Pro Wrestling

10 WrestleMania-Related Concerns We Still Have After Raw

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/dean-ambrose-vs.-braun-strowman-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=15 Source: pl.wwe.com

There are now just under two weeks until WrestleMania, and while things look at least a little better than they did, say, a month ago, it’s still not sunshine and rainbows for WWE. The #1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship still isn’t where he needs to be, people are continuing to get hurt left and right, and one of the main selling points for the Pay Per View, apparently, is that The Rock will be there in some unknown capacity! We’re not going to get hyperbolic and start screaming that this could be the worst WrestleMania ever, in fact, it may end up being quite good when all is said and done. But with that in mind, we still have some concerns…

10. Is This All Too Little, Too Late?

Faced with a potentially hostile Philadelphia crowd, WWE did the only thing they could think of with their erstwhile future #1 guy, Roman Reigns. Already bereft of his crowd entrance (rumor is the increased vitriol towards Reigns forced WWE’s hand in that respect), Reigns’ appearance in front of the audience at Raw last night was short and to the point. He came out, he said he was going to kick Triple H’s ass, he still somehow managed to work in a cheesy line about how he is The Authority now, and then he left. Which is exactly what he should have been doing for months at this point! Thirteen days before WrestleMania, WWE finally appeared to figure out what Roman Reigns’ strengths are in cutting promos: don’t give him enough time to look stupid. Of course, they followed it up later in the show with a backstage segment where Reigns came off as a slasher movie villain, ambushing Triple H and Stephanie in an attack that was…actually, Triple H fought him off pretty easily and escaped, so it wasn’t his best plan ever. There’s a reason why Seth Rollins was considered the brains of The Shield, you know. The point is, WWE is finally doing the small things that might have made an audience more receptive to Reigns in the first place. But this close to the end, it feels like it’s too late to save the WWE World Title match at WrestleMania.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/roman-reigns-reminds-stephanie-mcmahon-that-he-is-the-authority-in-wwe-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=4 Source: pl.wwe.com

9. Is There Anything Kevin Owens Can’t Do?

In a world where wrestlers are getting injured on a weekly basis, it’s probably nice for WWE to have someone like Kevin Owens that they can count on to do pretty much everything. Last night, he wrestled a classic match with AJ Styles (that barely scraped the surface of what those two can probably do in a PPV setting), he made his own #1 contender’s match for later in the evening, he orchestrated a cunning plan to screw over his enemies, he did the ring introductions for the triple threat match, and he finished up by sitting in at the commentary booth! Sure, it all backfired on him in the end, and now he has to face six other guys at WrestleMania in a ladder match, but the sheer amount of work Owens is being given on a weekly basis suggests that someone in WWE sees a guy who could probably be the #1 heel in a promotion that is clearly lacking full-time top heels. Owens may lose the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania, and the odds are certainly against him, but it could be a predecessor to even bigger things for him in the very near future.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/aj-styles-vs.-kevin-owens-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=12 Source: pl.wwe.com

8. Will The League of Nations Ever Win?

All right, let’s sum up the entire feud between The New Day and The League of Nations after last night. The New Day absolutely wrecked the League with mocking parody videos on Twitter, then proceeded to beat them cleanly in two straight title matches over three days. The League managed to beat down New Day after the second match, and then lost two straight singles matches against Kofi Kingston and Big E on Smackdown and Raw, respectively. The second loss came after they had already beaten down Xavier and Kofi during the match, giving them a distinct advantage (or so one would think). At this point, is 4-on-3 at WrestleMania even an advantage for the League? Are they the worst stable that WWE has seen in quite some time? Is this entire feud just a waste of time that only served to turn the New Day face and subtly make their promos slightly worse as a result? The answers, by the way, are “No”, “Yes”, and “Yes”, respectively. Also, despite what Michael Coles says, we refuse to believe that the League of Nations calls themselves “The Lads”, because that’s possibly the worst name anyone could ever come up with.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/big-e-vs.-rusev-photos Source: pl.wwe.com

7. Is The Andre The Giant Trophy Made Of Chocolate?

So, at this point, the allegedly prestigious Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal will once again not be on the actual WrestleMania card, and in fact will be shown live on the USA Network during a pre-show special (presumably also on the WWE Network, but don’t quote us on that). Also, it’s down to 20 Superstars from 30, something that likely happened when somebody ran the numbers are realized they don’t actually have 30 healthy Superstars left to fill up the match at this point. It’s not like the participants will really matter, but so far, it looks like it’s going to be all four Social Outcasts, who remain incredible even though they’re just losers, as well as Big Show and Kane, who destroyed the Outcasts before Kane turned on Show, because we’ve gone a whole three weeks without Show and Kane either teaming up or fighting each other. A quick look at the remainder of the roster suggests we’ll also get The Wyatt Family, plus a bunch of people who don’t matter and mostly haven’t even been on TV in the past year. Frankly, they should just have Show win again and then quietly forget that the trophy exists next year, because this tradition is pretty much dead in the water.

http://www.wwe.fr/photos/2015/03/31/randy-orton-roman-reigns–ryback-vs.-seth-rollins-kane–big-show-photos;jsessionid=4C1D30E9ED7526BFA0BDDD18ACA19DCA?r30_r1_r1:page=5 Source: WWE.fr

6. Anyone Remember Fandango?

Hey, it’s a WrestleMania Rewind match featuring Chris Jericho vs Fandango! You all remember Fandango, right? He beat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29 in his very first match, and then did absolutely nothing for the next three years because WWE Creative basically forgot he existed! Listen, we thought Fandango was dumb as hell, and we’ll still agree that he got a raw deal by WWE. People were actually doing his stupid dance, and WWE somehow didn’t manage to turn him into even a mid-level title contender! And this was a guy they clearly wanted to become something! Do you remember all the work they put into him, crafting him an elaborate entrance and giving him a series of beautiful women as his dance partners? Meanwhile, three years removed from that, Fandango is so far down the totem pole that he can’t even beat Chris Jericho when AJ Styles is out there distracting Jericho for a good two minutes, and even worse, every fan watching looked at that and said “Yes, that is the correct result for that match”.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/fandango-vs.-chris-jericho—wrestlemania-rewind-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=3 Source: pl.wwe.com

5. Want To Hear The Real Joke About This Match?

All right, so Kevin Owens has a master plan to get out of facing actual competent opponents at WrestleMania (well, two competent opponents and The Miz), by getting permission to book the match that will determine his opponent and sticking Stardust, Sin Cara, and Zack Ryder in it instead of the wrestlers the fans expected. But the real joke, of course, is that all three of those guys (yes, even Sin Cara), should be way bigger deals in WWE than they are, but WWE Creative sabotaged them at every turn and made them into losers instead. The relatively good news is, thanks to Neville’s injury, Zack Ryder somehow has made it onto the actual WrestleMania card, albeit several years after it could have positively affected his career. Even better, all seven Superstars in this Ladder Match at WrestleMania will probably bust their asses, especially the three guys with nothing to lose. However, it likely won’t matter, as post-Mania, Sin Cara will go back to helping Kalisto lose matches, Zack Ryder will go back to NXT and Superstars, and Stardust will continue to be one of the most mis-used wrestlers of the past year.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/zack-ryder-vs.-sin-cara-vs.-stardust—winner-faces-kevin-owens-for-the-intercontinental-title-at-wrestlemania-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=14 Source: pl.wwe.com

4. When Do We Get The Fourth Horsewoman?

Time to explain things for the two-thirds of the Raw audience that doesn’t also watch NXT (seriously, people, you need to get on that), because you might have heard Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks referred to as “Horsewomen” and had a few questions. Obviously, it’s a reference to Charlotte’s father, Ric Flair, and his infamous 4 Horsemen stable that was one of the greatest groups in the history of pro wrestling. But wait, you might say, even if we set aside the fact that Charlotte, Sasha, and Becky were never a group on the main WWE roster, there are only three Horsewomen, so the reference doesn’t make sense! We’d have to agree, because it’s very odd that WWE has been running with the term even though they ignore the fact that the 4th Horsewoman is not yet a factor in WWE. That would be the NXT Women’s Champion Bayley, who had the worst-timed hand injury ever right when WWE had decided to start the Divas Revolution, and got left behind. To be fair, if Bayley doesn’t stay in NXT, we don’t get all the classic matches she’s been having for the last six months and we wouldn’t be looking at what should be an incredible Bayley-Asuka match at NXT TakeOver: Dallas (which could be the best match of a show that also includes Balor-Joe II and Sami Zayn facing Shinsuke Nakamura), but it’s still sort of weird to hear WWE talk about the Horsewomen when they’re clearly one member short.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/natalya-vs.-charlotte-photos Source: pl.wwe.com

3. Are We Finally Done With Golden Truth Now?

Honestly, it seems like Bubba Ray Dudley cares more about the trials and tribulations of R-Truth and Goldust’s doomed attempts to become a tag team than anyone else on the planet, as he basically spent his entire match with R-Truth yelling about Goldust (Fun fact that not many people will get, because TNA sucks: This was actually a match between two former TNA Heavyweight Champions. We’re not even kidding). And much like the last month or two of Golden Truth comedy segments, this match was a bad idea all over. The good news is that after getting handled pretty effortlessly, this might be WWE admitting that Golden Truth just should never happen and we shouldn’t talk about it even again (having said that, watch them finally put the team together for real post-Mania). The bad news is that somebody, somewhere backstage at WWE, thought having Roman Reigns’ cousins, The Usos, attack former ECW legends The Dudley Boyz, in Philadelphia, would get The Usos a good crowd reaction. Seriously, whatever they’re paying the writing staff in WWE, it’s too much.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/r-truth-vs.-bubba-ray-dudley-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=8 Source: pl.wwe.com

2. Is The Undertaker Actually Retiring?

Well, either Vince McMahon just robbed the entire Hell in a Cell match between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker of all potential intrigue by declaring that The Undertaker had to win or his career would be finished, or The Undertaker has suddenly been convinced to retire and the best they could come up with for his final match was losing to Shane McMahon. In further ridiculousness, this world-changing stipulation was just kind of tossed off by Vince in a promo just before the main event of Raw, to a crowd that appeared to have fallen asleep sometime in the second hour. Something that might force the end of one of wrestling’s most legendary careers isn’t something you just casually mention two weeks before the match happens. The Undertaker’s retirement match is something you spend weeks building up to. But then, they did just kind of end The Streak out of nowhere too, so it’s not like it’d be the biggest shock in the world that they fumbled his retirement, as well. And on the other side of the equation, Undertaker winning means that this whole Shane McMahon thing, where we got all that hope that we might see real change to the on-screen product (even if things backstage would stay the same, at least The Authority might be off TV for the first time in years), won’t actually lead to anything, and we’d be back to the status quo the Monday after WrestleMania. Talk about two different, yet equally bad options.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/mr.-mcmahon-puts-the-undertakers-legacy-on-the-line-at-wrestlemania-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=4 Source: pl.wwe.com

1. Why Braun Strowman?

Okay, we actually know why Braun Strowman, it’s because he’s really big and strong and served as a stand-in for the absent Brock Lesnar. Of course, the problem is that somehow, WWE thinks Braun Strowman is worth protecting, so Dean Ambrose doesn’t even get to beat him, instead grabbing a chair and wiping everyone out for a DQ loss. Which, admittedly, shows off Dean’s plan for Lesnar, where he’ll be in a match without having to worry about disqualification. However, The Wyatt Family is a group that loses all the time, most recently to the ridiculous trio of Kane, Big Show, and Ryback. If there was ever a time for Braun Strowman to take his first pinfall loss, doing it in service of showing that Dean Ambrose actually could beat someone a lot bigger and stronger than him, who nobody else has been able to beat, probably would have done a lot for Ambrose headed into a WrestleMania match that he’ll almost certainly lose. He’ll probably still be fine and end up looking like a star after absorbing a beating from Lesnar, plus he’s amassing a whole lot of weaponry from hardcore stars of the past in the process (maybe next week, Raven will give him a shopping cart to keep it all in), but would it kill WWE to give him some impressive wins ahead of time? On the bright side, it did wake up the crowd. Unfortunately, they woke up so that they could chant “This Is Boring!”

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/03/22/dean-ambrose-vs.-braun-strowman-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=15 Source: pl.wwe.com
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.

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