be in her third consecutive one-on-one match at WrestleMania.

Where does that leave Becky and Bayley? Don’t worry, I’ll get there.

First, let’s address the status of Montreal’s favorite son, Sami Zayn. There’s no shame in admitting if you got choked up or even shed a tear watching 15,000-plus fans at the Bell Centre last Friday give Sami a standing ovation that lasted well over five minutes.

Those are the moments you live for as a performer, and after 20 years of pouring everything he has into the sport, Sami Zayn earned all of the love and admiration he received from his fellow Canadians over the past week.

Watching him stand in that ring, fighting off both laughter and tears, before delivering a passionate battle cry that Roman Reigns would finally fall in Montreal is something that I’ll never forget as a fan. And it could have been the prelude to one of the all time great moments in wrestling history.

Sami Zayn defeating Roman Reigns in his hometown for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship not only would have served as the ultimate culmination of this brilliant nine month story arc surrounding the Bloodline, but it also would have been one of the more significant victories of the last few decades in WWE.

A victory that would have been remembered for as long as the company exists and even beyond that, right on par with Mankind defeating The Rock to capture his first WWE Championship back in 1999.

These kind of moments don’t come along often. You wanted to see it. I wanted to see it. WrestleMania plans be damned, take the Wild West approach of shoot first and ask questions later. That’s where my mind was at last Saturday night.

We may never know how seriously the WWE Creative Team considered putting their World Title on Sami Zayn, if at all. But in the end they decided to stay the course.

Whether they made the right choice or not will ultimately come down to what happens during the main event come April 2.

Will Cody Rhodes get to finish his story? He better. Otherwise, what was the point of passing on Sami’s storybook ending?

I still believe there’s a chance that Sami Zayn closes the show in a few weeks, just not the entire show. Which brings me to the fourth match on this year’s WrestleMania Card and your night one main event:

The Usos defending the Undisputed Tag Team Championships against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens

After failing to defeat Roman Reigns at Elimination Chamber, Sami Zayn has now made it his personal mission to tear down the entire Bloodline - but he can’t do it alone. He reached out to his old friend Kevin Owens this past Monday, asking him to once again join forces and help him end the reign of terror of wrestling’s top family.

A conflicted KO said no.

When the former Universal Champion saved Sami from a savage post-match beatdown in Montreal, it wasn’t an olive branch. It was Owens saving Zayn’s family from enduring the same torture his own family went through a few weeks earlier at Royal Rumble. They had to watch as the Bloodline picked Owens apart. Sami watched on as well, and Owens is not willing to forgive that so easily.

These two have a tumultuous past, which WWE is more than likely going to dive into over the next several weeks. You can expect Sami to bring up all the pain that Owens has inflicted on him, and therefore his family, over the years. It’s going to take time, but these two men will eventually find themselves on the same page and standing across from the Usos with a chance to end their record-breaking run as Tag Team Champions.

Let’s not overlook Jey Uso in this story either, as he is still trying to decide whether his loyalties lie with his family or his new buddy Sami Zayn.

There’s so much story to tell here and there’s really no reason to rush any of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this match doesn’t get booked until the week of the show, but it is 100% happening.

Two other matches were all but confirmed over this past weekend. Logan Paul’s interference inside the men’s Elimination Chamber match solidified his date with Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 39. During his media scrum last Saturday night, Triple H said that Paul was born to be in a wrestling ring. Comments I’m sure that won’t sit too well with the Visionary as this rivalry barrels toward SoFi Stadium.

Rollins is furious that his WrestleMania main event was stolen from him by a part-time wrestler using the business he loves to drive up his YouTube count. This is going to get very personal and these two have a chance to steal the entire show.

Meanwhile, just when Edge thought he was done with Judgment Day, Finn Balor took a page out of Logan Paul’s playbook and interfered in a United States Championship match. After taking the loss Saturday at Elimination Chamber, Balor returned the favor by attacking Edge during Raw’s main event, helping ensure that Austin Theory’s forever reign continued.

You can expect Edge and Balor to have one more big blow-off match in Los Angeles. Reportedly the original plan was for these two to thrown down at Royal Rumble, potentially inside Hell in a Cell. I wouldn’t be surprised if the demonic structure makes an appearance in Hollywood.

Although, I wouldn’t be mad if the internet speculation turns out to be true and Randy Orton makes his return just in time for ‘Mania. A reunited Rated-RKO vs. Finn Balor and Damian Priest would be a ton of fun. And it may very well be the only way Priest ends up in a match this year, with the rest of Judgment Day tangled up in their own storylines.

That brings me to ex-con Dominik Mysterio. I think you can take it to the bank that he’ll finally square off with his father, and future WWE Hall of Famer, Rey Mysterio here in a few weeks. Rey still has issues with Karrion Kross over on SmackDown, but Dom hasn’t stopped antagonizing his Dad these last few months for a reason. It’s all building to father vs. son at WrestleMania.

That’s seven matches thus far. Time to talk about the remaining Championship bouts.

Austin Theory defending the United States Championship against John Cena

Austin Theory’s Instagram

John Cena was the first Superstar that a young Austin Theory ever saw wrestle and he instantly became hooked on the business.

That’s right everyone. John Cena is partially responsible for Theory becoming the pro wrestler he is today. I’m sure that long awaited heel turn just happened for some of you reading this article.

There have been many parallels drawn between these two men ever since Theory stepped foot in WWE, and at WrestleMania 39, it will be the greatest Superstar of the past two decades going against the self-proclaimed now and future of WWE.

Fittingly enough, it will also be for the United States Championship, a belt that Cena helped put on the map on more than one occasion during its WWE history.

Cena was announced for the March 6 edition of Monday Night Raw in his hometown of Boston, and Austin Theory has made it clear he intends to roll out the red carpet for the 16-time World Champion. I expect this match will be booked before the crowd at the TD Garden heads home for the night.

Over on SmackDown, GUNTHER is putting together the most impressive Intercontinental Championship run of the 21st Century. The Ring General stands at 258 days of holding the workhorse title and could very well be on track to break a WWE record that has stood for 35 years.

If the latest internet buzz comes to fruition though, The Honky Tonk Man could very well pull a ‘72 Dolphins and pop some champagne during WrestleMania weekend. It’s an almost certainty that the Intercontinental Championship will be defended on the Grandest Stage of Them All for the first time since the Nigerian Drum Fight, but GUNTHER’s opponent(s) remain a mystery.

Earlier this month a rumor surfaced that the (don’t call us the) Banger Bros could be next in line for a shot at the gold in a GUNTHER vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre Triple Threat some members of the creative team are trying to get “towards the top” of the ‘Mania card.

Yeah, okay. Can we get Chelsea Green to speak to the manager because I need this match to happen.

Sheamus vs. GUNTHER at Clash at the Castle was one of the best matches of 2022. Now you’re telling me the possibility exists that WWE runs it back, but also adds Drew McIntyre to the mix? No shame in grasping the low hanging fruit here, but that match would be an absolute BANGER!

The Celtic Warrior’s organic babyface turn has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the Triple H era. This man is finally getting his flowers and I wouldn’t be mad if he got his hands on the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania... by pinning Drew McIntyre?

*Insert eyeball emoji*

Now, let’s get some women on the card shall we?

Women’s Tag Team Title Match

More often than not in recent years, the Women’s Tag Team Championships have been used as a vehicle to pad the number of female talent booked for WrestleMania. Essentially, it’s replaced the short lived Women’s Battle Royal.

Other than appearing on the show, there is absolutely nothing that I can guarantee about the Women’s Tag Team Titles this year. Not even that they’ll actually be defended. I believe they will be, but that very well could depend on what happens this coming Monday when Damage CTRL defends against Becky Lynch and Lita.

If Becky and Lita win the belts, do they simply move on to defend them against Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler? The two members of the MMA Four Horsewomen have been penciled in for a Tag Title shot for a while now according to reports.

What happens to Damage CTRL if they lose? Are they granted a rematch, making the match at ‘Mania a triple threat? If that happens, does Bayley miss the show for the third year in a row?

The other factor in all of this is the heavily rumored, and now twice delayed, return of Trish Stratus. The WWE Hall of Famer was reportedly backstage at Raw this week but was not used after a change in creative direction. Her relationship with WWE remains fine and the belief is she’ll be back in the fold sooner rather than later.

Will Trish return this coming Monday to set up at 6 woman tag team match? If that happens, does that mean Ronda and Shayna’s title shot is off or will Damage CTRL be pulling double duty?

There’s no shortage of options for Triple H to choose from and its going to be interesting to see where he decides to place some of the biggest stars he has at his disposal.

I have a hunch that Damage CTRL will be dropping the Titles before WrestleMania, but not necessarily this coming Monday. My guess is Dakota Kai and IYO SKY retain the belts on Raw and then lose them to Ronda and Shayna in the coming weeks with an assist from Becky, Lita, or Trish — helping set up two different matches in Hollywood:

  • Becky Lynch, Lita and Trish Stratus vs. Damage CTRL
  • Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler defending the Tag Team Titles against an upstart team like Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez.

There’s more than enough time to set each match up properly and this scenario would nearly finish booking the show. Thanks in large part, key word large, to a challenge that was laid down this week.

Matches featuring Bray Wyatt, Bobby Lashley, and Brock Lesnar

Holy out of left field booking, Batman!

I thought for sure when Brock Lesnar kicked Bobby Lashley in the pills at Elimination Chamber, that meant we were getting some kind of huge blow off match between these two behemoths at WrestleMania - where we’d finally get a definitive finish.

Nope! Apparently WWE is ready to just leave well enough alone and move in completely different directions.

Technically, Bobby Lashley did win the match in Montreal, which means he’s earned the right to face Bray Wyatt after the host of the Firefly Fun House laid down a challenge last week on SmackDown.

Meantime, Brock Lesnar was challenged by... Omos?

Yep. No swerve here. Indications are that the current plan calls for Brock Lesnar to square off against the Nigerian Giant.

I have nothing against Omos, but this pairing makes no sense. If WWE were still trying to get him over as this unbeatable monster, then sure, there’s a story there. But the 7’3” former college basketball star at USF has already been soundly defeated by both Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman.

Regardless of reasoning, WWE has now padded the card even further by booking Lesnar and Lashley separately.

Potential Night One Card:

  • Brock Lesnar vs. Omos
  • Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
  • Ronda Rousey and Shayna Bazler vs. Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez for the Women’s Tag Team Championships
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio
  • Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul
  • GUNTHER vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre for the Intercontinental Championship
  • Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens vs. The Usos for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships

Potential Night Two Card:

  • Austin Theory vs. John Cena for the United States Championship
  • Edge vs. Finn Balor inside Hell in a Cell
  • Bianca Belair vs. Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship
  • Becky Lynch, Lita, and Trish Stratus vs. Damage CTRL
  • Bobby Lashley vs. Bray Wyatt
  • Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

A two night WrestleMania carries the potential for eight matches per show. Any more than that and it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll run long both nights. Unless WWE decides to utilize the pre-shows for the first time in months.

Since taking over for Vince McMahon last year, Triple H has put a bigger focus on the wrestling matches themselves which makes me believe that some of these are going to run longer than they might have in previous years. I think seven matches per night is the most we’ll see, which leaves one spot open on the card.

That puts a number of talented WWE Superstars on the bubble:

  • Johnny Gargano, Damian Priest, Bronson Reed, Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins, Braun Strowman, Ricochet, L.A. Knight, Baron Corbin, Chad Gable, Otis, Dolph Ziggler, Mustafa Ali, Elias, Rick Boogs, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Karrion Kross, Santos Escobar and more.
  • Alexa Bliss, Chelsea Green, Candice LaRae, Mia Yim, Piper Niven, Carmella, Nikki Cross, Emma, Lacey Evans, Natalya, Shotzi, Sonya Deville, Tegan Nox, Zelina Vega and more.

This is WrestleMania after all. Spots are not and should not be guaranteed for everyone. Sometimes, the stars just don’t align for certain talents and it sucks.

Nothing is official though, until it’s official. And as we’ve seen in the past, even then it’s not official until the bell rings. And then sometimes even after the bell rings things can change.

One thing is for sure, both time and space are running out for some Superstars to make the cut.

What do you think of this potential WrestleMania card? Let us know in the comment section below. You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.

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