Wrestlemania 34 promises to be a cracker

Asuka (left) takes on Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women's championship, while Shinsuke Nakamura (right) will face defending champion AJ Styles.
Asuka (left) takes on Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women's championship, while Shinsuke Nakamura (right) will face defending champion AJ Styles.PHOTOS: WWE

NEW ORLEANS - History looks set to be made at WWE's annual marquee event Wrestlemania.

For the first time in the company's history, two Japanese wrestlers - one male and one female - are poised to win professional wrestling's richest prizes. Shinsuke Nakamura will face defending champion AJ Styles for the WWE championship, while the much-touted Asuka takes on Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women's championship.

Nakamura, a 16-year ring veteran who honed his skills in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), continues his rivalry with Styles, a feud that started when both were still in NJPW.

Asuka, widely acknowledged as the top female wrestler today, boasts a two-and-a-half year undefeated streak since arriving in the WWE. That streak is now on the line against the technically proficient Charlotte, daughter of legendary wrestler Ric Flair.

Emanating from the Big Easy in New Orleans, some 75,000 fans from around the world are expected to pack the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday (Monday morning, Singapore time) for the big show.

"AJ and I have changed a lot since our last match two years ago. I have gained a lot of experience. I've beaten Sami Zayn and Randy Orton and won the Royal Rumble. Our Wrestlemania match is not our final match, it's one match," said Nakamura in a interview.

"Asuka is doing great, still undefeated. If we both win the titles, we will be creating history," he predicted.

Another notable match sees former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star Ronda Rousey making her WWE match debut. The 31-year-old will team with Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle to face the heinous pair of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

Rousey recently made the switch to professional wrestling, inking a full-time contract with WWE. Her last two UFC fights had resulted in defeats, prompting much speculation about her future in the sport. Her transition to WWE has since produced a mixed bag of results.

Rousey's awkwardness on the microphone and inability to act has led to fans scratching their heads. Fans will have to wait till Wrestlemania to see how she fares as a wrestler.

Another match that has piqued fans' interest is the one where reigning WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar defends his title against Roman Reigns, Lesnar has been the champion since Wrestlemania last year.

Lesnar, who's heavily rumoured to return to UFC where he's a former heavyweight champion, faces backlash from fans who see him as a mercenary.

And for the first time, female wrestlers will compete in a Wrestlemania battle royal. The winner takes home a large trophy and bragging rights.

WWE superstar Sasha Banks, whose simmering tension with former best friend Bayley has produced an interesting dynamic, said: "My strategy is to maybe eliminate Bayley over the rope and win it."

Laughed Bayley: "I want to do better than the Royal Rumble because I got eliminated in a couple of minutes by my best friend (Banks) so I'm going to have eyes in the back of my head."

"Wrestlemania is always an exciting time for us and our fans."

Catch Wrestlemania live'' on the WWE Network on Monday 5am, or on Starhub Video-on-Demand on Monday 10pm onwards.