Welcome another edition of the March to WrestleMania 35, breaking down the environment around all the championships heading into the biggest show of the year to set the tone for 1) recapping how we got to this point, 2) discussing possible plans for WrestleMania and 3) guessing where this all going to end up once WrestleMania has concluded.
This post will be covering everything I can think of surrounding the United States Championship.
Let’s start with what we already know…
THE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
Who is the current champion?
Samoa Joe defeated R-Truth (as well as Andrade and Rey Mysterio) in a Fatal 4-Way match on March 5th to win the championship—his first title on the main roster.
Since he’s in the absolute infancy of his title reign, there hasn’t been any time to establish anything beyond what Joe already brought to the table before winning the championship. By that, I mean he has a history of dominance, but also a poor track record in big time matches on Raw and SmackDown.
More often than not, Joe comes up short when there are stakes, so is he going to be the type of champion he was in NXT where he actually ruled the landscape with purpose, or will he fall victim to the mistakes of the past two years and drop this belt sooner than most would anticipate?
Who will challenge for the title at WrestleMania?
In my mind, there are three potential ways this goes down.
Option A: R-Truth has been calling a lot of attention to John Cena and his lineage with the United States Championship. Joe hasn’t put as much focus on Cena, but he’s name-dropped him, too. Even Zelina Vega has brought his name up this past week. All signs would point to Cena being the challenger, particularly as he and Joe have stated numerous times that they’d like to work together, and were even slated to fight around Royal Rumble last year before Joe suffered an injury that got in the way of that. WWE can even play around with this by doing somewhat of the reverse of what Cena did last year. Instead of Cena asking for The Undertaker to fight, Joe can have a US Open Challenge and it can be answered by Cena. The only thing getting in the way of this would be if Cena is Kurt Angle’s choice for his final opponent. If Cena isn’t facing Angle in his retirement match, I think he’ll be fighting for the United States title.
Option B: Rey Mysterio scored a pin over Joe this past week on SmackDown. More often than not, WWE uses this trope to set up a title shot. However, Mysterio’s had multiple in the past few weeks, so wouldn’t it be underwhelming if after seeing these two fight so many times, Joe vs. Mysterio is all WWE has planned for WrestleMania?
Option C: WWE might put even less effort into this and do the lazy method of throwing a bunch of people together in a multi-man match. This could include Mysterio, Andrade, R-Truth, Kevin Owens, Mustafa Ali and any others they feel need to be on the card and don’t want to put in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
What happens at and after WrestleMania?
If it’s a multi-man match, I think Joe retains and it’s as much of a throwaway as you can get. That’s the safest route for Joe out of the options I presented above.
If it’s Mysterio in a solo match, there’s certainly a possibility we see a new champion crowned, as it wouldn’t surprise me at all if WWE felt the itch to put a belt on Mysterio very soon. However, I think we could see Mysterio against Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at an event like Backlash, so I don’t know if I’d lean in that direction.
If it’s Cena who gets the match, that’s a bit tricky. My brain tells me that since Cena is a part-timer, Joe is the logical winner of that match. However, my gut tells me WWE wouldn’t want to have Cena come up short in that scenario and would rather put the title on him and have Cena drop the United States Championship the very next night on Raw or the next episode of SmackDown, or possibly even at the Saudi Arabia show on May 3rd (if Cena agrees to go), rather than just have Joe win.
As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think Joe will have a long title reign. We could see him move over to the Monday Night Raw roster in the Superstar Shake-up, so depending on what is set up for WrestleMania, I could definitely see a new champion being crowned.
Keep the discussion going by leaving your comments below and telling us what you think about this title situation for WrestleMania 35!