At long last, April 8 has come and gone, meaning the road to WrestleMania 34 has likewise finally come to a close. As has been the trend in recent years, with over 7 hours of wrestling content from the pre-show to the main event, the Grandest Stage of Them All had so much going on that some of it was bound to be good. Unfortunately, lots of it was bound to be pretty bad, as well, and the real test from WWE here on out is to recognize what worked and what didn’t as the company moves into the future.
The good news is that there are plenty of options where WWE could go that could accentuate the positives seen at WrestleMania while slowly cutting out the bad parts. Less promising is the fact Vince McMahon’s track record of late suggests he may do the opposite, shoving his failures down the fan’s throats until they improbably start to accept it.
Ultimately, there’s no changing McMahon’s mind on this sort of thing, as when he gets his heart set on a certain wrestler or idea, there’s pretty much no turning back. However, that’s no reason for wrestling fans to give up hope entirely, as he just might do the right thing for once after hearing crowds explode for certain superstars. Keep reading to learn about 12 directions WWE needs to avoid after WrestleMania 34 and 9 they should pursue.
21 NEEDS TO AVOID: Instantly Ignoring The Cruiserweights Again
Buried on the WWE Network pre-show between two giant battle royals, the stars of 205 Live were given 12 short minutes to shine, and that’s all they needed to prepare the crowd for WrestleMania. After a fast paced, highflying affair, Cedric Alexander defeated Mustafa Ali to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, earning high praise from the audience, including John Cena, who sat near the front row. The question now is what WWE does with the acclaim, because historically, they’ve treated 205 Live and the cruiserweights in general as a total afterthought. Now more than ever, the division is poised for a complete revamp that could finally make the smaller athletes respected, presumably with Alexander leading the charge. Chances are, though, WWE will keep confining them to a little watched show on Tuesday nights no matter how often they wow us on Pay-Per-View.
20 NEEDS TO AVOID: The Slow Death of Rusev Day
For a microcosm of all the reasons why certain fans have little hope about the future of WWE, look no further than WrestleMania’s United States Championship match. Four people were in the match, three of whom fans have little interest in, and one of whom is amongst the most popular stars in the entire company at this point. Naturally, the wrestler fans care the absolute least about defeated the superstar they liked most, so he could continue the worst feud of 2017 with the equally boring former champion. In case anyone missed it, we’re talking about WWE sacrificing the growing popularity of Rusev Day in favor of Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton, presumably so they can destroy any intrigue in the US title just like they did to the WWE Championship last year. While WWE could fix all this by simply moving Rusev away from the scene, rumors are suggesting WWE may instead cut ties with Rusev altogether, making it a complete mess.
19 SHOULD PURSUE: Bray Wyatt Gets Woke
Love it or hate it, no one can deny the feud between Bray Wyatt and “Woken” Matt Hardy got fans talking in a way few midcard battles are able to do. Granted, this was mostly due to Hardy’s past success with Impact Wrestling, where the same character earned constant attention on the Internet. If anything, Wyatt’s contributions just seemed to drag it down to the unfunny kind of nonsense, opposed to the weirdly comic nonsense Hardy was providing. Given this history, some fans may be a little weary of the two continuing their connection at the end of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, when Wyatt returned from the Lake of Resurrection at the Hardy Compound to help Matt pick up the victory. However, now that Wyatt is on Hardy’s side, the Woken One is entirely in control of the weirdness, and with his direction the bizarre doublespeak may actually start making sense in the near future.
18 NEEDS TO AVOID: Immediately Pushing Aside Bobby Lashley
“Better late than never” is probably a phrase that’s been going through Bobby Lashley’s head as of late. Despite the mild reaction he received throughout his initial run with WWE, Lashley finally made his return to the company on the Raw after WrestleMania to a huge audience response. Granted, part of that may have been related to shutting up Elias, but they also seemed happy to see the former ECW and TNA Champion earn his second chance. In fact, the Internet has been pretty hyped about Lashley making a potential comeback ever since he started redefining himself in TNA, developing a character similar to Brock Lesnar’s and backing it up with actual success in Bellator MMA. The catch to all this is that WWE brought him back to beat up Elias of all people, not exactly suggesting a main event run. If he’s just back to beat up midcarders and meander near the bottom, what’s the point?
17 SHOULD PURSUE: Nakamura Takes Throne As A Villain
Truth be told, what should have been a highlight of WrestleMania 34 was kind of a let down, when WWE Champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura merely had an average match, while fans had hoped for an all-time classic. Not only was the match underwhelming, but Nakamura also lost, and it’s traditionally never fun when Royal Rumble winners come up short. That said, with a single yet effective (and painful looking) gesture, the King of Strong Style may well have saved things after his loss, giving Styles a vicious low blow and thus turning heel for the first time in America. Nakamura is the sort of performer who can excel in either role, and his work as a face has already made him a star. However, it was his foundation as a heel that made him a legend in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and it’s about time WWE started setting him on that same trajectory.
16 NEEDS TO AVOID: Another Pointless Push For Naomi
Given all the controversy, one might have hoped WWE had some pretty big plans in store for the so-called “historic” first ever WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. Instead, the audience was handed a forgettable, slow paced contest with a winner absolutely no one wanted to see. There were plenty of options as to who could have picked up the big prize, from Sasha Banks, Kairi Sane, or Bayley, or perhaps a newcomer getting called up from NXT. Unfortunately, the actual victor was Naomi, who has been failing to make crowds Feel the Glow for more than two years already. Aside from being married to Jimmy Uso, it’s really hard to understand what WWE sees in this woman, as she’s just not that good on the microphone or in the ring. Worst of all, this will almost certainly lead to Naomi challenging for a few more SmackDown Women’s Championships. She might even win them, further dragging down the whole division during an allegedly revolutionary time.
15 SHOULD PURSUE: Let The NXT Call-Ups Run Wild
At this point, every fan knows that WrestleMania isn’t really over when the curtain drops on the Grandest Stage of Them All. WWE forever rages on, and the episodes of Raw and SmackDown taped the next two nights are usually as historic as the Showcase of Immortals. They also tend to predict the next year of wrestling, a fact definitely seen in the many NXT call-ups always guaranteed to make their debuts on those two shows. In 2018, fans saw Ember Moon, the Authors of Pain, No Way Jose, and the Iconic Duo, all make the jump, and for all fans know a few more names could join them in the near future. Even if this is it for this year’s graduating class, the point is that WWE needs to push all of these rising stars to the top immediately, when their potential is at it’s greatest. It looks like they’re on the right track thus far, so let’s hope they keep it up.
14 NEEDS TO AVOID: John Cena’s Long Crawl Back to Glory
This list already covered The Undertaker’s half of the fall out in his match against John Cena, but the much more pressing issue is where the Face of WWE goes from here. The reason this is such a big issue is that Cena has never looked worse in his career than he does right now. In addition to getting destroyed like a scrub in a matter of minutes, Cena himself repeatedly noted it had been months since he won a high profile match already, making this feel almost like a total burial of his career. Of course, he’s John Cena, so he’s still the top star in the company, but from a character perspective, he’s at rock bottom. This usually means a huge comeback is around the corner, which could end with Cena as a 17 time WWE Champion, and that’s just not something fans want to see at this point. Then again, with the success of his film Blockers, plus many more movie roles down the line, it might be a long while before we see Cena again, so maybe there’s nothing to worry about.
13 SHOULD PURSUE: Fixing The Broken Tag Division
With two new teams crowned WWE Tag Team Champions at WrestleMania 34, the division is clearly at a point where great changes in the status quo could soon be made. That’s even true with one of these duos giving up the gold the next night, when Braun Strowman and Nicholas handed back the Raw titles so the latter could continue his education. If anything, the fact WWE has already announced a tournament to fill the slot only confirms that the possibilities are endless so far as the future of the tag team division is concerned. In addition to Raw’s vacant position, the SmackDown titles are now in the hands of a unique team who never held them before in the Bludgeon Brothers, hence the equally uncharted territory on both brands. Traditionally, WWE has paid little attention to tag teams, leading to audiences doing the same. Maybe the current situation will give both sides a chance to finally start caring.
12 NEEDS TO AVOID: Reviving The Dead Man Full Time
Despite the match never officially being announced, one of the most anticipated contests of WrestleMania 34 pitted John Cena against The Undertaker. WWE took a pretty darn bizarre road to get there, but once the moment finally came, fans were nonetheless pumped to see The Dead Man rise from the ashes and square off with the most divisive superstar in the company. The ensuing battle between them continued the absurdity of the angle by way of Undertaker completely squashing Cena in less than 3 minutes, giving the audience momentary joy. Once they started thinking about what the heck just happened, though, the elation started to fade. Where exactly does WWE go from here? The Undertaker really shouldn’t come back full time, and there’s not much stake in him repeating this same little escapade on a yearly basis now that the Streak is over. Of course, we say that, but this could be exactly what Vince McMahon is planning to do, an impulse he needs to resist.
11 SHOULD PURSUE: Owens and Zayn Going Rogue
Upon first glances, some wrestling fans seemed a little concerned WWE was booking themselves into a corner with the ongoing rivalry between Daniel Bryan and the team of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. WrestleMania 34 was Bryan’s big comeback after several years of retirement, meaning he more or less had to win, but Zayn and Owens losing also meant they could never return to SmackDown in the storyline. Distressing though that is for Zayn and Owens’s characters, it could actually work out perfectly for them as performers. Some of the most popular superstars in WWE history have been rebels who weren’t allowed in the building, and these two wrestlers definitely have the charisma necessary to follow that trend. Of course, they could also remain heels, drawing the ire of everyone in the company, to the point management is forced to hire them back so someone can beat them up. Either way, WWE has great potential to turn this “firing” into a highlight of both men’s careers.
10 NEEDS TO AVOID: Carmella The Iconic Conqueror
As if it weren’t bad enough that Charlotte Flair retained her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Asuka and ending the undefeated streak, two nights later, she lost the gold to Carmella. On the one hand, fans had been waiting for Carmella to cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase for so long that it was a little relieving when she finally did, but then audiences were left in a world with her as champion. Even with the Iconic Duo of recent NXT call-ups Peyton Royce and Billie Kay at her side, Carmella doesn’t have the chops required to represent female wrestlers during their revolution. Unfortunately, WWE kind of booked themselves into a corner already, because having her lose it in another week or two makes the whole thing pointless. This means WWE needs to put her against lower level opponents while keeping the good female wrestlers busy, or else they’ll start looking bad as well. Worst of all, the title will suffer pretty much no matter what happens.
9 SHOULD PURSUE: Strapping The Rocket Back On Daniel Bryan
Of all the so-called “WrestleMania Moments” to take place at the 34th Grandest Stage of Them All, none were more surprising or euphoric than the return of Daniel Bryan after two years of forced retirement. As expected, the second his music hit over the speakers and the former WWE Champion returned to the ring, all 78,000 fans in attendance jumped to their feet with loud chants of his favorite word. From there, Bryan and his partner Shane McMahon wrestled an explosive match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, where the returning wrestler stole the show with all of his old trademarks. It’s completely understandable that some fans are hoping Bryan takes it easy for a little while and tests the waters with his return, but his personality suggests that just won’t happen, so WWE may as well go big or go home with his comeback. Obviously, just about every wrestling fan in the world is hoping they go big.
8 NEEDS TO AVOID: Turning Braun Strowman Into A Comedy Character
Okay, so when Braun Strowman picked a 10-year-old kid out of the crowd and managed to beat Cesaro and Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championships, it was a fun and unforgettable experience for all involved parties. The next night, when Strowman gave up the titles cause the kid’s in 4th grade was also charming. There’s no problem with Strowman’s silly brother Brains, either, nor that time a few months back when he played a gigantic standup bass to mock Elias. That is, there’s nothing wrong with all of these moments on their own. However, there is an issue in WWE turning Strowman into a full-on comedy character, as it’s kind of killing the mystique he built up as a Monster Amongst Men. His goofy side will only have out of character appeal for so long, before it becomes his defining trait, at which point it’ll be almost impossible to buy him as a threat when it’s time to go back on the warpath.
7 SHOULD PURSUE: Creating Women’s Tag Team Titles
For all the shortcomings of the first ever Women’s WrestleMania Battle Royal, one absolute truth was on display throughout the whole match: the female side of WWE’s roster is now greater than it’s ever been. In addition to the 20 talents participating in that match, two high profile female bouts appeared on the main card, plus a mixed tag team match, leading to a total of 26 women’s wrestlers seen as viable contenders. And yet, there are only two belts in the entire company for all these women to compete over. Given these numbers, and for the sake of variety, Women’s Tag Team Championships seem like the way to go. There are also already quite a few female tag teams with nothing to do, and such titles would immediately give them purpose. Even if WWE doesn’t go this route for some weird reason, they should at least give the ladies a new midcard belt or two, because they clearly don’t have enough yet.
6 NEEDS TO AVOID: Roman Reigns Winning The Inevitable Rematch
As much as fans didn’t want to see Roman Reigns win the WWE Universal Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 34, they very obviously didn’t want what they did see, either. In perhaps the most confusing move Vince McMahon has made yet, reigning champ Brock Lesnar absolutely decimated Reigns from bell to bell, definitely ending their match with a series of F5’s. Another thing that lasted the entire match was the audience’s rage, presumably because they assumed it was all leading up to Reigns making the most beaten and destroyed comeback in history. For whatever reason, when that didn’t happen, they got even madder about the idea. Chances are this same trend will continue at the upcoming Greatest Royal Rumble event, where WWE has already announced Reigns will get his rematch. The only difference is that once again we expect Roman to win, and the audience still won’t be happy when that happens. So, what should WWE be doing instead? Well…
5 SHOULD PURSUE: Someone Else Challenging Brock Lesnar
The solution to the whole Roman Reigns problem is actually pretty darn simple (this time around, anyway). WWE just needs to admit the Reigns experiment has failed, label it over and done with, and place someone else in his slot as the one to take down Brock Lesnar. The Raw after WrestleMania already offered a great potential choice for this role in Samoa Joe, who could become a massive star by reigniting his feud with the Beast Incarnate and taking away his championship. Unfortunately, it seems more like WWE is going to keep on trucking with Reigns, then have Joe step up as the Big Dog’s first challenger, which will only hurt everybody. Hopefully, Vince McMahon or someone else realizes this will only prolong the disaster, and let Joe take out Roman before Greatest Royal Rumble. Of course, Joe’s not even their only option, as almost anyone running in to snipe Roman and steal his spot could become a hero for doing so.
4 NEEDS TO AVOID: Asuka Losing Her Footing
Of all the weird and confusing choices made at WrestleMania 34, without a doubt the strangest of all was Charlotte Flair ending Asuka’s legendary winning streak to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship. As if the Empress of Tomorrow winning way before her time wasn’t confusing enough, two nights later, Flair lost the gold to Carmella, making the whole thing pointless. This list already talked about the issues with the Princess of Staten Island, but the real problem here is that Asuka looks weak for the first time in her career. While the match against Charlotte was predictably great, this turn of events means Asuka doesn’t even have grounds for a rematch. Making her start from the bottom would make no sense, but keeping her at the top just to lose again and keep the Carmella issue going would be even worse. Frankly, we’re not sure what WWE should do with Asuka next, but they absolutely can’t let her fizzle out already.
3 SHOULD PURSUE: Rousey The McMahon Slayer
Regardless of what WWE may or may not have messed up at WrestleMania 34, there was one thing they were bound to succeed on pretty much no matter what happened. The second Ronda Rousey officially signed with the company, it was a guarantee her debut would be a massive event, and the mixed tag match pitting her and Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon definitely delivered. On the next Raw, Rousey got to beat up Steph all over again, making fans extremely happy for the second time in a row. Based on this pattern, it’s safe to assume WWE will do the right thing with Rousey and continue pushing her as a true destroying of worlds, so this entry is actually meant to suggest something else. With both arms presumably broken and Rousey putting the fear of death in her eyes, Stephanie McMahon needs to be taken off TV for quite a long time.
2 NEEDS TO AVOID: Wasting Or Rushing Rousey Into Normal Roles
While it looks like WWE is on the right path with Ronda Rousey thus far, one thing that needs saying about her role in the future is that the company needs to steadfastly avoid anything that could screw it up. It might be a bit much to suggest she immediately set out on a path to beat Asuka’s legendary undefeated streak, but that actually wouldn’t be the worst idea, as no athlete has ever looked more dominant or destructive than she. The only way for WWE to fail in this scenario is to blow Rousey’s potential far too soon and have her lose to some random, undeserving opponent. Whoever finally does pin Rousey for the 1-2-3 will instantly become a star, but that theoretical star grows each passing day “Rowdy” Ronda continues to look like a killer. They also need to be extremely careful whenever they pick the person to finally beat her, because the wrong wrestler could fail to appreciate what it does for them.
1 NEEDS TO AVOID: Overuse Of Jinder Mahal
The other half of this list already touched on the next item when discussing how WWE is destroying Rusev Day, but it would be just as stupid an idea without sacrificing the Bulgarian Brute, so it bears repeating on it’s own. Put simply, Vince McMahon’s fascination with Jinder Mahal, and shoving him in nonstop boring matches, must be stopped at all costs. Fans have already been forced to sit through two terrible Pay-Per-View contests between him and Orton, each one slowly destroying the WWE Championship in the process. Now that the United States gold is in the mix with Jeff Hardy, it’s bound to become yet another title people won't care about. Granted, this time around, few people care about the belt to begin with, but that doesn’t make it okay for Jinder to continue leading fans to the concession stand while using it as a prop.