These days, when I watch wrestling, I watch with my son Jake. Jake is just about 15 years old, and has been a WWE fan for almost since he could walk. Watching wrestling together is a way for us to connect and share a common interest. The battles in the ring provide us with endless conversation fodder and a basket full of lifelong memories.
I started to understand that Jake has a unique insight into wrestling storylines in the summer of 2014, when we were watching the Money in the Bank event. Seth Rollins took the briefcase that day, and almost as soon as he had it in his hands, Jake looked over at me and said, “He’s going to cash in at WrestleMania.”
Fast forward nearly nine months to March of 2015. Jake and I were at WrestleMania 31 in Levi’s Stadium. We’d been living the dream all weekend, attending WrestleMania Axxess, eating New York style pizza while watching the Hall of Fame inductions from our hotel room, and basking in the great seats we’d scored for the actual event. We got to see Daniel Bryan win his last Intercontinental Championship, the Rock made a surprise appearance, and we witnessed Sting, DX and the NWO all in the same ring at the same time. How could it get any better?
Then came the main event. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar put on a great match. Near the end, it looked like Reigns might have just enough to conquer The Beast, when Seth Rollins’ music hit, and he came storming down the ramp. The crowd went absolutely berserk, and Jake looked at me again and said, “I told you.” I knew then that Nostradamus had nothing on my boy.
In that spirit, this piece will be the first of what I hope will be a series of posts where I share Jake’s insight on the wrestling world with you. For this first entry, we’ll be looking at the major stars of Monday Night Raw, and getting Jake’s Takes on how they should be used at WrestleMania. For each star, I’ll run down the rumor mill first before giving you Jake’s ideas. We’ll look at the Smackdown Live crew in a later piece.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho – Most of the rumors state that these two will square off in Orlando. The big question is whether Owens’ Universal title or Jericho’s U.S. Championship belt will be on the line. The best guess here is that Owens somehow drops the belt at Fastlane (possibly to Goldberg), and the match is for Jericho’s belt, with KO going over. (Jericho has stated that he’ll be taking a hiatus from WWE following Wrestlmania to tour with his band, Fozzy.) Jake’s Take: They should wrestle, but Owens should still have the belt. If Jericho is staying, he should win the title here. If not, Owens should keep it. Either way, Jericho should drop the U.S. title before the match.
Braun Strowman – WWE’s resident monster has a cloudy future. Some predictions have him facing Reigns in a match that almost nobody wants to see. Strowman had a brief encounter with Owens on Raw this week, but it’s doubtful that WWE will put the belt on him at this point. No matter what Strowman is up to at WrestleMania, you can bet it’ll be a big match. Jake’s Take: Strowman should win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale. There should be something tied to the win – like a No. 1 contender’s spot so that it feels important.
Seth Rollins – Things are suddenly up in the air for The Architect It appears that Rollins suffered a (legit) knee injury during his beatdown at the hands of Samoa Joe on Monday. While every indication is that Rollins is slated for a final showdown with HHH, the injury could derail those plans. Only time will tell here, though being injured by Hunter’s latest henchman certainly gives Rollins another reason to seek revenge. Jake’s Take: (Before the Rollins injury) – Rollins should have a match with Joe at Fastlane, with a shot at HHH on the line. He wins (possibly with help from Reigns) and goes on to face Hunter.
Samoa Joe – The picture is somewhat cloudy when it comes to The Samoan Submission Machine. Since he just debuted on Raw this week, there hasn’t been time to set up a legitimate feud. If Rollins is injured, look for Joe to get some sort of reward from The Authority for taking care of the thorn in their side. (Perhaps a match with a returning Finn Balor?) Jake’s Take: Joe should win the U.S. Title at Wrestlemania, provided Jericho loses the belt before then. (If Balor returns, this could be a good setup – Balor takes the title at Fastlane, meets Joe at WrestleMania.)
Neville – There aren’t any hot rumors about the King of the Cruiserweights at this point, possibly because WWE hasn’t done enough to build up the division yet. Putting Neville at the top of the food chain here is a good move, as it gives the company someone to build around. No matter who Neville faces in Orlando, expect him to win in dominating fashion. Jake’s Take: Neville should have a match against someone important – maybe Austin Aries. He should win.
Charlotte – WWE has something special here. Charlotte has been exceptional as a heel champion and as the centerpiece of the revitalized Women’s Division. She gives the company a Cena/Orton/Rock/Austin/HHH type of worker that can be over without the belt, or can take on a title run to help elevate others in the division. Rumor has it that Flair will keep the title at Fastlane, but eventually lose it to Bayley at WrestleMania. Jake’s Take: Flair should win at Fastlane, but lose to Bayley at WrestleMania. (This allows Flair to make stars of others in the Women’s Division as she works her way back up the ladder to the No. 1 contender’s spot. Bayley could begin a program with Nia Jax, or a heel version of Sasha Banks.)
The Club – With The New Day conspicuously absent from WWE programming of late, there aren’t any legitimate face teams to take on Gallows and Anderson. WWE needs to elevate a team other than Sheamus and Cesaro to take on the Raw tag champs. Jake’s Take: Gallows and Anderson should get into a feud with Enzo and Cass. They should beat them at Fastlane and face them again at WrestleMania. (No word on who should win that bout.)
Roman Reigns and The Undertaker – This is the rumored match, especially since the two engaged in a stare down after Reigns eliminated Taker at the Royal Rumble. This is an opportunity to put Reigns in a high-profile match where it’s okay if the WWE Universe boos him out of the building. Jake’s Take: Undertaker wins the match, but then gets beat up by Reigns. Roman needs to be a heel, and this is the way to do it.
Goldberg and Brock Lesnar – There are some rumors that this will be for the Universal Title, with Goldberg somehow taking the strap off Kevin Owens before WrestleMania. That would be a huge mistake for WWE. This is a big match no matter what. It doesn’t need the title to make it feel special. Jake’s Take: (Note here: Jake is not a fan of Goldberg.) Brock should DESTROY Goldberg and get his heat back. (He’s hoping for a beatdown like the one Brock laid on John Cena when they were feuding.)
Sometime soon, I’ll get Jake’s ideas about the Smackdown Live superstars. Note that these aren’t predictions for what will happen, but opinions as to what should happen. However, don’t be surprised if a lot of this comes to pass. When it comes to the WWE, Jake’s vision is usually 20/20.