WrestleMania Watch: Whose Hopes Are Rising, Whose Are Fading Fast

Written By:  Rick Ucchino – cagesideseats.com

Bracketology isn’t just for college basketball this time of the year, folks. At least not anymore. I’ll be mapping out the road to WrestleMania 39 with you all the way into greater Los Angeles on April 2-3 (Aus).

We are four weeks out, but the bubbles of many Superstars may have burst this week when a report surfaced that Chief Content Officer Triple H is looking to book a smaller card this year.

We’ve seen anywhere from seven to eight matches a night booked since WrestleMania switched to two nights a few years back. Now all of sudden what traditionally would have been a 14-16 match card, may only be as many as 12. I have it at 13 matches right now. Let’s take a look.

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
  • Brock Lesnar vs. Omos
  • The Miz will host WrestleMania 39

Two additions were made to the card this week. First, The Miz is your WrestleMania 39 host. I noticed more than a few people reacting negatively online after the announcement was made on Raw, but this is absolutely harmless.

The A-lister hosting the year that WrestleMania returns to Hollywood may be uninspiring to some, but it just makes sense given the Miz’s character and his reality star crossover appeal. Besides, he doesn’t have a real rivalry this year to get him on the card, so this is a good spot to feature one of the company’s longest tenured veterans.

Miz being named the host of WrestleMania officially takes him off of the bubble. The first Cinderella story of WWE’s march to ‘Mania madness as just last week he was trending toward not making the cut.

The move that’s garnering the headlines this week however, is Brock Lesnar’s WrestleMania opponent. Turns out, it wasn’t a swerve. Lesnar has officially accepted the challenge of Omos for a one-on-one match at WrestleMania 39.

Cowboy Brock was a guest on the MVP Lounge this past Monday on RAW and after having to be “sold” on the fight, the Beast agreed to do business with MVP, only to give him an F-5 after their celebratory toast went awry.

The real question is, was MVP trying to sell Lesnar on the match or the audience? For all the same reasons I wrote about last week, this match makes very little sense and it doesn’t appear to be a popular booking decision amongst the WWE Universe.

So why let a year long build between Lesnar and Bobby Lashley fizzle out at Elimination Chamber, to put on a match that’s going to take some heavy duty work to get people invested in it?

Rumor has it this match was suggested by and ultimately “pushed through” by a certain former Head of WWE Creative. If these rumors and reports are actually true, it’s just another cold hard reminder that Vince McMahon still can, and will, do whatever he damn well pleases.

Regardless of who’s call it was to make this match official, it’s seemingly done. There’s still plenty of time to change course again, but for right now Lesnar has his sights set on Omos and Lashley finds himself in the crosshairs of Bray Wyatt. Another out-of-nowhere match up that I have a hard time believing was the original long term plan for Wyatt when he returned to the company last year.

We are very likely to get the next chapter in that story tonight on SmackDown, or at least I hope we do. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal on some of these stories with just four weeks left until the two night extravaganza in Los Angeles.

So what do we know for certain? Brock Lesnar, Omos, The Miz, Bray Wyatt and Bobby Lashley appear to all be locks for the show, joining the six competitors in the three World Championship Matches that had already been booked.

Other names like Seth Rollins, Logan Paul, Austin Theory, John Cena, Ronda Rousey, and Shayna Baszler appear to have solidified spots on the card as well, and nothing that has happened in the past week as changed that.

Let’s take a look at some stars who’s stock either went up or dropped since last Friday as they try to make the WrestleMania cut.

Stock down – L.A. Knight

Knight was already on the bubble prior to last Friday when we saw him grab a mic on SmackDown and begin talking about making WrestleMania moments. He was promptly interrupted by the New Day, which led to a match between L.A. and Kofi Kingston. Thanks to a numbers game advantage, Kingston got the win.

Knight losing his first televised contest since the heavily criticized Mt. Dew Pitch Black Match at the Royal Rumble is not a good sign, not for his chances of making it to Los Angeles anyway.

Six months from now, his fortunes could be completely turned around because he’s an incredible talent who knows how to elicit a response from the crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised if winds up winning King of the Ring or Money in the Bank this year, because he is what he says he is – a bonafide Superstar.

When it comes to this year’s WrestleMania though, I just don’t see him making it to the dance, especially with the Miz already locking up the hosting duties.

For the record, I don’t think the events of this past Friday did much for New Day either. Hopefully I’m wrong, on all counts.

Stock up – Damian Priest and Johnny Gargano

Monday was a good night for Priest, Gargano and their fans. Both Superstars found themselves on the WrestleMania bubble after failing to capture the United States Championship at Elimination Chamber, but their stock jumped up a bit this past week.

We all knew that Austin Theory and Seth Rollins we’re headed to ‘Mania regardless of what happened in that match, but I saw Elimination Chamber as the last ticket-punching opportunity for the other four competitors. I may have been wrong.

The Judgement Day on Monday seemed to have an issue with Johnny Gargano getting some one-on-one interview time with Bryon Saxton and decided to crash the party. An exchange of insults led to Finn Balor challenging Gargano to a match next week on Raw, but it was Priest who seemed to have the biggest issue with Johnny Wrestling.

It certainly seemed as though WWE was laying the groundwork for Priest and Gargano to revisit their NXT days down the line. It remains to be seen just how far down the line and whether there’s enough time to heat up this rivalry enough to get them on the WrestleMania card.

Right now, I’d put it at a long shot, but Priest and Gargano may be able to play their way in – if given the opportunity to do so.

Stock down – Damage CTRL

What a difference a week can make. Dakota Kai and IYO SKY were all but guaranteed a spot on the WrestleMania card, if they just held on to their Women’s Tag Team Championships.

Spoiler Alert: They did not.

With a little bit of help from a returning Trish Status, Becky Lynch and Lita defeated Damage CTRL in the main event of Monday Night Raw to capture the Women’s Tag Titles and now the path to Los Angeles is very uncertain for the former Champs.

Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that Becky and Lita will now move on to face the heavily rumored No. 1 Contenders in Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler, while Bayley could find herself going one-on-one with a certain Hall of Famer who cost her girls their gold.

Or not. There’s more “twists and turns” to come in this story according to Dave Meltzer’s latest report. Those could include a title change, or a Stratus heel turn.

I’m not sure I buy the idea of a Trish heel turn, because if she were coming back as a bad guy, why help Becky and Lita in the first place?

If there are in fact more twists and turns on the horizon, it’s entirely possible that Dakota and IYO wind up on the card after all. They certainly deserve to be there. But for right now, their loss on Monday puts their status up in the air.

WrestleMania Card Prediction, as of March 3, 2023:

Not many changes from last week, but Becky Lynch and Lita winning the Women’s Tag Team Championships did shuffle the deck slightly with Dakota Kai and IYO SKY finding themselves on the outside looking in.

Also on the outside looking – Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez who last week I had booked into a Tag Team Title Match with Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler.

Potential Night One Card:

  • Brock Lesnar vs. Omos
  • Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
  • Becky Lynch & Lita vs. Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler 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
  • Bayley vs. Trish Stratus
  • Bobby Lashley vs. Bray Wyatt
  • Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

On the bubble:

  • Johnny Gargano, Damian Priest, Braun Strowman, Ricochet, Bronson Reed, Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins, Chad Gable, Otis, Santos Escobar
  • Damage CTRL, Liv Morgan, Raquel Rodriquez, Alexa Bliss, Chelsea Green, Candice LaRae, Mia Yim, Piper Niven, Carmella, Nikki Cross

Not looking likely to make the cut:

  • L.A. Knight, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Mustafa Ali, Elias, Rick Boogs, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Karrion Kross
  • Emma, Lacey Evans, Natalya, Shotzi, Sonya Deville, Tegan Nox, Zelina Vega


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