As seen on Smackdown this past week current Intercontinental champion Finn Balor has officially moved over to the blue brand through the Superstar Shake-up. The main question that this brings up is does now have no mid-card title. Even though at this point neither championship carries much significance and in all honesty it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to see the US & Intercontinental champions feud to a unification match. This would be incredible to considering this would mean Finn Balor & Samoa Joe could have a feud together, but at this point I see Balor fighting Andrade next week and dropping the title.
In my opinion, Balor does fit better on Smackdown and has needed to move for at least a year to refresh his character and see if they can hit his stride on the blue brand. After this past Monday the only possibility for me is to see is to see next week as a "farewell" week of sorts or they have a rematch between Balor & Andrade in Saudi Arabia at the end of the month which would finally allow Raw to have a mid-card title again. I also think that after the recent performances Andrade has been given with Mysterio and the year he had last year letting him build more momentum be gaining a championship would be a great step in the right direction for the former NXT Champion.
Last year when the Superstar Shake-up came around it was a little bit shocking when so many top stars made the move over to Smackdown Live as it left Raw very weak. Looking over the last twelve months we saw one of the worst years overall for the WWE in history and now is the company's chance to hit the reset button to move forward. In my opinion, both Raw and Smackdown have talent that really need to switch brands and have some fresh eyes on them because they have been in the same place since the start of the split three years ago.
Seeing names like AJ Styles, Rey Mysterio, The Miz, Viking Experience and others move to Raw is sort of the type of shake-up I for one expected to see last year and was dumbfounded when it didn't happen that way. As I mentioned earlier AJ Styles was absolutely one of those top stars that was in desperate need of a change as he has been on Smackdown since the start of the brand split three years ago. It is crazy to think that we haven't seen AJ Styles on Raw for the most part since 2016 and that for me is the reason why the brand split is such a good thing for the company. I also want to point out with Miz being a baby face now it would be a refreshing sight to see him have a deeper roster of heels to go against then he did on Smackdown.
Speaking of Smackdown Live I know that a "Big Dog" made the switch which was expected after AJ made the jump to the red brand. However, I think some other top stars will make the change to a fresh crop of talent onto the blue brand ahead of their big move to Fox this fall. They want to start building things up on Smackdown before October and this is their only chance for that in my book.
At Wrestlemania we saw the unthinkable, but in a good way because Daniel Bryan came up short finally losing his WWE Championship. Daniel shocked the wrestling world in November when he defeated AJ Styles just before Survivor Series. I have said this before and will again nobody expected Bryan to return to the ring again let alone become the WWE Champion. Not only that Daniel would become the top heel on Smackdown which again shocked everyone. Now talking about the last few months where we have seen the organic rise of Kofi Kingston up the card starting with the extreme gauntlet performance.
This feud has put into perspective not only how long Kofi has been under contract with the WWE for the last ten years. We have seen just how much he has gone through during his career working very hard to reach this point. I for one am kind of at a loss for words when it comes to this topic, because I never really expected to see Kofi Kingston as WWE Champion. This isn't a knock of Kingston, but more a knock on the company never really capitalizing on unlikely talent who have momentum. It will be very interesting to see where Daniel & Kingston goes from here especially considering the upcoming changes with the companies creative team. Much deserved either way for Kofi and am I happy it was able to happen at the biggest event of the year, also this was one of the most emotional promos I have seen on a WWE program in years.
Heading into Wrestlemania I predicted that we would see John Cena and The Undertaker get taken out by the debuting Lars Sullivan. Though we didn't see that happen we would instead see The Undertaker make his return the night after Wrestlemania interrupting Elias. Speaking of the night after Wrestlemania the emotional farewell of Kurt Angle it was interrupted by the debuting Lars Sullivan who beat down the legend. Now most of us know what has kept Lars on the shelf and speaking as someone who has had similar issues I am very happy to see he got help and is back on track.
At this point 100% I am glad that the company has still decided to give ball with such an impact-full debut. Lars showed a lot of potential while he was in NXT and even though he never won any gold in development he was still one of the more accomplished recent graduates of the territory cause he didn't need a title to get over. With his debut in mind it is clear that the company is going to attach a rocket to him and see what happens. I for one am excited to see where his push goes, because in my book Lars has earned his opportunity to be given a chance to reach the top of the mountain.
Women's Battle Royal: winner Ruby Riot
After basically being booked to be cannon fodder for those in the Main Event tonight giving the leader of the Riot Squad a win tonight would at least give her something back for doing so many jobs.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship:
(c) Buddy Murphy vs Tony Nese
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: won by Braun Strowman
Any doubt on this one?
Raw Tag Team Championship:
(c) The Revival vs Hawkins & Ryder
I know this one hasn't been announced for the pre-show, but I'd be shocked if it wasn't on the pre-show and was actually on the main card tonight. The only reason being that it was only announced a few days ago.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship:
(c) The Uso's vs The Bar vs Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura vs Aleister Black & Ricochet
Much like the other tag team match on the card very little build has gone into this match and therefore I'm not sure if they will give this match as much time as they should. Considering eight people are in this match it should be given enough time to make it not seem rushed or like they just gave them a match for the sake of it. Even though The Uso's are good champions it would be nice to see a new team like Rusev & Nakamura or Black & Ricochet get the win. If I had to pick one I'd go with Black & Ricochet, because it seems to me someone really likes them as a tag team.
Falls Count Anywhere:
Shane McMahon vs The Miz
This feud has been one of the more interesting parts of Smackdown Live in recent months and one of the better parts of the show. One of the reasons this feud has been so interesting is because it feels like they have finally been able to get Miz over as a baby face which was something that never seemed possible. If you look back in time at Miz's last run as a good guy it was clear he was a lot more comfortable as a bad guy then a good guy. Though I am not surprise to see Shane having a Mania match I would be surprised to see Miz come up short.
Women's Tag Team Championship Match:
(c) Sasha Banks & Bayley vs The IIconics vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs Beth Pheonix & Natalya
Unlike their male counterparts this match has really gotten around a two months of build up and I am happy it has, because the titles are only two months old. I am going to keep this short and say that I really don't think that Bayley & Banks will drop the titles and therefore they will get he win.
Roman Reigns vs Drew McIntyre
Even though we are talking about WWE I still want to believe that this match could either way and putting Roman's past aside as the company should I think that this match should be a building block for the rest of the year. As I believe the winner of this match will be challenging the Universal Champion at Summerslam. I want to go with Drew, but Roman will get his feel good win tonight.
Kurt Angle vs Baron Corbin
I was one of many people that were shocked and almost dumbfounded that they chose Corbin to fight Angle in his last match, and I am not going to lie part of me was happy. However, I am going right along with everyone in saying that I'd rather it have been John Cena against Angle tonight instead of Corbin and even though that is still possible they should've announced it from the start. Cena's first match on the main roster was with Angle and it would've been a nice end for Angle fighting Cena one last time. With that being said I don't think either of them win as I do believe Cena takes Corbin's spot and will defeat Kurt in his final match.
WWE United States Championship Match:
(c) Samoa Joe vs Rey Mysterio
One of the more random matches on the show, but still exciting at the same time due to the amount of talent and skill both men have. It is hard to believe how different Rey looks now as opposed to how he looked at the end of his first run with the company a few years ago it seems like he found another gear. I also love the fact that the company has finally entrusted Joe with a championship belt after butchering his feud with Styles last year. In my opinion, Joe should continue maintaining a strangle hold over the US Title for the foreseeable future.
No Holds Barred: Triple H's career on the line
Triple H vs Batista
On paper some fans might look at this match as WWE being WWE and just depending on the veterans again instead of giving the spotlight to the younger talent. However, saying that would be doing a disservice to how well this feud was built up in the last couple of months. The company may have missed the boat on the build for a lot of these matches but this one isn't one of them and I am pleasantly surprised by how well they have put together this feud. This has been some of Dave's best work in many many years and if he was like the last time he was here people would've actually missed him when he left. Either way though I don't think anyone expects Dave to win tonight and that means Triple H gets a Wrestlemania win for the first time in many years.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
(c) Bobby Lashley w/ Lio Rush vs Finn Balor
interestingly enough this will be Lashley first Wrestlemania since he returned to the company last year and who would've thought he'd be champion. The one thing that puzzles me about this match is that these two have been feuding since around January yet this match doesn't have any added stipulations to make the biggest match of their feud seem different or more important than any of the others. I think the company might be leaning too much on the "Demon's" involvement and should've given this match a gimmick of some kind. But knowing the "Demon" will be appearing tonight makes it extremely unlikely that Finn will lose tonight which means we will have a new IC Champion.
Randy Orton vs AJ Styles
One way I have grown accustomed to describing this match is that it is the dream match you didn't realize you wanted to see until it was actually announced. Since his arrival three years ago the company has struggled to book AJ outside of the title picture, but with this feud it seems like they finally found a way to do that. Orton on the other side has been doing some his best work in years partially because the company let him return being a heel or at least a tweener instead of the cookie cutter guy he was before. Either way though this match will shape the rest of the year for the blue brand much like Reigns & McIntyre will on Raw. Thinking about it I could see Miz joining into the feud as a way to keep AJ out of the World title picture a bit longer. I think that Randy winning is needed as a way to keep the feud going and also keep Styles away from the WWE Championship for few more months.
WWE Universal Championship Match:
(c) Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins
I chose to talk about this one first because I thought it'd be easier to pick a winner then the WWE Championship. Fact is at this point Brock is running out of opponents and either needs to take an extended leave of absence to allow the company to build him some new challengers or this will be the end of his run with the company and he will go back to UFC. Either way though I do think that company can let Brock leave Jersey with the title without have a ton of backlash from it. Even though they might do it as way to keep fans attention away from Corbin defeating Angle, but they shouldn't use the world title as prop to distract the fans. I am going with what I have been saying since January and that is Seth Rollins will finally become Universal Champion and be the one that ends Brock's reign of terror as champion.
WWE Championship Match:
(c) Daniel Bryan w/ Rowan vs Kofi Kingston w/ New Day
If you would've told me a year ago that Kofi Kingston would be challenging for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania against Daniel Bryan I would've called you insane. There was a time when nobody thought Daniel would've been in the ring again let alone become WWE Champion again, but he did it. Nobody thought that Kofi would have received anything close to the push he has received in the last few months and weather or not this all happened because Mustafa Ali got hurt is beside the point, because Kofi is white hot at this point and time. In my opinion, Kofi, Rollins, and Becky have all had similar paths to the title and letting them all win would be overkill. That is one of the reasons why I just don't think that Kofi will get the win tonight and the other is they don't want to take the belt off Daniel just yet. Do I think Kofi deserves the win? Absolutely, but I also think Daniel should keep the gold and so I will go with Daniel getting the win tonight.
Winner Take All: Raw Women's Championship Match:
(c) Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte vs Becky Lynch
Honestly this is going be a sight I never thought I'd see, because I was many people that never thought the Women would main event a PPV let alone a Wrestlemania. I mentioned this in my video with Sam that I have high hopes for this match, because they've had this type of opportunity. There is no doubt that the company has invested a deserving amount of time energy and patience in booking this match to be one of the most anticipated in recent memory. However, the only way the booking of Asuka and introduction of the Smackdown Women's title makes sense is if they introduce one title after the match it should be unification match. This is one criticism I have of this match other than that it has been amazingly built up. I don't think anyone else should win this match other than Becky because it the moment that everyone wants to see.
Right now I know that most fans would look to the final build to the WWE Championship match between Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan. However, I will go on record saying that I just don't think there is as much to this match as some might think there is for one reason or another. Honestly I believe that there is no doubt that Kofi will come up short on Sunday against Bryan just based around the company not really wanting to take the title off Daniel at this time partially due to Becky & Seth likely winning their matches, and the other around Bryan still being the hottest heel in the company.
Going back a few weeks this is the reason that I believe that they shouldn't have put off announcing the match for too long as I'd be surprised to see Bryan lose. I would be happy to be wrong, but I just think seeing so many comparable baby faces win it could takeaway from the other "feel good" moments. This is the reason that I want to focus on the segment between AJ Styles and Randy Orton on the Kevin Owens Show. In my opinion, this has been an underrated build to what is one of those matches that nobody really knew they wanted until it was announced. Hearing AJ being so blunt in mentioning Randy's past was something that really amp up the tension and really added something to this feud which is the point of such lines. Overall I think Smackdown Live's final episode was 100x's better then Raw this week, but that just might be that Raw's bar has been super low in recent and Smackdown's just keeps going up.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the ending of the brand split especially with the impending move of Smackdown to Fox. However, even with the Women's Title seemingly becoming one after Wrestlemania I don't think this points us in that direction. In my opinion, the company hasn't done well with two Women's titles and should've only had one title from the start as it would've made the title seem more special. Also having one Women's title would give more meaning to the Tag Team titles now being active in the Women's division as well.
Even though I did bash the company for choosing to take the title off Asuka last Tuesday and give it to Charlotte and I stand by that it is clearer now that maybe they did that to unify the titles. Now if the winner of the match turns out to not only hold both titles, but have to defend them on separate brands. At this point the "Winner Take All" match the company should then redo the title and make one title for the Women that goes between both brands.
I do know that it would be different, because the company has two different titles for the men. If you think about it though at this point the tag team champions can go between brands. Though some believe that the match may only end up being for the Raw Women's Championship instead of both, but having both titles on the line would allow us to make a bit more sense of the booking of Asuka. Either way though at this point we have to wait and see what happens in less than a week at Wrestlemania.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present