Asuka and 5 Stars Likely to Be Robbed of Meaningful WrestleMania 35 Moments
With WWE boasting a bigger and more stacked roster than ever before, it's virtually impossible for the company to feature every notable name in a prominent match at WrestleMania.
There are bound to be those who will be overlooked or relegated to preliminary bouts on the card, which there is no shame in. For certain stars, however, it's simply inexcusable that they aren't involved in anything of importance at the event after the remarkable years they have enjoyed.
WWE likes to create "WrestleMania moments" whenever possible, but truth be told, the best ones happen organically and are tough to come by nowadays. It could take years for any given competitor to get their long-awaited moment at 'Mania, but that can't come to pass if the wrestlers who deserve them the most aren't anywhere to be found on the card.
Unfortunately, that will be the case at WrestleMania 35. For every top talent competing in a high-profile match, there are several others who will be forced to take backseats for no apparent reason.
With only a handful of WrestleMania moments to go around on Sunday's show, a lot of Superstars will have to miss out on receiving meaningful highlights on the Grandest Stage of Them All. In reality, all of them should be bigger focal points going into and coming out of the event as opposed to being overlooked in the way they have been as of late.
For the purposes of this slideshow, tag teams are grouped together.
Almost every champion in WWE is guaranteed a WrestleMania match, but as the Road to WrestleMania 35 progressed, it increasingly didn't look like Asuka fit in anywhere on the card.
The March 26 edition of SmackDown Live was supposed to feature a Fatal 4-Way to determine who would challenge for Asuka's SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania. Before the bout could come to fruition, however, The Empress of Tomorrow dropped the title to Charlotte Flair in an impromptu contest.
With automatic rematches for former champions now a thing of the past, Asuka was left with no choice but to declare herself for the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal. It's a far cry from what she was involved in at the PPV last year, which was an epic encounter against Flair.
On paper, Asuka outshines the rest of the women in that match, but it isn't a forgone conclusion that she wull win. Based off her infrequent appearances on Raw and SmackDown Live in recent months, Lacey Evans is bound to eliminate Asuka from the Battle Royal at the last second and steal the victory for herself.
Assuming that doesn't happen and Asuka does come out on top, it wouldn't be much of a moment for her considering the high she was on at this time one year ago—not to mention the marquee match she could have had this year if WWE had booked her better.
The Hardy Boyz
After nearly eight years away as a unit, The Hardy Boyz made their grand return to WWE at WrestleMania 33, being greeted by one of the loudest reactions in the modern era of the company. It seemed nearly impossible for WWE to cool down their hot act until it did.
Jeff and Matt only recently reunited in the tag team ranks, and from the get-go, they appeared to be primed to vie for The Usos' SmackDown Tag Team Championships. It would have been a simple story for them to embark on an undefeated streak heading into the event and prove to the world all over again that they are the greatest of all time.
Oddly enough, WWE stopped featuring them on a weekly basis soon after they returned. That's not a reflection of their talent but rather how WWE views its tag team divisions.
Despite remaining incredibly over with the audience, The Hardy Boyz will not be a part of the SmackDown Tag Team Championships Fatal 4-Way. Instead, they will be participating in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and likely losing.
Even while Jeff was out injured last year, Matt still received a 'Mania moment by winning the Andre Battle Royal. Having their Expedition of Gold come full circle by handing them the SmackDown Tag Team Championships would have been ideal, but apparently WWE thought otherwise.
Speaking of tag team wrestling's unimportance in WWE these days, look no further than The Revival, whose main-roster run has left a to be desired. Injuries plagued them at first, but since then, they have largely been victims of WWE's highly questionable booking.
The Revival finally became Raw tag team champions in February when they knocked off Bobby Roode and Chad Gable for the belts, yet they have since lost significantly more than they have won.
To their credit, The Revival never cease to bring out the best of their opponents, but their past few title defenses have been fantastic. They recently successfully defended the gold against Aleister Black and Ricochet and tore down the house with their performance that night on Raw.
However, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins will be the ones challenging for the twin titles at WrestleMania 35. Sure, having a match on the 'Mania card is better than being left off all together, but it hardly counts considering it will probably be more of an angle than a contest.
Congrats to Hawkins and Ryder for scoring such a coveted opportunity for themselves at WrestleMania, but it doesn't make The Revival look like the most credible of champions when all Sunday's opponents do is lose.
One of the biggest questions among WWE fans is what would have become of Ali following Elimination Chamber had Kofi Kingston not taken his spot in that Gauntlet match. Kingston's incredible performance that night kicked off KofiMania while Ali was forced to sit on the sidelines for a few weeks.
Ali wasn't out of action for terribly long, but it was long enough that WWE had zero plans for him upon his return to the ring. He unsuccessfully challenged for the WWE Championship at Fastlane and has been relegated to spinning his wheels for a while.
Similar to some of the other names on this list, Ali was announced for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on March 29. Considering he was competing for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship on the Kickoff show last year, the Battle Royal isn't an awful spot for him to be in, but WWE could have done much better.
Rekindling his rivalry with Daniel Bryan or even chasing after the United States Championship could have been viable options. However, WWE opted to take the lazy route by holding off on placing him in a program with anyone until after Sunday's show.
All that said, there is a decent chance he overcomes the odds and wins the Andre Battle Royal, but there are other candidates who would make more sense. Besides, would winning that trophy be looked upon as an accomplishment?
Kevin Owens has had a strong track record of memorable WrestleMania matches since debuting on the main roster in 2015. In his first three WrestleMania events, he has walked in as intercontinental champion, left as United States champion and faced Daniel Bryan in his return match.
In 2019, however, Owens isn't even on the bill for WrestleMania (at least not as of this writing).
WWE made the mistake of bringing him back from injury early as opposed to holding off until after WrestleMania 35. All signs pointed to him vying for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35 before Kofi Kingston got hot out of nowhere, and once those plans were scrapped, WWE had nothing for him to fall back on.
Since March, Owens has laid low on SmackDown Live by staying out of the action, and he has been hosting a talk show segment, The Kevin Owens Show. With no match for 'Mania announced, he will probably wind up in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and needless to say, that is a waste of his talent.
The only way WWE could possibly redeem itself for how it has handled him lately is to have him win the Andre Battle Royal by last eliminating Braun Strowman. Outside of that, though, Owens doesn't look to set for any sort of meaningful moment at WrestleMania this year.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.