Pro Wrestling

Here Comes The Money: 10 Ways WWE Tried To Save WrestleMania On Raw Source:

Coming out of Fastlane, WWE was faced with a number of problems, chief among them the fact that WrestleMania was not looking like it was going to be the yearly spectacle that has become a tradition. A variety of factors had led to the perception that WWE had nothing with which they might be able to legitimately fill the 100,000 seat stadium that was awaiting them in Dallas, and as a result, WrestleMania was starting to amass the stink of failure. But when the chips are down, somehow WWE always manages to have an Ace up their sleeve, and there was no better time to use it than on the very first Raw after Fastlane, at the point when the build to WrestleMania begins in earnest. While they may not have completely reversed the downward momentum, WWE certainly did a lot of things on Raw to try and halt the slide.

10. A Legacy of Excellence…No, Really!

If you had asked us the one person we never thought we’d see on WWE TV again…we probably would have gone with CM Punk. But Shane McMahon would have been a close second, with the only son of Vince McMahon seemingly content to make his own name outside the wrestling business for the last several years. And when Raw began with the presentation of the prestigious Vincent J McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award that had never existed until last week, we were fully prepared for the entire thing to be a shame designed to troll the fans. Of course, we were not disappointed. Actually, we were disappointed, but also correct. When Stephanie McMahon flounced out to accept the award, we settled in for another night of The Authority laughing at our pain. But then Shane’s ridiculous (admit it, it’s catchy, but terrible) entrance music hit and the entire wrestling world exploded. With a single huge move, WWE grabbed our attention and, through Shane’s dressing-down of Stephanie, acknowledged that such a move was necessary due to the perceived downward spiral that WWE has been on for a while. It walked the line between the on-screen world of WWE and the real-life issues that most fans are at least somewhat aware of, and did it very well. Source:

9. Shane-O-Mac Has Come To Save Us

Here’s the second part of what Shane McMahon’s return meant. Not just a one-time return to draw a single week of ratings, Shane is back to promise (and hopefully deliver) real change. He wants control of Raw (and thus WWE, because they still can’t pretend Smackdown truly matters), giving fans a potential light at the end of a very long Authority-dominated tunnel. And to get that, he’s willing to go one-on-one with The Undertaker at WrestleMania, inside Hell in a Cell. Well, nobody has ever accused Shane of doing things halfway when it comes to his wrestling career, but those are the kind of odds that would make John Cena go “I don’t know, man”. Admittedly, Shane looks every inch of 46 years old (although we’d point out that his opponent is 50, oh, and the WWE World Champion is the same age as Shane), but we already know he’s insane, and the lawless environment of Hell in a Cell means any number of things can happen to shift the odds in Shane’s favor. The good news is, there’s no Streak on the line, so it’s less blasphemous to have Undertaker lose at WrestleMania. And then there’s that quiet voice in your head that suggests maybe this is all a delaying action, and a few weeks from now Shane will find a way to trick Vince into letting him have a proxy in the match, who will end up being a certain man who’s currently pulling 12-hour workout days to try and disprove medical science. Or Shane will actually go through with it and fall of something high for our entertainment. Either way, Shane McMahon just sold a bunch more WrestleMania tickets. Source:

8. Pretending Last Night Never Happened

It’s possible that the terrible segment from Fastlane might have caused WWE to re-think their position on what would likely be an uninspiring New Day-League of Nations feud. Although there are still many weeks for them to fire it back up again, both factions were kept far apart on Raw, and little was mentioned of their painfully awkward interactions the night before. Frankly, we’d like better for both groups (although given Sheamus’ treatment as a punching bag in the main event, that’s not too likely for the League), and while it’s unlikely that there’s a tag team about the debut before Mania, there are still far better options for New Day than going against the League, even if it might just be a multi-way match involving some combination of The Usos, The Dudley Boyz, and whomever else feels like getting involved. At the very least, they’re not getting shuffled into the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, so that’s got to be considered a victory. We still can’t help but feel like WWE caused this problem themselves, but we’ve beaten that one to death and now we’re going to patiently wait until post-Mania to see if we can get what we want.–the-lucha-dragons-vs.-the-new-day-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=14 Source:

7. Grand Theft Ambrose

Continuing the night’s trend of people who absolutely shouldn’t be able to beat their opponents (but what if they could?) we have Dean Ambrose, who was attacked in a parking lot before Raw even went on the air in a video that we found hilarious for the mincing steps Brock apparently takes when he runs. Ambrose was taken to a local medical facility by ambulance, and if you know Dean Ambrose, you were already pretty sure that he was going to drive that ambulance back to the arena at some point in the evening. Sure enough, with Lesnar in the ring and Paul Heyman doing his usual excellent promo where he reminds us how awesome Brock Lesnar is (as if anyone ever forgets), here comes Ambrose, driving the ambulance. But what we really liked was that Ambrose isn’t your “Stone Cold” Steve Austin type, who would have no-sold getting stretchered out in a neck brace and just kicked as much ass as needed kicking when he returned. Ambrose is a guy who gets hurt, badly, all the time. He basically used all his remaining energy just to get back to Raw, and ended up collapsing before he could even stare Lesnar in the face. And then he still challenged Brock to a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania while laying on the mats outside the ring. That’s the crazy kind of dedication that gets wrestling fans behind your cause. Sure, Ambrose is probably going to die at WrestleMania…but what if he wins? Source:

6. R-Truth Wastes A Perfectly Good Cake

Come on, man. Someone could have eaten that cake. Someone like us. We’re not saying that we really ever want to see The Golden Truth as an actual tag team, in fact, we’re pretty sure it would be bad. But it’s nice that someone finally realized that the whole dynamic between Truth and Goldust only works if they’re both being crazy, wacky guys. R-Truth as the straight man to the increasingly insane Goldust, considering just a month ago he was the guy who thought he was in a Money in the Bank match at the Royal Rumble, was headed in a bad direction. Truth finally playing along with the crazy offered the first glimpse of what that team actually could be, rather than the awkward situations we were getting that completely played away from Truth’s strengths as a character who was at his most popular when paired with an invisible child. Everything about this entire paragraph borders on some of the weirdest things we’ve ever had to write, and we cover professional wrestling for a living. Also, we kind of really want some cake, now. Source:

5. I Guess We Hurt His Feelings?

So, after a night in which the “Goldberg” chants finally reached their hilarious conclusion and morphed into cries of “Gillberg”, Ryback decided he’d had enough of whatever he’s been doing for a while now and was going to be a main event star again. We’d think the fact that the crowd is now comparing him to one of history’s biggest losers might work against him, but what do we know? What makes Ryback’s sudden change of heart so hilarious is that it literally came out of nowhere. There were no indications that he was anything less than content with his role, his team won a big match at Fastlane, and they were even fully in control of the match on Raw when he hopped down from the apron and wandered up the ramp, seemingly for no reason at all. In fact, it looked like he even missed his cue to do so, as it appears that Kane clearly yelled “Go, Ryback!” at him just before events unfolded. But through the comical awkwardness of The Big Guy throwing up his hands in disgust and claiming he’s going to break through the glass ceiling and grab the brass ring, we should remain wary, because it’s occurred to us that once he beats Triple H at WrestleMania, Roman Reigns is going to need a fresh opponent, and we can just see what WWE’s thought process might be. Source:

4. The Divas Revolution Actually Starts Now

Monday basically made it official, as all the dross of the former Total Divas-dominated era of women’s wrestling has either been swept under the rug, sent home with injuries, or soundly defeated by the division’s newest arrivals. All the teams have been dissolved, Brie Bella got her sympathy-fueled PPV title match and has been quietly pushed to the side, and Sasha Banks has spent the last six months of not being featured in matches on TV learning new and exciting ways to apply her finisher. Now, we’re left with Charlotte, Sasha, and Becky on top of the world, and we can look forward to some sort of protracted period where they’ll be wrestling each other on a regular basis. Plus, Bayley will almost definitely be around once she runs in to Asuka at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, and then we’ll have everything we had hoped for back in the summer when this whole thing began. It doesn’t quite have the emotional weight that it did in NXT, but at least now there’s a spark of hope that those things will develop in the future. Women wrestling in the main event of WrestleMania might be a pipe dream for the far-flung future, but it looks like this year’s WrestleMania might have an honest-to-goodness women’s match that people are actually looking forward to for the first time in a very long time. Source:

3. The One Guy They Might Hate More

We’ve reached a point where we’re starting to feel sorry for Sheamus. We have certain amounts of sympathy for most of the League of Nations, but Sheamus is the one who’s been portrayed as the sacrificial lamb for Roman Reigns on a pretty consistent basis since he cashed in Money in the Bank at Survivor Series. While the rest of the League has taken their lumps, it’s Sheamus who keeps ending up taking the losses every time he steps in the ring against Reigns, as he did again last night. The worst part is, because Reigns has been so dominant, it wasn’t particularly believable that being forced to face Sheamus was any kind of real punishment, no matter what Stephanie McMahon might think (to be fair, it had already been shown earlier in the evening that her terrible decisions had been running Raw into the ground for a while). However, the reason why WWE keeps putting Sheamus up against Reigns is that at least they can generally count on the audience to dislike Sheamus slightly more than Reigns, and at least get some sort of appropriate reaction for the guy who’s going to be the face of the company going forward. Of course, given that WWE made the brilliant decision to book all their most popular (and therefore “smartest”) arenas in the run-up to WrestleMania, even the specter of Sheamus wasn’t enough to get Roman Reigns full crowd support in the main event. Which, of course, led to Plan B. Source:

2. Leaning Into The Problem

And Plan B involved blood, and lots of it (although a fan video later revealed Reigns using a fake blood capsule to accomplish the task, which is a step up from the barbaric tradition of blading, if nothing else). Triple H ran in at the end of the main event and absolutely brutalized Reigns, ending up with his massively taped fists covered in blood while he basked in the cheers of the faithful. Frankly, making Triple H look like a gigantic badass during the build to WrestleMania and then figuring out how to fix Reigns’ negative reactions down the road might not be the best thing for Reigns’ future, but at the very least will keep the fans invested in the match leading up to WrestleMania. And there’s no way they would have set up the show-ending angle and not anticipated that the crowd would side with Triple H, who got to look impossibly cool while beating on Reigns, so it was probably a good idea just to go with it. Plus, if Reigns can rise to meet the brutality of Triple H, there’s a slim chance he might put a dent in some of those negative reactions. Much like Ambrose-Lesnar and Shane-Undertaker, this WrestleMania match will probably get better reactions if they can up the violence quotient, and it appears that with all three feuds, that will almost certainly be WWE’s plan. Source:

1. The Prospect Of More To Come

The good news is, even with half the roster out injured and apathy setting in towards Reigns, WWE managed to grab fans’ attentions and start a process of reversal on opinions towards WrestleMania. Ambrose’s refusal to die has people talking, and the Internet is breaking under the weight of all the unanswered questions that spawned from Shane’s return and upcoming match with The Undertaker. And the fans may still not like Reigns, but at least they’re engaged in the feud at a higher level after Raw. The best news is, there’s still so much about WrestleMania we don’t know that could be incredible. Kevin Owens wasn’t even on Raw. Guys like the incredibly popular and talented AJ Styles, the US Champion Kalisto, and The New Day don’t actually have matches for the show yet. Plus, there are still rumors that WWE wants the World title match to have a special guest referee. There’s five Raws left before WrestleMania, and so many more opportunities to surprise us. Unlike last year, when everyone was dreading WrestleMania right up until it aired, with a single episode of Raw, WWE proved that they know they have a lot of work to save this year’s show, and that they’re going to pull out all available stops, including some we didn’t even know existed, to try and make it a success. 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.