Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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WWE WrestleMania 40: Where things stand and potential matches for superstars at the biggest event of the year

It is officially WrestleMania Season, a time of wild speculation and excitement for wrestling fans. This year’s annual spectacular takes place April 6 and 7 from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Now that the Royal Rumble is in the rear-view, with Cody Rhodes and Bayley emerging as this year’s winners, we can turn our attention forward to what could be in store for the biggest stars of Raw and SmackDown at WrestleMania 40. What is coming for superstars such as Rhodes, Bayley, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and others?

This an especially uncertain time compared to previous years, with multiple injuries and a sex trafficking lawsuit against now-former TKO executive chair and WWE president Vince McMahon rocking WWE’s plans just months ahead of the biggest show of the year.

With all that in mind, let’s look at what we could expect for many of WWE’s biggest stars at WrestleMania. We will keep this article updated as the WrestleMania picture continues to develop in the coming weeks and months.

Cody Rhodes: After winning back-to-back Royal Rumbles, Rhodes has once again punched his ticket to a world title match of his choosing. While the obvious path would be a rematch with undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns, and Rhodes went as far after his Rumble win as to point to Reigns in the crowd to let him know it’s coming, Rhodes was thrown a curveball on Raw. World heavyweight champion Seth Rollins made a strong pitch for Rhodes to challenge him instead. After Rollins’ pitch, Rhodes was conflicted over whether to seek revenge against Reigns — and “finish the story” of winning the title his father never could — or go after the “working man’s championship” against Rollins. Rhodes said he would think about it and make his decision at a later date.

Seth Rollins: As mentioned above, Rollins has made a pitch to Rhodes for a WrestleMania match. That seems unlikely to happen as it would derail a years-long story for Rhodes. The key to Rollins’ situation is that he suffered a major knee injury, tearing his MCL and meniscus but is choosing to gut it out through WrestleMania before undergoing treatment. The reality is, that likely means Rollins has to drop the title at WrestleMania. CM Punk was the next logical choice for Rollins, but Punk suffered a torn triceps muscle in the Rumble and has been sidelined as soon as his WWE comeback began. There are still plenty of men gunning for his belt, from Money in the Bank contract holder Damian Priest, to Drew McIntyre, to … well, basically every member of the Raw roster. With Rhodes likely facing Reigns at WrestleMania, Rollins should be facing the winner of February’s Elimination Chamber match.

Gunther: There were reports that the longest-reigning intercontinental champion in history was set to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania in what would have been Gunther’s biggest match ever. Gunther was also one of the favorites to win the Royal Rumble and go on to face Rollins at WrestleMania. That didn’t happen, obviously, and with Lesnar not returning at the Rumble amid his assumed involvement in the recent sex trafficking lawsuit against Vince McMahon, you can likely strike Gunther vs. Lesnar as a possibility for WrestleMania. The possibility of Gunther vs. Rollins is still alive, should Gunther win the Elimination Chamber match. Having already defended his intercontinental title against most worthy challengers, if Gunther isn’t facing Rollins, he may need a fresh challenger for the biggest show of the year. One potential opponent could be Bron Breakker, who reportedly took Lesnar’s spot at the Rumble, though it was hinted on Raw that Breakker could be headed for SmackDown.

Roman Reigns: Reigns’ run as champion has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. In its best moments, Reigns’ time as champion has carried the entire company. At its worst, Reigns has been an absentee champion who has held up the top of the card with repetitive matches where he cheats to win while treated as an all-time dominant champion by the commentary team, an often distracting disconnect. For the second consecutive year, it appears Reigns’ WrestleMania match will be against Rhodes. It certainly feels like the right time to take the titles off of Reigns, but he’s also close to passing Hulk Hogan’s longest time as champion, which WWE could decide is a mark worth taking down. Whatever happens to Reigns at WrestleMania will set the stage for the next six months — at least — of WWE programming.

Rhea Ripley: The women’s world champion has been a dominant force on the Raw roster for over a year while also serving as the “real” leader of Judgment Day. While it was hinted Bayley was ready to challenge Ripley after winning the Royal Rumble, that idea was quickly cut off in the form of Nia Jax, who may emerge as the top threat to challenge Ripley at WrestleMania. Of course, there is no shortage of other potential challengers, including Becky Lynch and Liv Morgan, who recently returned to action.

Bayley: The 2024 women’s Royal Rumble winner, Bayley was immediately put into a difficult position when Jax made it clear that Bayley was in danger if she challenged Ripley. The other option for Bayley would be WWE women’s champion Iyo Sky, which is a problem considering she is Bayley’s teammate in Damage CTRL. The story of Bayley being on the outs with the group has been in the works for quite some time, so it makes sense that she could parlay the Rumble into a match with Sky and a return to being a babyface, a role many thought was Bayley’s only possible path to success before she proved herself a talented worker as a heel.

Logan Paul: As a part-time wrestler, the social media superstar has been a smash success. Paul’s athleticism allows him to put on matches filled with big spots and he has shown a natural talent for engaging in big stage matches. The easiest plan for Paul would be a rematch with Kevin Owens. The pair met at the Royal Rumble, with Owens using Paul’s own brass knuckles against him only to be caught and disqualified. That’s not a good way to end a wrestling story and Owens will no doubt be seeking revenge against Paul, not to mention wanting to take Paul’s United States championship.

Jey Uso: It feels like the time has finally arrived for Jey Uso to go one-on-one with his twin brother. Jimmy Uso was the No. 2 entrant to the Royal Rumble, immediately pairing off with his brother, who entered No. 1. The long story of Jey leaving The Bloodline and Jimmy staying has been building to the twins meeting in a match eventually, even as they were smartly split between Raw and SmackDown. There’s plenty of time to finish the build to Jimmy vs. Jey, including how they actually set the match up. But if the match is ever going to happen, there’s no choice that makes sense other than WrestleMania 40.

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