In just a little more than two weeks from now, WWE will be holding WrestleMania 33 at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, and by the looks of the card, it's going to be another WrestleMania catering to the casual audiences who know The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, and other old standbys they know from their younger days, but aren't too sure what to make of Bray Wyatt, Sami Zayn, Alexa Bliss, and other younger WWE Superstars. For smart fans, it's going to be another slap in the face, but we'll still be watching anyway, won't we?
But it's also interesting to think of how the fallout would be after WrestleMania 33. Once Goldberg and The Undertaker are possibly defeated en route to retirement, what's next for the WWE and its roster? What can we expect to see from the company's "new season" after the old one bids farewell with a grand finale? And will WWE go for a fast start with its first post-'Mania pay-per-views, or will the company take it easy in the beginning, in hopes of a slow build-up to SummerSlam?
Given those questions, it's time for us to look at 15 things that will most likely happen after WrestleMania 33, even if they ideally shouldn't, and see what's in it for you, the wrestling fan, once those things happen.
15 UNWELCOME FUTURE ENDEAVORS
Last year, WWE went through this seemingly annual, often brutal sweep of its roster, releasing more than ten talents little more than a month after WrestleMania 32. For many fans, it was just about right that they got rid of wrestlers such as Cameron and Hornswoggle, but other departures, especially that of Damien Sandow, upset many a member of the WWE Universe.
This year, there may be another sizable lot of WWE and NXT wrestlers and personalities due for release to make way for some potential NXT call-ups or outside signings. It's safe to say that several jobbers and lower-carders may be included in WWE's 2017 spring cleaning, but you'll still want to steel yourself for a shocker or two. Pro-tip: when predicting releases, think of the guys whom you barely see on TV, or who have substantially dropped down the card in recent months.
14 UNINSPIRING TAG TEAM FEUDS
At this point, it's almost easy to forget that SmackDown Live has a tag team division. For all the good that the blue brand has done since the brand split, Creative hasn't done much to make fans care about American Alpha as SmackDown tag champs. With on-and-off rivals that include The Usos and three heel jobber tag teams (Breezango, Ascension, Vaudevillains), Alpha has also been having it too easy as champions.
Meanwhile, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson haven't exactly been booked strongly as tag champs, and were easily fed to Roman Reigns just a few weeks ago in a handicap match that did them no favors. And likewise, WWE hasn't done much to get fans excited about a lazily-booked three-way dance for the RAW Tag Team Championships, where they'll be facing Enzo and Cass and Cesaro and Sheamus at WrestleMania 33.
In short, don't expect WWE to fix its tag team booking problems right after 'Mania.
13 PAIGE GETS BURIED
Unfortunately, the controversies haven't been stopping for Paige, whose private photos and videos were recently leaked in a similar fashion to 2014's notorious "Fappening" leaks. And they had to come at a time when she's almost ready to return to the ring, not to mention preparing for the release of her family's biopic, Fighting with My Family.
As Paige isn't expected to be healthy in time for WrestleMania 33, we're likely to see her back in the ring by April or May. But with several women having overtaken her in the card, to say little of the nude photos and videos that supposedly include a rather "disrespectful" pose with the NXT Women's Championship belt, it wouldn't be far-fetched to expect WWE to job her out whenever possible. Because, you know, double standards.
12 A LACKLUSTER POST-MANIA PPV
It would seem that each time WrestleMania ends and the buildup to the first post-'Mania pay-per-view begins, WWE goes on cruise control, almost mailing it in (or completely mailing it in) as a new "season" kicks off. That shouldn't be the case at all, but unfortunately, we've seen that on repeated occasions.
Last year's Payback saw WWE resorting to tired tropes (invoking the Montreal Screwjob in Charlotte's Women's Championship defense against Natalya), presenting matches that didn't have much of an underlying feud, and presenting a main event match (Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship) that was overbooked, yet underperformed. It was clear WWE was underachieving after a much-derided WrestleMania 32, and with this year's 'Mania promising to polarize fans due to its casual fan-centric buildup, the company has to step it up ahead of Payback in case the "grandest stage of them all" isn't that grand after all, especially to hardcore fans.
11 THE RETURN OF THE HARDY BOYZ
Take note that we said "Hardy Boyz" above, not the "Broken Hardys." Since Matt and Jeff Hardy chose not to re-sign with Impact Wrestling, there's been lots of talk that WWE is trying to bring the brothers back to the fold, especially since their ROH deals are apparently short-term. Given what we know, there's a fair chance we may see them back on RAW or SmackDown, but due to an ongoing dispute the Hardys have with Impact regarding their "Broken" gimmicks, they may not be brought back as "Broken" Matt and Brother Nero, unless WWE is willing to pay royalties.
Assuming the Hardys return to WWE, expect to see aging versions of the daredevil brothers who (often) teamed up with Lita in the 2000s, and not a wild-haired, eccentric man talking about premoneeeshuns and deletions, dilapidated boats, and the Seven Deities. Expect to see them jobbing to younger tag teams, much like the Dudley Boyz did from 2015 to 2016. And don't expect them to be long for MeekMahan's company if they don't get to bring the Broken Universe with them. Delightful? We don't think so.
10 CROWD FAVORITES FAILING TO GRAB THE BRASS RINGS
Months ago, I wrote about the chances of certain WWE Superstars to win their first main event titles in 2017, and so far I've been right about one of them — Bray Wyatt. But what about guys like Sami Zayn and Cesaro, who don't have certain tools (size for Zayn, promo skills for Cesaro) Vince McMahon looks for in a main event champ? If recent booking is any clue, these wrestlers and a few others may continue their futile grab for those invisible brass rings in the aftermath of WrestleMania.
As of late, Zayn has been fed to Braun Strowman and Kevin Owens, and while it makes sense for him to lead the babyface charge against Triple H's rumored heel stable (we'll get to them, don't worry), WWE may have other ideas, ideas that may revolve around long, wet hair, muscular physiques, and snivelin' sufferin' succotash. Cesaro's tag team with Sheamus seems to have run its course, and there don't seem to be any serious plans to trade him to SmackDown. There's still lots of main event hopes for those two, but for a lot of fans, their patience is running painfully thin.
9 AJ STYLES AS A RAW UPPER MIDCARDER
The year 2016 was phenomenal for AJ Styles. In his first year in WWE, he won a world title, had a classic series of matches with John Cena, and established himself as SmackDown Live's alpha heel. But there have been rumors that he may be traded to Monday Night RAW, possibly as a stipulation for his WrestleMania 33 match against Shane McMahon, and bad as it is to deal with the possibility of 47-year-old non-wrestler Shane going over, we shudder to think of what may happen if Styles goes to the red brand.
Although there's a good chance it may lead to a reunion with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (and maybe Finn Balor too?), this (Bullet) Club reunion may have them playing second fiddle to Triple H's faction as a heel stable. And with RAW being Brock Lesnar country, Styles may end up as a secondary heel to the Beast. There's also the issue of his age, as he turns 40 this year.
It would be a total waste if AJ Styles ends up on RAW and gets demoted to upper midcard status, but it just might happen.
8 THE UNDERTAKER'S RETIREMENT
In a perfect world, this shouldn't happen because a lot of us have grown up as fans of The Undertaker, having followed his career from his short-lived tenure as Brother Love's protege, to what could be the end of his WWE career at WrestleMania 33. The Deadman has been a fixture of WWE programming for over 25 years now, and a lot of us feel that he'd be better off ending his career with a win, and not the loss he may suffer against Roman Reigns come April 2 in Orlando.
The reality, however, is that Mark Calaway is turning 52 years old this month, and his body is evidently having a harder time than ever dealing with the rigors of professional wrestling. So tough as it may be to accept, it may be time to prepare for the end of an era if and when Reigns beats him at WrestleMania and WWE continues booking him like Superman.
7 TRIPLE H'S UPPER-MIDCARD TAKE ON EVOLUTION
Rumors are swirling regarding the formation of a new Triple H-led stable that may include Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens, and it does seem as if WWE is building up to this alliance ahead of WrestleMania. And to further underscore the possibility of an Evolution-esque faction, some have speculated that Charlotte may add a little Flair to the stable as its token female member. But will it be as dominant as Evolution was? We strongly doubt it.
Owens, whose Universal Championship reign drew mixed reactions, is expected to win a midcard belt (the U.S. Championship) at WrestleMania 33. It's probably too early in his main roster run to expect Samoa Joe to seriously contend for the Universal Championship. And Charlotte may be out of the title picture, assuming she fails to win her RAW Women's Championship back and WWE goes with a Bayley vs. Sasha Banks feud for the title. It may be a very upper midcard-esque faction in the beginning, and while it won't be as underwhelming as League of Nations was, it most likely won't be anywhere near Triple H's most famous stables (Evolution, DX) in terms of push and impact.
6 CHRIS JERICHO RETURNS TO ROCK STAR DUTIES
As a fan of rock and heavy metal since childhood, I'm all for Chris Jericho enjoying a successful second career as the lead singer for Fozzy. His love for heavy music (and surprisingly for some, the Beatles) has been well-covered in his three autobiographies, and he does have some nice vocal chops as a metal vocalist. But he's also preparing to wrap up his most successful later-career part-time run so far, a run that's introduced fans to the List of Jericho, as well as the extremely-popular catchphrases "drink it in, man!" and "stupid idiot."
It's going to be sad for a lot of fans when Jericho drops his United States Championship, which he's obviously keeping warm for Kevin Owens. But with Fozzy booked for several dates in the coming months, including this year's Download Festival in England, we're going to have to accept the fact that for several months or more, we won't be hearing those catchphrases and hearing Jericho tell people he doesn't like that they just made the list.
5 THE WYATTS AS HEELS
Despite his never having made a full-fledged face turn in four years on the main roster, Bray Wyatt is well-loved by the smart fans, who chanted "You deserve it!" on the first SmackDown Live after he won the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber. Fans love him because he's an all-around talent with a strong gimmick and youth on his side. Yet he's supposed to be the heel in his feud with Randy Orton — a backstabbing arsonist of an Apex Predator.
The way we see it, it's going to be a Wyatt Family reunion ahead of WrestleMania 33, as Luke Harper and Erick Rowan make what seems like their 523rd return to the faction as "prodigal sons." And they may still be the heels after 'Mania, with WWE asking fans to celebrate the treachery and house-burning ways of a 15-year main roster veteran who would presumably win the WWE Championship at 'Mania because casual fans know who he is. Don't be surprised if the fans turn on Orton sometime before, during, or after his WWE Championship match against Wyatt.
4 RANDY ORTON, 13-TIME WWE CHAMPION
You do the math. On April Fools' Day of this year, Randy Orton will turn 37 years old. That's one day before the Show of Shows, where the Viper may likely end Bray Wyatt's first-ever WWE Championship reign and become a 13-time champ. Happy birthday, Viper, we guess? And are you ready for SmackDown Live to have a main event champion who's one of the few WWE Superstars who are household names even to non-fans?
At this point, Orton has been in WWE for so long that it almost feels like he's in his early-mid-40s, though as mentioned above, he's younger than John Cena, AJ Styles, and even less-experienced guys such as onetime Wyatt Family ally Luke Harper. He doesn't need another run on top of the card. But as we're finding out more often with each passing day, WrestleMania 33 is shaping up to be all about the casual fans with little clue about the newer, more promising talents that have made WWE's roster the deepest it's been in years.
3 ORTON VS. CENA, PART 1,000-SOMETHING AT SUMMERSLAM
Speaking of Randy Orton, how many of you think that his likely WWE Championship win at WrestleMania 33 will lead up to yet another match for the title against John Cena at SummerSlam 2017? Yes, folks, this is arguably the most overdone match in all of WWE's recent history, and you shouldn't be surprised if WWE resorts to this tired, old rivalry when building up to their next "Big Four" PPV, SummerSlam. So who wants to see Cena make history and win a record-breaking 17th WWE Championship against the Viper?
WWE probably does, and it all boils down once again to a point we've made several times in this list, and will make a few more times before we're done — the company's reaching out to the casuals and trying to win back lapsed fans who only know Attitude and/or Ruthless Aggression-era Superstars. As Cena is expected to take a lot of time off this year for his acting projects, this build-up might not happen immediately post-'Mania, but it won't be a shock if SmackDown storylines start building up to this come July.
2 BROCK LESNAR AS A PART-TIME CHAMPION
Assuming Goldberg's short-term WWE deal does expire after WrestleMania, that means the Universal Championship would change hands from one part-timer to another, with Brock Lesnar going over in what should be another quick squash match, this time with Goldberg on the losing end. And you all know what's next, right? A championship reign where the champion is barely on television, defending his title irregularly, and usually during one of the Big Four pay-per-views.
That could also mean Paul Heyman bait-and-switch promos, and while Heyman on the mic is seldom ever a bad thing, it does get tiresome to hear him promise a Lesnar appearance, only for us to realize he was trolling us all along. If WWE had any sense, they'd put the Universal Championship on someone who works on a regular basis, but as we know, it's all about appeasing the casual fans with all those part-time champs.
1 ROMAN REIGNS AS A BABYFACE, PERIOD
Unfortunately for all of you out there who may have been hoping to see a Roman Reigns heel turn heading into his WrestleMania match against The Undertaker, you might not be getting it. We're talking Vince McMahon's golden boy here, and Vince doesn't care if more than half the arena boos the Big Dog every night. He's John Cena's heir apparent as the "face of WWE," he's on a path to retiring The Undertaker, and both men may likely hug it out post-match in what's intended to be a "passing of the torch moment." But unlike the aftermaths of 'Taker vs. HBK or HBK vs. Flair, it won't be touching for the fans in attendance, but most likely disgusting. Oh, you heartless people of the WWE Universe.
Yes, we know, we're preaching to the choir, but WWE probably won't quit until fans accept Reigns as the company's top babyface. And if recent reports from Dave Meltzer are accurate, that's the way it's going to be until he wins the Universal Championship from Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34. One doesn't have to be Nostradamus to predict that the WWE Network will be overloaded with cancellation requests once that happens.
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