May 20, 2024

WrestleMania weekend is here. The self-proclaimed greatest spectacle in all of sports is back for a two-night stint inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with a pair of massive match cards on tap for the 38th edition. For the third straight year, the festivities will be split up over two nights with just about every major star on the roster taking part.

The biggest event planned for Night 1 may actually not be a match. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is set to appear at WrestleMania 38, where he’ll be a guest on Kevin Owens’ “KO Show.” Owens has repeatedly made fun of Austin and his home state of Texas, so the expectation is that things between the two will quickly turn physical.

Plus, both women’s champions will be defending their titles during Night 1. Raw women’s champion Becky Lynch is set to defend her belt against Bianca Belair while Charlotte Flair will put her SmackDown women’s title on the line against Ronda Rousey.

Let’s take a closer look at who our CBS Sports experts predict will come out on top at Night 1 of WWE WrestleMania 38, which begins at 8 p.m. and streams live on Peacock following a kickoff show one hour earlier. Our expert predictions for Night 2 can be found here.

2022 WWE WrestleMania 38 Night 1 predictions

Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin

A feud with Corbin and Madcap Moss that has stretched on for months is, of course, a large step back from previous WrestleManias for McIntyre. Still, it’s obvious WWE still sees him as a guy who belongs in the main event, so the Corbin rivalry has been a way to keep the Scot on television until it’s time to be elevated again. Corbin has become a heel who can be slotted in anywhere, lose the big blowoff match and just move on to antagonizing another babyface. There’s no reason for McIntyre to take a loss here. Pick: Drew McIntyre wins — Brent Brookhouse

The entire build to McIntyre vs. Corbin revolves around Corbin’s sneak attacks and unwillingness to meet McIntyre head-on. The payoff is simple: McIntyre finally puts a whooping on his foe. McIntyre should be featured in a rivalry with greater stakes. Hopefully, a relatively one-sided win over Corbin sets McIntyre up for a big run post-WrestleMania. Pick: Drew McIntyre wins — Shakiel Mahjouri

SmackDown Tag Team Championship — The Usos (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs

This could absolutely slot in as a standard “faces go over at WrestleMania” match. That said, I don’t know that Nakamura and Boogs are the ones who end the Usos’ lengthy run as champions. Nakamura and Boogs are an act WWE seems to like but it’s hard to ignore that Nakamura had a recent 182-day run with the intercontinental championship and only defended the belt once between winning and losing the title. Pick: The Usos retain the titles — Brookhouse

The Usos have been a fundamental component of SmackDown as record-setting SmackDown Tag Team champions alongside record-setting Universal champion Roman Reigns. Based on recent booking, the WWE seems to believe in Boogs (despite the team’s presentation as somewhat of a comedy act). Nakamura is also coming off a recent Intercontinental title run and could be seen as a viable tag team champion. One could make the argument that a more cohesive tag team should have been built to dethrone Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso, but something tells me WWE makes the switch on Saturday night. Pick: Nakamura & Boogs win the titles — Mahjouri

The New Day vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland

Big E’s fractured neck is an unfortunate shadow over this match but likely has no impact on the booking for who wins. It’d be easy to say the presence of Butch at ringside will tilt the scales the direction of Sheamus and Holland. But WrestleMania is generally about feel-good moments and putting the fan-favorite team over in an otherwise meaningless midcard match is a good play to continue that tradition. Pick: The New Day win — Brookhouse

WWE was working towards a New Day reunion and a six-man tag team match. Unfortunately, Big E suffered a terrible injury weeks ago on SmackDown and is recovering from a broken neck. Between E’s injury, the sloppy inclusion of Butch, and the New Day reunion angle, all signs point to a fan-friendly victory for Kingston and Woods. Pick: The New Day wins — Mahjouri

The Miz & Logan Paul vs. The Mysterios

Generally, it’s a safe bet that a celebrity gets the win in these spots. But Paul is an extremely unlikeable person and he aided Miz in stealing Rey Mysterios mask. Those two factors should be enough to say “The Mysterios get the win.” I expect the match to be fine because WWE is good at laying out matches for celebrities where you think “Wow! He really can wrestle!” But this should be all Mysterios. Pick: The Mysterios win — Brookhouse

There is no reality in the sprawling multiverse cruel enough to subject WWE fans to a Logan Paul victory at WrestleMania. Rey Mysterio is one of pro-wrestling and sports entertainment’s most enduring good guys. The Miz and Paul are easily dislikable foils for a father-son tandem that should leave WrestleMania with their hands raised. Pick: The Mysterios win — Mahjouri

Seth Rollins vs. TBA

The only surprise here would be if Rollins’ mystery opponent is not a returning Cody Rhodes. It will be, though, and with that in mind, there should be no mystery on the winner. The worst thing they could do in bringing Rhodes back after his time on the indies and as a founding part of AEW would be for him to lose the night he returns to the promotion. This should be a no-brainer. Pick: Cody Rhodes wins — Brookhouse

Fans will be deeply disappointed if WWE pulls a bait-and-switch, failing to produce former AEW executive vice president Cody Rhodes. Having built himself into a serious player since wiping off the Stardust face paint in 2016, Rhodes has molded himself into a character that is believable as a top player in the WWE. It is paramount that WWE gives Rhodes the nod over Rollins. It would terribly stifle Rhodes’ momentum to debut and lose but, more importantly, this is an opportunity for WWE to show disgruntled members of the AEW roster that they can succeed in the WWE. Pick: Cody Rhodes wins — Mahjouri

Raw Women’s Championship — Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair

There’s really no way for WWE to “make good” on having Lynch beat Belair in a matter of seconds at SummerSlam. That said, the only justifiable “conclusion” to Belair’s story would be to win back the title on the big stage. Anything less would be pretty awful. It also wouldn’t hurt Lynch to leave TV for a bit and retool her on-screen character because she’s lost a lot of the magic that had made her such a force in the past. Pick: Bianca Belair wins the title — Brookhouse

Bianca Belair was robbed of a serious championship run at the expense of a returning Becky Lynch. “Big Time Becks” hasn’t quite recaptured the feverish fandom of her prior babyface run as “The Man.” Belair’s redemption over a villainous Lynch is the perfect conclusion to a rivalry that has persisted since SummerSlam in August. Pick: Bianca Belair wins the title — Mahjouri

SmackDown Women’s Championship — Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

Rousey’s return to WWE has not been the smashing success many expected, and to be fair, much of it is that the entire story of Flair vs. Rousey has been a critical flop. The fans also aren’t exactly behind Rousey these days. Still, it’s hard to see any way this match doesn’t end with Rousey’s hand raised and a championship wrapped around her waist once again. Pick: Ronda Rousey wins the title — Brookhouse

Rousey recently made a triumphant return at the Royal Rumble in January and immediately entered a top program against Charlotte Flair. Do not expect the company to halt her momentum now. Flair will make a strong showing of herself but, when it’s all said and done, Rousey will emerge as the new SmackDown women’s champion.  Pick: Ronda Rousey wins the title

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