The big story going into the show this year is injuries and absences. Because of various in ring injuries the company is missing John Cena, Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and Neville. Some of those guys are rumored to be well enough to make a surprise appearance at the show but as far as I know none of them have been advertised so it’s best to not expect them. This is also going to be the first show since 2010 without one Daniel Bryan on the card and the first since 2003 without Cena. While the company has managed to salvage things to put together what could be a very good show, the presence of all those guys is going to be missed.
We got three of those here, a U.S. Title match between Kallisto and Ryback, a tag team match between the Usos and the Dudleys, and a 10 DIva tag team match between the Total Divas team (Paige, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, Natalya, and Eva Marie) and team BAD and Blonde (Naomi, Tamina Snuka, Summer Rae, Lana, and Emma). I don’t expect anything earth shattering here. I figure Kallisto will retain the title but not without Ryback inching closer to the heel turn they’ve been slowly teasing with him. The Dudleys will get the win over the Usos through some nefarious tactics to coincide with their recent heel turn. And the Divas tag match will have each lady get 30 seconds or so to do something and then settling in to the better workers carrying the rest of the workload. For the Total Divas team that’s Nattie and Paige and for their opponents that’s Emma and…..well, they brought Emma up for this match for a reason. I have no idea who’s winning it.
The main show:
- Handicap Tag Match: The New Day vs The League of Nations – If New Day is going face (or quasi-face at least) then this is the time to start it. Outnumbered and against some bonafide heels, this is a good way to get that train moving. The open secret here is that some fourth person will emerge from the back to even things up for New Day, either during the match itself or in the post match four on three beatdown that is almost guaranteed.
- Andre the Giant Battle Royal – After being relegated to the preshow last year, this match is back on the main show. The selling point here is who will show up to fill in one of the spots that hasn’t been filled. We know that the following people are in it: Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry, all four Social Outcasts, Goldust, R-Truth, Damien Sandow, Tyler Breeze, Darren Young, Jack Swagger, Fandango, and the Ascension. That’s sixteen guys so there’s room for one or more members of the Wyatt family, some NXT guys, or maybe….a returnee? Cesaro maybe? No telling. My guess is that Braun Strowman will be in the match and probably win, setting him up for a pathway to job to Cena, Reigns or someone else later on this year.
- AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho – This is the fourth and likely last big match between these two (unless they do some house show stuff afterwards). I have high hopes for this match. They’ve had some time to figure each other out and Styles has spent two months and some change getting accustomed to a WWE ring. Put that together and give these guys a solid 15 minutes to work without holding anything back and we could get a really great match here. Styles is going to win here, obviously, and move along to bigger things.
- Seven man Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs Sami Zayn vs Zack Ryder vs Dolph Ziggler vs Sin Cara vs The Miz vs Stardust – They didn’t need all of these guys in this match. I’m assuming Ryder is replacing the injured Neville but they really could have just kept it at six guys when he got hurt. We know that Ryder, Miz, Stardust, and Cara have zero chance at winning – they are there to take bumps and nothing else. Ziggler is there to almost win and add in some nice spots. Which means we’re left with Zayn and Owens as your possible winners. Zayn just got there and is just getting started with Owens so my pick is Owens retaining the title here.
- Triple Threat Diva’s Title Match: Charlotte (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch – Title change watch starts in earnest here. The smart crowd has been pining for Banks to get the title from the moment she arrived as part of the Divas Revolution. With her cousin Snoop Dogg getting inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame and being in attendance everything is set up for her to get the win here. It’s the quick and easy way to get cool points with the people who write reviews of these shows. However if they’re interested in getting more heel heat on Charlotte and setting the soon-to-be Women’s Division up better then a dirty victory to keep the belt could be the way to go. And I actually do think that’s what they’re going to do here.
- Street fight: Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar – Dean is almost definitely getting his Mick Foley card punched here both in terms of doing crazy stuff in the match and going down to defeat. The Beast will be fed for sure here, but this match should be entertaining and extreme as hell. We might even get some blood here.
- WWE Title Match: Triple H (c) vs Roman Reigns – OK, this is one of the elephant in the room matches here. Just about everybody has Reigns winning, to the probable chagrin of the live audience, but the question lies in what comes along with it. Will they play it straight, put the belt back on Reigns and eat the crowd reaction? Will this match be a component of a possible heel turn the same night? Will the Rock get involved (he’s appearing at the show, in what capacity we don’t know)? No matter how the crowd takes it, the match should be a good one.
- Hell in the Cell: Undertaker vs Shane McMahon – When it was announced that ‘Takers opponent would be someone not on the full time roster, no one figured this. But here we are. If Shane wins he gets control of RAW and Undertaker has to retire. Obviously Shane is not a physical match straight up, hence the stipulations here. Hell in the Cell allows him to make use of chairs, kendo sticks, table, and who knows what else. And it allows someone to interfere on his behalf. We all expect Shane to take some insane bumps at some point here, and to hit a big spot or two of his own. As far as who wins, I’m not sure. There’s no point in bringing Shane back like this just to send him home after the show, but ‘Taker losing in his home state to Shane McMahon and having to retire seems a bit much. This is where I think the Reigns heel turn will come into play if they go with it, with him getting involved to screw Shane over. That being said, when it’s all said and done I think Shane does get control of RAW in the future just not Sunday night. We’ll see.
So while the missing big names take away from the overall luster of the show this year, that can be more than made up for in the ring itself. With an ad hoc main event and a title match that’s likely to end in the crowd booing the supposed face, this is unlikely to be remembered as an all time great show but it can still work it’s way into the highly underrated category.