We are now less than two months away from the biggest night in the WWE calendar, and the rumour mill is going into overdrive.
There is a huge amount of speculation as to what the card could look like, but how likely are some of the matches being talked about at the moment.
Let’s take a look at some of the matches discussed so far.
The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
A certainty for the show, and given the length of the WrestleMania broadcast and the popularity of the new Royal Rumble match, there may well be a women’s version too.
Expect Elias to come up short at the Elimination Chamber but get a WrestleMania moment by winning the Battle Royal.
In the women’s event Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch will be high on the list of contenders.
The Miz v Braun Strowman for the IC Title
Braun is massively over and if he’s figuring outside the main events, the Miz would be a great foil for him. The Mixed Match Challenge partnership with Alexa Bliss has been gold, and brought a new side of Strowman to the fore. Add to this his brilliant double bass performance in mocking Elias this week on Raw and we can really see his personality start to show.
The Miz is the best worker the company has on the mic, and the lead up to this one would be box office.
The Finals of the Cruiserweight Tournament
Another certainty for the undercard, a disappointing lack of interest in this one.
Charlotte v Auska, Alexa Bliss v Nia Jax – and how you solve a problem like Ronda Rousey
Let’s deal with these matches together. Both are being hotly discussed – and this is why they SHOULD NOT happen.
Auska is on a hot-streak the like of which has not been seen since Goldberg. She takes on Nia at Elimination chamber with a place at WrestleMania on the line for Jax if she wins.
Common opinion says that Nia defeats Auska, with the Empress of Tomorrow taking on Charlotte at Mania, leaving Alexa for Jax.
Let’s say Nia does end the winning streak and book her ticket to the Show of Shows. Pushing Auska to face Charlotte makes it look like she is dodging Jax – and compounding the loss of her undefeated streak. Even if she loses, Auska stills needs to look strong.
Add to this there is no real hunger to see Bliss and Jax, in what could be a squash match (remember Sheamus v Daniel Bryan?), and this is surely not the way to go?
How would I play things?
Asuka wins at Elimination Chamber, and goes on to defeat Bliss at Mania. Meanwhile Nia wins the Battle Royal in dominant style.
But this leaves us a problem.
Charlotte is without an opponent.
WWE would love The Rock and Ronda v Triple H and Stephanie – but a lot of stars would have to align – most notably The Rock’s schedule.
Charlotte v Ronda would be huge, but would Rousey have the in-ring acumen to hang with Ms Flair in such a high-profile singles match?
Ideally Rowdy would start of in a mixed-tag match – but that will mean someone else in the women’s division takes a hit (Asuka) for it to happen.
AJ Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura
It’s on. And it may well steal the show.
John Cena v The Undertaker
Cena needs an opponent, and The Undertaker’s retirement has been ambiguous enough to leave the door open for this.
Could a Cena heel turn ever happen? Who knows? The concern with this one is how The Undertaker’s body holds up.
It shouldn’t happen, but probably will.
Brock Lesnar v Roman Reigns
WrestleMania 31 was fun with these two, so Reigns winning at Elimination Chamber to set it up again is almost certain.
Ronda Rousey, Charlotte, Auska, Alexa Bliss, Stephanie McMahon.
The combinations and permutations for potential Wrestlemania matchups have been discussed wildly since the dramatic close of this week’s women’s Royal Rumble.
But one name being left out of that equation is that of Carmella.
Her stock has been gradually rising, but the thought of her featuring in a high-profile match at the Show of Shows? Slim.
Unless she goes into the event as the Smackdown Women’s Champion.
And this week’s show reminded us, that is still a possibility.
Threatening to cash-in following the Riot Squad’s attack on Charlotte made us remember the briefcase, which Carmella has been in possession of since the end of June, is still relevant.
Admittedly, this is probably just a smokescreen to throw the whole scenario into greater confusion, but the more names thrown into the mix, the faster the level of intrigue will increase and more hyped the build-up will become.
The absence of Rousey at both Raw and Smackdown has spoken volumes in terms of maintaining the levels of ambiguity when it comes to her Mania role.
Her in-ring and mic skills have a huge question mark over them, and WWE won’t risk exposing her too soon – could this mean stringing things out further until and having result from the Elimination Chamber clarify the picture?
Ever since the close of this week’s Royal Rumble, Ronda Rousey has been the name on every wrestling fan’s lips.
While we were made to wait for her in-ring debut, the segment at the end of the women’s Rumble match was more than enough to whet the appetite and start thinking about who she could face on the grandest stage of them all.
Despite an announcement on Monday confirming Rousey had signed a full-time contract with WWE, the fact she did not feature in person on last night’s RAW will only fuel speculation.
Following the Rumble the two names that jump out as obvious opponents would be Charlotte Flair, and Stephanie McMahon – and she has history with both.
We all know what went down with Rousey and McMahon at Wrestlemania 31, and the prospect of that conflict being reignited is intriguing.
Stephanie, however, is now 41-years-old, and hasn’t featured in a match since 2014 so the chances of her taking on a wrestling novice on the company’s biggest night of the year must be pretty slim.
Stephanie teaming with husband Triple H, to take on Rousey and The Rock – Wrestlemania 31 all over again – would be incredible, but a lot of stars would need to align for that to come off.
Which leads us to Charlotte.
First the background. Rousey is a well-known wrestling super fan, listing Roddy Piper as the man she got her ‘Rowdy’ nickname from.
In her MMA days, she headed up a group of fighting friends who labelled themselves the Four Horsewomen – a clear hat-tip to the Four Horsemen famously fronted by Charlotte’s father, and wrestling royalty Ric Flair.
Charlotte, along with Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch would also display the famous four-finger salute in their NXT days.
This all led to a backstage confrontation between Rousey and Flair and co at the Mae Young Classic, when then Rowdy one was in attendance to support fellow Horsewoman-turned-wrestler Shayna Bayzler.
And this takes us to Sunday.
With RAW’s Auska having won the women’s Rumble, the natural thing would have seen her challenge current champ Alexa Bliss. In the same way Shinsuke Nakamura challenged fellow Smackdown star AJ Style following his win in the men’s event.
This would have left the door wide open for a Rousey/Flair showdown that would be box-office.
As we know, this didn’t happen so ambiguity reigns supreme. And that’s how the WWE would like it.
Even down to how someone runs their Instagram account.
First she posted a picture of her and Auska with the caption ‘Streaks are meant to be broken.’
So Auska switches to Smackdown and challenges Flair for the strap? Leaving the door open for Rousey to take on McMahon, or even RAW champ Bliss?
She later followed up with a pic of herself and Rousey, this time with ‘The @WWE Women’s division is where EVERY woman in sports and entertainment wants to be. Congratulations to every woman in the #RoyalRumble Match and @WWEAsuka for her victory. And as for @RondaRousey…. #ToBeTheWoman’
That last hashtag is the key. Taken from a famous line from Flair senior, who would command: “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.’
So Charlotte/Rousey is back on, and Bliss takes on the winner of the freshly announced women’s Elimination Chamber?
That would make more sense, but unless Rousey rocks up on Smackdown tonight the wait for a little clarity is sure to continue.