While the time leading up to WrestleMania is incredibly entertaining, it is the lull after the big show that comes under the most scrutiny, and as the show this year isn’t looking fantastic, it makes this time even more important for the WWE. We all know that there is call ups coming from NXT and that there may be some surprise returns or debuts, but the WWE need to do more than this to sustain entertaining television until the summer, where the next Big 4 Pay Per View SummerSlam is up. The following outlines 15 things that the WWE need to put in play to make the period after WrestleMania 33 as good as it can be.
15 Chris Jericho Gives An Emotional Farewell
Chris Jericho has been wrestling since the early 90s, and his 20+ year career has spanned Japan, Mexico, WCW, ECW and eventually the WWF, but his run from 2015-2017 has been some of the best of his career, and it is now obvious that he is the master of reinventing himself, as he remained very relevant as he goes beyond 45 years old. Whether he was working with the New Day or his best friend Kevin Owens, Jericho has been entertaining the entire time, and although he has definitely slowed down in the ring, he has made up for it by connecting with the fans and telling great stories. He needs to leave again due to his band Fozzy touring very soon, and he is now in the midst of a breakup story with Owens, which will culminate in a battle for his U.S title at WrestleMania. Fans have now embraced him as a huge baby face, and after his inevitable loss to Owens at ‘Mania, Jericho should give a hugely emotional farewell, which will make everyone realize that he truly is one of the greatest performers in wrestling history.
14 More Time To Be Given To The Cruiserweights
After the fantastic success of the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016, the RAW roster welcomed the division and the newly crowned Champion T.J Perkins, but ever since then, it’s not taken off, with the reactions becoming more and more subdued by the week. The title has shifted from TJP to Brian Kendrick to Rich Swann and finally with the King of the Cruiserweights, Neville, but there hasn’t been any spark or any standout match that has made the new division ‘must-see’. All that the 205 pound guys need to fix this problem is more time and more defined characters, and with Neville and Austin Aries set to do battle at WrestleMania, this could be the time and the rivalry that breaths new life into the division. No matter who comes out on top at the big show, the cruiserweights must be given more time and freedom to express unique, individual characters, and then they might live up to the hype that the successful Cruiserweight Classic created a year ago.
13 A Wave of NXT Arrivals
The night (or now nights) after WrestleMania have become infamous for hosting the rowdiest crowd of the year, and there are always many debuts, returns and surprises. In the past few years, this has been the night where NXT graduates who the company thinks highly of debut in the spotlight, and this year will be no different to the rest, especially with two shows in the following two nights. If you give any credence to online rumors and dirt sheets, stars such as Bobby Roode, DIY, The Revival, Asuka, Liv Morgan, Hideo Itami and Tye Dillinger are all possibilities to be on these two shows, and although this may leave a huge hole down in developmental, it would give the fans a chance to see many new, fresh matchups and stories.
12 NXT Gets Restocked With New Signees
Speaking of the hole this would leave in NXT, that needs to be filled, and while there is potential within the WWE’s developmental system, this replenishment needs to come from outside of the company. Sure, there have been performers signed that can now step up and fill the void such as Ruby Riot, Tommy End and Heavy Machinery, but if the company wants to keep NXT’s stellar reputation in tact, then they need to go after some well renowned independent stars. Whether it be the long rumored Adam Cole, Jay Lethal, Matt Riddle, Candice LeRae, Kyle O’Reilly or any other independent star, WWE need to restock in a big way, as excitement in NXT has been dwindling for the past year, this would really revitalize not only the promotion, but the fans investment in said product.
11 The Revival Show Up On Smackdown
We’ve already mentioned that there will be promotions immediately following WrestleMania, but to be more specific, the Revival should be among the top stars involved, and they should definitely be promoted to Smackdown, where they could reignite their rivalry with Chad Gable and Jason Jordan, American Alpha. This has been the biggest struggle for Smackdown since the split, as American Alpha have been so far ahead of the pack that they’ve just had no suitable competition, and this has got to the point where the Smackdown Tag Team Titles won’t even be defended at WrestleMania. Only time will tell if their gimmick gets over on the main roster, but knowing the time that they will have to develop if they are drafted to Smackdown, they should again solidify themselves as the best tag team on the planet.
10 The Miz Moves Up To The Main Event
Ever since the brand split in 2016, The Miz has taken off, performing with a revitalized passion that has rarely been matched, but after his great rivalries with Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, he has struggled to stay as relevant as he was during his stellar Intercontinental Title reign. He has to be given his spark back, and whether it’s on Smackdown or after a move to RAW, The Miz must be at the top of the card, as he has truly become the best male heel on the WWE roster (except for Roman Reigns.) We may never see his amazing, intense backstage rivalry with Daniel Bryan pay off, but giving him a run with the WWE Championship would add more fuel to the most entertaining rivalry in Smackdown from 2016.
9 Return To The 2-Man Commentary Booths
Having too many chefs in the kitchen is something WWE has been increasingly infamous for over the past few decades behind the scenes, but now Vince McMahon's obsession is boiling over on to the screen, as we no longer have classic duos like Heenan and Monsoon, King and J.R or even Cole and Taz. Instead we’ve got three man booths on both NXT and RAW, and Smackdown Live features a whopping 4 men on the headsets, which creates a plethora of problems, not only from WWE’s standpoint but from the viewers perspective as well. In a way, this has already begun, with Michael Cole stating he wants to step away and work more behind the scenes, and it may result in some releases, but at this point, it would improve WWE’s product immensely. There could be some very unique and fresh combinations, but seeing JBL alongside Mauro Ranallo on Smackdown, Corey Graves alongside Renee Young on RAW and Nigel McGuiness partnered with Tom Phillips on NXT with freedom would be fantastic to see.
8 The Boss Returns To Her Roots
The Women’s division on Smackdown has been fantastic since the brand split, with Becky Lynch, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Carmella and Naomi all getting the spot light, but RAW hasn’t had the same success, as just 3 women have been the focal point of the Championship picture in the 8 months since the split. There is only so many times that fans can watch Charlotte vs. Bayley or Sasha Banks, and this formula has to change very soon, and with the dream rivalry of Bayley vs. Sasha Banks a possibility, something has to give. What made their first series of matches in NXT work so well was the characters that went to battle, and The Boss, Sasha Banks was in her natural element as a heel, and this helped the storytelling aspects of the in ring work. If this is to work again, Sasha needs to turn heel if not before but after WrestleMania.
7 We Finally Get To See Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar
WWE loves to promote big men battling, most recently seen in the surprisingly fantastic match between Braun Strowman and the Big Show on Monday Night RAW, and there is no bigger dream big man match left in wrestling than The Destroyer vs. The Beast Incarnate. Ever since his promotion to RAW a few weeks ago, Joe has been booked like a monster, and with his rise to the main event imminent, it seems only a matter of time until the two lock horns, especially with Lesnar expected to leave WrestleMania as the Universal Champion. If Vince McMahon is truly committed to pushing the New Era (which we all have our doubts about considering the main event of WrestleMania 33), than this could be a perfect opportunity, as there are many fresh battles for the fresh face Joe to battle if he can dethrone Lesnar.
6 Braun Strowman Battles For The Universal Title
If you had told any WWE fan in 2015 that the monster Braun Strowman was one of the best parts of Monday Night RAW during a solo run, they would have laughed you out of the building, but after a stellar 2016, Strowman looks to be poised and ready for a run at the top of the card. Most fans today still value work rate above all else when it comes to wrestling, but Strowman has worked hard to improve, and is a believable threat at the top of the card, and he has proved that during a recent mini-rivalry with the companies golden boy, Roman Reigns. Whether you like it or you don’t, the WWE are very high on Strowman, and by the time that 2017, we will likely be in the midst of his first World Title reign, and I for one am excited about the prospect of his battles with Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and most of all, Brock Lesnar.
5 Finn Balor Turns Heel, Rejoins Bullet Club
Ever since Finn Balor debuted on the main roster, it was obvious he was destined for big things, and those things came early, as he was the first ever Universal Champion by virtue of his victory over Seth Rollins, but during that match he sustained an injury that he has only recently recovered from. Fans know his return is imminent, so it may not be a huge surprise, which is why WWE may think about, and should use it to swerve the audience with a heel turn, reuniting him with some old friends from Japan. Fans may not want to see it, but under the guise of Prince Devitt in New Japan, Finn was an incredible heel, and with a lack of top heels on the roster, it could catapult him straight back into the main event, and where he belongs into superstardom.
4 A New RAW GM Is Announced As A Huge Name
Last July when the WWE held it’s latest draft to split up the rosters of RAW and Smackdown, a perplexing announcement was made regarding the on screen authority, as both Shane and Stephanie McMahon would hire a General Manager for their brand as they both held the position of commissioner. Being the baby face, underdog McMahon, Shane chose wisely, and enlisted the help of the most popular baby face in WWE’s recent memory Daniel Bryan, but Stephanie McMahon chose Mick Foley, and their issues have been taking up much screen time as of late. In story, this may lead to Mick being fired from the position as he looks to recover from his hip surgery in real life, leading the position to be open as the latest draft looms large in the summer. Everyone from Stone Cold, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, J.R, Eric Bischoff have had their names thrown around online, but if RAW truly wants to be the flagship show, they need to nail their pick with a huge, huge name.
3 Much Less Stephanie McMahon
The Internet Wrestling Community often has a huge list of demands, most of them fulfilling their dreams of independent wrestlers taking over the WWE and Vince McMahon being pushed out of power, and most of them are illogical and would be bad for business. This move however would be on 99% of those fans lists, and for ratings and the credibility of the performers she has come into contact with on screen, this would make perfect sense. Not only are her performances on the microphone getting worse and more repetitive by the week, but fans have rightfully complained that over the last few years, she has damaged way more performers than she has helped. Out of every entry on this list, this is least likely to happen, but if entry number 4 contains a big enough name to replace Mick Foley as GM, than it just might be in the works.
2 AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
There were twitter posts in the past few weeks that hinted this dream match, that occurred at Wrestle Kingdom 10 at the beginning of 2016 could be in the works for WrestleMania, but that has since been shot down, with Nakamura still stuck in NXT, and Styles beginning a program with Shane McMahon for the big show. With Nakamura a lock to be called up in 2017, this is a match that has to happen, with SummerSlam being the potential backdrop for their enormous showdown, it just makes sense to have the two stars battle it out, as it could also help Smackdown continue to win the war against RAW in the hearts of fans. It may not happen until Shinsuke has been solidified as a huge star on the main roster, which may take until 2018 and WrestleMania 34, but whatever the case, this battle would make huge money for the WWE.
1 Massive Roster Shakeup
This one is the most obvious, as the new draft has almost been confirmed by online sources, but it needs to happen soon after ‘Mania (closer to SummerSlam though) to avoid rivalries and stories becoming stale, while giving ongoing issues time to flesh themselves out and climax. While the rosters don’t need to be completely overhauled, it would be nice to have some fresh matches and different faces on opposing shows, and when you take into account the NXT graduates that will also arrive, 2017 could be a whole lot different to 2016, in a very positive manner. The likes of Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Baron Corbin or even Randy Orton could do with a change of scenery, and we may not currently know the details of the draft, but it could finally bring in the positive changes that WWE needs to bring back ratings and their dwindling audience.