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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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Eyes On WWE: Can Wrestlemania 34 Exceed Expectations Or Will It Disappoint?

By @TrueGodImmortal

I am a very negative WWE fan. I won't lie or front like this isn't the case and honestly, I don't mind being that way. I prefer it. Years ago, I realized what WWE really was and my support for it comes in moderation. I don't watch it as much and barely seem invested in present day WWE, but I try to care more and more. However, when I look back at the last few years, it's been tough. The talent in the WWE is the best it has been ever, but the booking and the storylines are horrible. With that being said, Wrestlemania 34 is shaping up to be one of those prime middle of the road events that has potential to be a Wrestlemania 31 surprise, or a Wrestlemania 32 disappointment. In the ring, the event could end up being excellent for some reasons, but the booking and a couple of matches that most people don't want to see is weighing down on many viewers. The names are there. The name value is there. The matches are halfway there. Yet, all we have is a lot of "what ifs" to look at when we see the final card, which is still being set of course. With over 11 matches on the table and many more to come, one has to wonder, is this Mania going to live up to the hype? Or will it exceed it? Or will it disappoint all around?

For one, the biggest news of this run up to Mania has to be the arrival of Ronda Rousey and the clearing of Daniel Bryan to wrestle. However, both could have been handled differently. In many ways, perhaps this Wrestlemania is a set up for Mania 35, which could be the biggest and best in history if done right. The biggest issue for the WWE is that they have so much talent and they don't know what to do with it. For starters, Ronda Rousey is a huge signing to the outside world, but to many in the wrestling world, it's different. A lot of fans are rightly skeptical and the glimpses we've seen of Ronda really don't make you feel too good about her potential as a wrestler. With that being said, what if Rousey fails in her first match and the crowd rejects her? Then what? Also, the tag team match with Rousey and Kurt Angle teaming up against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon  feels forced and flat. No one was clamoring for a return to the ring for Stephanie and despite that, here we are. Most fans aren't exactly dying to see Triple H and Angle in 2018 either, mostly because we saw a much better version of this 18 years ago. With Stephanie in the middle. Still, the mainstream media has been watching and pushing Ronda, but there's just one issue: she has barely been on WWE TV. Video packages are good, but when you need to make your fans more familiar with the transition of Rousey to a wrestler and promote this tag match to give it heat, Rousey not being on WWE TV during Mania season and doing dark match segments with Dana Brooke is not the way to go. However, WWE doesn't need to worry, I'm sure all eyes will be on Rousey at Mania... but will it be any good? So far, it doesn't look promising.

Daniel Bryan and his return however? It actually looks to be promising. After being held back by WWE for the last two years, he was finally cleared by their doctors so he wouldn't leave the company. Bryan is still the most popular wrestler in the company even with being inactive in the ring the last 3 years. His first time taking bumps was excellent and it seemed to set in motion a huge tag team match for Mania as well, with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan likely teaming up against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. For me, I could do without Shane, but one has to know that when Bryan is in the ring and gets a hot tag, this might be the greatest Mania moment thus far. Bryan worked his ass off and got cleared and his return of course has to be treated with care, so a tag match is fine, as it'll allow him to not do too much work, but still give the people what they want. This is one of the biggest things heading into Mania and I just hope WWE plays it smart and has Bryan and Shane go over at Mania and then move on from this Bryan vs Shane storyline, because it has made very little sense. So for RAW and Smackdown, there are two big tag matches that have general manager implications and two legends who returned from injury and will wrestle at their first Mania in years. Kurt Angle, wrestling at his first Mania since Wrestlemania 22, will team with Ronda Rousey vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The other McMahon, Shane, will likely team with Daniel Bryan against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. I would much rather see Bryan vs Owens and Kurt Angle vs Triple H, but of course, Mania is all about fitting everyone on the card instead of the best possible card.

Speaking of fitting everyone on the card, in the overkill department, there are two battle royals happening. The Andre The Giant Battle Royal and the Women's Wrestlemania Battle Royal. You can expect to see a lot of stars you don't care about in both of the battle royals, with Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger being the two biggest names announced so far. The Women's Battle Royal seems like another Women's Rumble essentially with Sasha Banks, Naomi, Becky Lynch, and others involved. If there are two matches that feel pointless on the card so far, these are definitely the two. However, there is one saving grace that I genuinely hope doesn't get moved to the preshow, and that's Cedric Alexander vs Mustafa Ali. This could be the best match of the night if given enough time. Knowing WWE, this will be on the preshow and get about 13 minutes, but it will be excellent and one of the best matches that night guaranteed. The finals of the Cruiserweight Title Tournament should very well be a highlight and is one of the few matches I'm really excited about. Now, here is the thing. There are matches I'm excited about and moments like the return of Bryan, the Cedric vs Mustafa match, and there are some others I'll get to later. However, it is better to get the matches I am not excited about out of the way. 

Look no further than the Universal Championship Match. A wise man once said it is insane to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result and we all know Vince is an idiot. The entire buildup to Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar has been terrible and it seems to only get worse and worse. These two do not have real chemistry and the whole angle of "Brock not being there" has been overdone by Cena during his Rock promo and Reigns used this same bullshit against Cena recently. So, with that, this story is a sad attempt to get Reigns over and it still isn't working. The Mania crowd will eat them both alive and this match has potential to be worse than expected due to the crowd shitting all over it and Brock playing it too safe before he leaves WWE again. My main hope is that they don't let this unwanted rematch close out the show. No one asked for Reigns vs Brock 2, just like we didn't ask for Cena vs Rock 2 and Reigns vs Triple H, or Reigns vs Taker last year, but WWE is psycho and can't accept that Reigns isn't the guy.

Aside from the horrible Reigns vs  Brock match, there is also another match no one asked for, Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss. This has been building for a while, but it has felt flat the entire time. Nia isn't the one you would want as the face of the women's division and it just seems like Vince has a fetish for bigger women just like he does for bigger men. This story is sad, with Alexa being a bully/mean girl of sorts to Nia and Nia looking to get her revenge. Seeing Nia Jax cry like a baby on my TV didn't make me sympathize with her, it made me laugh at the fact that they're using this story. Instead of Sasha vs Bayley as the title match, with Bliss and Nia in the battle royal, we get this, which is disappointing. Sasha is the most consistent of them all and Nia gets a one on one match when she hasn't had a great one on one match since she got to RAW. Bliss is limited as an in ring performer, so this will likely be a pointless squash. Yeah, not excited at all for this one.

The same could be said for WWE doing the U.S. Title match with three of the most boring competitors and leaving out their most over guy on Smackdown besides Bryan, AJ, or Nakamura. Rusev should be in the match and he should win it. However, WWE hates when stars get over on their own and is successful and he has no match. Wonderful. Jinder Mahal is trash and he sucks. I know fans have trolled to be fans of him, but you're idiots. He is garbage. He can barely have a decent match and his promos are like watching paint dry. Bobby Roode is solid, but not exciting. Randy Orton hasn't been interesting in years honestly, at least not on a consistent basis. This triple threat match is really not something I want to see. Also, Braun Strowman is the most over guy on RAW and he's stuck in a fucking tag team match? Instead of putting Braun in the main event with Brock and Roman, they decide to put Braun in a fucking tag team match. WWE at their finest...... another stupid idea for this Mania. The final, and most obvious problem is this John Cena story. John Cena having to work for a Wrestlemania match is the worst story and it is far from believable. With that, we are due to get Undertaker vs John Cena...... like a whole 6-7 years too late. Taker is old, washed up, and to make matters worse, it feels as though he won't come back as the Deadman Taker, but this flag waving, MAGA, stand for the anthem Trump supporter American Bad Ass Taker. Yeah.... you can keep all of that. The match itself will not live up to any hype and the fact Taker hasn't shown up yet really has added nothing to building a story. So, for me, Brock vs Reigns, Nia vs Alexa, Braun being in a tag match, Bobby/RKO/Jinder, and the execution of Cena vs Taker are all disappointing on so many levels. Now.... what about the matches that are exciting and could be special? Let's close it out on a positive note.

Though I was confused by how they did it, Asuka vs Charlotte is a big match and a great match in the making. I expect Asuka to finally win the title and walk away with her streak still in tact and there should be no other outcome. It could be one of the best Women's Matches at Mania and I expect it to be a true highlight of the night. Aside from that, there are two big matches that have titles in them and should be great. While it is clear the WWE has a Smackdown Tag Title Match that will feature Harper and Rowan, The Usos, and New Day, that doesn't feel like a big time match just yet. It'll be good I'm sure, but the two matches that will be great are going to be the Intercontinental Title match with The Miz, Seth Rollins, and Finn Balor, along with the real main event of AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura. For Miz, he is the most consistent promo in the company, while Seth is the most consistent wrestler on RAW. Finn is right there knocking on the door and he could very well put on a show in this contest. For me, the smart move would be to give Seth the title and let him have a big win over both men, but Finn is overdue for a title win again and Miz vs Finn following Mania seems more likely. Still, this match should be good regardless.

For AJ vs Nakamura, this is the biggest match to me period. Nakamura is overdue for a big match on the biggest scale and AJ has wanted this match from the jump. Both men will come with their A game and the end result will be beautiful. It's obvious that Nakamura is due to win this match, and I hope he does, but if these two can get 20 minutes to tell a story and make a classic, this could be one of the greatest WWE Title matches in Mania history. So, with that, WWE has something to work with if they execute right. On paper, this doesn't look great (the nerve of you idiots saying this looks like the best Mania ever... not even close), but it could be good wrestling wise. There are many questions. Will AJ/Nakamura go on last like it should? Will we see Bobby Lashley cost Brock the title? Will we see Reigns turn heel finally? Will see Daniel Bryan victorious? Will Ronda Rousey be any good? Who will be the tag partner of Braun? Will Cena vs Taker actually be a classic? So many questions will be answered in two weeks. Wrestlemania 34 is almost here and though it's hard to really tell whether it'll be great or disappointing, the cards are in place for it to go either way.... it all depends on WWE and their decision making....... as always.



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