WWE Elimination Chamber 2021: Predictions & Analysis

Well, that PPV cycle sure went quick. The Royal Rumble feels like it was just a week ago, and I could’ve sworn this PPV was scheduled for next weekend, but that shows what I know, I guess. The bright side is that this time of year always has me excited for wrestling shows, even if the TV isn’t the best.

This show is a bit of an interesting one because it’s pretty much entirely wheel spinning. Usually, Elimination Chamber will at least set the stage for a Wrestlemania match or two, but this one really has no bearing on the Mania card. I know both of the titles are up for grabs, but if you think either of them are going to change hands on Sunday, then you’re clearly new to wrestling. On top of that, no number 1 contenders are being decided; the only possibility is that Edge will come and confront the champion he wants to face at Wrestlemania, but even that already feels like a done deal.

That said, I really like the Elimination Chamber. It’s not WWE’s best gimmick match by a long shot, but I think (2020 notwithstanding) the past few years have produced a lot of really great chamber matches, and this year promises to add to that.

NOTE: About the Asuka vs Lacey Evans match. WWE still seems to be advertising it as happening, but if it’s true that Lacey is pregnant (which just about everywhere seems to be reporting she is) that match won’t be going ahead. I’m not sure what WWE are going to do about it, but given that I don’t think it’s taking place, I’m not going to predict it. I don’t know who WWE would put up as a replacement, it wouldn’t surprise me if they just didn’t bother, but either way, I think Asuka will still be champion by the end of the night.

Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) vs Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Remember when the women’s tag division had actual tag teams to challenge the champs and not just some pairings thrown together on a whim? No, me neither, which is sort of the problem with the whole endeavour right now.

While it’s not been anything incredible, the build has been fairly enjoyable week-to-week, mostly thanks to the overall high quality of Smackdown so far this year. It’s not without problems, though, mainly how the build has focused around Bianca’s uneasy alliance with Banks and that Bianca is definitely going to challenge Sasha at Mania. Jax & Baszler have once again been kicked to the curb a bit in favour of the feuds involving the ‘bigger stars’.

That said, I’m hopeful this will be a good one. This should get a decent amount of time thanks to the lack of matches booked for this show, and three of the four women are among WWE’s best. I’d imagine WWE would be eager to showcase Bianca especially following her Rumble win.

I think it’s a pretty solid lock that Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler are going to retain. They may lose the titles only to get them back when Sasha & Bianca fall out, but they literally just did that with Charlotte, so I don’t see the point in doing it again. I think it’d be much better for Sasha & Bianca to fall out here, and we get going with their Wrestlemania build properly. I’m interested to see how that build goes because Bianca is 100% the face that everyone will be behind, but I don’t think it’d be a good idea to turn Banks heel again this soon. Hopefully, WWE will be smart enough to let Banks skirt the line between heel & face a bit, as she’s more than capable of doing it. Either way, having the women’s tag titles involved would just needlessly complicate things, so keep them on the champs for now.

Bobby Lashley(c) vs Keith Lee vs Riddle
(United States Championship)

This build has been messy as all hell.

Riddle’s been chasing Lashley for quite a while now, even running the gauntlet of The Hurt Business and fighting them off at every opportunity. So it seems really weird for Keith Lee to suddenly step in on his scene like this. I mean, sure, why shouldn’t he? And I love Keith Lee, so I’m not going to complain too much; it just seems like a real dick move to pull on Riddle. The Hurt Business has continued to be the best part of Raw the past couple of months, giving us some much needed entertaining promo segments on a Raw that is currently an absolute chore to get through every week.

I’m looking forward to the match, though. I wasn’t huge on Lashley for a while, but I’ve come around to him now he’s got a faction backing him up and just needs to rely on destroying fools. Riddle & Lee are both excellent, so I can only imagine the chemistry they’ll have in the ring. Additionally, the triple threat factor means that this match should be a lot of fun with a fast pace and high-impact action.

I can see the result going all three ways if I’m honest with you. Putting the belt on Keith Lee would be something I’m in favour of as he’s not been featured very well in recent months, but it might feel a bit out of nowhere for him to suddenly show up and win the title. Riddle winning the title is a possibility too, he’s been chasing The Hurt Business for ages now, and it’d seem a bit cruel for him to not get it here. Ultimately though, I’m going with Bobby Lashley. In a situation like this, picking the champ to retain is always a safe bet, and I think by keeping the belt on Lashley, the door is open for Lee to take the title in a singles match at Mania.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Randy Orton vs AJ Styles vs Sheamus vs Jeff Hardy vs Kofi Kingston
(WWE Championship)
(Elimination Chamber)

Generally, I’d go through each of the participants for a match like this and give my thoughts on their chances in the match, but there’s really only one outcome here.

In a clear example of the fact that WWE has no idea who Drew’s going to face at Mania, they’ve thrown this match together on a whim, and while it’s pointless, it will probably be very good. There’s the right mix of hard-hitters and high-flyers in this match, and I think we’ll get a lot of varied action as the thing progresses.

The only real problem here is that I don’t have all that much to say about it. The build’s been very short and okay, I guess; gauntlet matches are pretty fun. All that’s really left to talk about is the winner, and as I’ve already made obvious, I’m picking Drew McIntyre to retain. The dude just beat Goldberg clean, so there’s no way they’d have him suddenly drop the title to Jeff Hardy on a b-show PPV. Not to mention the fact that they’ve already put together the Wrestlemania promo package, which shows both Drew & Reigns holding their titles.

The only person I thought had any potential to take the title was Orton, but it’s clear that he’s going to be dealing with The Fiend at Mania, so that rules him out. Styles already lost his shot in December, and while they’re all former world champions, Sheamus, Hardy & Kingston have not been booked on a main-event level at all over the past year and don’t fit the title at the moment.

Kevin Owens vs Jey Uso vs Daniel Bryan vs King Corbin vs Sami Zayn vs Cesaro
(Elimination Chamber)

AND

Roman Reigns(c) vs The Winner of the Elimination Chamber Match
(Universal Championship)

This is the chamber match that I’m far more excited to see because – with one exception – I adore all of the talent involved, and it’s sure to be a blinder of a match. What’s better is the result of this one isn’t super obvious, so I can go through it person by person.

King Corbin – While Corbin is one of those people that could be catapulted into the main event out of nowhere at any time, it’s not going to happen here. He’s been booked like a chump in the latter half of the past year, and with Reigns on top, there’s no room for another main-event heel.

Sami Zayn –Zayn’s work of late has been fantastic, even if I don’t think it’s going to lead anywhere. The conspiracy theory stuff allows Zayn to get the best out of himself and do wonderfully entertaining things like handcuffing himself to barricade for half of Smackdown. That said, I don’t think it’s going to lead to a real main-event push, and, as I said before, while Reigns is the champion, no other heel is getting a look in.

Jey Uso – Jey’s story with Roman was one of WWE’s better stories of 2020, but it feels like it’s reached a status quo for now, at least until Jimmy returns from injury. While it would be entertaining to watch, I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from Uso fighting Reigns again. They could do a finger-poke of doom thing, but that would make everyone very angry, so no.

Daniel Bryan – Now we’re getting into the people I think might win. Bryan & Reigns started building a feud around November, but it got dropped out of nowhere, and they never returned to it. It seemed like it was going to be the Mania match, but now Edge has won the Rumble, and it seems pretty likely he’s going to fight Roman at Mania instead. Bryan would be a good strong win for Reigns, and it’d be perfect for the underdog story of having to go through a Chamber match before fighting Reigns.

I just don’t quite see it. If it’s going to lead to a Mania match (which it might), then I’d be in favour of it, but I don’t think that’s the direction WWE want to go, and given how big of a match Reigns vs Bryan is, I don’t think they’d give it away on a b-show like this.

Cesaro – One of the most surprising aspects of 2021 so far is that fact that Cesaro has actually been getting somewhat of a sustained singles pushed. He’s beaten Daniel Bryan clean twice now, and word was he was originally going to get the ironman spot in that gauntlet match in January. As such, I think he’s in with a shout of getting this one-and-done shot the title on this show. Having Cesaro gut it out in the Chamber, put on an exciting but ultimately unsuccessful showing against might be a brilliant way to build him up even further.

Kevin Owens – The final leading contender here, and this would definitely make the most narrative sense. Owens has addressed the fact that he was totally screwed out of the win at the Rumble, and you’d think that would mean there’s still a loose thread to pull on here. On top of that, Owens has all the momentum in the world, and it would be a shame to see it dropped all of a sudden.

I’m struggling to make my pick here. As I said, Owens seems like the obvious choice, but I’m not so sure. While there is that loose thread to pull on, I just don’t see what can be gained from Reigns beating Owens again. It may be a great performance for Owens, but I don’t think it’ll benefit him any more than the Last Man Standing match did, and Reigns doesn’t look all that great beating a guy he’s already beat twice before, even if it was dirty.

I’ve decided I’m going to go with what I want to happen instead, and I’m picking Cesaro to win the Chamber match. It might not lead to anything huge for the guy, but I think it could be an extremely entertaining story and let Cesaro show that he can hang in the main event, like so many of us have known for years. He’s not going to win, though, and come the end of the night, Roman Reigns will still be Universal Champion.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Monday for my review of the show!

WWE Stomping Grounds 2019: Every Match Ranked

Well, that was yet another lesson in never getting my hopes up when WWE is involved.

So Stomping Grounds is in the bag and honestly, as a whole, it wasn’t too bad of a show, the first two hours were filled with ok-good matches and there weren’t any crappy finishes to drag things down. That said, once the third hour started the show just drove off of a cliff and never recovered because if it wasn’t for Super Showdown, it’d be the worst hour and a half of wrestling I’ve seen all year. It wasn’t all bad of course, but given that the major three matches failed to deliver, it’s not left the best of tastes in everyone’s mouths.

So, here’s every match from Stomping Grounds 2019 ranked.

9 – Seth Rollins(c) def. Baron Corbin
(Universal Championship)
(Special Guest Referee: Lacey Evans)

I’m of two minds when it comes to Lacey as the referee. On one hand, it’s a clever way for Corbin to get around the problem of Seth trying to murder all of his referees and is someone I genuinely wasn’t expecting to see. On the other hand, the moment it was revealed that it was Lacey, everyone knew how Seth was going to get out of the problem, the crowd were chanting for Becky before the match even started and commentary had been playing up the relationship between Becky & Seth for weeks.

That predictability also made for an extremely boring match leading up until that point and it didn’t help that WWE really overplayed their hand here. This whole thing did not need to be 18 minutes long, it could’ve been done in half of that and not lost anything. In a match like this where everyone knows how it’s going to end, you just need to hit the key points of Lacey screwing Seth over in a few ways and then hit the big finish, instead of doing what they did which was draw it out until we’d all had enough of it, and then draw it out some more.

Please, just no more Seth vs Corbin matches, and please be more creative about it than a mixed tag match too, this really doesn’t have the legs to go any further.

8 – Kofi Kingston(c) def. Dolph Ziggler
(WWE Championship)
(Steel Cage)

Well, that just proved my theory that the Steel Cage match between The Miz and Shane McMahon last month was the exception, not the rule.

When Kofi & Ziggler had an underwhelming match at Super Showdown, I gave them the benefit of the doubt because of the situation surrounding the Saudi Arabia shows, but somehow they managed to make this match worse. It started off ok, with a bunch of back and forth as each man would try to get a quick escape from a cage, but that didn’t seem to last very long, because about halfway through, the whole thing just because 10 minutes of rest holds.

Ziggler was “working Kofi’s leg” for so damn long that I totally switched off and started paying attention to other things, and when that spot finally ended, they had a very short sequence of fun moves and went right back to it. Following that, we got several minutes of the guys laying by the door knowing they clearly weren’t going to escape, before and admittedly brilliant finish, where Kofi just launched himself out of the cage.

I just don’t understand why anyone involved in this match thought this would be entertaining to watch. I can see how a more old-school fan might get something out of it, but even then it doesn’t really seem like anything great. You can’t just have the match stop for 10 minutes right before the finish and expect everyone to love it.

7 – Roman Reigns def. Drew Mcintyre

I mean, this wasn’t great, but at least there was something to it.

WWE really need to just let Drew be a monster because this slow, rest-hold style of matches really aren’t doing him any favours at all. Drew is brilliant when he destroys people with high impact offence and refuses to let up, the same with Roman, but for some reason he’s forced to work this boring as fuck style that simply serves as a set up to pop the crowd when his opponent makes a comeback, which isn’t any fun to watch.

Unfortunately, that’s what most of this match was. It had a few entertaining moments scattered throughout it though, like whenever Shane got involved, and towards the finish when Drew and Roman were trading big hits. There wasn’t enough to this match for me to really sink my teeth into it though, there were hints of the awesome Roman vs Drew match we all want in there, but it’s marred by a sea of rest holds and boring wrestling.

Hopefully, the handicap match on Raw is the end of it, because I really don’t want to sit through another month of this crap, just let Roman wrestle someone else for a change like…I dunno, The Shining Stars, it’ll probably be more entertaining than this.

6 – Becky Lynch(c) def. Lacey Evans
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Let’s play a fun game, it’s called: How many times does Lacey Evans have to show the world she’s absolutely not ready before WWE stop giving her big PPV matches?

This was very much a match of two halves, with the first being pretty bad and the second being pretty good. The first half of this match really couldn’t find it’s footing all that well, they were going back and forth kind fo awkwardly with wrestling that was fine, but didn’t really grab my attention in any major way, then a few minutes in Lacey made that very obvious botch where she failed to get into position for Becky’s backward kick off of the turnbuckle, forcing Becky to have to do it a second time. Once that happened, the crowd jumped on her with “Lacey sucks” and “You can’t wrestle” chants filling the arena, which seemed to throw her off her game for a little while.

She did eventually recover though and I quite enjoyed the second half of the match, even if it was a little bit hard to ignore Becky calling spots directly down the microphone. The action in the second half of the match picked up in a major way and I thought the two developed some pretty good chemistry as the finish rolled around, it’s time for Becky to move onto something else though because Lacey just isn’t ready to consistently be in this spot.

5 – Daniel Bryan & Rowan(c) def. Heavy Machinery
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

It certainly didn’t take a genius to guess whose home town we were in.

Honestly, though, I felt the crowd really added a lot to this match, I just wish they’d let the wrestlers play to it a bit more. The crowd here were treating Heavy Machinery how I personally treat all of Daniel Bryan’s opponents by desperately not wanting them to win at all and Bryan tried to play to it a bit, but still stuck to the heel tendencies.

The match itself was a fun watch, but it did show off everything I hate about Heavy Machinery, like when Bryan was doing the Yes! Kicks and Otis was thrusting his hips and having a spasm on his feet, it’s not the 80’s anymore, that stuff just looks stupid now. That said, this match did a lot to make Heavy Machinery look good in defeat since realistically you could argue that they only lost thanks to Bryan’s experience and veteran instincts, having the wear with all to make the small package.

If anything is going to revive the tag division in WWE, it’s Bryan & Rowan going on an absolute tear with these titles, having great matches with every tag team on Smackdown and this was certainly a good start.

4 – Bayley(c) def. Alexa Bliss
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This match was one that very much had the potential to go either way and thankfully it landed on the side of good. There aren’t many complaints I have about this match, I think for the most part the wrestling was very solid, and these two clearly work well together in the ring. I didn’t really reach that upper level of being a great match, but it was certainly more than I was expecting going in.

Alexa seemed to wrestle a lot less heelish in this match, there was still an element of her “full of herself” persona, but there was a lot less taunting, outside of screaming at the ref whenever he tried to remind her of the rules, but for the most part, she wrestled clean. Bayley’s always been great as the beaten down babyface, and it’s always so much fun to watch her rally and make the comeback and this match was no exception.

I’m a little confused about the finish though, commentary tried to claim that Alexa pulled Nikki in the way of Bayley’s dive but to me, it looked more like Nikki didn’t move and pushed Alexa out of the way. I’m even more confused by what happened next because Nikki got in the ring like she was about to attack Bayley because she’s so crazy and just couldn’t control herself, but then 30 seconds later when Bayley’s about to win the match, Nikki suddenly can control herself?

I guess I’m just being a bit overly nitpicky about it, but it struck me as odd when it went down, I also thought Bayley shoving Nikki after the match was a nice touch and I love where Bayley’s character is going. That said, I don’t really want to see this match again, not because it was bad, but because there’s just so much talent in the Smackdown Women’s division right now, that I want to see what Bayley can do with all of them as champion.

3 – Ricochet def. Samoa Joe(c)
(United States Championship)

And here we have a match that’s thankfully what we all hoped it would be.

I said in my predictions that I thought this match would focus on both men trying to force the other to wrestle their style and that’s more or less what we got. The opening sequence was full of Ricochet wrestling circles around Joe before Joe finally caught him and was able to slow him down. Once Joe was on top the pace of the match changed drastically to be a lot more methodical, with Joe trying to wear down Ricochet for a portion of the match.

It threatened to go on for too long and become a bit boring, but these two men were able to pace it very nicely so that the comebacks and high spots were in the right places to frame the slower moments nicely. I particularly liked when Joe denied Ricochet’s kick, Ricochet did a standing backflip in order to sell it and the crowd just didn’t give a shit. The final few minutes of the match focused around Ricochet trying to pull off the 630 Splash, rolling through on it once before getting Joe down long enough to land the second and become the new United States champion.

I wasn’t expecting this, but I’m most certainly in on it, and if his first feud is going to be AJ Styles, then I’m in all the way. Hopefully, Joe can move up the card a bit off of the back of this, maybe going after Strowman after that was teased during the Superstar shakeup and never followed up on.

2 – Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn def. The New Day

Clearly, no-one told these guys this was an inconsequential tag match.

This match was very entertaining from start to finish. It opened up with something we don’t see very often, where Owens immediately took Big E out of the equation while he and Zayn frequently tagged in and out hitting their big moves in order to try and put Xavier away quickly but he was able to stay alive throughout.

The match then transitioned into Zayn and Owens putting a beating on Xavier Woods and Woods desperately trying to make the tag. Once again, this was paced really well, the beatdown on Xavier didn’t last so long as to be boring, but lasted long enough to really get the crowd invested in the hot tag when it eventually came. Big E was like a house on fire in this match, and clearly didn’t miss a step during the couple of months he was away.

Once the hot tag was made and the match devolved a bit, the chaos was so much fun to watch. The near falls and false finishes were done to great effect and I really felt like it could’ve gone either way when it came down to the final moments. Eventually, Owens would hit a stunner on Woods (which Woods would sell the shit out of) for the win in a very satisfying and fun match.

1 – Drew Gulak def. Tony Nese(c) & Akira Tozowa
(Cruiserweight Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

Well, this was bound to happen one day. If you keep putting the cruiserweights on the pre-show, expect them to show up and blow everything else out of the water because this match was fantastic.

I’ve loved watching Tozowa & Gulak on 205 Live in recent months, and Tony Nese is no slouch either, so putting the three of them together in this match was always going to make for something great. Interestingly, unlike a lot of other triple threat matches, there weren’t any extended periods of time where one person was selling outside the ring while the other two fought. The action and interruptions of the action were constant the whole way through and it made for such an unpredictable bout, where you never knew what was coming next.

Some of my personal favourite spots were Tozowa dropping out of the sky onto Nese, who was trapped in Gulak’s submission hold, and Nese swooping in as Tozowa was trying to take Drew out and throwing Tozowa at Gulak. There were some great near falls too (admittedly only because Drew missed his cue) and as we got into the final two minutes, there were points where I honestly believed each man had it in the bag.

Eventually, Drew Gulak came out on top in what I think is the right move for 205 Live. Nese was a great champion, but I feel he was much better in the chase than once he actually won the title, and Drew has been putting on great matches with the whole 205 Live and NXT rosters for well over a year now, so I’m very much looking forward to what’s to come.

That’s all folks! There’s what I thought of every match that took place at Stomping Grounds 2019! Thank you very much for reading, a share on social media would be very much appreciated, and make sure to let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Make sure you come back this weekend, where we go back to the land of video games, for something a little different.

WWE Money in the Bank 2019: Predictions & Analysis

Let’s not sugar coat this, WWE TV this past month has been awful.

Raw is currently the worst it’s been in a long time, thanks to the superstar shakeup being rather underwhelming and taking 3 weeks for everyone to get in the right places. Then one week later we’re told that actually, it didn’t matter because the “Wildcard Rule” means people could just come and go from either show as they please. Smackdown’s been better, with at least a couple of fun and entertaining segments a week, but it’s still not as high a quality show week to week as it used to be.

That said, WWE are yet to produce a bad PPV so far this year, and Money in the Bank is one of those gimmicks that has a fairly high base quality. Rumour is that WWE are actually planning to make a star of the Money in the Bank winner this year, rather than burying them 6 feet under like they have done for the past couple of years. The rest of the card looks hopeful too, with what will hopefully be done dream matches.

Not all of them though, so let’s take a look at them all, break down the storeys and pick a winner.

Daniel Bryan & Rowan vs The Usos
(Kickoff Show)

The article on WWE.com doesn’t make it clear if this is a title match or not, but given it’s on the pre-show, I’m going to assume it isn’t.

I could sit here and complain that the best tag team in WWE, the best wrestler in the world and his friend who’s improved a surprising amount of the past few months are slumming it on the pre-show, but honestly, I’m just thankful Daniel Bryan can still wrestle after his injury scare following Wrestlemania.

Plus, this match is still going to be great even if it doesn’t get tonnes of time. Bryan & Rowan have formed a lot of chemistry together since they began their partnership in January, and I think they were the perfect team to have carry the titles once Jeff Hardy suffered his leg injury. It’s entirely possible that The Revival use this match as an opportunity to get some petty revenge on The Usos for filming them shaving each other’s backs and making their balls itch…yeah, wrestling’s shit sometimes…

Given that The Usos are on Raw, Daniel Bryan & Rowan are definitely winning this match, whether it’s for the titles or not. If it is for the titles then they won’t lose the belts this quick to someone on the wrong show, and if it isn’t for the titles then I can’t see the newly crowned champions losing a match on PPV so soon after winning the titles.

Tony Nese(c) vs Ariya Daivari
(Cruiserweight Championship)

Guess who’s actually been watching 205 Live this past month and a half.

I decided to commit to watching 205 Live on a regular basis following Wrestlemania, and honestly, I’m glad I did it, there’s a lot of good matches on there every week and some pretty interesting minor storylines, unfortunately, I wouldn’t really describe this as one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, both these guys are great wrestlers and I’m sure the match will be just as good as the Cruiserweight Championship matches always are, but this build has been super generic in its premise. Ariya Daivari has been on a winning streak as of late, this has been rewarded with a title match and now Nese and Daivari have been passive-aggressively watching each other’s matches and staring down after every single one.

I like a simpler build from time to time, but this is just a bit too basic for my taste, especially if this is going to be what all of Nese’s title feuds are going to be like until someone like Oney Lorcan comes along and spices things up. Regardless, I’d say Tony Nese is a pretty safe bet here, he looked really good in victory over Buddy Murphey at Wrestlemania and it would be a really bad decision to have him lose the title this quick so this will be a solid defence for the new champion.

Samoa Joe(c) vs Rey Mysterio
(United States Championship)

A United States title match? On a Pay-Per-View? Well I never…

After the absolute destruction of the US Title that came at the start of the year, Samoa Joe has done a pretty good job so far of showing bringing some level of prestige back to the belt. A solid defence of the title at Fastlane followed by beating Mysterio in under a minute at Wrestlemania has been great for both Joe and the title, and hopefully, that momentum will keep on rolling through Money in the Bank.

Admittedly the justification for the rematch was a little lazy, given that Rey pinned Joe in a non-title match on Raw, which we’ve all seen hundreds of times. That said, since then we’ve seen a pretty decent build, getting Rey’s son Dominick involved didn’t seem like it’d be a great idea at the time, but Joe’s promo ability and confrontations with both Rey and Dominick have done a good job of adding some animosity to the build so hopefully this one will get a bit more time than it did at Mania and we’ll get a good match.

I’m going back and forth on the winner though, because as much as I think Joe should win, Mysterio is one of those guys like Jeff Hardy, who could realistically win a secondary title at any point. The thing is, there are a lot of face champions on Raw and Smackdown right now, in fact, the US, Women’s Tag and Smackdown Tag titles are the only ones currently being held by heels so I don’t see Samoa Joe losing his title until that changes.

Roman Reigns vs Elias

Roman Reigns’ move to Smackdown is a great one as far as I’m concerned, with Seth as the Universal Champion there wasn’t going to be any room for him in that title picture for quite a while, and even though he probably won’t be challenging for the WWE Championship for a good few months yet, the mid-card on Smackdown are generally much better wrestlers who can put on great PPV matches with Reigns, and not be hurt too much by losing.

As for this feud in particular, it’s been a bit up and down up until this point. The introduction on the night of the superstar shakeup was great, seeing Vince McMahon get punched in the face will never stop being fun and using Elias and Shane as a proxy has made for some pretty entertaining promos. On the flip side, it has also brought out the worst in Reigns’ character, with him beating the B-Team two on one, despite the fact Elias was there as an extremely biased referee.

This match should be ok, Reigns is a perfectly solid wrestler and Elias is always surprisingly good on the rare occasion he actually wrestles, so as long as this doesn’t fall into the trap of spending 10 minutes of the two men “wearing each other down” using rest holds it should be pretty entertaining. Roman Reigns is definitely winning though.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Lacey Evans
(Raw Women’s Championship)

The first of two title defences Becky will be taking part in on Sunday, this is the one where I really don’t think the result is in question.

Evans is still pretty untested when it comes to big matches in WWE. In the matches she had on NXT, she was fine, but she never had a big singles match at a Takeover and she hasn’t competed nearly enough since coming to main for us to really have an idea of what she’s like. I think she’s good enough for Becky to carry her to an entertaining match though, partly because Becky’s great, but also anyone who can have a halfway decent match with Natalya has got to have some talent behind them.

Like I said at the start though, I have no doubt about who’s walking away from this match victorious. Becky Lynch is not losing that Raw Women’s Title anytime soon, for two reasons. Firstly, there’s a good chance she could lose the Smackdown Women’s Title sometime soon, and secondly, the women’s division on Raw is pretty weak right now, and Becky needs to be at the top to anchor it until a certain Queen of Spades shows up.

Shane McMahon vs The Miz
(Steel Cage)

Who would’ve thought that this would end up being the best-built feud coming out of Wrestlemania?

I honestly don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this has been the most interesting storyline on TV week to week the past month or so. We all know The Miz is one of the best promo guys around, and when he gets fired up as a face he can do some incredible work, and I think we all knew Shane would be great once he finally turned heel, given how hateable he was as a face. The two of them colliding each and every week has been great fun to watch.

That said, I’m sure how great of a match this is going to lead too. Steel Cage is generally one of my least favourite stipulations, and neither Shane nor Miz are wrestlers who can really benefit from this environment. This leads me to think it’s going to be full of interference from all corners of the roster, it wouldn’t surprise me if Reigns and Elias both got involved, maybe even Bobby Lashley will show up to try and screw Miz in the process. If that happens then it might be a fun watch, in a chaotic sense, because if it’s just a straight match the whole time, I don’t think it’s going to be anything to write home about.

I feel pretty confident in saying that The Miz is going to win here though, since I don’t really see any benefit to Shane winning again, even by accident. It seems to me like Shane is going to fade back into being less of a wrestler and more of an authority figure over the summer, and Miz will probably Samoa Joe’s next challenger, so Miz needs the win a lot more than Shane does here.

Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match

This lineup is quite a hit and miss one, on the one hand, there’s Bayley and Ember Moon, on the other hand, there’s Natalya. It makes it a little easier to predict (I hope), but I’m not sure if it’s going to lead to an entertaining match. There’s probably going to be some sort of crazy spot from someone, probably Ember, but a Money in the Bank ladder match needs to be more than that. Either way, let’s look at each of the competitor’s chances, shall we?

Natalya – This past couple of years I’ve gone right off Natalya as a wrestler. She used to be able to hold her own and even stand out as a competitor, but in this era of women’s wrestling where WWE has some of the best female competitors on the planet, she just can’t keep up. It’s entirely possible that Natalya will hold championship gold again before she retires, but something like Money in the Bank wouldn’t rest well on her shoulders.

Carmella – Since losing her Smackdown Women’s Championship last year, Carmella has come on leaps and bounds as a wrestler. Her character turned out to be much better suited to being a face than a heel and this turn has also allowed her to loosen up her wrestling style a lot more, without having to rely on crap like James Ellsworth to get victories; not the mention the Code of Silence is a great looking finisher. I think she’s destined to hold a championship again in her career, but given the landscape of the women’s division now I don’t think it’s going to be for a while, so she’s not picking up the briefcase here.

Dana Brooke – No.

Naomi – Naomi is someone who has all the makings of someone who could potentially carry one of the women’s divisions in WWE at some point in her career. I know she’s already been champion before, but I never felt like the creative team were fully behind her, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if in a few years we saw something akin to Kofi’s ascent earlier this year. Like I say though, in a few years, with Becky Lynch sitting pretty holding both women’s championships there’s just no room for her to be skulking around that scene right now.

Mandy Rose – If Asuka was still Smackdown Women’s Champion, I’d say she had a pretty good chance, but that’s not the case, so there’s not a lot for me to say. I can’t help but feel like WWE have backed the wrong horse out of Fire and Desire, don’t get me wrong I like Mandy Rose, even if she is still a little bit green, but I think Sonya Deville really has the makings of an all-time great female wrestler if they’d just give her a shot. Regardless, Mandy isn’t winning this match, because I don’t really see her being a champion anytime soon.

Nikki Cross – As announced on Thursday via WWE’s social media pages, Alexa Bliss wasn’t medically cleared to compete, and Nikki Cross is here replacement because…she sorta helped Alexa out on Monday? As far as reintroductions go, a Money in the Bank ladder match could be really good for Nikki if she’s given some time to stand out in it. Perhaps having her as the last person to be thrown off of the ladder before the actual winner climbs would be a good spot for her, and hopefully some form of story with Alexa Bliss will keep her on TV for the next few months. There’s no way she’s going to be winning this match though.

Ember Moon Out of everyone in this match, I think this is who I want to win the most. Since coming over to Smackdown she’s been positioned perfectly for a meteoric rise in the coming months, but I’m really sceptical about WWE actually pulling the trigger on it. However, for that rise to happen, I really don’t think she needs to win Money in the Bank, it would help of course, but I think a more organic rise, similar to the one Becky Lynch saw last year would leave her better off in the long run. Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ember won it, but it’s not what I think is going to happen.

Bayley – Time for a totally mad theory.

As much as I’ve loved (almost) every Charlotte vs Becky match, I’m at the point where I’d rather see someone else challenge Becky for once, which WWE illuded to a number of weeks ago when Becky proclaimed she also wants to face new people. In addition to this, Bayley has been made to look a million bucks since coming over to Smackdown last month, taking it to everyone she’s come accross.

So let’s put two and two together here, WWE seem to have loved pulling the “same night cash in” trick on a number of occasions, so why not do it again? Except this time, instead of making it a cheap sneak attack, have this match go on early, and once Bayley has unhooked the briefcase, she grabs a mics and inserts herself into Becky vs Charlotte, making it a triple threat. I’ll get into what happens in that match in a moment, but I personally think that would be a great way for things to play out.

Even if that doesn’t come to pass, I still think Bayley’s the one to go with here. She’ll likely announce her cash-in in advance because that’s what faces with the briefcase do, but I think it will be a good way to keep her in everyone’s minds while Becky goes off to face anyone and everyone on the Smackdown roster.

Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Orton aside, I’d be perfectly happy with any of these men winning the coveted briefcase. There’s a great mix of big guys and high flyers in this match, and as previous years have shown us, that usually makes for the most entertaining of ladder matches. Ricochet and Ali are gonna try and out crazy each other which Balor & Andrade go at it, Drew & Braun try to murder each other, Orton doles out RKOs left right and centre and Corbin is also there.

Ricochet – I love Ricochet as much as the next guy, but let’s face it, he’s only in here to do some cool ladder spots. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we’ll be raving about whatever it is he did come Monday, but he doesn’t have any real chance of actually winning the thing. It’s hard to tell where Ricochet’s going right now, which makes me worry that it’s nowhere, hopefully, a good showing here will stop that from happening.

Randy Orton – Much like Bliss in the women’s match, he almost certainly won’t win, but there’s a tiny chance he might because it’s Randy Orton. Orton is another guy who feels pretty directionless right now, he hasn’t done a great deal of anything since Wrestlemania, thanks to AJ jumping ship, so he’s just been doing what he always does between storylines which is RKOing people with no rhyme or reason until one of them gets pissy about it. He doesn’t need the briefcase to do that though, so let’s move on.

Baron Corbin – This seems very much like another opportunity for everyone and their grandmothers to mug off Baron Corbin with ladders right at the start of the match. I can’t say I’d be pissed off if Corbin won, but I certainly wouldn’t be that pleased about it. I’m sure Corbin will win a world title at some point over the next couple years – no matter how much we don’t want him to – but the Universal Title scene really doesn’t feel fit for him to drop in right now. It could look very different come November-January time, but somehow I doubt it.

Ali – I really hope Ali has a good showing here, he kicked ass in the WWE title match at Fastlane and he’s disappointingly faded back down the card a bit since then. With Buddy Murphey on the way to Smackdown as well, it’s getting a little worrying for Ali, as it’ll be really easy for him to get lost in the shuffle and have a really mediocre year, like that of Andrade in 2018. He’s not picking up the win here, but I imagine him and Ricochet will try and outdo each other and Ali will really show off his stuff.

Sami Zayn – I don’t really know what to make of Sami being put in this match in place of Braun. The way they did it was fine, Corbin and Mcintyre getting in there to take Strowman out of the picture made sense for both of those characters, and heel Sami Zayn is exactly the type of character to take advantage of it. That said, I don’t think Sami has any chance of actually winning the thing, I’m glad he’s getting a spot in a major match like this of course, but I can’t see him doing a great deal of note other than getting killed by Braun Strowman, that is if Strowman doesn’t take Zayn out before the match and reclaim his spot anyway.

Finn Balor – Balor seems like the prime candidate in this match for a whole host of “almost” moments. I imagine he’ll be much like face Dolph Ziggler was, where several times in the match, he’ll be fingertips away from unhooking the briefcase only for someone to snatch it away from him. I also think he can afford to not do a great deal of consequence in this match and still come out of it looking great. There are plenty of people lined up for Balor to face for the IC in the coming months and here would be a really good place to sow the seeds by having someone like Ali or Andrade stop him from doing it. At the end of the day though, he’s the Intercontinental Champion, so he really doesn’t need the Money in the Bank briefcase

Drew Mcintyre – If I were a betting man, this is probably who I would put my money on. As I mentioned in the intro, apparently the plan is to properly try and make a star out of this year’s Money in the Bank winner, and we’ve all known it was only a matter of time until Drew was a world champion when he resigned with NXT a few years ago. Drew really does seem like the easy pick to win this briefcase, but I’m not sure he actually needs the briefcase in order to get to the Universal Championship. All it takes is multiple months of Drew absolutely murdering dudes left, right and centre. Ultimately, I will not be surprised in the least if Drew walks out with the briefcase, but he’s not the horse I’m backing in this race, because…

Andrade – 2019 might be a “now or never” year for Andrade, not just because there are multiple reports of him being disgruntled, but also because of how he was treated throughout most of last year. He had great matches with top stars yes, but with the exception of Rey Mysterio, he lost all of them. Those matches did a great job to raise his stock and Vince is reportedly really high on the guy, but if he spends another year doing the exact same thing there might not be any way for him to recover.

If Andrade was still on Raw I’d say he didn’t have a chance, but now he’s back on Smackdown all bets are off, and Andrade could be the perfect person to hold the briefcase and eventually become champion. Andrade is a Wrestlemania main event level guy, and all it will take is management to get behind him and he’ll soar. He’s like Alberto Del Rio but not a massive douche, and about 60 times better at wrestling.

Kofi Kingston(c) vs Kevin Owens
(WWE Championship)

This is going to be the next few months, isn’t it? Us all being terrified that Kofi is going to lose the title way too soon every time he defends it.

As much as I’d wish they’d saved this feud for the summer, I can understand why they put the rush on it given Daniel Bryan’s uncertain health at the time. As it turns out, what we’ve got so far has been pretty good, I personally would’ve kept the whole “Kevin Owens as part of the New Day” thing going a bit longer, but the turn was still shocking enough to create a memorable moment and the promos in subsequent weeks have put some real fire behind this feud.

As for the match itself, these two seem like their styles will mesh really well in a high profile match like this. Kofi has proved to be the ultimate underdog wrestler this year and Owens is always at his best when he gets to dominate someone and really enjoy rubbing it in their faces. It does have a slight problem in that this feud definitely isn’t going to be a one-and-done so we could get some kind of wonky finish that really takes the wind out of the sails of the great match that preceded it, Styles vs Owens is a pretty good example of this.

While it’s entirely possible they hot shot the title a couple of times in this feud, I’m going to stick with my guns and say Kofi Kingston is going to retain for now. The moment at Wrestlemania will live on forever in the history books, but I feel like losing the title in his first PPV defence like this would undercut it a bit too much.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Charlotte Flair
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Please be the last one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve liked almost all of the matches these two have had together, and I’m sure this will be no exception, but I’m pretty tired of seeing it for a good while. The story’s been pretty solid, and while these two are both great on the mic they’re kind of out of insult to throw at each other by this point. We know that Becky thinks Charlotte was handed everything, and we know that Charlotte thinks Becky is just a flash in the pan still, we’ve heard all these points over and over again for almost a year now, which is why I think this match needs something to spice it up.

So that’s why I’m proposing the scenario where Bayley wins the Money in the Bank and uses it to insert herself into this match. It makes sense from a character perspective because not only would face Bayley not want to sneak attack with the briefcase but since Bayley’s come over to Smackdown, she’s had a massive chip on her shoulder and desperate to prove she can still do it on her own, so what better way to prove that to everyone than taking out both Becky and Charlotte on the same night?

If that scenario comes to pass, I think Bayley will walk away the winner because they just can’t have another Money in the Bank winner lose their title match, plus it opens up new and fresh opportunities for both a Becky vs Bayley and Charlotte vs Bayley feud for over the summer. If my scenario doesn’t happen though, Becky Lynch is pretty much a lock to retain, they can’t undermine Becky’s Wrestlemania win by having her drop one of the titles back to Charlotte at the first opportunity.

Seth Rollins(c) vs AJ Styles
(Universal Championship)

I think I may be dreaming.

Before you say it, I know. Getting this excited for this match is only setting me up for a disappointing non-finish, but just let me have this one. I don’t care if almost every match AJ had as champion last year ended up performing below expectations when Seth was IC champion last year almost every one of his matches far surpassed expectations. Rollins vs Styles has been the one dream match I’ve been begging for ever since Styles came to WWE, so until it’s proved otherwise, I’m going to be optimistic about it.

The feud itself has been alright I guess, although nothing special. Touching on the two’s past was a nice little touch, but nothing they’ve said on the mic has caught my imagination a great deal. Not to mention there wasn’t really any build for the match on Monday outside of a video package, it would’ve been much more beneficial for the contract signing to have taken place this past Monday instead of 3 weeks ago, but oh well.

There is a chance that this will end in some kind of DQ, dirty finish if WWE wants to keep the feud going for another few months, but regardless of what actually goes down, Seth Rollins is walking away with the title, and he’s holding onto it for quite a long time.

So, those are my predictions for Money in the Bank 2019! What do you think is going to happen on Sunday? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo, and make sure you come back early next week for my review of the show!