Following a successful defence of his Intercontinental Title at Fastlane this past Sunday, Big E looks set to enter Wrestlemania 37 as champion. The 35-year-old overcame Apollo Crews in a match that failed to set the world alight and ended in what seemed a botched finish. After the match, Crews took to beating down the champ suggesting that the long-time rivalry between the two is far from over. Their feud may well culminate in one more match on “The Grandest Stage of Them All”.
Though Crews has undoubtedly reinvented himself since turning heel, his luck at capturing the Intercontinental Championship has been disastrous. His record now reads 0-6 in title matches since joining the Blue brand last October and has twice been pinned by the current IC title-holder. While the thought of Crews and Big E facing off one more time isn’t a horrible one, WrestleMania is often the stage for fresh and never before seen match-ups.
Since taking the title off Sami Zayn in December, Big E has only really been forced to defend it against one man. That man is Apollo Crews, with the match for WrestleMania set to see him defend once again against Crews.
However, Smackdown is full of talented superstars who could pose a threat to Big E’s reign.
Rob has put together a list of members of the Smackdown locker room who should have been inserted into the Intercontinental Title picture over the coming weeks, for a chance of pace at WrestleMania.
Smackdown has done a brilliant job recently of giving nearly every member of the locker room a storyline on the road to WrestleMania. However, Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the few superstars who is looking increasingly likely to not make the main card.
When Nakamura initially turned face towards the start of the year, there was hope amongst fans he may be finally getting the push he deserved. Sadly, that hasn’t come to pass and there have been rumours the Japanese superstar has become unhappy behind the scenes.
Entering Nakamura into the Intercontinental Title picture would be a bit disappointing considering how positively he started the year. On the other hand, a match between him and Big E could produce magic in the ring.
This may come as a surprising inclusion on the list, but Jey Uso has been on fire since siding with his cousin Roman Reigns. He has been involved in some of the standout matches on Smackdown this year and has played a crucial role in Reigns’ feuds with the likes of Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan.
While Reigns is set to defend his Universal Title in the main event at Mania, Uso has still yet to be given a match. Could his brother Jimmy return? Possibly. Will we see him face off with Bryan one more time? Perhaps. But no one can deny Uso deserves to be on that card and having him face Big E for the IC title would be an opportunity befitting of the performances he has shown.
After all, it would mean we would have the possibility of both Reigns and Uso walking out of Mania with gold around their waists.
The forgotten man.
It is criminal that WWE can’t find a way to fit Aleister Black into their plans. He remains one of the most talented wrestlers at their disposal but yet they seem reluctant to use him.
Having not appeared on television since October last year, it looks increasingly likely that Black may never return. Allowing him to leave the company would be a huge mistake by the powers that be and one that they would regret. Few wrestlers – if any – possess Black’s in-ring ability.
Bringing him back now so close to Mania remains extremely unlikely. However, Big E deserves to face the best, and Black is the best. These two superstars would steal the show, so Vince, just make it happen.
And… The Most Likely Failsafe: A Ladder Match!
When all else fails, chuck six wrestlers in the ring together with a load of ladders. The IC title has become renowned for being defended in a ladder match at Mania over the years. It would also provide the opportunity for superstars struggling for TV time to make the card.
These matches never fail to disappoint, and with fans back at Mania, WWE should be looking to put on a show. It’s clear Big E is destined for success as a singles competitor and having him overcome five other men to retain his IC title would be a huge statement of intent.