Well, that was interesting.
I can’t say that I hated WrestleMania, although that is what I was expecting from the build since January because nothing really caught my interest. Sure, there were wrestlers who I wanted to see perform, but as far as the stories were concerned, I felt they were lackluster, to say the least. But, even with all the shortcomings regarding the booking leading up to last night, I felt that the majority of the card delivered.
It was by no means a perfect WrestleMania. Some things went well, while other things were sort of just there. While I prefer to have most things wrapped up in a bow after an event like WrestleMania, I can understand leaving some things open. This is a new era for WWE, especially with the night after WrestleMania being so huge, and that isn’t mentioning keeping the ball rolling with the WWE Network and it’s subscriber base. I just felt like there were too many questions on what was going to happen going forward.
I think the majority of these issues of feeling unresolved can stem from how the card was set up. For one, management seemed to not have a set plan going into the new year like they did for previous Manias, aside from maybe the Women’s Championship match, and it let this feeling of backwards logic take over the product for the past three months or so. You can’t really blame them for going with their gut in some instances. The Kofi Kingston storyline was really amazing. But for the Kofi storyline, you also have the Hug and Boss Connection winning a new title only to have it lost in a multi-team match that didn’t really tell a bigger story. I know every story isn’t going to hit the same nerves as others, but this is WrestleMania, and it should be an attempt to deliver on all metrics, not just the top of the card.
I think that is the main issue; we no longer are conditioned to care about anything under the top stars. That leaves limited upward mobility for the mid-card to opening wrestlers. This is pretty troubling heading into the fall, when the new television season will force WWE to start making their product appealing to a wider, and more mainstream audience. If they want to deliver on those ratings that FOX is counting on them for, they will have to give people either: A) wrestlers that come across like Superstars on television, or B) stories that captivate their audience enough to get them to stay tuned in and also bring in other viewers. Only time will tell how this will be handled.
But for the most part, I felt pretty positive as the show went off the air. I feel like there is a lot of promise on the horizon, especially with the championship scene getting a bit of a shuffling. Let’s break down my pros and cons, and then we can look towards the future and see what is in store for us as the summer approaches.
JOHN CENA RETURNS TO HIS ROOTS
This was pretty exciting for me, even if it was only a small part of the show. Cena has had the same gimmick for so long that any sort of change would be welcomed by me right now, but for him to go back to his old “rapper” character, even if it is just for a one off, was really entertaining. I had thought that the entire thing was a fun break from the really long card. With Cena not being around as much, I think that it allows leeway like this for when he does make appearances. When he was the regular top guy John Cena had to make sure to keep those house show and merch numbers up. Now I feel he can add more to the product by doing more fun one offs like this.
SETH ROLLINS, KOFI KINGSTON, AND BECKY LYNCH ALL WIN
I saw so much speculation on the internet on how the company could not have all three win on the same night due to not wanting to seem predictable. I can understand, especially after seeing what happened with Roman Reigns over the past few years when it came to winning the Universal Title. Luckily, this year we weren’t hampered with dumb booking decisions just to swerve the fan base.
Pro Wrestling is a lot about the payoffs, and if you don’t deliver on them during WrestleMania, when do you give the fans what they want? It just leaves the opening still there, and when you do finally pull the trigger, who knows if it will have the same outcome?
This is the part where I do have to be a bit honest though. I wasn’t really all that impressed with the Seth Rollins build, or the Becky Lynch one, for that matter. I know, Becky is definitely the hottest commodity to come out of this entire ordeal with Ronda and the Woman’s Championship (both brands), but I just didn’t like how Becky was beat down through almost the entire build. Sure, she had a couple of house of fire moments, but for her to be the new Steve Austin while also getting beat down week after week is disappointing.
The Kofi Kingston story had some of the same problems. The one thing that set this apart from the other title chasing stories was how good Daniel Bryan has become as a heel, and how it so closely reflected his own hijacking of the WWE Championship match years ago. That came across like deep story telling, rather than just ham fisting an opponent in due to crowd reaction, which is kind of what we got. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending, and seeing the scene with Kofi finally holding up the championship that has alluded him his entire career was really awesome, but the reasoning behind it causes me to pause. We shall see if this will be a career changing development, or a one off story.
IN RING QUALITY
I know a lot of traditional WWE fans like to harp on the independent scene and how in ring work doesn’t really matter compared to star power and story telling, but I also think that we should recognize how good WWE is bell to bell right now. It also seems to be getting better and better as the years go on and they continue to sign free agents like Ricochet and Walter. I have always liked companies that have different flavors for all kinds of fans, whether it be through in ring work or promos, and right now feels like a very strong mix of the two.
WAY TOO LONG
I don’t have to elaborate on this point, do I? Starting to watch a show around 2 PM my time, and not turning off the television until around 10 PM is not an ideal night of wrestling for me. I can only imagine how it would be leaving MetLife Stadium after the show wrapped up, and that would be on top of watching countless hours of wrestling the week prior, through the weekend, and again tonight for RAW. WTF!?
I know that we need to have a bunch of matches and a bunch of workers so that everyone can get that fat WrestleMania check. but still, these shows are WAY TOO LONG! Quality over quantity works even, in professional wrestling.
What was that? Really? I think back on retirement matches in the past, like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels, along with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, and I wonder where we went wrong here. Was Kurt really that beat up that he couldn’t pull off one of those classics. Is Corbin really going to benefit that much from this win? I really feel like this match should have been against Styles or Joe, the two opponents that Angle faced this week on television. Hell, it could have even been a three way between the trio. I understand that there is no “WWE” history behind them having that match on Mania, but it would have been better than this. Hell, even Thuganomics Cena vs Angle would have been cool to see. Instead, we got this… Complete dud in my opinion.
MULTI-MAN MATCHES AND BATTLE ROYALS
I don’t think many younger fans really see the appeal of a battle royal now a days, and I really don’t blame them. The original intent of the match was to see a bunch of guys in the ring beating the shit out of one another, all while being thrown out of the ring, This was back when boxing and pro wrestling were sort of still intertwined, and the idea of a fighter falling out of the ring seemed very dangerous. That thinking doesn’t really work in wrestling anymore, especially when you consider how much diving and planchas are included in most wrestling shows. Because of that, the idea of a battle royal has become fairly antiquated.
This is exactly what has happened with these battle royals that happen during WrestleMania. I kind of wish that Money in the Bank wasn’t an annual Pay Per View anymore, and that we had a woman’s and men’s match on here instead like we used to in the past. I understand the logic behind having it on it’s own show, but I just am really over battle royals as a whole and I don’t see the point in either of these. I’m hoping they both get scrapped over the years to come, but I doubt that will happen.
All in all, WrestleMania wasn’t bad. It was fun, it was entertaining at times, and it felt like a fresh air after it was all done. I just hope that the story telling going forward is engaging enough for us to sit back and enjoy, rather than having to force the company to do what the fans really want. Time will only tell if this will happen, though.