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WWE Day 1: An annual New Year’s tradition?

WWE hopes to create a New Year’s Day tradition with its inaugural Day 1 pay-per-view. What had been a day traditionally dominated by college football has seen other sports such as the NHL work to create their own New Year’s Day events. WWE hopes to make this a successful annual event.

The goal seems to be to replace the December pay-per-view with Day 1. It would give them something between Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble, while also steering clear of the busy holiday season.

The lineup indicates WWE is taking this event seriously. They are going with their single biggest match, Roman Reigns versus Brock Lesnar. Both primary men’s titles are on the line. Stars the company relies on such as Becky Lynch and the team of RK-Bro are defending their championships as well. If this doesn’t succeed, it’s not for a lock of trying.

Here’s a look at the Day 1 card as scheduled. We all hope the recent COVID-19 outbreak does not force any last-minute changes:

TOP SINGLES TITLE MATCHES

Reigns versus Lesnar is the best program the company has working right now. It was expected to be the WrestleMania main event and might still be. The story, mostly developed by Paul Heyman, has maintained its intrigue since SummerSlam.

The real story of this match involves Paul Heyman, the architect of the angle. After his character was fired by Reigns, it was left intentionally ambiguous as to whose side he was on. Heyman is expected to be part of the story at Day 1, but it’s unlikely this story will be completely resolved. Expect more twists and turns with the Royal Rumble and Mania to come.

The payoff to this story is Brock beating Reigns and ending his long run with the Universal title. This doesn’t quite feel like the right time to do it. If they want to make Day 1 end with a bang, however, this would be the way to do it. That would put Reigns in the position of chasing the champion, which hasn’t worked as well as Reigns working to maintain his place at the top of the mountain.

My money is on Reigns finding a way to escape, with Brock having to work his way back to Reigns for WrestleMania.

Meanwhile, the WWE title will be on the line in a four-way. Current Champion Big E is set to defend against Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins. The reason you do a four-way is so you can protect people from doing jobs.

WWE protects Lashely, and has basically turned him babyface over the last couple of weeks. This feels like a match in which the title could switch without the champion losing.

They planted seeds for an Owens-Rollins alliance, which is bound to fall apart. It would make sense for Owens or Rollins to turn on one another and score a pin, leaving E and Lashley protected and creating a title chase.

Becky Lynch will defend her RAW Women’s title against Liv Morgan. The company needs to elevate someone to the Lynch-Charlotte Flair level. Those two need believable rivals other than one another. The company seems to disagree. WWE cut off Bianca Belair and everyone else is portrayed as barely worthy of sharing a ring with Lynch and Flair.

Morgan is not the worker Lynch is, but she connects with fans when she isn’t booked to look stupid. Still, it would be an enormous shock if Morgan were anything more than someone for Lynch to beat.

TAG TEAM TITLE MATCHES

The Usos and the New Day has grown to be one of the top tag team rivalries of the era. The teams have worked with each other many times over the years. This will be a good match for the Usos’ SmackDown tag team titles.

They’ve planted seeds about Reigns not being happy with the Usos’ recent losses. Combined with the New Day’s renewed push with King Xavier, and this could be a place to build more drama within the Bloodline.

On the RAW side, RK-Bro, Randy Orton and Riddle, will defend their championship against the Street Profits. Few people in wrestling are as protected as Orton. Eventually, these two will turn on one another and feud, but Day 1 doesn’t seem to be the place for it. RK-Bro are the favorites to retain here.

GRUDGE MATCHES

The Miz versus Edge is a feud only a McMahon could love. Maryse’s consistent presence indicates the real money match here is a mixed tag team match involving Edge’s wife, Beth Phoenix. That could come at WrestleMania. Do get there, it would necessitate the Miz and Maryse doing something that would require some revenge.

It won’t be easy for Edge to put over Miz in a believable way, but a heel finish seems necessary.  if Edge wins, expect some kind of post-match humiliation to keep the story going.

Drew McIntyre versus Madcap Moss is simply a way to get McIntyre a win. McIntyre will be in the title picture again soon. He’s also expected to be a factor in the Royal Rumble. Dispatching Moss with a clean win will keep him in front of the fans looking strong.

Time will tell if Day 1 becomes a major part of WWE’s annual calendar. The first edition has a strong lineup. A good show could give the company some much-needed momentum going into Rumble-Mania season.

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