Pro Wrestling

10 Ways WWE Failed To Sell WrestleMania On Raw Source:

This week’s episode of Raw was the big one, the last chance before WrestleMania for WWE to try and convince any viewers not already planning to watch their biggest Pay Per View of the year to tune in this Sunday. The final show before a PPV gets called a lot of things, like “the go-home show” or “the hard sell”, terms based around a single idea: get people to buy the product (or in this case, subscribe to the WWE Network). The only problem is, aside from a single bright spot, WWE completely failed in that regard. Whether it was due to a well-earned fear that somebody important might get hurt with no time to change plans, or just plain laziness due to knowing the venue is already sold out, WWE went into Raw needing to hit some home runs and came out having hit a few safe singles. And while playing it safe may work at other times in the year, it seems like when you’re headed into a WrestleMania with more than a few question marks that need addressing, it might have been a good idea to just grip it and rip it instead.

10. You Will Believe A Shane Can Fly

Probably the worst part about that single bright spot that we saw took place in the first fifteen minutes of the show, as Shane McMahon finally delivered that promo he’s been trying to spit out since he came back, then showed off some of his fighting skills (we’re pretty sure Undertaker just told him to stop pulling his silly little rabbit punches, but the important thing is they looked better). After somehow getting the better of the Undertaker, Shane ascended to the top rope and delivered his signature maneuver: a flying elbowdrop off the top rope, through the announce table, a better Superman impression than the one we saw in that terrible movie that came out last week. Somehow, that never ceases to amaze us, and probably even more so now that Shane is on the wrong side of 45. Here’s why it was effective, even if Taker sat up and no-sold it a minute later (and actually, that contributes to the reasoning): if Shane did that spot on the Raw before WrestleMania, we can rest assured he’s going to do something even dumber at WrestleMania. That flying elbow was literally a promise that Shane will be falling off something high this Sunday, and frankly, that almost certainly sold people on the match. Also, Shane briefly revealed that he’s somehow developed a six-pack during training, after he returned looking like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man six weeks ago, so maybe the whole thing won’t be as terrible as we anticipated. Source:

9. A Simpler Time, When Prices Were Lower And Zack Ryder Mattered

You’ll have to excuse us for thinking we accidentally hit 88 on the Delorean last night, because we looked up and Zack Ryder had pinned Chris Jericho, something we’re pretty sure could have only happened during that brief period in 2011 when Ryder was relevant, before WWE pulled the rug out from under him and had Kane beat him to death with it. Obviously, it was all a sideshow to AJ Styles finally getting Jericho to agree to the match we all knew was happening anyway, and Jericho beat the crap out of Ryder immediately after the pin. Hey, WWE, you might have wanted to remember that Ryder also has a match at WrestleMania, for a title no less, and it might be nice if he looked like he had a chance to win, even if he really doesn’t. That said, it says a lot about how badly WWE mishandles their talent that they threw Ryder into a ladder match for the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania due to everyone ahead of him getting hurt, and the fans would still be willing to buy him as a contender, but instead WWE just keeps him as a goof who can only get fluke victories due to distractions and then gets killed afterwards. At least he got the win, unlike Fandango a week ago, perhaps because WWE realized that AJ Styles failing to actually cost Jericho any victories with his distractions might be making Styles look fairly dumb. Source:

8. Really Boring Promo

The header seems unimaginative, but trust us, it’ll pay off later. Unlike this promo from The Authority, which just kind of droned on and on for a long time until half the audience dozed off. Perhaps Triple H lost his train of thought when he finally got heel heat out of the crowd…for praising Roman Reigns. Speaking of the Big Dog, he made his entrance to a chorus of boos and attacked Triple H, while the crowd continued to rain down hatred on the guy who is allegedly supposed to be WWE’s #1 face for the next several years. We know we’ve made it seem like we hate Roman Reigns, but really, we kind of feel sorry for him, because the ineptitude of WWE booking has taken what could have been a compelling character and turned it into the abomination that couldn’t get the crowd on his side if he gave away candy during his entrance. Reigns may have never been the guy who could carry the company, but he could still be salvaged and turned into a serviceable main event wrestler, but WWE’s continued blind insistence on making him something he isn’t may damage him beyond any repair. We’re just saying, WWE is out of escape options to not have the final moments of WrestleMania a crowd raining down boos on their top face…unless he’s not a face by then. Source:

7. They’ve Got New Shirts!

Seriously, is there any bigger sign that a stable is completely irrelevant than by giving them personalized t-shirts so they can be more easily identified? Admittedly, if we were from one of the four countries represented, we might think about buying one, but only because it wouldn’t be terrible to be referred to as “The Bulgarian Brute”. Are we talking way too much about League of Nations merchandise? Probably, but since The New Day are more than capable (and have spent several weeks) of selling their own shirts, so we thought we’d throw the other guys a bone. Also, we need to make it clear, because WWE isn’t, Booty-O’s aren’t an actual cereal you can buy, it’s just a box that the shirt comes in. We know, we were disappointed when we found out, too. We’re also discussing shirts because you already know what happened in this match, The New Day (in this case, Kofi Kingston) won. We hear the League actually picked up a win on Smackdown though, so, you know, at least they got one. Oh, and the tag titles aren’t on the line at WrestleMania, so this feud has the same stakes as when the Harlem Globetrotters played Professor Farnsworth’s team of atomic super mutants at basketball. Source:

6. The Match We Totally Forgot Was Happening!

So, did you remember that Kalisto will be defending the United States title at WrestleMania against Ryback, in a match that may or may not be part of the two-hour pre-show. If you did, congratulations, you’ve put more thought into this feud than WWE, which has fallen back onto the old standby question of “can a big man beat a little man?” that was answered thousands of years ago by a kid with a slingshot. Or, you know, more recently by Rey Mysterio, who was part of WWE for over a decade and beat a ton of bigger guys. But he’s on Lucha Underground now, so he might as well not exist (side note: seriously, you should watch Lucha Underground). It’s almost ridiculous that WWE has spent so much time on the Intercontinental title, and even brought up Kevin Owens’ lifelong nemesis in what could have been a show-stealing one-on-one feud, and threw them in a seven-man ladder match, and basically ignored this feud, which would probably be helped by the addition of some extra bodies and a ladder. Source:

5. The Little Red Wagon…Of Death!

As amusing as it was to watch Dean Ambrose trundle down to ringside to load up his little red wagon with an assortment of weapons, and as much as we agree that keeping Lesnar and Ambrose from doing anything to each other the week before their match just to build anticipation of the violence to come, there was something inherently ridiculous about Brock standing within easy arm’s reach of Ambrose, holding a kendo stick, and apparently not deciding to take a casual swing at the guy he plans to murder in cold blood six days from now. It’s not like Paul Heyman has ever actually been able to prevent Brock from doing what he really wanted to do before, so why would he hold back now? Additionally, while they shouldn’t have interacted physically, we’re not sure about the line of thought that sends out Paul Heyman and Dean Ambrose, two of WWE’s best promo guys, and has one cut an abbreviated promo and the other stay completely silent. If you’re trying to sell WrestleMania, those are two guys who could have sold it with their words without even trying! Source:

4. Good, Bad, She’s The One On TV

Well, if you ever wondered how much Vince McMahon over-values Total Divas, last night was a pretty good indicator. We were willing to buy Brie’s team as the faces going in, because most of them have been portrayed that way recently on TV, and everyone accepts that Alicia Fox’s alignment changes depending on the signs of the Zodiac. However, when the fifth member of the team came out to make the save in what is usually a moment designed to get a gigantic crowd pop, everything fell apart when it was revealed to be Eva Marie. If you’ve forgotten about Eva Marie, or haven’t been watching NXT (much like Lucha Underground, you should totally be watching NXT), Eva Marie is literally the worst wrestler on the planet and everyone hates her (well, except for Corey Graves, but his opinion can’t be trusted), mostly because, despite a lack of any real talent, she ends up getting things like a spot on the WrestleMania card ahead of far more talented wrestlers that fans actually want to see. You know, just as a random example that isn’t relevant to what just happened. Even if WWE wants to claim they were playing into the hate and making her an unwanted member of the face team, why would they give her the big save spot in the first place? Did someone really think that Total Divas fans were going to outweigh a hardcore Brooklyn fanbase and cheer wildly for the woman known derisively as “All Botch Everything”? Source:

3. How To Lose A Crowd In 3 Hours

So, about two and a half hours in, you can tell that the Brooklyn crowd has given up on WWE actually giving them an interesting final show before WrestleMania, and even better, with WWE having run through all their main event angles in the first two hours, there wasn’t actually an announced main event for the go-home show! We’ll get to what WWE went for the final segment in a second, but first, here is the final match of the evening, a six-man tag match between the six contenders in the Intercontinental ladder match, aside from Zack Ryder. All six of these Superstars are good-to-great talents, and at any other time, they all have a chance to steal whatever show they wrestle on. But by this point, the crowd has decided to amuse themselves by chanting at the announce team, for CM Punk, do The Wave, or do anything but pay attention to the match. Meanwhile, the commentary booth has to start running through the lines they use where they pretend the crowd isn’t amusing themselves out of boredom, like “the WWE Universe is having fun out there” and “a lot of passionate reactions”. Fortunately, the match finished with Sami Zayn facing off against Kevin Owens, which the crowd can’t help but care about because Sami Zayn is one of the most likable people on the planet and Kevin Owens is not, and once again we can’t help but ask why this wasn’t a one-on-one feud that could have began after the Royal Rumble and climaxed at WrestleMania?–sin-cara-vs.-kevin-owens-the-miz–stardust-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=24 Source:

2. Really Boring Promo II: Promo Harder

Remember how we said we’d come back to that headline later? Well, hopefully it was worth the wait. After Roman Reigns was lured into a trap backstage that was so obvious, somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, Admiral Ackbar woke up in a cold sweat and didn’t know why, The Authority decided that they would grace us all with a second promo in the main event of Raw! For everyone who fell asleep during the first promo and woke up two hours later, no, Triple H was not still cutting the same promo, but we can understand your confusion and we hope we’ve helped you fill in the blanks on what you missed. See, you can tell it’s a different promo because Triple H isn’t wearing a jacket this time. And just like the first promo, Roman Reigns comes out again to attack Triple H to a chorus of boos. Only this time, the locker room empties and pretends to try and keep Reigns and Triple H apart, to varying degrees of failure. Reigns does get a nice spot where he dives over the top rope onto a crowd of Superstars, which actually gets a reaction from the crowd. The only problem is, that reaction is to chant “You Still Suck!” It’s hard to fault WWE’s train of thought of trying to sell the hatred between Reigns and The Authority being unable to be contained, and the video editing wizards will probably get a nice promo package out of the brawl, but the final image of the last Raw before WrestleMania was Triple H and Roman Reigns posing in front of a crowd that literally did not care. Source:

1. The New Definition Of Insanity

Ironically, immediately following Raw on the WWE Network, they aired a special episode of WWE 24/7 focusing on Daniel Bryan’s last day as a pro wrestler. There were flashbacks to WrestleMania XXX, testimonials, and more than a few tears, but during the show, one phrase stuck out to us. A description of Daniel Bryan said that the fans loved him because what you say on TV was genuine, he had a character that you couldn’t manufacture, and that’s why he managed to become so popular. WWE literally put this on the air right after an episode of Raw where they spent two different segments trying to put over the guy they have actually attempted to manufacture, through booking and creative meddling, into being their top star, while continuing to be publicly confused as to why the crowds won’t accept him in that role. Everyone likes to say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, but thanks to WWE and their tireless efforts to turn Roman Reigns into their #1 star, a decision that may come back to bite them hard at WrestleMania, we’ve found a new definition: continuing to do something even though you’ve shown that you’re entirely aware that what you’re doing isn’t going to get you the result that you want.

But hey, The Rock’s going to be there! Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.