RAW looks set to dominate much of Wrestlemania this Sunday, but while one match looks destined to end the show, there are a number of other candidates ready to steal it.
The red brand has the greater share of matches at the blockbuster event that sees talent from both Raw and Smackdown given an opportunity to shine.
The headline bout from Monday nights comes in the form of the Universal Championship match as Goldberg puts his prized title on the line against Brock Lesnar.
This is the contest that looks certain to be the night’s main event – a likelihood that’s drawn criticism from many ardent wrestling fans who feel that the spotlight may be better placed elsewhere among WWE’s vast array of young, versatile talent pool.
It’s also criticism based on the fact that, if previous matches are any cause for comparison, the show-closer could be shorter than the in-ring introductions that precede it. Back at Survivor Series, the returning Goldberg polished off Lensar in a matter of seconds, before going on to do similar to Kevin Owens at Fastlane recently to become Universal Champion and set up Sunday’s showdown.
With his WWE contract reportedly set to come to an end following Wrestlemania, it’s widely expected that Goldberg will do the honours and drop the championship to Lesnar in Orlando – and these two veterans have the chance to prove a lot of people wrong, if they can only ensure their match goes a respectable distance.
Credible contenders for the Wrestlemania main event include the likes of Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, or even Roman Reigns and the Undertaker – and at least in those match-ups you can expect some storytelling and some memorable moments. I for one would like to think WWE can get Lesnar and Goldberg to end their feud with something greater than a brief squash match.
While those two are busy closing the show, just who among the Raw contingent could end up stealing the show is anyone’s guess. A ‘street fight’ style encounter between Triple H and his former protégé, Seth Rollins, looks guaranteed to produce, while Reigns going toe-to-toe with the legendary Undertake will also make for fascinating viewing. It’s expected to be the Deadman’s final Mania – so will we see one of the greatest names of all time go out on a high, or will there be a passing of the torch?
Elsewhere, the plot thickens where Raw’s women are concerned. Champ Bayley has her hands full a she goes up against four contenders in a fatal four-way elimination match – Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax and Sasha Banks all gunning for her gold. WWE is at its best when it keeps you guessing, and it’s great to have four legitimate ways this match can end. Charlotte is a bona fide superstar and will continue to dominate the division with or without the title, while Banks is already a former champion herself. Time for a brand new incumbent, perhaps?
One bout that really peaks my interest is the United States Championship match that pits former best friends Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens against one another. Owens works as one of the best bad-guy figures in the business right now and thanks to some stellar work in this feud, his fellow Canadian Jericho is getting the type of crowd reaction that was more often seen during the early years of his WWE career at the turn of the millennium.
Wrestlemania is so often the night when superstars pull out their very finest performances, yet this duo seem to do so week after week – just what they’ll have in stall for us on what is the biggest night in the business is anyone’s guess.
Our very own Neville defends his Cruiserweight title against the returning Austin Aries in what is likely to be part of the event’s two-hour kick-off show, while Gallows and Anderson must defend their tag-team gold against the teams of Enzo and Cass, and Sheamus and Cesaro. The latter would be a fantastic way to open the show and set the tone for what will undoubtedly be a packed night of live entertainment in front of 70,000 at Camping World Stadium.
Weather the image of Lesnar holding aloft a newly-won Universal Championship really will be the final image that huge crowd will see this Sunday really remains to be seen – it seems fair to hope it takes him more than a couple of minutes to clinch the win…