Final Picks for Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro and WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2021 Card
Whether an attempt to capitalize on the WrestleMania brand or to use it as an excuse to host several rematches, this year's follow-up event was rechristened WrestleMania Backlash.
Several titles will be on the line, including Cesaro's first proper shot at a world title, Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre aiming to capture the WWE Championship, Rhea Ripley up against Asuka and Charlotte Flair and more.
Typically, the post-WrestleMania event is either a total waste of time where nothing happens, or it's WWE's attempt to change direction from mistakes that happened on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Is the WWE Universe in for title changes and surprises or a series of matches that just kill time and lead nowhere new?
Before the show starts, let's run down a final round of picks for who will walk away victorious from each match.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: Dirty Dawgs vs. Dominik and Rey Mysterio
Dominik and Rey Mysterio have already had some brushes with the SmackDown Tag Team Championship gold and come up short. However, that doesn't mean things won't be different this time.
At first glance, it might seem like a waste. Why would WWE book a rematch and a title change weeks after doing this just before WrestleMania, when it might have gone more naturally with the momentum of that given time?
Well, it happened for Natalya and Tamina. They even had the extra setup of winning a No. 1 contender's match on the first night of WrestleMania 37 and competed in front of the live crowd. It would have made significantly more sense for them to win the titles on that night, rather than this week's SmackDown.
WWE might have the same booking philosophy with The Mysterios here, giving them the belts a few weeks after the logical moment has already passed.
Otherwise, the belts stay on Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, who have beaten every tag team multiple times and will have nothing left to do.
Prediction: The Mysterios win the titles
Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship
Drew McIntyre had a good chance to win the WWE Championship back at WrestleMania 37, but he failed. With each subsequent rematch, it becomes less and less likely WWE will revert back to his previous run with the belt and return to the status quo.
With WWE's tendency to run as many repetitive matches as possible in the past few years—the past two even more so—it's likely his inclusion here was half to stretch things out with little effort and half because he's still the top babyface on Monday Night Raw.
Adding Braun Strowman to the mix spices things up. The Monster Among Men is a former world champion himself and one of the biggest Superstars in the company, so he's a viable threat on paper to either man and could, theoretically, walk out as champion.
That's not going to happen, though. Bobby Lashley has the disadvantage of not needing to be pinned or tap out to lose his title, but it also means he has two opponents he could defeat.
This is a No Disqualification match by default since it's Triple Threat rules, so all it will take is for some interference from MVP or Mace and T-Bar, or for Strowman and The Scottish Warrior to take each other out and Lashley to pick the bones, and the championship stays where it's at.
Prediction: Lashley retains
Lumberjack Match: Damian Priest vs. the Miz
There are two schools of thoughts to a match like this, depending on whether you think WWE is trying to pull some reverse psychology.
In theory, the whole point of the lumberjacks ringside is to keep John Morrison from interfering. That way, Damian Priest gets The Miz in the ring, right where he wants him, so he can finish the job.
Considering his ability to beat The Miz and Morrison in the past, it should be an even easier time than normal and his win should be guaranteed.
But since that's so obvious, what if WWE goes with a swerve? It is likely one of the other Superstars gets involved and costs Priest the match, starting a new feud to spin out of this and finish the Priest vs. Miz and Morrison storyline.
That could be any number of wrestlers, especially since the SmackDown roster is likely to appear here, as teased. Someone could even make the jump to Raw as a trade since there hasn't been a Superstar Shake-up to freshen the rosters.
If someone like King Corbin, for instance, is involved here, it may mean Priest loses through those shenanigans.
It may be a matter of overthinking things, but with that in mind, The Miz just may beat the odds.
Prediction: The Miz wins
SmackDown Women's Champion Bianca Belair vs. Bayley
One of the easiest matches to predict on this card is the SmackDown Women's Championship bout. You can easily bet the farm that Bianca Belair will keep her title safely around her waist and not sweat a drop.
Bayley's had her exceedingly long run with the belt over the past two years. She's far from needing such a boost in her credibility that it takes priority over The EST of WWE—the woman who won the Royal Rumble and dethroned Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania.
For Belair to do all that and lose the title so quickly would be a massive slight against her career and a sign WWE regrets giving her the belt to begin with. It would be hard, if not impossible to come back from that.
Bayley's a stop-gap. The Boss will return and get a rematch down the line, while Bayley is just someone for Belair to beat in the meantime.
Prediction: Belair retains
Triple Threat Match for the Raw Women's Championship
Like the three-way between Lashley, McIntyre and Strowman, WWE's mentality to Triple Threat matches tends to be about protecting someone and giving an out for the finish, rather than simply having three names fight it out.
In the case of the Raw Women's Championship match, Rhea Ripley just won the title at WrestleMania 37. It's far too soon for her to drop the belt, unless WWE doesn't care about making the same mistakes with her credibility that happened WrestleMania 36.
That could happen, as you can never count out Charlotte Flair winning a match, even if it makes no sense to ruin other Superstars just to give The Queen a slight boost.
However, this is likely more about Asuka taking the fall than anything else. If it were just Flair vs. Ripley, one of those two would have to come up short. Since that seems out of the question for Flair in WWE's mind, someone else has to lose.
The Empress of Tomorrow doesn't have her undefeated streak anymore. She's lost plenty enough times that it won't be shocking if she eats the pin here, either. In fact, WWE might even hammer home Flair's importance by having her deal the final blow, only for Ripley to capitalize, so it looks as though the title would have changed hands.
Prediction: Ripley retains
Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro
It's great to see Cesaro finally get a one-on-one shot for a world title, but that opportunity itself will have to be the takeaway victory here. There is no way he actually wins the belt from Roman Reigns.
The Swiss Cyborg is one of the strongest members of the roster and will give The Tribal Chief a run for his money. In fact, he may only lose because of interference from The Usos or some other shenanigans.
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that he will lose. Putting up a good fight and looking like he belongs in that upper echelon is something WWE can handle. Having Cesaro dethrone the golden goose of the roster that just banished Daniel Bryan and retained at WrestleMania isn't, though.
Prediction: Reigns retains by hook or by crook
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.