WrestleMania should be the most important week of the wrestling calendar. It should be the culmination of events and stories, all coming to a head at one time, in a celebration of wrestling. When we reflect on the more recent events our minds drift back to monumental moments. Daniel Bryan finally winning the championship, Undertaker’s streak getting broken, the surprise return of the Hardy Boyz. Then we look toward the future with this year’s WrestleMania and wonder if anyone has even bothered to try.
It’s just under one month until the big show. Storylines should be coming together, matches should be practically making themselves, and the sole purpose of Raw and SmackDown would be to sell tickets and network subscriptions. March is a time to build hype. As the month continues on it should feel like a growing swell of emotions that only WrestleMania can release. Instead it’s a card filled with question marks and baseless hope. There are only six matches, so far, on the WrestleMania card and here they are in all their glory.
Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Kurt Angle and Triple H has been rumored for months now, a bout between two mostly retired men who have a right to some portion of the spotlight. And for whatever reason Stephanie and Ronda Rousey are there too. Ronda debuted with all the potential in the world. Her background was firmly rooted in real fights, her debut was widely anticipated, and it gives the WWE the one thing is truly craves: outsider recognition. Instead of striving to give Rousey in-ring gravitas with an already established wrestler and build up the audience’s respect for her, she’ll be slapped into a terrible feud and more than likely despised within months. You’re supposed to build up characters, not just assume they exist.
As of right now neither entrant is known for the Cruiserweight Championship. Clearly unaware of who is loved and who isn’t in the barely alive 205 Live, the WWE has been conducting a tournament. All the likely names are left, Mustafa Ali, Drew Gulak, Cedric Alexander, and Roderick Strong and really any of them could win. Most likely this won’t even end up on the main show, or only as an opener, since the WWE has all but given up on this division. Packed full of talent, with no exposure, and no support is basically WWE’s modus operandi at this point.
TBD vs. Asuka (Women’s Championship)
Another match with question marks. Asuka became the first women’s Royal Rumble winner and yet, she’s still waiting on an opponent. Instead of hunting one of the champions, haunting their dreams with undefeated streaks, she’s been wrestling Nia Jax. Thankfully Nia and Asuka are capable of telling stories and putting on matches even when they don’t need to. Suddenly I wish Nia was the unstoppable monster champion and Asuka was the unstoppable challenger. Instead we’ll be treated to a slapped together triple threat championship match that Asuka will most likely win. Maybe this will serve to build Nia up next, but I have no faith the WWE knows how to do that.
The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor (Intercontinental Championship)
Speaking of slapped together, here we are. Three immensely talented wrestlers tasked with squabbling over the most meaningless belt. The Miz has continued to be himself, turning promos into must-see TV and somehow outshining both Balor and Rollins in the process. I have no doubt these three are capable of putting on a wonderful match but does anyone really care about the outcome? If it were me I’d want nothing to do with the IC belt, it’s a lead weight in a pool filled with sharks. Better to lose and move onto another story, hopefully one with a real championship involved.
TBD vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
Another Royal Rumble winner, another set of question marks. Nakamura is getting into fights with Rusev while the current champ, AJ Styles, is off playing with Owens and Zayn. Eventually the two will meet and start the build for what should be a monumental match. However it doesn’t feel like the WWE believe in Style and Nakamura’s ability to create magic. Any fan of either of these two know what they can do, and know that their match from Wrestle Kingdom 10 was spectacular. Out of every match on this card, no other has the potential to wow the WWE like this one. This is why the WWE signed these two on, this is what we’ve been waiting for.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
What could better follow up a NJPW rerun than a WWE one? Somehow, after a year of intentions, the WWE found a way to put these two in the same ring again. Rumors and leaks have given this matchup away for months now, and Reigns will more than likely win. Never have I seen a company so intent with handing their fans exactly what they don’t want to see. March is a time for building matches, so maybe there is still time to insert Braun into this. Fingers crossed the WWE have a plan for this final bout because I don’t think they do. This will be the wholesome David versus Goliath the WWE has missed from John Cena over the past few years and nothing more.