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WrestleMania 39 Preview: Reigns vs. Rhodes headlines an action-packed event

WrestleMania 39 features a clear-cut, undisputed main event. However WrestleMania, in general, has turned into far more than just a one-match spectacle over its near 40-years of existence. It’s expanded into a two-night marathon packed with dozens of matches, several of which could main event on any other Premium Live Event.

The 39th edition of WrestleMania will look a lot different than the first incarnation, which took place on March 31, 1985 at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. There were a total of nine matches on that card, headlined by a special attraction match featuring actor Mr. T teaming up with Hulk Hogan to go up against Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. This year’s event will feature 13 matches spread across two nights, with the Roman Reigns defending his Undisputed Universal Heavyweight Championship against Cody Rhodes serving as the headlining main event.

While the presentation has, of course, changed drastically over 39 years, the overall idea surrounding WrestleMania remains the same. The is still larger than life, living up its “showcase of the immortals” moniker, while the main focus remains on the wrestlers in the ring, telling a story designed to get fans invested. And at this years ‘Mania, WWE will be presenting, in all likelihood, the culmination of one its greatest stories ever told.

Undisputed WWE Universal Heavyweight Championship match: Roman Reigns (C) vs. Cody Rhodes

This isn’t just months in the making, it’s years in the making.

For Reigns, it’s a near 1,000-day reign as champ. Roman has indeed reigned as, arguably, the most dominant champion in WWE history. Two straight WrestleMania main event victories, with pins over such legends as Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan and Edge cement Reigns’ legend status. Over the course of his championship reign, the Tribal Chief established one of the most dominant factions in WWE history with his Bloodline stable, joined by real-life family members Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa (as well as Paul Heyman in a managerial-type role).

Photo courtesy: Steve Argintaru

For Rhodes, meanwhile, it’s the culmination of a near decade-long ascent to the top of the card. Rhodes left WWE in 2016 after years of hovering around the mid-card, eventually running into creative frustrations. Cody, the son of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, set out on his own, determined to carve his own path to the top. He wrestled at every independent wrestling event he could, before helping found All Elite Wrestling, a now legitimate in-ring competitor to WWE. Cody became one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling and now seems destined to capture his first WWE Championship.

Both wrestlers are at the top of their games, representing the very best in pro wrestling. The edge, though, goes to Rhodes. The road for Cody from undesirable to undeniable ends at WrestleMania and it concludes with his first major pro wrestling championship. Even in AEW, Cody never won the big one. Now, though, the last chapter is ready to be written.

Reigns, meanwhile, is in prime position to write the last chapter of his championship story, one that will go down as one of the greatest ever. First of all, if Reigns were to defeat Cody, there would be no legitimate threats to challenge for the title afterwards, leaving the main titles in danger of going stale. In addition, Reigns’ Bloodline stable looks ready to break apart, which will further aid the conclusion of his championship story.

Prediction: Cody Rhodes def. Roman Reigns (C)

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship: The Usos (C) vs Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens

The other half of the conclusion of the Bloodline fracture will play out in this matchup when Zayn and Owens challenge Jimmy and Jey Uso for the Undisputed Tag Team Championship.

As mentioned above there is still a large portion of the WWE audience, with a majority of that sect residing north of the 49th parallel, that would have preferred Zayn to be a part of the main event championship match against Roman Reigns. However, WWE stuck to their guns and stayed with the Cody storyline, instead blowing off the feud between Reigns and Zayn at Elimination Chamber in February.

Photo courtesy: Steve Argintaru

However, this is still a major spot, near adjacent to the world title match. And as Zayn noted to Sportsnet last year ahead of his match against Johnny Knoxville at WrestleMania 38, “not everything is, ‘you’re main evening for the world title or you’re being misused.’”

This match feels like it is adjacent to the world title match because of how intertwined Zayn and Owens have been to the slow, dissolution of the Bloodline story across the last several months. This weekend at ‘Mania, Zayn and Owens will conclude their arc of the story with a victory over The Usos.

It will be a crowning moment in the careers of both Zayn and Owens, both of whom started their wrestling careers in Montreal. The two wrestled at a one-on-one singles match two years ago at ‘Mania, and now have the opportunity to team together to capture tag team gold.

Meanwhile, for The Usos, this will likely set up some sort of fallout in the days afterwards where Reigns, who will have also lost his championship titles, will question their commitment to The Bloodline, leading to the eventual dissolution.

Prediction: Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens def. The Usos (C)

Hell in a Cell match: Edge vs Finn Balor

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are two of the six Canadians in action over the course of WrestleMania Weekend. 

Orangeville, Ont. native Edge will compete in a Hell in a Cell match against Finn Balor, in what should culminate a near year-long storyline involving the two.

Balor will be sporting his demon look, emphasizing the magnitude of the match, as Balor now only brings out the demon gimmick for big-time matches and it doesn’t get any bigger than WrestleMania.

Building the anticipation even further, Edge recently noted to Sportsnet 590 The Fan that he has, “some pretty extra stupid ideas” for the match.

Last year at WrestleMania, Edge was the betting favourite ahead of his match against AJ Styles and picked up the win thanks to interference from Damion Priest. This year, Edge is the underdog and Priest is aligned with Balor, which could very well play a role in determining the outcome of the match.

Prediction: Finn Balor def. Edge

Six-Woman Tag Team match: Trish Stratus, Lita & Becky Lynch vs Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai & Iyo Sky)

More Canadian content in this match with Toronto native Trish Stratus returning to team up with fellow legend and Hall of Fame member Lita alongside Becky Lynch.

When it comes to predicting this match, it depends on whether you fall on the side of thinking a nostalgic pop is more worthy at WrestleMania weekend, as opposed to putting over current, up-and-coming talent.

If you fall into the latter camp, then the team of Bayley (already one of the most noteworthy names in the history of women’s pro wrestling), Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky will be your favourites for victory.

The Damage CTRL trio have been talking trash since the summer of 2022, and feels like the legends shutting them up would be a worthwhile end to this long-running feud.

Prediction: Trish Stratus, Lita & Becky Lynch def. Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai & Iyo Sky)

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (C) vs Rhea Ripley

Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley will meet for the second time at WrestleMania this weekend. Their first encounter was in 2020 when Ripley held the NXT Championship. Flair won that match, but plenty has changed in the three years since.

Most notably, Ripley is one of the biggest stars in all of wrestling now. In 2020 her talent and potential was evident, and has now been fully realized. On the strength of being of the best talents in the locker room, Ripley should easily capture her first major title in WWE at WrestleMania 39.

Ripley did the job once, she won’t be doing it again.

Prediction: Rhea Ripley def. Charlotte Flair

Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (C) vs Asuka

Bianca Belair has held the Raw Women’s Championship for nearly a full calendar year, cementing herself as one of the top talents in WWE. However, that reign will likely come to an end at WrestleMania, with Belair going up against a reinvigorated Asuka.

Asuka, a former three-time champ, returned after a brief hiatus in January and has looked like the dominant version of herself that fans saw in NXT from 2015-2017, where she was never defeated.

While Belair will remain one of the top stars in the company, her championship reign is past its best-before date, and a loss to Asuka will do nothing to harm her in the long-run.

Prediction: Asuka def. Bianca Belair (C) 

United States Championship: Austin Theory (C) vs John Cena

John Cena has returned, once again, to help put a young talent over the top.

Cena has reached the arc of his career where he returns around WrestleMania season to, first of all, sell tickets, and second of all, to do the job for an up-and-coming wrestler.

The up-and-coming wrestler in question this year is United States Champion Austin Theory. Love him or hate him, and there are plenty who aren’t fans of Theory, he is undoubtedly in the long-term plans for WWE.

Cena has repeatedly cut Theory down in promos leading into ‘Mania, which will make a victory for Theory that much more impactful, as he can say, “I told you so.”

Prediction: Austin Theory (C) def. John Cena

Other Predictions…

— WWE Intercontinental Championship match: Guenther (C) def. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre

— Seth Rollins def. Logan Paul

— Dominik Mysterio def. Rey Mysterio

— Brock Lesnar def. Amos

— Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler def. Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez, Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville and Natalya & Shotzi in Women’s WrestleMania Showcase total four-way tag team match

— Braun Strowman & Ricochet def. The Street Profits, Alpha Academy and Viking Raiders in Men’s WrestleMania Showcase total four-way tag team match


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