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  • Writer's pictureLucas Friesen

Wrestlemania 40 -- Night 1 Preview and Predictions

Finally, this weekend is the grandest stage of them all, the showcase of the immortals, Wrestlemania 40, live from Lincoln Field in Philadelphia. It’s time to break down these matches and give predictions on who will win at the two-night extravaganza, starting with Wrestlemania Saturday.

WWE Tag Team Championships – Ladder Match: Damian Priest & Finn Bálor (c) vs. The Miz & R-Truth vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs. Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate vs. Austin Theory & Grayson Waller

Since Michael Cole specified that the match would be for the championships separately, there is a good chance that we will see the undisputed tag titles split on Saturday. D.I.Y. have impressed me lately on Raw and I think this tag team, oft delayed by injuries, is finally getting over with the WWE fans. Theory and Waller have had a great run since they joined forces. They’re easy to hate in their current personas while also putting on exciting performances in the ring.

Winners and new Raw Tag Team Champions: Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa

Winners and new Smackdown Tag Team Champions: Austin Theory & Grayson Waller

Jey Uso vs. Jimmy Uso

Jey is the large favourite for this match, as he has gotten over well on Raw while Jimmy plays the background to Roman Reigns on Smackdown. They are both formidable performers, as proven in their brilliant Tag Team Championship run from the early 2020s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see their younger brother, Solo Sikoa, get involved in this match. WWE is sure to play with fans’ heartstrings this weekend and, early in the card, I think it’s important to have the good guy win.

Winner: Jey Uso

Rey Mysterio & Dragon Lee vs. Santos Escobar & Dominik Mysterio

This match will give the 70,000 fans in attendance a chance to boo Dominik to death. It will also allow Dragon Lee to showcase his talent and continue WWE’s push of Lee as the replacement for the aging Mysterio. However, I predict Escobar and Dominik will have much bigger 2024s than either Rey or Lee and, therefore, I see the heels coming out on top.

Winners: Santos Escobar & Dominik Mysterio

Intercontinental Championship: Gunther (c) vs. Sami Zayn

Gunther is such a dominant force that it is hard to know who will dethrone him. With a couple European premium live events planned for this year, I expect Gunther to retain his title in an exciting match against Zayn.

Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Gunther

Bianca Belair, Naomi & Jade Cargill vs. Dakota Kai, Asuka & Kairi Sane

Asuka is a top WWE superstar, but Kai and Sane look like twigs beside Belair, Naomi and Cargill – three of the strongest women in WWE. I don’t see this going any other way but a win for Belair and co. Kai will eat the pin to protect Asuka & Sane, the Women’s Tag Team Champions.

Winners: Bianca Belair, Naomi & Jade Cargill

Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Becky Lynch

As John Cena’s entrance music goes, “Your time is up, my time is now.” Although Lynch is a great superstar, it is undeniable that now is Ripley’s time. This will be Ripley’s greatest challenge since she won the title at Wrestlemania 39 against Charlotte Flair. I hope Ripley and Lynch deliver the classic match that I know they’re capable of. I feel confident that Mami will remain on top.

Winner and still the Women’s World Champion: Rhea Ripley

The Rock & Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes & Seth Rollins

The main event for Wrestlemania Saturday will be another instalment of superpowers colliding. The winner of this match will choose the stipulation for the main event of Wrestlemania Sunday: Reigns (c) vs. Rhodes II for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. If The Bloodline wins, the match is Bloodline Rules, meaning that anything goes. If Rhodes and Rollins win, The Bloodline is barred from ringside for the main event (not that that’s ever stopped them before).

Four men stare each other down with a green lightning bolt down the middle.

This is the match that WWE has pushed the most. From The Rock’s many viral appearances on Raw and Smackdown, to the flip-flopping of Rhodes, to the perceptibly rock-solid alliance of two bitter rivals in Rollins and Rhodes, this tag team match has a lot of buildup. Let’s unpack it.

In January, 2024, Rhodes won the Royal Rumble for the second year in a row. As winner of the Royal Rumble, you get to challenge the champion of your choosing at Wrestlemania. In 2023, when Rhodes won the Rumble the first time, the tagline for his match at Wrestlemania 39 against the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns was “to finish the story.” However, at Wrestlemania 39, fans were shocked when Rhodes did not finish his story and The Bloodline reigned supreme.

That was 2023. In 2024, Rhodes won the Rumble again. The fans thought he was going to challenge Reigns to a rematch at Wrestlemania 40. However, immediately following the Rumble, that assumption was put into question. Rhodes went on Raw and cut a promo, which was interrupted by Rollins, the World Heavyweight Champion. He said that Rhodes should challenge him at Wrestlemania 40, instead of Reigns. Many fans read this as WWE covering up for the injury to CM Punk at the Rumble. CM Punk, who recently returned to WWE and is another archrival of Rollins, hurt his arm during the Rumble and was ruled out for Wrestlemania 40 despite the company already beginning to build a Rollins/Punk main event for the championship. With Punk out, Rollins challenged Rhodes. But then who would fight Reigns?

Enter The Rock. On Smackdown, Rhodes was scheduled to announce his official challenge for Mania. He cut a promo in the ring with Reigns, but, instead of challenging the Tribal Chief, he brought out the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Rock. After a huge pop from the crowd, Rock and Reigns had a face-to-face showdown in the ring, all but making it clear that Rock vs. Reigns would happen at Wrestlemania 40.

However, before things could get officially announced, the WWE fans made their voices clearly heard: They still wanted to see Rhodes finish his story and beat Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. The sentiment being that Rollins title is a consolation title and, in fact, to be the man, as Ric Flair so poignantly put it, “you gotta beat the man.” Rhodes beating Rollins is not Rhodes finishing his story but just another step toward the ultimate goal, which will always be the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. In short, the WWE fans were still not over the massive shock of Reigns retaining at Wrestlemania 39. The “Cody crybabies,” as The Rock so affectionately named them, still want to see Reigns dethroned by Rhodes.

The fans made Rock a heel before he even had a chance to decide for himself. Now, with two top heels, the WWE pivoted again. At a press conference in Las Vegas, Rhodes announced that he was challenging Reigns at Wrestlemania, giving the fans the rematch they so badly desired. And it was included that, on Wrestlemania Saturday, we would get this colossal main event tag team match. The gravitas of a tag team match main event is not lost on me, as Wrestlemania 1 was headlined by a similar tag team match: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with Superfly Jimmy Snuka) vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff (with Cowboy Bob Orton). So, on Wrestlemania 40 Night 1, we are getting The Final Boss The Rock & The Tribal Chief and Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes & World Heavyweight Champion Seth Freakin’ Rollins.  I expect a lot of pageantry, a lot of storytelling and, ultimately, a fantastic match.

The one rivalry that has really boiled over for this match is The Rock and Rhodes. Over the past couple weeks, these two have cut amazing call-out promos on each other, even bringing back cutting – a practice not used for a long time in the WWE.

I’m not sure who will eat a pin here or how. Anything could happen. There could be interference from Triple H or Stone Cold Steve Austin, two of The Rock’s biggest rivals. Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa, Jey Uso, even Sami Zayn, could and probably will get involved. However, for me, it comes down to the stipulation clause. Bloodline Rules would give Rhodes the greatest obstacles and set up the finish that I expect for the Sunday main event, which we’ll get to in my Wrestlemania Sunday predictions. For that reason, I see The Bloodline celebrating on Wrestlemania Saturday.

Winners: The Rock & Roman Reigns

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