The 11 WWE Stars Who Could Realistically Headline WrestleMania 38
Every year, at least two wrestlers reach the peak in WWE by main-eventing WrestleMania. With the marquee pay-per-view now over two nights, the chances of even more Superstars to be in a coveted headlining match have increased.
And with the company losing major talent such as Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt in the past year, the list of top-tier Superstars who could be easy picks for the finale on either night has dropped considerably.
Normally, after SummerSlam, it can be obvious who is in contention to main-event The Show of Shows. Heading into 2022, though, it's quite difficult to see any guaranteed headliners.
Let's break down some of the most likely Superstars who could realistically be in the two headline matches at WrestleMania 38 next April.
No matter who he fights, Roman Reigns is as sure a bet as can be for a headline spot at WrestleMania 38.
Not only is he the universal champion, but he's also the biggest star on the regular active roster. He also has experience after main-eventing WrestleMania between 2015 and 2018.
Had Reigns not removed himself from the ring due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, he and Goldberg likely would have been the main event in 2020.
This year, The Tribal Chief again had the final match of The Show of Shows against Edge and Daniel Bryan.
What's the likelihood WWE will choose two other matches over his next year given his record? That is especially true if his opponent is someone as big as it could be...
If The Rock is willing and able to return to WWE to face Reigns for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 38, there is no doubt it will be in the main event on one of the two nights.
Dwayne Johnson is far too huge of a Superstar in and out of WWE to be runner-up to anyone else.
Even if this match wasn't for the title and was guaranteed to be less than five minutes long, it still would be the main event on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
However, nothing has been confirmed about The Rock's involvement, and Reigns could face someone else entirely for the universal title.
The Four Horsewomen: Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Bayley and Sasha Banks
Since WrestleMania 32, nearly every women's championship match at WrestleMania has involved at least one of The Four Horsewomen.
With a two-night setup, WWE will almost assuredly go with a men's match and a women's match as the two headlining acts next year.
Assuming that's the case, you can virtually guarantee at least one of Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks or Becky Lynch will be involved.
Bayley and The Boss will likely have returned from injuries, and Flair and Lynch are currently the two champions, making them even more certainties to headline The Show of Shows.
Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley
The only two female competitors outside of The Four Horsewomen who could realistically main-event either night would be the two who accomplished that feat this year.
Bianca Belair won the women's Royal Rumble match and captured the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37, while Ripley ethroned Asuka for the Raw title in the penultimate match of the second night.
Anything can happen, but it's less likely someone such as Doudrop, Toni Storm, Tegan Nox or Shotzi Blackheart will make the progress necessary to challenge for either title in the final match of The Show of Shows.
Belair and Ripley, though, are more established and bigger names. The Nightmare has two matches at the showpiece PPV to her name, and The EST of WWE stole the show this year.
Pairing either against a member of The Four Horsewomen is a solid option for a headliner at WrestleMania 38.
The best wielders of the Money in the Bank briefcase have utilized its power to do what Big E accomplished on Monday's Raw: capitalize on a weakened champion to claim their title.
It wasn't the most honorable victory for a babyface, but it got the job done and now he has reached a whole new level for his career.
As the top dog on the flagship show with seven months to go until WrestleMania 38, it's a coin-flip scenario over what happens. It isn't too much time to imagine Big E holding the title, but it's more than enough time for WWE to get cold feet and put the belt on someone else.
The keys will be the ratings while he's champion and whether WWE has an interesting opponent in mind for him for The Show of Shows.
WWE has never given Brock Lesnar a prioritized spot on any card since he first joined the main roster, but he's been one of the most successful, constant top talents the company has booked.
On the rare instances The Beast Incarnate wasn't the WrestleMania main event, it was largely due to him not actually being on the card at all.
Lesnar could be one of the candidates to face Reigns for what feels like the millionth time. If that's the case, WWE has already given those two the main event twice, so a third would be expected.
With the way WWE treats him like a savior who is worth more for a few appearances a year than more than a dozen talents make in 12 months combined, Lesnar will still be in the running to main-event The Show of Shows even if he's fighting a broom.
Prior to Big E beating him for the WWE Championship, there was a solid chance Bobby Lashley would be in the main event of WrestleMania 38.
In fact, it seemed as though the return of Lesnar could have meant WWE could have gotten around to finally doing Lashley vs. Lesnar, which has been talked about for ages.
Now that The All Mighty is no longer holding the title, betting on him in the main event has become much riskier.
CM Punk was already mentioned as someone who lost the WWE title at SummerSlam, only to be holding it again by the time WrestleMania came around a few months later. For all we know, WWE intends on having Lashley beat Big E for the title at Extreme Rules or sometime prior to Royal Rumble.
After the dominant year he's had, The All Mighty deserves to be on the list as a possible candidate more than most, even if it's harder now to imagine everything lining up for him to win the title again.
Surprisingly, Booker T and CM Punk were never in the main event of WrestleMania, but Lawrence Taylor and King Kong Bundy were. No matter how big you are at any particular moment, you still might not go on last.
Still, there's no telling what the future has in store. KofiMania wasn't a thing until a few weeks prior to WrestleMania 35 and if it wasn't for the women's Triple Threat match, Kofi Kingston could have been in the main event that year.
Some other names in WWE who could easily find themselves in the main event if a few things go their way include:
Goldberg is Big E's dream opponent and WWE keeps paying him for more appearances. Twice in the past five years, he's entered WrestleMania with one of the two top titles, so don't count him out of the title hunt.
John Cena is always at the top of the card if he is able to work it into his schedule. It's doubtful, considering how busy he's been in Hollywood, but if WWE can pull it off, he's in the running.
Seth Rollins is in the same boat as Drew McIntyre in that they've seen the mountain top to varying degrees, but they aren't currently the go-to guys. Their luck may change and see them back as challengers or champions, but there are probably greater priorities.
It would be nice to see Keith Lee rise the ranks, especially if he won the men's Royal Rumble match as a babyface. WWE might not be able to resist the urge to turn him heel, though, but that could lend itself to him being a great opponent for Big E.
AJ Styles is always a win. Giving him a true main event spot, rather than his cinematic Boneyard match against The Undertaker could also be a negotiating tactic to show how valuable and respected he is.
Edge managed to win the men's Rumble match from the first entry spot to earn a title bout in the main event of this year's WrestleMania. Who's to say The Ultimate Opportunist won't find another way to get a headline match in 2022?
Last, but not least, is the potential for a match between Riddle and Randy Orton. Whenever RK-Bro splits, a clash between the two is inevitable.
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.