Tonight the WWE makes it’s last stop on the Road to WrestleMania 34 as the SmackDown brand takes over Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. With it being the last pay-per-view before The Show of Shows, I don’t expect too many shakeups with the major title pictures. However, that may be exactly what they want you to think (but don’t count on it, seriously). Will this finally be the night we see Carmella cash in her Money in the Bank contract that she’s been carrying around for what seems to have been 28 years? We’ll see… Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Natalya & Carmella
Despite the poor story lines in the Women’s Division, these four women don’t lack talent inside the ring. Becky Lynch (“Bae”), in my completely unbiased opinion *wink*, is the best the Women’s Division has to offer, so it hurts me to see her thrown into a random tag team match without a true path to a WrestleMania match. The WWE needs to sit down and take a serious look at how they book the Women’s Division and figure out how they can make it better. For starters: don’t have mirrored factions on both brands basically doing and saying the same things every week (i.e. Riott Squad on SmackDown and Absolution on Raw). Second: don’t put 3 of your 4 best women wrestlers in a tag team match that may end up being part of the kickoff show. Get better story lines for these women, they deserve it.
Prediction: Becky Lynch & Naomi def. Natalya & Carmella
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev
This is just plain stupid. Shinsuke and Rusev have been booked so horribly leading up to WrestleMania. Shinsuke won the Royal Rumble and challenged AJ Styles to a title match at WrestleMania, so it makes sense not to put him in a match where he could look weak or put doubt in fans’ minds that he could be a worthy champion. However, Rusev is the absolute last person you should book a match against if that’s what you’re trying to accomplish. Outside of the major superstars that sell millions of dollars of merchandise week in and week out, Rusev might be the most over wrestler in the WWE. His Rusev Day phenomenon took over the wrestling world for a few months before Vince and the Fun Police tried to squash it because it wasn’t “their idea” from the start. Fans don’t forget, and they’ll still go nuts when Aiden English sings for Rusev under the spotlight before his match with Shinsuke Nakamura. This is a no-win situation for both wrestlers and nobody will come out happy with the results of this match unless they join forces and take on the WWE writers backstage.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura def. Rusev
Alternate prediction I’d actually prefer: Rusev def. Shinsuke with interference from Aiden English and surprise NXT wrestler(s)
United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Randy Orton
This is a match I’m actually looking forward too. Bobby Roode has one of the best entrances on SmackDown outside of Shinsuke Nakamura. Some people say I have the same body type as Randy Orton. I don’t buy it, but it’s hard to argue with literally dozens of people coming up to me on the street every day telling me that. In fact, just the other day someone came up to me and said if this match had a baby, it’d be me. Bobby Roode’s beard and Randy Orton’s body. Folks.. that’s the makings of a lady killer (in the non-OJ way). Regardless of how much this match resembles me as a whole, I’m really looking forward to seeing too veterans (although it took Roode much longer to finally make it to WWE) battle for the United States Championship. It’s the only title Randy Orton has never held in the WWE, so it’s pretty clear what will happen leading up to WrestleMania.
Prediction: Randy Orton def. Bobby Roode to win the United States Championship
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ruby Riott
“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”, is what we’ll all be saying when the unbearable Riott Squad comes out to take on the Nature Boy Ric Flair’s daughter, Charlotte. I’m not a fan of the Riott Squad, most notably Ruby Riott. It’s nothing against her as a person or as a wrestler, but the WWE couldn’t have done a worse job with booking her debut a few months ago. I’m a huge fan of stables in the WWE and I wish we’d see more of it with the new stars. You have a little bit of it going on with the Balor Club on the Raw brand, but nothing has the same feel that DX, nWo, and The Corporation. Ruby Riott is a good enough wrestler to be on her own, and the Riott Squad is just holding back other talented wrestlers in Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. We still don’t know if Asuka will be crossing over from Raw to challenge Charlotte for the Women’s SmackDown Championship, but most people think that’s the case. Regardless, I don’t see Charlotte outright losing to Ruby Riott despite the Riott Squad’s best attempts to interfere (keep reading).
Prediction: Charlotte Flair vs. Ruby Riott finishes as no-decision after interference from the Riott Squad, followed by a failed cash-in attempt by Carmella (save by Becky Lynch & Co.)
SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Usos (c) vs. The New Day
I like The New Day and I like The Usos as heels, but I don’t like this feud. Big E has the makings of a superstar and Xavier Woods could be a force to be reckoned with in The Cruiserweight division if they ever figured out how to make that watchable. Kofi Kingston is a legend and I’d like to see him make one last title run (United States or Intercontinental would make the most sense) before he eventually fades out of the WWE. I think for Big E and Xavier Woods to reach their full potential, The New Day needs to come to an end. However, merchandising sales are king and there’s no denying that they’re one of the most popular and marketable groups in the WWE. Last year they hosted WrestleMania, so I don’t see them going into New Orleans without a match, which is why I expect a good showing out of them. I think the WWE will wait until WrestleMania to slap the titles back on them, so the Usos will likely come out unscathed despite The New Day being on the offensive the entire match.
Prediction: The Usos def. The New Day to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Titles
Six-Pack Challenge Match for the WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
Despite having no shortage of superstars, this match is going to be an absolute clusterfuck. You have Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens’ friendship deteriorating because Sami is tired of living in everyone else’s shadow. You have John Cena trying to find a way to get into the WrestleMania picture. Don’t forget Dolph Ziggler, who has never had a singles match at WrestleMania and Baron Corbin who the WWE can never figure out if they’re trying to push or squash him are also in the mix. The rumors have been floating around the internet that Dolph Ziggler will face-off with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 34, but that story line hasn’t began yet, so it’s possible something happens tonight to push that to the forefront (we all know Shane’s match will get main event worthy hype despite the mid-card booking). I wouldn’t doubt a teaser trying to get fans riled up about a possible Daniel Bryan return. New Orleans was where he made his epic run in WrestleMania XXX (30, you perverts) to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, so returning at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after being forced to retire in 2016 would be exactly how Vince McMahon would book a comeback. You know what else happened on that same night? The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania was broken by Brock Lesnar…..
Prediction: AJ Styles retains WWE Championship, keeping the dream title match vs. Shinsuke Nakamura alive.
Additional Predictions: Baron Corbin exists and we don’t get much else of a story line out of him, Dolph Ziggler’s feud with Shane McMahon is set up, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn continue their path down the inevitable breakup but nothing happens since both are slated to be in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal match at Wrestlemania, John Cena loses but still looks strong and deserving of a WrestleMania match.
I believe Undertaker will return to take on John Cena at WrestleMania, but I don’t think we’ll see the Deadman in Columbus. It’s a complete shot in the dark, but I think we’re going to be teased a Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena match tonight or this coming Tuesday on SmackDown. However, since the WWE seems to have zero interest in clearing Daniel Bryan to wrestle despite independent doctors saying he’s healthy enough to compete, that match won’t happen. Instead, the Undertaker will step in and fill the void for John Cena’s WrestleMania moment.
Be sure to follow along on Twitter @BennyMacBlog throughout the night so you can remind me how wrong my predictions were. Even if you’d like to chat me up during the matches and find out how I managed to get the Randy Orton body while eating nothing but Skyline cheese coneys and soft pretzels, feel free to smash that follow button.
Happy wrestling, folks.