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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

WrestleMania 35 Preview: Making History

Posted by Achilles Heel On April 6

History will be made at WrestleMania 35. As you may have heard once, twice or 35 times, this will be the first WrestleMania in which the main event will be a women’s match.

There was a time not that long ago, perhaps five to 10 years, that the thought of women headlining WWE’s biggest event would have seemed ridiculous. But the women in WWE no longer engage in pillow fights and bikini matches. They are viewed as top-notch athletes and entertainers.

The main event Sunday (7 p.m.) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., features Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey in a triple threat match. Rousey, who made her in-ring debut at WrestleMania 34, is the Raw women’s champion. Flair is the Smackdown women’s champion. The winner of Sunday’s match will leave with both titles.

There will be eight other championship matches on the 16-match card (including matches on the kickoff show), so there should be more history made. Seth Rollins challenges Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship, and Daniel Bryan defends the WWE Championship against Kofi Kingston. The Intercontinental and United States championships are on the line, as are the Cruiserweight and both the Raw and Smackdown tag team titles.

Going back to the women’s division, Sasha Banks and Bayley will defend the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship in a fatal four-way match. There also will be a women’s battle royal. And, if you’re a fan of battle royals, there will be two battle royals, with the annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal also taking place.

If you’re an “old school” fan, WrestleMania presents Kurt Angle’s farewell match and a falls-count-anywhere match between Triple H and Batista, two former members of Evolution.

The Greek God of Wrestling would be remiss if he didn’t mention Roman Reigns triumphant WrestleMania return after battling leukemia. Reigns’ tall task, literally and figuratively, is to face Drew McIntyre. If you appreciate top-level wrestling, AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton is a match for you.

As usual, there is something for everyone at WrestleMania 35. And, with the women’s triple threat match in the main event, there is something that nobody has ever seen. Tune in to WrestleMania 35 to see history being made.

The following is a preview of the matches of WrestleMania 35:

CHARLOTTE FLAIR VS. BECKY LYNCH vs. RONDA ROUSEY

(for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship and the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Story: A huge part of the story of this match is its position. For the first time, women are in the main event of WrestleMania. Lynch has been incredibly popular since turning on Flair and complaining that she hasn’t been given what she deserves in WWE. Lynch then went after Rousey. But a broken nose led to Flair replacing Lynch in her Survivor Series match against Rousey. That match established a Flair-Rousey rivalry. Lynch won the women’s Royal Rumble, earning a shot against Rousey at WrestleMania. But Vince McMahon replaced Lynch in the match with Flair. Lynch earned her way back into the WrestleMania match, with some help from Rousey, who wanted revenge on Lynch for an attack on Raw. That is why this is now a triple threat match, with the winner capturing both the Raw and Smackdown women’s championships.

Analysis: Lynch and Flair have lived up to their billing every time they’ve been put in a prominent position, including a TLC match Asuka in December. There’s no reason to believe they won’t live up to their main-event billing at WrestleMania. But Rousey shouldn’t be overlooked. She’s had a remarkable first year of wrestling in WWE. Given her background in UFC, the main event stage shouldn’t be too big for her. This should be an excellent match that live up to its main event status. The stipulation could create one women’s champion. Achilles Heel has been a longtime proponent of one WWE men’s champion and one women’s champion, with each brand having a secondary title. This could happen with the women’s division after this match.

Prediction: The payoff has to be a Lynch victory. That’s what the fans want. The question is how will they get there? This should be a tremendous match that is more than worthy of being in the main event.

SETH ROLLINS vs. BROCK LESNAR

(for the WWE Universal Championship)

Story: Brock Lesnar (left) is The Beast. He’s been at the top of the WWE food chain for most of his time since returning from UFC. Rollins, who won the Royal Rumble, is the latest to challenge Lesnar. The storyline, as it is with all Lesnar matches, is whether Rollins can conquer The Beast.

Analysis: Lesnar’s matches have too often become spot-fests. With Rollins involved, the Greek God of Wrestling thinks this match will be different. The story will be Lesnar’s power against Rollins’ mobility.  

Prediction: WWE disappointed its fans at WrestleMania 34 by having Lesnar retain the Universal title against Roman Reigns. By the way, Achilles Heel didn’t mind an unexpected ending. With the women’s title match serving as the main events, it’s possible that Lesnar retains the title yet again, but the Greek God of Wrestling predicts Rollins will capture the title.

KOFI KINGSTON VS. DANIEL BRYAN

(for the WWE Championship)

Story: WWE caught lightning in a bottle with this match. Kingston replaced an injured Mustafa Ali in an Elimination Chamber match. The fans got behind Kingston, and they chanted his name as he lasted until the end of the Elimination Chamber match, where he lost to Bryan. Kingston was named the challenger for Bryan’s title, but Vince McMahon took away that opportunity, replacing Kingston with the returning Kevin Owens. McMahon then forced Kingston to win a gauntlet match to earn the title shot at WrestleMania. After Kingston won, McMahon then forced Kingston’s New Day partners, Big E and Xavier Woods, to win a tag team gauntlet match. Kingston has been denied title shots for his entire WWE career. This is Kingston’s big chance, but he had to fight to get it. Meanwhile, Bryan has been outstanding as the “new Daniel Bryan,” an obnoxiously self-righteous champion espousing a pro-environment agenda.

Analysis: This should be a terrific match, with lots of action. Bryan is an amazing story steller in the ring, and he should be able to play the role of the oppressive favorite. With the crowd behind him, Kingston should fill the underdog role to perfection.

Prediction: Having Kingston win the WWE Championship is the “feel good” ending. But Achilles Heel sees Bryan escaping with the title, especially if Lynch and Rollins are slated to win their respective matches.

ROMAN REIGNS vs. DREW McINTYRE

Story: Roman Reigns’ remarkable story centers around a second recovery from leukemia. Reigns had to relinquish the WWE Universal Championship last fall when his leukemia returned, but his cancer is in remission, and he’s back in the ring. McIntyre has been a destructive force since returning to WWE. He takes credit for taking out The Shield, and there is some substance to back up his boasts.

Analysis: This should be an extremely physical match. Both Reigns and McIntyre possess a variety of hard-hitting moves. In fact, this could be the most physical match at WrestleMania.

Prediction: It would be hard to create a better ending than Reigns winning at WrestleMania after recovering from leukemia. But McIntyre isn’t read to be a sacrificial lamb. Don’t rule out a McIntyre victory, although Achilles Heel thinks a Reigns victory followed by a post-match beatdown by McIntyre is more likely. Could Dean Ambrose, Reigns’ former Shield teammate, play a role in the finish? Ambrose, who is leaving WWE, is conspicuously absent from this card.

AJ STYLES vs. RANDY ORTON

Story: There isn’t much of a back story to this one. Yes, there is the obligatory story line about Orton being a star since the beginning of his career while Styles had to spend years on the independent circuit before arriving in WWE, but this is simply a battle over who is better.

Analysis: This should be an excellent match, particularly if allotted 15-20 minutes. Both Styles and Orton are outstanding.

Prediction: Achilles Heel would like to see this feud continue. The best way to do that would be to have Orton prevail at WrestleMania, although WWE could elect to have Styles win, only to have Orton attack him on Smackdown.

SHANE McMAHON vs. THE MIZ

(falls count anywhere)

Story: When The Miz was injured (in storyline) during the “Best in the World” Tournament in Saudi Arabia, Shane McMahon replaced him for the tournament final, defeating Dolph Ziggler to win the tournament for Smackdown. Miz courted Shane’s friendship, saying they won the tournament together. Shane eventually agreed to be Miz’s tag team partner. Together, they captured the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. However, after they lost the titles to the Usos, Shane turned on The Miz, beating him down in front of his father.

Analysis: It will be interesting to see if Shane can adjust to the bullying bad guy style rather than playing the babyface in peril and then responding with a crazy aerial move.

Prediction: Unless Shane is going to continue wrestling on a regular basis, it makes sense for Miz to pick up the victory. If this feud is going to continue, though, Shane could emerge victorious.

TRIPLE H vs. BATISTA

(falls count anywhere)

Story: Batista has pointed out that Triple H has never beaten him during his glorious career. One of the stipulations is that if Batista wins, it will end Triple H’s career as an active wrestler. Excuse Achilles Heel for already thinking that Triple H’s career as an active wrestler, with the exception of special appearances, was already over.

Analysis: The falls-count-anywhere stipulation should help this match. Batista can’t just return from Hollywood and create a mat classic with a past-his-prime Triple H. It also could create the opportunity for outside interference, especially with Degeneration X in town for the Hall of Fame ceremony.

Prediction: Expect a lengthy brawl, with interference from Degeneration X and possibly even Ric Flair, who was beaten up by Batista at his birthday party on Raw, which convinced Triple H to accept Batista’s challenge. In the end, Batista prevails, allowing Triple H to end his in-ring career.

FINN BALOR vs. BOBBY LASHLEY

(for Intercontinental Championship)

Story: Balor and Lashley have been battling for the Intercontinental Championship, with the title going back and forth. Lashley, the current Intercontinental champion, brings power. Balor brings agility and innovation.

Analysis: The mix of styles creates a nice dynamic for this match. But what can they do that we haven’t seen before?

Prediction: This should be the blowoff to this feud. The outcome depends on which direction WWE wants to go with each wrestler. The Greek God of Wrestling believes that Lashley needs the title more than Balor. And if Rollins wins the WWE Universal Championship, Balor, the first Universal champion, would make sense as a top challenger for Rollins.

REY MYSTERIO vs. SAMOA JOE

(for the United States Championship)

Story: Mysterio registered a pin against Joe, lending credence to the idea that he could beat the much-larger Joe. Mysterio must also overcome an injured ankle, which Joe is certain to target during this match.

Analysis: Joe is the brawler and bully. Mysterio is the quick and innovative smaller wrestler. In many ways, the dynamic is similar to the Balor-Lashley match for the Intercontinental Championship.

Prediction: Samoa Joe has waited a long time to win a championship in WWE. The Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t believe Joe is ready to give up the title yet.

KURT ANGLE vs. BARON CORBIN

Story: This is Kurt Angle’s farewell match. He chose Corbin, who replaced him as general manager of Raw, as his opponent.

Analysis: Despite Angle’s outstanding career, don’t expect a classic. Angle has had a spectacular career, but he’s much slower than he used to be, and he’s not as powerful, either. Sentiment, not action, should carry this match.

Prediction: Top wrestlers often lose on their way out. They pass the torch. But Corbin isn’t the type who will be carrying the torch, which opens the door for a Kurt angle victory.

SASHA BANKS and BAYLEY vs. NIA JAX and TAMINA vs. NATALYA and BETH PHOENIX vs. THE ICONICS (PEYTON ROYCE and BILLIE KAY)

(for Women’s Tag Team Championship)

Story: Bayley and Banks are the inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team champions. Everyone wants their titles. Beth Phoenix came out of retirement to team with Natalya in order to regain thte titles.

Analysis: The mix of styles should create a terrific match.

Prediction: It’s too early to take the titles away from Banks and Bayley. Hugs all around.

JIMMY and JEY USO vs. ALEISTER BLACK and RICOCHET vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA and RUSEV vs. THE BAR (SEANUMUS and CESARO)

(for Smackdown Tag Team Championship)

Story: Quite simply, everyone wants the tag team titles that the Usos won from Shane McMahon and The Miz.

Analysis: It doesn’t make sense for The Bar to win the tag team titles again. The question is whether the Usos retain or whether Nakamura and Rusev or Richocet and Aleister Black take the titles. Nakamura and Rusev would be good heel champions. Black and Ricochet would be dynamic champions.

Prediction: The obvious outcome seems to be for Black and Ricochet to capture the titles. But Achilles Heel is going with an upset here, having Nakamura and Rusev win the championships. They will be chased by Black and Ricochet and the Usos after winning the titles.

ZACK RYDER and CURT HAWKINS vs. THE REVIVAL (SCOTT DAWSON and DASH WILDER)

(for Raw Tag Team Championship)

Story: Curt Hawkins’ losing streak has reached 269 matches. Hawkins and Ryder are both from New York, so winning in his home town would be a nice way to end the streak..

Analysis: The Revival are terrific in the ring. Their matches with Bobby Roode and Chad Gable were burning up the house shows. The question is whether the live crowd believes that Hawkins can win. If so, there will plenty of drama.

Prediction: The Revival should win. However, Dawson and Wilder made some noise about being unhappy with the way they were being used, which was followed by a championship victory not much later. The Greek God of Wrestling hopes that embarrassing The Revival by having them lose to Hawkins and Ryder isn’t payback from WWE. Hopefully, The Revivival will retain their titles.

ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL

Story: The storyline for this match has centered around animosity building between Braun Strowman and Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost and Michael Che. There really hasn’t been much else of a buildup for this match.

Analysis: Hopefully, there will be plent of action to compensate for the lack of story lines. Storylines can develop within a battle royal.

Prediction: The obvious winner is Strowman. Having either Jost or Che win would be a disgrace. Strowman should eliminate Che and Jost, but his preoccupation with the two SNL members should open the door for someone else to take advantage and pull out the victory. It won’t be Matt Hardy, the defending Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner, but it could be Jeff Hardy. A win could re-establish Shelton Benjamin as a top wrestler. A better choice would be EC3, who could use this achievement to kick-start his WWE career. If Bobby Roode is ditching his tag team with Chad Gable, having Roode win the battle royal would be a good choice.

WOMEN’S BATTLE ROYAL

Story: There really hasn’t been a storyline for this match. There are existing feuds, such as the one between Many Rose and Naomi.

Analysis: The best battle royals tend to develop story lines as they develop. We’ll see if this one follows that trend.

Prediction: Of the 13 participants announced thus far, Asuka is the obvious choice to win. If you want a darkhorse, consider Carmella, Ruby Riott or Mandy Rose.

TONY NESE vs. BUDDY MURPHY

(for WWECruiserweight Championship)

Story: Tony Nese has earned his way into a championship match. Murphy has been fantastic since winning the cruiserweight title in his home country of Australia.

Analysis: This match should feature lots of action, as is true of most cruiserweight championship matches.

Prediction: Murphy retains the title.

*****

HALL OF FAME: The night before WrestleMania will feature the Hall of Fame ceremony. The theme this year appears to be teams.

DeGeneration X, including Triple H, Chyna, X-Pac, Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg Jesse James, headlines the event. The Hart Foundation, consisting of Bret “Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, will be inducted, as will Harlem Heat, consisting of Booker T and Stevie Ray. Hart and Booker T have already been inducted as individuals.

Individual being inducted are The Honky Tonk Man, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and Torrie Wilson. Achilles Heel loves Torie Wilson, but he’s a little uncertain what her qualifications are – other than her beauty – for making the Hall of Fame. The same could be said of Beefcake – except for the beauty part.

Longtime WWE employee Sue Aitchison will receive the Warrior Award for her work behind the scenes.

*****

NXT DELIVERS AGAIN: NXT kicked off WrestleMania weekend with an awesome NXT Takeover: New York. Go out of your way to watch this event. It will be worth it.

In the main event, Johnny Gargano captured the NXT Championship vacated by Tommaso Ciampa, who needed neck fusion surgery, in an incredible two-out-of-three-falls match with Adam Cole. The Barclays Center crowd was on fire for this amazing match, which should be an early candidate for match of the year.

The event started with another incredible match. War Raiders (Hanson and Rowe) defeated Aleister Black and Ricochet, who earned the title shot by winning the Dusty Rhodes Classic. The post-match crowd reaction is reason enough to watch this match, but, trust me, the match delivers as well.

Speaking of delivering, WALTER ended Pete Dunne’s NXT U.K. championship reign at 685 days in another excellent match. Not to be outdone, Velveteen Dream handed Matt Riddle his first defeat since joining NXT in another outstanding bout. Not far behind in quality was Shayna Baszler’s successful defense of the NXT Women’s Championship in a fatal four-way match with Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane and Io Shirai.

Even though the Greek God of Wrestling just told you the winners, NXT Takeover: New York is still worth watching. You won’t be sorry.

*****

KUSHIDA TO NXT: WWE revealed on Friday that Japanese star Kushida will join NXT. That’s a major addition for NXT.

*****

FINDING HIS VOICE: The Greek God of Wrestling wants to recognize how much broadcaster Mauro Ranallo adds to NXT broadcasts. His pitch is perfect for the moment.

*****

FINDING THEIR VOICE: All Elite Wrestling signed Jim Ross to a contract. Ross may be a little past his prime, but that still leaves him as the best broadcaster in wrestling. Ross is the best broadcaster in wrestling history, even surpassing his idol, Gordon Solie.

*****

BUSY WEEK: This might sound like a copout, but Achilles Heel is far too busy during WrestleMania week to track down all of the independent matches going on around town. Sometimes it’s tough being a handsome, well-built in-demand celebrity.

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