Braun Strowman

Braun Strowman

WrestleMania 34 is about a month away.

Usually, at this point, most of the matches on WWE's annual supercard are pretty apparent, if not official. But aside from a match or two, this WrestleMania is still very much a guessing game.

And that's a good thing — so far.

Let's start with Braun Strowman. WWE's breakout monster is in the midst of an enjoyable feud with another hotly received Raw newcomer, Elias. Their prop comedy and hands-catching could just as easily spill over into a featured singles match, The Miz's Intercontinental Championship defense or the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It's unclear.

But Strowman is reportedly being kept in this limbo because WWE wants to be able to slot him into another match: Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship defense against Roman Reigns. And the company wants the 385-pound backup plan, the report goes, because it's worried that Lesnar won't do business on his way back to UFC and/or Reigns will be tied to a steroid distribution ring.

I'm skeptical of the report. Lesnar can be an asshole, but he has enough respect for the business not to no-show his conquest by Reigns, which has been four long, stubborn years in the making. (Imagine the Undertaker's reaction to his streak being wasted like that.) And the filmmaker claiming to have outed Reigns seems like a bit of a sensationalist. 

Regardless, Strowman benefits from the question mark hanging over him. He's already one of the most popular superstars on Raw, but without a WrestleMania date, fans may feel like they can influence his fate by getting even louder, a la Daniel Bryan in 2014. Besides, having an opponent so far out from a show tends to produce wheel-spinning TV. Every little bit of mystery helps.

Also in flux is Asuka, whose Royal Rumble win allows her to choose whether to face the Raw or Smackdown women's champion at WrestleMania.

Though reports favor Charlotte, I could just as easily see the Empress of Tomorrow picking Alexa Bliss. The Raw champion dropped a non-title fall to Asuka early this year, but her Elimination Chamber win and KO of her would-be challenger on Monday have regenerated interest in the match. That'd free up Charlotte to face several Smackdown women, giving them a spot on the prestigious card.

But Charlotte is directionless, and her facing Asuka is the kind of marquee match ideal for WrestleMania. Plus it'd free up Bliss to face Nia Jax, paying off the story of the diminutive champion ducking her monstrous friend for the better part of the last year. And it'd keep Asuka and her undefeated streak the hell away from Ronda Rousey and her inevitable steamrolling of the Raw women's roster.

Maybe the most exciting WrestleMania wild card, though, is John Cena. And that's by virtue of him being John Cena: Whomever his opponent, it's going to be a big deal.

Monday, Cena teased challenging the man fans have wanted him to face at WrestleMania for years: the Undertaker. Though he quickly walked back the possibility, fans have been abuzz anyway: Why would he mention the Dead Man if he's not going to face him? Or is the Undertaker really retired, and WWE was just going out of its way to snuff out the rumor?

The uncertainty of Cena's WrestleMania opponent puts some intrigue behind his addition to the WWE Championship fray at Fastlane. If nothing else, fans will watch to see if Cena's WrestleMania opponent — The Undertaker? Samoa Joe? — costs him the match. Or maybe WWE will pull Batista away from his "Infinity War"-promoting duties for a Hollywood-sized WrestleMania feature with Cena.

WWE prides itself on being a place where anything can happen, so it's no surprise that its biggest show of the year is the most tantalizing when it really feels like that's the case.

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.



Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.