While the card is pretty solid, the two WrestleMania-caliber matches are what the wrestling world is talking, or tweeting about. But, I’m saving that for the end of the column. So yes, you must read (or scroll) through before getting to the good stuff.
In the preshow, Apollo Crews takes on Elias. Please oh please let Elias win. I’m telling you now, if this sing-a-long gimmick gains traction, he’ll be main eventing in a year, or, he’ll go the way of Damien Sandow.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt. Again, but most of their matches have been something to watch. I admit to have been disappointed at SummerSlam, whereas I enjoyed the Demon demolishing Bray, it did seem anti-climactic. Hopefully this match as a “man-to-man” bout will be satisfying.
Enzo Amore vs. Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. This might be fun, as we saw a glimpse of Neville’s mockery of Enzo’s gimmick and recent near-death experience from The Monster Among Men. Neville might use Enzo’s own comedy against him, and Enzo has been known to take some serious bumps in high-risk situations. We haven’t seen much from Enzo since the split, so a one-on-one clash might tell whether Enzo has a future as a solo star or if his days are numbered.
The Bar vs. 2/3rds Shield for the RAW Tag Team Championships The past few matches have been entertaining to watch. I’ve enjoyed their clashes and regardless of who wins I think it’ll be a great match in their feud.
Jason Jordan vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship Let the sighs commence. JJ is going to be the next forced wrestler in our faces. Which is a damn shame because Jordan is an excellent athlete on his own. Rolling Northern Lights Suplexes? You don’t see that every day (unless you watch the indies), and his giant overhead belly-to-back and T-Bone suplexes are things of beauty. Except now he’s saddled with a lame gimmick which will haunt his future growth. Being paired with The Miz will be a good test to see how the crowd will react to JJ under championship situations and who the crowd would rather see. Miz is at a point in his career, where losing won’t negatively impact him, it’ll just make him angrier, which means his promos get dirtier.
Women’s Fatal Five for the RAW Women’s Championship Please please please let Nia Jax finally win. If this match is to get the belt off Bliss, then it has to go to Jax. Bayley will get booed again, and do we need Banks to become a 17-time Women’s Champion faster than Cena? The shock win could go to Emma of course, she’s been playing it low key with her delusions, but that might be what WWE wants to shock us with. Or, they could throw Dana Brooke in there and give her the title, just to make us all mad. Please don’t.
John Cena vs. Roman Reigns. Sure, they had a collision during the original Shield era, but with Reigns in his role as “the most hated man alive” and John Cena fulfilling his “I’m going to verbally destroy you” dominance. Tonight a decision has to be made. Does Cena get the win and send the crowd happy into the main event? Or does Reigns get the win in a dark “passing of the torch” moment, which will only continue to infuriate fans and ask “what does Reigns have on Vince to continually get these honors?”
Here’s my crazy booking. Reigns has to look strong. Cena can’t lose, or lose clean. Even though he has lost clean to Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles. I’m not saying this will happen, but hear me out. Reigns has been beating us all over the head with I retired the Undertaker over and over. So during the match, The Deadman interferes, allowing Cena to gain the pinfall over Reigns. Reigns loses, but not cleanly, so he doesn’t look weak, and Cena gets the W the fans want. Just think about it.
It’s BRAAAAAAAAAAAUN Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar. In case you forgot, he’s the Universal Champion. A title which no one cared about since Kevin Owens had it and is only relevant in big championship bouts featuring anyone besides Roman Reigns. Since the early summer, Brock has remained largely silent and let Rabbi Paul Heyman do the talking for him, which on more than one occasion has been the smart thing. Braun’s is monsterous and, unlike Reigns, has gained a natural following from the fans. The fans grew to like him, hell, chant “Thank you Strowman” whenever he makes mincemeat out of anyone. The ring won’t break, fire won’t erupt, but something has to happen, and it has to be BIG. Or, they go to a double-countout situation, while believable, would ultimately cause Twitter to break down.
Here’s the crazy. We go back to Survivor Series 2002. Brock Lesnar was WWE Champion and loses to the Big Show thanks to Paul Heyman ditching The Next Big Thing. Here we are, 15 years later, and Brock, a mute bulk of a brute, is defending the championship against the modern-era Next Big Thing. Somehow, Heyman screws Lesnar, and aids in giving Strowman the Championship. We’ve been set up before, you know, WrestleMania, where Goldberg mauled Lesnar in every confrontation up to the big show, only for Lesnar to win it at the big one. Will this exact same situation happen again? Doubtful. The crowd will buy that only so many times.
If there was an opportunity to script Brock out and take a break from being an absent champion, this is it. If there was ever an opportunity to really make the fans happy, to do something unbelievable, have Strowman win the Universal Championship, this is it. Does it have to be clean? Would be nice, but Brock has to be protected, so it might not be clean. But in any case, the achievement of Strowman walking out of No Mercy as WWE Universal Champion would be great, no matter how it plays out.