So far, only three people have been confirmed for the 6th annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match at WrestleMania 35: Braun Strowman and Saturday Night Live cast members Colin Jost and Michael Che.
However, the entire purpose of this match is to act as a funnel for everybody who doesn’t have another spot on the card, meaning we can expect well over 20 superstars currently on the sidelines to participate in some fashion, whether or not they’re announced ahead of time.
In past years, winners have ranged from all over the betting pool with Cesaro (an up-and-comer), Big Show (an obvious pick and legend), Baron Corbin (a surprise NXT star), Mojo Rawley (a midcarder with a celebrity friend) and Matt Hardy (a veteran who formed a partnership with a returning enemy during this match). Anything can happen regarding who competes in the ATGMBR and the win is certainly up for grabs as anybody from Curt Hawkins to Shaquille O’Neal has a shot.
So out of all the potential candidates, who are some of the best bets and most logical choices to walk out of WrestleMania with the win? Here are my top 5 options:
1) Braun Strowman
Let’s not play any games and just get the most obvious one out of the way first, because right now, Strowman is not only the single legitimate star advertised for this match, he’s also likely to be the largest.
The Monster Among Men continually fails to win the big matches, save for last year’s Raw Tag Team Championship victory, but the ATGMBR has been proven over the past five years to not actually matter all that much to WWE, so there’s no reason to believe he’ll come up short on this. Winning has no bearing on anything going forward. It isn’t a championship they’d need to book around when they prefer Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar, which has killed Strowman’s big match percentage in the past two years.
Having Jost and Che in this also dictates one of two things happens: either they last until the end with Strowman and have their moment in the ring after everybody else has been thrown out, or they are immediately tossed aside and the match resumes after they’re disposed of.
I’m more willing to bank on the former, and in that scenario, Strowman is not going to lose to them. He would be the last man standing and the winner, posing tall while the commentary team puts over how Jost and Che shouldn’t have pissed him off.
There’s still a chance that someone runs in and tosses Strowman over the top rope to win the match after that, though, which brings us to the other possible choices.
2) Lars Sullivan
If there is one person who can win this match by screwing over Strowman at the very last minute, my money is on Lars Sullivan.
Supposedly, he was penciled in for a match against John Cena for this show, which never came to fruition due to his panic attack and subsequent removal from his scheduled push to the main roster. We’ve yet to see him at all, he hasn’t been mentioned in months, and yet, WWE continues to say that they haven’t given up on him.
Perhaps the game plan changed to “you can win the ATGMBR and that’s how we’ll debut you, so you can look really strong.” Then, The Freak can start a program with The Monster Among Men, and it pretty much writes itself. Strowman puts over Sullivan, who looks like a true force to be reckoned with after beating such a big guy in Strowman, which makes him a possible contender for Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns—whichever superstar is holding the Universal Championship after Brock Lesnar (I’m not convinced it’s Rollins).
This would check off numerous things, being that he’s big so it makes sense why he could win, he’d be a surprise entrant, this would give him a good jumping point for his push and it’s not too deep of a commitment that WWE would be hesitant to pull the trigger on him.
3) Kevin Owens
Clearly, the plan for the WWE Championship for WrestleMania wasn’t Kofi Kingston until somewhat recently, as he wasn’t even scheduled to be in the Elimination Chamber match, but WWE opted to go with the momentum and swap him with Kevin Owens for Fastlane.
This means as much as it’s a good thing Kingston is getting what he deserves, Owens had to have his title match ripped away from him in order for that to happen. Since then, KO hasn’t been set up for any alternative match on the already stacked card, so we can assume he’ll be competing in this match.
Owens is a big star that could have easily headlined WrestleMania 33 against Chris Jericho, so he shouldn’t be completely irrelevant on the card, and giving him a victory in this match would be a consolation prize, of sorts.
Sure, it doesn’t mean anywhere near as much as a title match, but he wasn’t going to beat Daniel Bryan anyway, so at least if he wins the ATGMBR, he’d be a victor and add something else to his list of accolades, right?
Owens is also the type of wrestler who knows how to work with what he’s been given, so he might be the best person suited in the history of ATGMBR winners to actually be able to turn that win into something good, instead of just fading into obscurity several weeks into May.
Speaking of people having their WrestleMania match taken away from them, Andrade is another who was scheduled for something grander than what he’s currently advertised for (which is nothing).
Supposedly, the plan was for Andrade to face Rey Mysterio in a Hair vs. Mask match on the grandest stage of them all, yet we can see that WWE opted to go for Mysterio challenging Samoa Joe for the United States Championship instead. It’s pretty clear that was a rather late decision, as it seemed pretty definitive that Joe had put Mysterio behind him by beating him in their previous Fatal 4-Way.
Now, Andrade’s feud with Mysterio has been put on the backburner and he has nothing to do.
I’m of the opinion that I think that feud will still continue, and they’re only holding off on doing it until post-Mania, which may or may not have the United States Championship involved in it, but in the meantime, Andrade is most likely going to be just another competitor in this match with no fanfare.