The show must go on. At least for now, the WWE has decided that they will still produce their biggest event of the year — Wrestlemania. Raymond James Stadium is out, as the coronavirus pandemic has made gathering 50,000-plus fans in a stadium a mass public health hazard at best.
Instead, WWE has decided to pre-tape the show and shoot it at various locations. They will use the Performance Center, but they will also use other match-specific locations since crowds are no longer a variable they have to work with. The show will be spread out over two days, which is good news, as Wrestlemania has run for over seven hours more than once.
The odds will likely come off the board if any of the pre-taped matches get leaked, so be prepared to lock in your plays as soon as you finish reading this. For the purposes of this best bets article, we will take a look at the most intriguing matchups of the evening using the odds from William Hill Sportsbook. Let’s dig in.
WWE Championship Match
Brock Lesnar (+275) vs. Drew McIntyre (-400)
The odds tell the story here. While William Hill does not give an indication of what these odds opened at, it sits as high as -300 at other books, which is still telling. Vince McMahon would have much preferred to give Drew his crowning moment in front of the tens of thousands at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, but with the way the WWE handles and plans its booking, it’s very unlikely that they break from the original script. McIntyre has been getting the Roman Reigns type of push since his return to WWE, and with crowds finally warming up to him, “the grandest stage of them all” remains where he is expected to take home the championship gold. While -400 are not great odds, the win probability for McIntyre is high enough for us to compare it to a Yankees home game against the Orioles. The juice is heavy, but you only need to look at the next match on this list to understand that there’s still some semblance of value in this line.
Pick: Drew McIntyre (-400)
Universal Championship Match
Goldberg (+800) vs. Roman Reigns (-2000)
Editor’s Note: Roman Reigns withdrew from Wrestlemania on Thursday night due to Coronavirus concerns.
Roman Reigns is the overwhelming and cost-prohibitive favorite to win this match. The -2000 line on a scripted event is a tough sell, especially since the WWE has been willing to throw curveballs recently, but there’s still value here for income bettors. How much you can make on this match depends on your unit size, bankroll, and risk aversion. Just remember to be responsible. Goldberg defeating The Fiend for the Universal Championship is one of the curveballs we mentioned, as no one in their right mind believed that WWE would be silly enough to put another championship on a part-timer, especially one who has had some horrible matches during his twilight years. More gimmick than wrestler for the majority of his career, a closed set match may be best for everyone involved in this matchup. There will be no fans to boo if some of the spots do not go well, and we will not get the inevitable mixed reaction when Roman Reigns is eventually named the winner.
Pick: Roman Reigns (-2000)
Raw Women’s Championship Match
Becky Lynch (+120) vs. Shayna Baszler (-163)
Shayna Baszler is the favorite to win this matchup, but with the WWE’s booking of the Women’s division, nothing can be certain. It would be almost criminal if Vince McMahon put a halt to the work Triple H and NXT put into Baszler on the Yellow and Black brand, but some would argue that he already made a mess of things with the handling of the Women’s Royal Rumble. Baszler has proven to be a good heel and could make a good program with Becky Lynch, but with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the future of WWE’s live event schedule, Lynch might just pull one out. The odds reflect this, too, as Baszler is listed at just -163 at William Hill Sportsbook. With that said, Baszler is still the play for this match.
Pick: Shayna Baszler (-163)
SmackDown Women’s Championship Six-Pack Challenge
Bayley (+138) vs. Sasha Banks (+163) vs. Lacey Evans (+450) vs. Naomi (+450) vs. Dana Brooke (+6600) vs. Tamina (+10000)
The original plan for this matchup was for WWE fans to finally get the long-awaited Wrestlemania face-off between the two women who put NXT Women’s wrestling on the map — Sasha Banks and Bayley. A Sasha injury changed those plans, however, as the powers that be concluded that there was not enough time to build toward a Wrestlemania one-on-one match. This match could be used to set up an eventual one-on-one encounter between the two stars at Summerslam. While one of them is expected to be holding the title if and when that event comes around, how we get there is still up in the air.
While we will likely see a Sasha turn in this matchup, it may come in a different form than we expect. Traditionally, it would be Sasha who turned heel when both were working as faces. With both wrestlers now heels, we may see Bayley instead do Sasha dirty in order to retain her title, in turn making Sasha the babyface for the Summerslam event that’s tentatively scheduled to take place in her hometown of Boston. She would get heavy cheers in Boston regardless of who WWE wanted to be the heel if the event were live, so this was likely the plan they originally had when WWE learned that Sasha would indeed be cleared for Wrestlemania.
While Lacey Evans has an outside chance to take advantage of the storyline tension that will build between the two in the match and win the title, she would not enter Summerslam with the strap. Vince McMahon loves Lacey Evans’ look and background, and he has given her the type of push normally reserved for his chosen ones in the men’s division. The most likely scenario remains a Bayley win. Lock her in as soon as possible, as Dana Brooke (quarantine) should soon be officially removed from this match, which would likely move Bayley from plus money to around -140.
Pick: Bayley (+138)
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Rhea Ripley (-250) vs. Charlotte Flair (+175)
Giving Vince McMahon creative control over any NXT match is a scary proposition. Rhea Ripley has been positioned as the next big thing in the women’s division, even more so than Shayna Baszler was in her dominant NXT run. McMahon has spoon-fed Charlotte Flair throughout her career, and with NXT now on cable instead of just the WWE Network, you can bet that he has at least considered making Flair the NXT Women’s Champion in order to drive ratings. Flair is not a draw for the NXT audience, but McMahon may hope to pull in more of the casual main roster fans and allow NXT to compete, or perhaps even beat, AEW’s Dynamite. Ripley should be scripted to get the win here as it would set her up well for her eventual main roster ascension, and it would give the company a ready-made angle to work with if Survivor Series takes place later this year.
Should does not mean much when McMahon is involved, however, so we could just as easily see Flair take the title and pour cold water on Ripley’s flame. Ripley has the look, size, demeanor, and in-ring skills to be a long term nemesis for Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, so WWE would be wise not to waste her on an empty stadium Wrestlemania. Remember, McMahon allowed Charlotte to end Asuka’s Goldberg-like run, and he also forced Flair into last year’s main event between Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey, so anything is possible.
Pick: Rhea Ripley (-250)
A.J. Styles (+250) vs. The Undertaker (-600)
It’s about time that WWE put The Undertaker in a match with an elite-level in-ring worker. He is too old to carry a match, and he needs a good heel with an insane work rate to work the various spots to get any of his matches over. Enter A.J. Styles, who is arguably the top worker that was not on an NXT roster in the last year. Styles and ‘Taker have done a good job at building their feud, and they have an interesting concept to work with in what the WWE calls a “boneyard match.” The matchup’s concept has not been revealed, but most expect that it’ll combine elements from a Buried Alive match and a Hardy Compound match.
The Undertaker is going to win this matchup, and the odds reflect this. This is one of the more certain outcomes of Wrestlemania, which makes the -600 still look like a value when compared to the -2000 that Roman Reigns currently sits at. Go for a partial-unit return if you decide to place some action on the outcome of this matchup. While -600 is a value, there is still a high enough probability that they look to extend this feud with a Styles win (with help from The O.C.) that laying six units to win one does not make for good use of your bankroll.
Pick: The Undertaker (-600)
John Cena (+200) vs. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt (-275)
John Cena committed to coming back in an attempt to make a big splash at Wrestlemania prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, and he intends to honor his commitment despite being forced to wrestle with no fans in attendance. The latest on this match suggests that it will be filmed with a movie production style — and that it will take place in a warehouse similar to the House of Horrors match. The Fiend is expected to win this matchup, as Cena will have no issues about putting a second-generation wrestler like Wyatt (the son of Mike Rotunda, aka I.R.S.) over at a show like Wrestlemania. Cena is always willing to give back to the business that helped propel him to success in life after wrestling. Listed as high as -380 at other books, this is a line to jump on sooner rather than later.
Pick: ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt (-275)
Kevin Owens (-150) vs. Seth Rollins (+110)
This is the one match where the underdog is expected to win. Seth Rollins is one of the top workers in the company, and he has been positioned as one of the top heels after the Monday night crowds turned against him due to poor booking. This match truly could go either way. Kevin Owens should get the win based on how they are trying to position him, but making Rollins drop this match would all but put out the flame WWE has been fanning with Rollins as their top heel. Owens can put up top-level matches, but it’s unknown if Vince McMahon will be willing to make Rollins drop a match at such a high-profile event.
Pick: Seth Rollins (+110)
Edge (-450) vs. Randy Orton (+300)
There are quite a few other matches on tap for Wrestlemania, but the one of most interest is Edge versus Randy Orton. It’s sure to be an exciting matchup due to the excellent build the two had. Edge is likely only going to work a couple of shows for WWE, so it only makes sense that he agreed to come back with the understanding that he would win this match at Wrestlemania. While -450 is heavier juice than one would like, it makes sense when given the win probability. Lock in Edge before William Hill takes this one off the board.
Pick: Edge (-450)