But then the last few weeks happened.
So before we get into the previews of the matches, designed to give everyone a background of who is who and what has happened in the build up, let me first lay the groundwork of how The Showcase of The Immortals is taking place amid COVID-19.
- WrestleMania is basically the “season finale” for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the biggest wrestling company in the world. Everything over the course of the year builds towards this event. WrestleMania 36 was scheduled to take place on Sunday, 5th April at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. However, the coronavirus outbreak forced WWE to alter all of its TV and PPV plans, including WrestleMania, after strict public gathering bans were put into place across the United States.
- Since March 12th, the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando, Florida has been the shooting location for all of WWE’s weekly shows, including Raw, Smackdown and NXT, with only wrestlers and key production staff in attendance. It was revealed that the venue will also be taking over as the main location of WrestleMania 36, meaning the biggest wrestling event in the world will take place in front of 0 fans.
- This meant the cancellation of not only all the WWE’s related events, including NXT Takeover Tampa and the 2020 Hall of Fame, but all the events run by other wrestling companies set to take place in the Tampa area.
- The event, comprising 16 matches (at time of writing), was taped in advance on Wednesday 25th - Thursday 26th March at the Performance Centre as well as other, undisclosed venues. It was also announced that the show will take place over 2 nights, taking place on both Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th April, a first in the event's history.
- It is largely expected that after this event, and the already recorded Raw after WrestleMania, the WWE will take a break, as the state of Florida has now declared a complete lockdown. This is also a first, as the WWE does not have a scheduled “off-season”, and don’t tend to stop for anything. They famously held the first major sporting event after 9/11, when a live Smackdown aired 2 days after the terrorist attacks.
- The show will be hosted by former NFL player Rob Gronkowski. The former tight end, who won 3 Super Bowls whilst playing for the New England Patriots, recently signed to WWE and is training to be a wrestler, joining up with his former college teammate Mojo Rawley. Gronkowski’s first entrance NEEDS TO BE SEEN (it’s the cringiest thing ever committed to film).
Here is a breakdown of every announced match. IF you have any questions after reading, please send them over to me on Twitter - @TheGutteridge.
(Note: This has been reorganised after Night One to show the confirmed line ups for both nights. Don't worry, there are 0 spoilers ahead!)
Night One - Saturday 4th April 2020
- The WWE Universal Title is the other major belt in the men’s division, being the top prize on SmackDown.
- WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg (left) has been a big star in wrestling since the late 90s in WWE’s now defunct rival, World Championship Wrestling. He rose to fame by having the longest winning streak in wrestling history, and destroying people in less than a couple of minutes. He won the Universal Title (at the ripe old age of 53) in Saudi Arabia by defeating “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt in 3 minutes back in February.
- His opponent was supposed to be Roman Reigns, the face of the company, who challenged Goldberg to this match after he won the title. However, Roman Reigns only recovered from a second bout of leukemia back in February 2019, so decided to skip WrestleMania in light of the coronavirus outbreak due to having a vulnerable immune system.
- His last minute replacement (only announced on the SmackDown before WrestleMania) is Braun Strowman (right), a giant of a man who has long flirted with being the top champion, only for the company to choose not to pull the trigger. He recently lost the Intercontinental Title, only his first singles title in the company, to Sami Zayn.
What To Expect: Big move, big move, pin. Neither man is what you would call a ring general, both being quite limited in the ring. Usually that isn’t a problem, as both men are booked with more proficient wrestlers, but circumstances have conspired to put them against each other in a less than ideal situation. That said, sometimes when booked into a corner, these matches can be good car crashes. Either man winning is possible, but whatever happens, it will happen quickly to save both men's blushes.
- Ireland’s Becky Lynch (left) took part in the historic main event of last year’s WrestleMania 35, which was the first time a women’s match had closed the show. Lynch won the triple threat between Charlotte Flair and ex-UFC fighter Ronda Rousey to win both the Smackdown and Raw Women’s Titles, cementing her place as the biggest star in the company, male or female. She lost the Smackdown Women’s Title to Charlotte Flair shortly after WrestleMania, but has now held the Raw Women’s Title for a year, morphing into something like the female Connor McGregor.
- Shayna Baszler (right) has been similarly dominant in her division on NXT. She is the only 2 time NXT Women’s Champion, and had her 400+ day reign ended in December 2019. Coincidentally, she is best friends with Ronda Rousey, having also been a UFC fighter in the past.
- Both women are part of groups called “The Four Horsewomen”. Becky, Charlotte Flair, Bayley and Sasha Banks are part of the Four Horsewomen of Wrestling, whereas Shayna, Ronda, Maria Shafir and Jessamyn Duke (who compete in NXT) form the Four Horsewomen of MMA.
- Shayna earned this match by winning an Elimination Chamber, where 6 competitors are locked in a cage until 5 of them are eliminated. Shayna became the first person in history, male or female, to eliminate everyone else in the match by herself.
What To Expect: Violence. The build to this match started when Shayna brutally attacked Becky, going as far as to bite the back of her neck and draw blood. And that set the tone really, to the point this now feels pretty personal. Add in the fact that Shayna has pretty consistently been portrayed as a badass, and things aren’t looking good for Becky. But this is a sleeper pick to be the best match on one of the nights.
- If you have ever watched wrestling even slightly, you know who the Undertaker (left) is. He went 20+ years undefeated at Wrestlemania until #30, when Brock Lesnar ended “The Streak”. His character is hard to describe - he’s basically an undead warlock cowboy who can control lightning. Oh and he is also occasionally a biker. It’s far too complex for one bullet point, so just go with it.
- AJ Styles (right) is a world travelled wrestling icon himself, having wrestled for every major American and Japanese wrestling company before coming to WWE in 2016. He has held 5 titles in the following 4 years, including 2 WWE TItles, with his second reign being the longest in SmackDown history.
- AJ Styles is the leader of The Original Club, usually shortened to The OC, alongside Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. These three teamed in New Japan Pro Wrestling (Japan’s biggest wrestling company) as part of the Bullet Club faction, before all 3 signed to WWE in 2016.
- This feud started when The Undertaker beat AJ Styles to win a tournament in Saudi Arabia in February, despite the fact Undertaker was never in the tournament to begin with (this happens a lot on Saudi Arabian shows).
- Just like the “Firefly Funhouse”, no one knows what a “Boneyard” match is.
What To Expect: AJ Styles working overtime. No one disputes Undertaker’s legendary status in wrestling, and he has shown remarkable longevity both in-ring and character wise. But he’s 55 and entering the 33rd year of his career, and time catches up to us all. He’s had some less than stellar performance in recent years, and missed WrestleMania entirely last year for the first time since 2000. So the responsibility for this match reaching a high calibre rests on AJ Styles. Thankfully, AJ is amongst the best in the world right now, even at age 42 himself, so this may just be a good match after all. They’ve taken the road less travelled in the build up, with AJ avoiding all the “spooky” talk we usually get and going after Undertaker for being old, and taking swipes at his real life wife Michelle McCool. In turn, Undertaker has also avoided the usual “Rest in peace, I’ll take your soul, etc.” talk and just played it straight. That means this can devolve into a straight fight instead of a technical match, which will also hopefully help match quality.
- Kevin Owens (left) has been portrayed as a man of the people good guy recently, after years of being a selfish bad guy. He was told several times during his independent career that he would never make it in WWE due to his size, but since debuting in 2014, he has held WWE Universal, United States and NXT gold, proving the naysayers very wrong.
- Seth Rollins (right) was a similar independent darling prior to coming to WWE, but has always seemed destined for greatness. On top of being a third of the biggest group of the 2010s, alongside Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose in The Shield, Seth was the first ever NXT champion, and a four time world champion. He won the WWE Universal title at last year's WrestleMania, seeming to cement his place as the new face of the company.
- Fan sentiment started to turn against Seth over the course of 2019, with some feeling he was being overused, while others took against his social media usage, where he amongst other things bragged about the size of his bank account. WWE usually fights the tide on these things, but instead decided to go with it and turned Seth into a self-obsessed bad guy.
- Kevin Owens was credited on-screen with turning Seth into a bad guy, calling out how entitled he acted all the time. Seth would eventually attack Owens, and form a new group around himself with tag team The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and cruiserweight standout Murphy. Seth anointed himself the “Monday Night Messiah” (Raw takes place on Monday nights), and has been feuding with Kevin Owens ever since.
What To Expect: The second best wrestling match of the show. Though both seem cut from different cloths - with Owens having to prove himself constantly in comparison to Seth;s pretty smooth rise to the top - both have a strikingly similar background. Both men held the top belt in Ring of Honor, which was for a long time the best in-ring independent wrestling company in America, before both held the NXT title and WWE Universal title. This shows the calibre of wrestlers we’re dealing with, and with a long feud to play off of, this should be in contention for match of the weekend (though I’m backing a different horse).
- The Intercontinental Title is the secondary title of the Men's division on SmackDown, the equivilent of the United States Title on Raw and the NXT North American Title on NXT.
- Sami Zayn (left) has carved a niché out as one of wrestling's best annoying characters. The former career long good guy has in recent years turned himself into the personification of everyone’s worst ideas about hipsters, right down to the flat cap and love of ska music. He had until recently been using these skills mainly in a managerial role, but won the Intercontinental Title from Braun Strowman just last month.
- Sami won that match thanks to back up from his two “clients” Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. The trio are called the “Artist Collective”, and are three world travelled, “real wrestling fan” favourites.
- Sami will be facing another world travelled, “real wrestling fan” favourite in Daniel Bryan (right). Long seen by many as the best wrestler in the world in the late 2000s and into the 2010s, Bryan was another tipped to struggle in WWE, but won fans over with his in-ring work and underdog charm. He was swept to the main event of WrestleMania 30, where he won the WWE Title, and won the Intercontinental title the year after, but had to retire a little later due to neck injuries (similar to Edge), relinquishing the Intercontinental Title without ever losing it.
- He made a return to wrestling two years ago at WrestleMania 34, in a tag match which also coincidentally featured Zayn. In the two years since, he surprisingly turned bad guy and won the WWE championship as a kind of militant vegan, losing the title at last year's event to Kofi Kingston before mellowing back into his good guy ways.
- He will be backed up by Drew Gulak, who was previously feuding with Bryan claiming to have worked out his weaknesses as a wrestler, before becoming something of a corner man for Bryan.
What To Expect: The best wrestling match of the show. This match was born of last minute changes by all accounts. Sami seemed set to have a rematch against Braun Strowman until he was bumped up to the WWE Universal title match, whereas Bryan seemed like he would be continuing his feud with Gulak. But this is a far greater prospect than either of those matches. Similar to Owens vs. Rollins, this is two of the best in the world facing off, and on a personal note, this is something of a dream match. I make no secret that Daniel Bryan is my favourite active wrestler, and Sami Zayn took that accolade during Bryan’s absence. So this is the match I’m most excited for on paper going into WrestleMania, with the prospect of Bryan regaining the title he never lost.
- The Miz (middle, short hair) and John Morrison (middle, long hair) won the SmackDown Tag Team Titles in Saudi Arabia (this is a theme apparently) back in February from The New Day, not long after they reformed as a team following John Morrison’s WWE return after an 8 year absence. They had previously held tag title gold twice in the late 2000s. The Miz is a reality TV star, and was prior to becoming a wrestler, whereas John Morrison is a self styled “Shaman of Sexy”, taking heavy cues from The Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
- Kofi Kingston (right, blonde hair) and Big E (right, middle) are two members of The New Day. Alongside third member Xavier Woods (far right), who is currently sidelined with an achilles injury, they are 7 time tag team champions. The group were initially bad guys, but got so over with fans as pop-culture obsessed goofballs that they became massively popular good guys. Kofi Kingston rode a wave of momentum last year to win his first WWE Title, beating Daniel Bryan in the best match of WrestleMania 35.
- Jimmy and Jey Uso (left) are the twin sons of 90s wrestling star Rikishi. They too are multiple time tag team champions, having held gold on 6 separate occasions. They have a long standing rivalry with The New Day, which has been antagonistic in the past but is currently friendly.
- The teams were all part of last month's Elimination Chamber match, which saw Miz and Morrison retain their titles in a match that also featured Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, the Lucha House Party and Heavy Machinery.
- There is a chance this match is altered on the show, as rumours circulated that The Miz was pulled from the match on medical grounds before WrestleMania was taped.
What To Expect: Fast paced action. The Usos and The New Day have some of the best chemistry seen in the tag team division for decades, so even if the champions have to duck out, the match should still be very good. But if John Morrison is somehow involved as his team's sole representative, he can go with the best of them, so is unlikely to be a hindrance. Either way, this looks on paper to be a well oiled collection of world class tag team wrestlers.
- Japan’s The Kabuki Warriors, Asuka (middle, left) and Kairi Sane (far left) won the titles from Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross back in October. They have been dominating ever since, retaining the titles in the first ever women’s tag team TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) match back in December against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, in what was the last PPV match of the 2010s.
- However, Kairi Sane picked up a concussion in that match, so Asuka has been competing by herself for a few months, taking on Lynch for the Raw Women’s Title at the Royal Rumble in January. The green face paint Asuka wears is used to disguise the green mist she spits in peoples faces to blind them during matches.
- Alexa Bliss (middle, right) and Scotland’s Nikki Cross (far right) started out as an unlikely tag team, with the bad guy Bliss seemingly using the good guy Cross for her own gain. But the team has now developed into a seemingly mutual friendship, and the two now co-host Bliss’s talk show, “A Moment of Bliss”.
- Their tag team name is, apparently, “Bliss, Cross, Apple Sauce”. No joke.
What To Expect: A low key highlight. I like all four women in this match, and they have all shown good tag team chemistry despite traditionally all four of them being singles competitors. So I’m hoping they are given the time they need to do this justice, though they haven’t shown a lot of respect to the Women Tag Team Titles since their inception last year. This could also see the long dormant payoff of Bliss turning on Cross should they be unsuccessful.
- Elias (left) is known as “The Drifter”, and portrays the character of a street busker musician. He often starts his in ring segments sitting down with a guitar, but is usually interrupted before he can get into a full song. WWE even went as far as to release an album in 2018 called “WWE: Walk With Elias”.
- Baron “King” Corbin (right) is a former NFL offensive lineman, debuting for NXT in 2014 after his football career. He was originally something of a grungy lone wolf, but in recent years he has become something of a corporate stooge. He won the 2019 King of the Ring tournament, hence the”King” moniker.
- This feud started when Corbin interrupted the debut of WrestleMania host Rob Gronkowski, another ex-NFL player, only to be interrupted himself by Elias singing a mocking song. Gronkowski booked the match for WrestleMania, and the week after, Corbin got revenge by kicking Elias off a balcony and through a table.
What To Expect: Something middling. No offense to either guy, but WWE has tried for years to make them interesting with very little to show for their efforts. Both men have upside, but Corbin suffered from being overplayed in 2018 and 2019, whereas the attempts to push Elias up tend to peter out quickly. Similarly, neither man has had a stand out match in the company to date, so it seems doubtful their first one will arrive against each other. This match is another thrown together one without much build, which is fine for most wrestling PPVs, but a place on the WrestleMania card is meant to be earned, not just handed out.
Night Two - Sunday 5th April
- The WWE Title is one of the biggest titles in WWE (and the whole of wrestling), being the highest prize in the men’s division on Raw.
- Brock Lesnar (left) has dominated the top title scene ever since leaving UFC in 2012 to return to wrestling. He has been WWE champion since October 2019, but due to his part time contract, has only defended the title 3 times in the last 6 months.
- Scotland’s Drew McIntyre (right) was tipped for greatness for years, but stumbled midway through his first stint in the WWE before being let go in 2014. He reinvented himself on the independent scene before returning to the WWE in 2017, going on to win NXT and Tag Team gold.
- Drew earned this opportunity when we won the 2020 Royal Rumble in January. This 30-man over the top rope elimination battle royal grants the winner a title shot at WrestleMania. Drew last eliminated Roman Reigns to win.
- Should Drew win, he will become the first ever British WWE Champion in the title's 57 year history.
What To Expect: A bear fight. Brock Lesnar tends to have one of two match types, apparently depending on his opinion of his opponent. If he likes you, you’ll get a war of big power moves that make both him and his opponent look good. If he doesn’t, you may get hit by one move before you lose (he won the WWE Title by hitting then champion Kofi Kingston with one F5, his finisher). But he has allowed Drew to get the best of him on TV for most of the build, with Drew consistently hitting his finisher, The Claymore Kick, on an unsuspecting Lesnar, so signs are good for a big time brawl. This will likely headline one of the two nights.
- Bayley (middle) has been Smackdown Women’s Champion since October, and has been ruling the roost on the show ever since alongside her best friend Sasha Banks (middle, left). The pair have a long history together, having a stand out feud in NXT before becoming the first ever Women’s Tag Team champions last year.
- Lacey Evans (far left) has been a consistent thorn in Bayley’s side for the last few months. An ex-marine, she portrays a stereotypical southern belle, complete with big hat and little hankey to mop her brow.
- Naomi (far right) has not long returned from some time off, and has quite a good record at WrestleMania. She won the SmackDown Women’s Title at WrestleMania 33, and the following year she won the inaugural WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal.
- Tamina (middle, right) is a long tenured member of the roster, but has almost always flown under the radar, often portraying the muscle by the side of the reigning bad guy champion.
- Initially, this was set to be a 6-women match, but Dana Brooke was pulled from the line-up beforehand for as yet unexplained circumstances.
What To Expect: A two horse race. Word was that this was supposed to be a singles match between Bayley and Sasha, rekindling their legendary feud from NXT. But an injury to Sasha delayed the start, and both women pushed for the feud not to be rushed. However, they hold all the interest here despite this, so expect this to come down to the two of them, with bad guy Sasha potentially starting to turn into a good guy. This would be an interesting change to their previous rivalry, where Bayley was always shown as the hero, whereas here she is the entrenched villain of the division.
- Australian Rhea Ripley (left) defeated Shayna Baszler to become NXT Women’s Champion back in December, capping off a breakout year and a half for the 23 year old, which included her becoming the first ever NXT UK Women’s Champion.
- Charlotte Flair (right) has been a dominant champion for years across all three shows, and is a previous NXT Women’s Champion herself. She is the daughter of wrestling legend Ric Flair.
- Charlotte earned this title match by winning the 30-woman Royal Rumble back in January. In a surprise move, she elected to go after the NXT Women’s Title instead of the SmackDown Women’s Title, which was her brand at the time and also a title she had only lost to Bayley the previous October.
- This will be NXT’s first ever match on a WrestleMania show. Until recently, the brand was seen as a “developmental” brand for newly signed independant stars or wrestlers still in training before moving to Raw or SmackDown. However, although this is still partially true, NXT was launched as a full 3rd brand in 2019, expanding its weekly show to 2 hours and moving from online only shows to TV.
- NXT was supposed to have a WrestleMania weekend show on Saturday April 4th, NXT Takeover: Tampa, but this was cancelled and replaced by night 1 of WrestleMania.
What To Expect: Power moves. Both women are amazing athletes, having come from the world of football (Ripley) and gymnastics (Flair). They channel their natural size advantage into their matches, but rarely have they come up against similarly sized competitors. So the match-up is quite intriguing, and they’ve been going tit for tat with out powering each other in the build up. Charlotte will be out to regain her first ever title, and Rhea will be out to prove she isn’t a flash in the pan, so my hopes are relatively high.
- You may have heard of John Cena before. The long time poster child of WWE, Cena has in recent years cut back his in-ring time to follow in The Rock’s footsteps and take on Hollywood, and is doing a pretty good job of it so far. He starred in Bumblebee and Blockers, and will be joining the Fast and Furious franchise in F9. He returned to WWE last month, and this will be his first match since January 2019.
- You can’t describe Bray Wyatt succinctly, but here goes. He originally turned up in NXT, and later the main roster, as a southern cult leader. This morphed over time to make him more supernatural, until he disappeared from TV in August 2018. He returned in April 2019 as something different.
- When he returned, Wyatt had not one but two characters. The first to be introduced was that of a kids TV presenter in the vein of Peewee Herman and Blue’s Clues, a stark contrast to his old character. Eventually, this bright and colourful character started to warn of something darker, which manifested as “The Fiend”, a full on horror movie character. Wyatt acts like the two characters are unrelated, but everyone else knows they are the same person and just Wyatt showing multiple personality disorder (or at least appearing to to play mind games).
- Wyatt picked up the WWE Universal title in Saudi Arabia in October 2019, only to lose it on a return visit there to Goldberg in February 2020. He almost immediately challenged Cena when he turned back up on SmackDown.
- No one quite knows what a “Firefly Funhouse” match is. The Firefly Funhouse is the name of Wyatt’s kids TV show, named after the lights fans used to project from their phones during his entrance (“my fireflies”).
What To Expect: A once in a lifetime “match”. That’s not hyperbole. This may be the only match to weirdly benefit from the cancelling of the stadium show. Rumours are circulating that this match was shot elsewhere, and could be very high-end production wise, to the point we may have a John Cena starring horror movie play out in the middle of WrestleMania. That should be unique if nothing else! The build has been quite interesting so far too, as these two have faced each other before under Wyatt’s previous “cult leader” guise at WrestleMania 30. Cena won, and Wyatt blames the loss for starting his downward spiral towards becoming The Fiend. There is one other match I’m more excited for, but this is the one I’m most interested to see just for the spectacle.
- Hall of Famer Edge (left) returned to the WWE in January 2020 after initially retiring from the sport in 2011 after several neck injuries, wrestling his last match at WrestleMania 27, where he retained his World Heavyweight Championship in the opening match against Alberto Del Rio. However, after other wrestlers returned from similar injuries (Daniel Bryan being one of them), Edge went through surgery and returned in the Royal Rumble match in a major surprise.
- Randy Orton (right) is a former tag team partner of Edge in Rated RKO (a combo of Edge’s nickname of the “Rated R Superstar” and Orton’s finishing move, the RKO). Orton has been with the company since 2002, where he has won every title multiple times, including having the fourth highest total of world championship reigns in history. He is often portrayed as a sadistic, amoral bad guy, hence his nicknames “The Viper” and the “Apex Predator”.
- The night after the Royal Rumble, Randy Orton interrupted Edge’s return speech and, after initially seeming happy to see his old friend, brutally attacked him and hit him with a “Con-chair-to”, wherein Edge’s head was placed on a steel chair whilst Randy swang another on into it. This led to Edge skipping several weeks of TV to sell the attack.
- When pushed for answers by Edge’s real life wife, and fellow Hall of Famer, Beth Phoenix, Orton claimed he did it out of love for Edge. He didn’t want Edge and Beth’s children to wind up with a crippled Dad, so he decided to stop the return before it ever started. He got slapped by Beth, so decided to drop her with an RKO.
What To Expect: High drama. The usually monotonous, happy-to-coast Orton has seemed reinvigorated by this feud, really selling his conflicted emotions over what he has done without apologising for it. Edge in return has cut very passionate promos about not letting Orton dictate his future. So this is going to be personal. Ring rust from Edge may play a factor, but both guys are pros, so they should be able to work through any jitters to deliver a fitting end to this fantastic feud.
- The Street Profits Angelo Dawkins (middle, left) and Montez Ford (far left) won their Raw Tag Team Titles in MArch, defeating Seth Rollins and Murphy with help from Kevin Owens. Angelo Dawkins was a decorated amateur wrestler, whereas Montez Ford is an ex-marine. They are a ball of charisma, particularly Ford, which has helped endear them to fans.
- This is perhaps the match impacted by changes outside of anyone's control. Originally, this was set to be The Street Profits vs the team of Angel Garza (right) and current United States Champion Andrade, managed by Zelina Vega (far right). However Andrade sustained an injury, so he was replaced at the last minute by hot prospect Austin Theory (middle, left).
- This was actually the second match rumoured for Andrade, who was initially pencilled in to face Rey Mysterio for the US Title before Mysterio was self-quarantined over coronavirus fears.
- Theory and Garza teamed together for the first time the Monday before WrestleMania, in a losing effort teaming with Rollins against the Street Profits and Owens.
What To Expect: A palette cleanser. Honestly this is the most random match on the card, for understandable reasons. One can only guess that the other tag teams on Raw chose not to take part in WrestleMania over coronavirus concerns, and Austin Theory was the man to stand up to replace Andrade. Both he and Garza are seen as huge prospects for the future, but this match seems destined to either be on the pre-show before the main show, or used as a 5 minute filler match to give people time to breathe between bigger clashes.
- Otis (left) is one half of the Heavy Machinery tag team alongside Tucker. A former amateur wrestler, he has portrayed something of a simple goofball since debuting in NXT in 2016. He loves three things - steaks, weights, and Mandy Rose (far right).
- Dolph Ziggler (right) is a long time roster member, known as the “Show Off” for his knack of . . . showing off. He is also currently part of a tag team with Bobby Roode, but in the past has held world titles.
- The story goes that after years of unrequited, light hearted affection from Otis, Mandy Rose finally relented and agreed to go on a date with him on Valentine’s Day. This came after Otis had saved Mandy from falling off the ring apron, and helped her avoid elimination from the Royal Rumble by hiding under the ring before rolling out to stop her hitting the floor when she was thrown out of the ring. This caused annoyance for Mandy’s tag partner Sonya Deville.
- Dolph, seemingly just to spite Otis, had started to flirt with Mandy too. But when the big night came, Otis received a text “from Mandy” saying she was running late, when in fact she was at the restaurant waiting for him. Dolph jumped in his place, and when Otis turned up he was heartbroken to find them together.
- Although she claims not to have sent the text, Mandy still didn’t like being stood up, spurning Otis and seemingly starting a relationship with Dolph.
What To Expect: A love story in spandex. This may be the longest running feud in the company at this point, and has seen the two tag teams clash multiple times. Though Mandy herself said this isn’t a match where she is on the line like a prize to be won, that is the undercurrent here. If this was a normal TV show, the loveable idiot Otis would 100% win and find a way to sweep Mandy off her feet before walking off into the sunset. But this is wrestling, so expect Dolph to win and Mandy to laugh in Otis’s face before making out with Ziggler. I hope I’m wrong.
- Dutchman Aleister Black (left) was a huge player on the European independent wrestling scene prior to his WWE move in 2016. His character is portrayed as a practitioner of the dark arts. He’s not supernatural like The Undertaker or Bray Wyatt (yet), but he looks the part thanks to his entire body being covered in tattoos. His entrance also involves him rising from the floor like Dracula.
- Bobby Lashley (right) was a big rookie prospect during his first run with the company in the 2000s.There was some bad blood between him and the company when he left in 2008, but after some time spent pursuing MMA alongside stops in other wrestling companies, he returned to the WWE in 2018.
- In recent months he has been in a big feud with Bulgaria’s Rusev, after having an on-air affair with Rusev’s real wife Lana (far right). The two feuded for months, but Rusev has since disappeared from TV (apparently due to a contract dispute), leaving Lashley a little directionless.
What To Expect: The motions. Even the official preview on WWE.com starts off by saying “While the two have had little to no interaction of late . . .”, which tells you all you need to know about this match. It is the most last minute addition to this card, and seemingly was announced once it became clear Rusev vs. Lashley couldn’t happen for whatever reason. Opinion is high on both men, but this is nothing more than a match designed to eat up some time.
And that about wraps things up! It’s going to be a very strange year for WrestleMania, but hopefully it will be remembered for good reasons instead of just bad ones. I’ll be watching both nights live, so if you have any questions before, during or after the event, please feel free to send them to me on Twitter - @TheGutteridge.