United States Championship
Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
Being the best built match on the card this match has some expectations to live up to. After teaming up almost randomly at SummerSlam last year, these two have woven a storyline together for almost eight months now.
Chris Jericho has a way of taking a rivalry and building an incredible storyline with it leading up to WrestleMania. WrestleManias are huge each year but I do have a tendency to forget about them after years pass. Not Chris Jericho feuds at WrestleMania. Off the top of my head I can remember his feud with Christian at WrestleMania over Trish Stratus, his feud with Shawn Michaels as his idol and involving Shawn's wife, his story with CM Punk and his alcoholic family at Wrestlemania, and him basically inventing the Money in the Bank matches at WrestleMania. A quick Google search adds in matches like his Undisputed Championship match against HHH, his feud against the legends of the WWE (Piper, Snuka, Steamboat, and Flair), a championship match against Edge, last year against AJ Styles, and of course the Fandando thing.
That's quite a WrestleMania resume. And now he adds a incredible feud with Kevin Owens to the mix. I'm sure these two will work to put on a hell of a performance. I know people are saying this will be the match that steals the show. I'm not sure I'm quite on that side of the fence but I think it will be a very entertaining match. If this was still for the Universal Championship, I think it could be an all-timer. I just have a hard time really buying into the match for just the United States Championship. So my one qualm with this match, despite the beautiful build, is that I haven't bought into the stakes of this match yet.
I know it's a "bitter rivalry" now but does it really matter who wins this match? The winner is the United States Champion...big whoop. Both guys are pretty far above the title right now, to the point where it's almost holding them back. And whoever loses on Sunday will probably be back on Monday looking for revenge.
This match needed one more big thing to pull me all the way in. A loser leaves RAW stipulation, the Universal Championship, something. I think that would have pushed this match from "great" to "all time classic" for me. Still, without any of this I'm still really looking forward to it and think it should be a great experience. Think Kevin Owens probably gets the win as he's the guy who should be around WWE more consistently for the future and Jericho has shown to be more than willing to put a guy over when needed.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
I really wish the WWE had done a better job in the past of building this up as a match that really meant something going further. When someone wins the Money in the Bank match, you know that means big things are in their future. Same with the Royal Rumble and previously the same held true most years for the King of the Ring winner. This Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal doesn't have that same feel, and it should. Now it feels more like a match just to get everyone on the card.
Couldn't we add a stipend to this match? Winner gets to travel between both shows. Or winner gets a championship match a predeterminded PPV. The winner gets to use a steel chair in all their matches for the next six months. I don't know I'm just spitballing here but it feels like this match needs something to give to the winner so it means something extra when they win, not that they just get to carry around an incredibly big trophy for a month before they quit even doing that.
Participants announced so far: Zayn, Strowman, Goldust, R-Truth, Axel, Ziggler, Uso, Uso, Gable, Jordan, Primo, Epico, Bo, Jinder, Rhyno, Slater, Crews, Mojo, Big Show, Hawkins, Breeze, Fandango, Tian Bing, and Mark Henry.
Out of that list, here's my potential winners: Strowman, Zayn, Ziggler, Mojo, or Big Show
In order I'd rank them: Strowman, Big Show, Ziggler, Zayn, Mojo.
- They're going to start pushing Mojo soon, this may be the start of it. Seems to similar to what they did with Baron Corbin last year though.
- Zayn would be a good underdog story to have him win a battle royal.
- Ziggler winning could be a small reward for WWE absolutely botching his long awaited heel turn. Turning Dolph heel again was suppose to be the thing that took him to the next level and finally help him reach that upper level he's never quite gotten to consistently. Instead, they put him with Kalisto and Apollo Crews.
- I wouldn't have The Big Show this high if he hadn't announced he's retiring after this match. I don't know if I 100% believe that but it does at least increase his chances of winning this match if it is his sendoff.
- They've spent so much time building up Strowman to be a monster that I can't see him losing this match. Being in the battle royal itself and not in some type of match already seems a little beneath Strowman after his months long push. He could easily get eliminated somehow to set up his next storyline coming out of WrestleMania but I think him dominating and winning easily is the more likely outcome.
No big preview for NXT TakeOver tonight but here are my predictions for tonight.
- Dillinger, Strong, Jose
- Aleister Black
- Bobby Roode