Early Projections for WWE WrestleMania 36 Match Card
We are not officially on the Road to WrestleMania 36, but that doesn't mean plans shouldn't already be in motion.
Through KofiMania, last year's WrestleMania proved that even in the weeks leading up to the big show, anything can happen to change the direction.
WWE's creative team may have no idea what matches will be on this lineup. Injuries, hot angles and even a lack of decisions over which Superstars to push could shape this season in countless ways.
However, a few things should start falling into place soon.
With the Royal Rumble coming up January 26, let's gaze into the future and guess what's in store for the WrestleMania 36 card.
WWE Championship Match
There must be a specific reason why WWE put Brock Lesnar in the men's Royal Rumble match rather than in a title defense at the show. Something has to happen in that bubble to set up his WrestleMania feud.
One option is for Lesnar to win and do a Winner Takes All match against Bray Wyatt, but that's not nearly as likely as someone taking out The Beast Incarnate and using that as a catalyst for a feud.
That person could win the Royal Rumble and officially challenge for the title or just eliminate Lesnar and make the argument that is good enough to be the No. 1 contender.
Watch out for Cain Velasquez, Tyson Fury or Daniel Cormier to be that person. WWE loves bringing in more mainstream stars for buzz-worthy matches that will get extra media coverage than if it were someone on the regular roster.
If limited to just the Raw crew, Kevin Owens and Drew McIntyre are probably the best bets because they are big babyfaces who could pose a threat.
Ultimately, whether Lesnar leaves WrestleMania with the title depends on whether this is a gimmick match against a celebrity on a one-off deal or if WWE wants to strap the rocket on a new guy like McIntyre. It's impossible to tell which direction everyone will go.
Universal Championship Match
The Fiend has been nearly unstoppable, so it's safe to assume Bray Wyatt will still be champion even after facing Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble.
A Saudi Arabia show is set for February, and it seems as though Kane is being set up as Wyatt's next challenger. That should be no problem for The Fiend.
Once getting past that hurdle, it's smooth sailing to Tampa, Florida, as there is no way he will drop the belt along the way, even at Elimination Chamber. It will mean more if it happens at WrestleMania.
On the blue brand, there is only one viable contender to be the guy who puts down The Fiend: Roman Reigns.
The Big Dog has been out of the title picture since vacating the championship in October 2018. Since then, he's been busy feuding with the likes of Shane McMahon, Erick Rowan and King Corbin.
It's only a matter of time before he wins the title again, and as he has always been heavily featured as a top marketing piece for SmackDown on Fox, it seems like this is fate.
Like the superhero WWE often positions him to be, Reigns will be the one to finally vanquish the evil Fiend and restore some balance—hopefully not to a crowd that boos him out of the building like at previous WrestleManias.
Raw Women's Championship Match
It doesn't matter that Becky Lynch hasn't been able to beat Asuka and dropped her title to The Empress of Tomorrow at last year's Royal Rumble. This time around, The Man will get her revenge.
The question isn't whether Lynch will be champion but relates to her challenger? Shayna Baszler is the clear and obvious answer.
The Queen of Spades also has a win over Lynch from Survivor Series 2019, when she made Bayley tap out in their Triple Threat match. That gives room for Baszler to tout superiority while Lynch has an argument for not having truly lost.
To further give Baszler clout, she is easily the top pick to win the women's Royal Rumble, as she dropped the NXT Women's Championship to free her up for a transition to Raw.
Whether Lynch or Baszler leaves with the title depends on WWE's long-term plans, but there's no more threatening woman in the entire division to realistically take down The Man than The Queen of Spades.
SmackDown Women's Championship Match
More than likely, WWE has no idea what to do with the SmackDown Women's Championship match for WrestleMania. At the very least, nothing has been hinted at that strongly points in any certain direction.
As long as Bayley remains champion, the most interesting opponent for her would be Sasha Banks, but not a bit of dissension between those best friends has happened. As long as they stick together, that match won't happen.
Lacey Evans is gunning for the title, but even if she were to win it, there aren't any strong contenders for a big time match against her, either.
The more time goes by with no clear direction, the more it is looking as though this might be a year WWE throws a bunch of people in the match in an attempt to have star power make up for a lack of storytelling.
Bayley, Banks, Evans, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross and even maybe Naomi and Dana Brooke could be in a big match if the real get, Ronda Rousey, isn't willing or able to step in.
If Rowdy makes her return, though, she will undoubtedly destroy Bayley to capture the title and commandeer SmackDown in an attempt to draw more ratings for the more sports-oriented Fox brand.
Until her return happens, this title picture remains cloudy.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and Women's Battle Royal
The past six editions of 'Mania have featured the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and the past two have had an equivalent for the women's division. There's no reason to believe WWE won't keep up that tradition for WrestleMania 36.
These are easy ways to get the majority of the roster on the card with absolutely zero work hours spent toward creativity. All WWE does is toss every remaining person possible into the contests—normally without bothering to announce most of them in advance.
They have never mattered, as none of the winners have gone on to do anything with the accolades. This year won't be any different.
With no stakes, no build and no investment on WWE's end, there's no chance for anyone to accurately predict who will win, as that probably won't be decided until the last minute.
Raw, SmackDown and Women's Tag Team Championships
More often than not, the tag team divisions are left scrambling to set up matches for the tag team titles at WrestleMania, as WWE prioritizes bigger singles feuds and the teams get lost in the shuffle.
Creative may yet again dedicate little time to these sets of belts beyond picking which teams could make up Triple Threat or Fatal 4-Way matches. However, at least this year, those options stand out.
On Raw, it has to be The Viking Raiders against AOP. The Street Profits might factor in, or they could be relegated to a backstage segment or hosts of the evening to allow the juggernaut duos to battle it out.
For SmackDown, the major contenders are The New Day, The Miz and John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, The Usos and possibly Heavy Machinery if they aren't just in the Battle Royal.
If need be, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn may be in the mix too. The Revival's contracts are coming up, and it doesn't seem likely they will sign, per Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful, so there's no need for WWE to give them a big payday and a featured role on the card.
Assuming The Kabuki Warriors are still the women's tag team champions, they may not even defend those belts. Kairi Sane's injury status puts her return date in question. So little focus is put on these titles that WWE might just put the holders in the Battle Royal.
By any chance the women's tag titles are on the line, though, a makeshift team like Charlotte Flair and Natalya or a handful of other teams put together in another multi-team match could be quickly set up for WWE to effortlessly book.
Intercontinental Championship Match
Braun Strowman has his sights set on the Intercontinental Championship and has even beaten Shinsuke Nakamura. When he gets a shot at the belt has yet to be established, but he's likely to win the title.
That would make him the champion heading into WrestleMania, looking for an opponent on the blue brand.
Given that roster, the most likely challenger would be King Corbin. He's one of the top heels, can stand up to Strowman's size better than nearly anyone else and will be coming out of a high-profile feud with Reigns.
Important to note is that Corbin also has cohorts in Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode and The Revival, whom The Monster Among Men can fight throughout February and March. That can make it easy to book this feud without having to rely on two months of promos with no action.
United States Championship
Depending on the upcoming ladder match between Andrade and Rey Mysterio, either one of those Superstars could be holding the United States Championship. For that matter, someone like Buddy Murphy or Aleister Black could swoop in and take the title on the Road to WrestleMania.
Some stock was put into Humberto Carrillo, so WWE could go back around to booking him against Andrade. That probably wouldn't move the needle too much, so it wouldn't be shocking if more wrestlers were put in that match to bulk it out with more star power.
The past decade has seen many Fatal 4-Way or Triple Threat matches for the midcard titles at WrestleMania, so don't be shocked if this is Andrade vs. Mysterio vs. Carrillo or something along those lines.
More than likely, Andrade will still be champion, and it is just a matter of finding a challenger for him between Carrillo, Ricochet, Black and a handful of others.
Miscellaneous Other Feuds
WrestleMania isn't just about the titles. More often than not, a bigger focus is put on feuds and storylines unrelated to the championships, for better or worse.
Like most of this lineup, a lot of the pieces haven't fit into the puzzle yet. That leaves countless major players not factored into any of these predictions who should have featured roles.
If Edge returns, who would he face? Could he team up alongside Randy Orton to reform Rated RKO to fight The O.C.?
What are the chances CM Punk goes against his promises and wrestles Seth Rollins? If not, who will The Monday Night Messiah, Buddy Murphy and AOP clash with? It will be hard to drag out this Owens, Samoa Joe and Big Show feud for another three months, so something has to change.
McIntyre should do something noteworthy, but there aren't many heels left on Raw for him to fight other than Erick Rowan. Perhaps that can make its way on to the card.
While many people like Ricochet and Mustafa Ali deserve better, they should be expected to help fill out the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal lineup.
For one random guess, let's say Daniel Bryan fights Sheamus again—but that they will wrestle for more than 18 seconds this time.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.