April 6 (UPI) — WWE’s biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, hits the ring this weekend with the potential crowning of new champions, the return of a legend in Daniel Bryan and the debut of former UFC Champion Ronda Rousey.
The competition takes place live Sunday 8 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Here are the top matches and our predicted winners.
Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship
Lesnar won the Universal Championship at last year’s WrestleMania when he defeated Goldberg. The Beast now must contend with Reigns, a superstar who has gained slightly more favor with WWE fans as he has called out Lesnar’s lack of respect for the company and the fact that he appears to have a part-time schedule. Taking into account UFC President Dana White’s announcement that Lesnar will be returning to the octagon, it’s easy to see The Big Dog ending Lesnar’s yearlong title run. If this is indeed Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman’s last go-around in WWE, they will be missed.
Predicted winner: Roman Reigns
AJ Styles (champion) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship
Two of the best superstars from Smackdown Live battle it out in a bout that has the potential to be the match of the night. Styles and Nakamura had a history together in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and now will be showcasing their chemistry together in front of an even larger audience. While Styles has developed quite the fan base during his time in WWE, Nakamura has ascended the WWE ladder in quick succession, earning this main event match by winning the Men’s Royal Rumble. It appears it’s Nakamura’s time to shine in a match that wrestling fans have been dying to see once again.
Predicted winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
Rousey is, simply put, one of the biggest signings WWE has ever made. The company will be using this match to ease her in nicely by placing her around legends such as Angle and Triple H before she moves onto competing in the women’s division. Rousey will surely take the fight to Stephanie, a surefire way to get WWE fans fully behind the former UFC champion. Expect plenty of crowd-pleasing moments, a crazy entrance form Triple H and McMahon and for Rousey to make the bad-guy authority figures tap out.
Predicted winners: Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
The feud that has dominated Smackdown Live for months comes to an end at WrestleMania with Bryan making his surprising return after announcing his retirement in 2016. Bryan being back in the squared circle is special. But Owens and Zayn get their jobs back on Smackdown if they win, so Bryan’s homecoming could be ruined by the best friends. Perhaps a shocking betrayal by Shane is in the cards as he appeared to have made up with Bryan way too easily on Tuesday with a hug after months of disagreements and bickering.
Predicted winners: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Charlotte Flair (champion) vs. Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Flair has beaten them all but will be pushed to her limits against Asuka in a dream match that was bound to happen eventually as Asuka has remained undefeated during her time in WWE. If anyone can finally defeat The Empress of Tomorrow it’s Flair, who always delivers an impressive performance at WrestleMania. Fans are in store for a truly athletic display full of Moonsaults and submission maneuvers. When the dust clears, Asuka will likely win, however, Carmella has been waiting in the wings with her Money in the Bank contract and would be foolish not to cash it in on a depleted Asuka, making her the new Smackdown Women’s Champion and the first to end the undefeated streak.
Predicted winner: Asuka, followed by Carmella using her Money in the Bank contract to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion
The Miz (champion) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for the Intercontinental Championship
The Miz has elevated the Intercontinental Championship to new heights and will be looking at WrestleMania to be his victory lap following a stellar 2017. The odds are stacked against him and with The Miz’s wife, Maryse, recently giving birth to their first child, it’s time for the A-lister to take a break and be with his family. This leaves the Intercontinental Championship up for grabs with Balor getting the slight edge as he may unleash his Demon form or due to The Balor Club — consisting of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson — providing backup from ringside. Rollins, meanwhile, can leave the Intercontinental title behind and set his sights on the Universal Championship once again.
Predicted winner: Finn Balor
Randy Orton (champion) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev for the United States Championship
Despite the inclusion of former World Champions such as Orton and Mahal, Rusev has to be the favorite as he continues to get some of the loudest cheers every Tuesday after introducing the concept of Rusev Day alongside his personal singer, Aiden English. WWE will be looking to keep Rusev’s momentum going and continue selling the Happy Rusev Day t-shirts that litter WWE crowds weekly. WWE should do the right thing here and deliver a nice Rusev Day present to all of his adoring fans.
Predicted winner: Rusev
Alexa Bliss (champion) vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship
Jax has finally stepped out of Bliss’ shadow and a win here can allow her to dominate the Raw Women’s division like nobody else can. It’s Jax’s time to shine and she may even defeat Bliss in a very fast and convincing fashion. Bliss’s cowardly ways will not help her this time.
Predicted winner: Nia Jax
The Usos (champions) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
The Bludgeon Brothers have been decimating The Usos and The New Day in recent weeks but now Harper and Rowan will have to deal with both teams at full strength at the same time. Once The Bludgeon Brothers are out of the way, The Usos and The New Day can continue their impressive rivalry. The Usos, who have reinvented themselves into one of the most entertaining Tag Teams in WWE, will win the crowded match and continue to shine on Smackdown.
Predicted winner: The Usos
Sheamus & Cesaro (champions) vs. Braun Strowman and a mystery partner for the Raw Tag Team Championships
Strowman has proven week in and week out that he doesn’t need a partner to win a Tag Team match but is being forced to choose a partner if he wants to compete for the titles. Strowman’s options for a partner seem limited, but, WWE would not have kept the partner’s identity a secret unless it had a surprise in store. Perhaps The Monster Among Men will team up with a returning Big Cass who matches him in height, or even Elias in a fun twist that would put the former rivals together. Either way, Strowman is walking out of WrestleMania as a Tag Team Champion.
Predicted winner: Braun Strowman and his mystery partner
WrestleMania 34 will also feature Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali for the Cruiserweight Championship, the annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and the first-ever WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal.
WrestleMania 34 airs live at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the WWE Network and pay per view.