Wrestlemania is tomorrow! We’re right around the corner, and there is still one intriguing mystery about the grandest stage of them all. That’s what I’m going to be discussing in this Spotlight, because I’m looking at the Raw Tag Team Championship match between the defending champions Cesaro & Sheamus and Braun Strowman and his secret partner.
Cesaro and Sheamus were put together as an apparently random pairing of two superstars who weren’t doing much. But what a revelation they’ve been. Over 18 months they’ve put on great matches with The New Day, The Hardy Boyz and Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose. The division needed new blood after The New Day’s record setting title reign, and on the Raw side of things the European duo have picked up the mantle and ran with it.
At the turn of this year it became quite apparent that Cesaro & Sheamus were going to be holding the titles going into Wrestlemania, but there was a bit of a question mark over who their opponents would be. Seth Rollins and a partner had been tried and tested by that point, and the only remaining team they hadn’t already done battle with was The Revival, who haven’t been pushed whatsoever because of various injury troubles.
But we got the answer to that question when a battle royal was held to decide the number one contenders. But it was a shocking result as Braun Strowman entered, on his own, and won. The next week Kurt Angle decreed that Strowman would need a partner to get his shot, but we’re now just over 24 hours away from the show and we still have no idea who that partner will be.
There has been a lot of speculation. It could be literally anyone who hasn’t been announced for another match on the card, anyone from NXT, or any legend who is currently fit and healthy and not currently under contract with another company.
That would appear to rule out one of the rumoured names: Rey Mysterio. The idea was apparently going to be that it was one of WWE’s biggest superstars teaming up with the man who would be their smallest. Mysterio got a huge pop at the Royal Rumble, which reportedly sparked negotiations between Mysterio and WWE for a match, but Mysterio recently partially tore a bicep. That took him out of his announced match for New Japan at Long Beach, and should take him out of any Wrestlemania match.
Cass and Joe would both be in the same role as a monster partner for the monster among men. An unstoppable duo a la Kane and Big Show in 2005, the Brothers of Destruction in 2001 or Undertaker and Big Show in 1999. Cass would benefit from that spot more than Joe – it would be an underwhelming Mania surprise but it would be great for Cass. He would be thrown right back into prominence, and the eventual dissolution of the team (whether that’s the same night, the next night or months down the line) would make for an interesting match.
Jeff Hardy would be a hell of an interesting mix, but I feel like he has to go back with Matt. Especially after his cameo in the Ultimate Deletion. It just makes too much sense for him to go back to Matt’s Woken wonderfulness.
On the note of the Ultimate Deletion, one name that has also been bandied about is Bray Wyatt. He hasn’t been seen on TV since being deleted, and the rumour mill was filled with speculation that he was being repackaged. He has a history with Strowman, having brought him on to the main roster as part of the Wyatt Family. This would actually make a lot of sense, as Wyatt could also have been turned face at several times over the last few years. Maybe now is the time to pull the trigger.
The other option would be to bring someone back from the past who is going to be a full timer, something Rey Mysterio wouldn’t be anyway. There have been very, very strong rumours that Bobby Lashley will rejoin the company, and it’s a matter of when and not if. Lashley, with his physque, could play the same role as Joe or Cass would equally well, and would make a better future opponent for Strowman than Cass would.
He was released from his Impact Wrestling contract in the middle of January, but crucially his final Impact appearance finally aired recently. It’s not a coincidence that even though he had already signed, EC3 didn’t make his NXT TV return until after he was seen to be done on Impact. Lashley has presumably been in the same boat, and while he hasn’t built up the same notoriety outside of WWE as the Broken Hardys did ahead of their Wrestlemania return last year, Lashley is easily reputable enough to count as a Wrestlemania surprise.
For me, I would love to see Bray Wyatt be the mystery man, if only to see what they do with him. I think if I was to pick the three most likely candidates, it’s Big Show, Bray Wyatt and Bobby Lashley in that order.
But in terms of where the titles end up, does it matter who Strowman’s partner is?
Winning the titles would keep Strowman away form Reigns for a while, which is going to be crucial to help both men in the long run. And a decent reign with a partner as an oddball pairing gives him a natural story when they split up – maybe leading to a SummerSlam match later this year.
But equally it almost feels like his push over the last 18 months warrants more than a tag team title run. It feels like he’s ready to be at the top of a show, whether that’s on Raw or SmackDown. And with the potential of The Revival, the Woken Hardys and one of the Authors of Pain or Sanity coming up from NXT, it’s not like Raw needs Strowman +1 to fill out the tag division as challengers to Cesaro & Sheamus.
You know, in the course of writing this article I think I’ve talked myself into believing that Braun Strowman and whoever his partner will be will walk out as the new Raw Tag Team Champions. The only mystery partner he could have that wouldn’t be hurt by losing is Big Show, and there’s a bigger long term payoff if Braun’s partner turns on hm further down the line, and not tomorrow night costing them the match in the process. It wouldn’t make sense for them to agree to tag with him and then turn on him on the first night.
So that’s what I’m going to end this with. I think that we will see new Raw Tag Team Champions tomorrow night. Braun Strowman… and his partner. Whoever that turns out to be.