Professional basketball has the NBA Finals. The NFL has the Super Bowl. Major League Baseball (MLB) has the World Series and the NHL has the Stanley Cup. All of these leagues offer a full season of action where the results of all that hard work reach its pinnacle in a final round or single game in which their respective champions are crowned. In the WWE, this year-long culmination of hard work is called WrestleMania.
This weekend, the WWE held it’s 33rd WrestleMania. However, unlike the NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL, where each season comes to a close, WrestleMania is the beginning of another new chapter. Nothing really ends, it just leads to something new.
WWE fans will tell you when the lights of WrestleMania go out, there is no feeling of “what will we do during the off-season” that kicks in. The WWE will go right back to work and fans will be hit with one of the hottest nights in professional wrestling the following evening. It’s come to be known as WrestleMania Monday.
Starting with WrestleMania Monday and for the weeks that follow, new rivalries will begin while some unanswered questions stemming from “The Showcase of the Immortals” will need to be answered. What can fans expect this year?
Here are 20 stories that will likely consume the WWE. 10 fans will be happy about and 10 fans will dread.
20. Happy About – Goldberg Will Be Done As Universal Champion
Clearly, the WWE had placed Goldberg in such a high-profile spot on the WrestleMania 33 card because their research told them the fans love him and were pumped for his return. The problem is, fans will only love the Goldberg who can’t stay in the ring longer than 60 seconds for so long before they start to turn on him.
Heading into WrestleMania 33 it had already started to happen and when Brock Lesnar won the WWE Universal Title in Orlando, fans were relieved that the WWE moved the title and any storyline that surrounds it in a different direction. The two put on an interesting match to end their feud, but Raw’s major title deserved better. It appears Goldberg isn’t scheduled for much, if anything, beyond WrestleMania 33. It makes sense that he didn’t walk out the champion.
19. Dread – Roman Reigns Still Being Pushed as a Good Guy
If there was ever an opportunity to turn Roman Reigns into a heel, it would have been against his WrestleMania 33 opponent The Undertaker. Their matchup closed the show and the way The Undertaker left his gear in the ring, it appears WrestleMania 33 was his last.
Reigns was booked to come out victorious, and in a way, The Undertaker passed the torch by cleanly losing. If on Monday the WWE continues to push Reigns as a “good guy,” it’s a slap in the face to WWE fans who sat through the end of The Undertaker’s undefeated streak and are now watching him retire — at the same time tarnishing his legacy for all the wrong reasons.
If the WWE goes and decides to make Reigns the biggest heel in the company, defeating The Undertaker would have been a good way to do it. If they continue down the road of Reigns as “the guy” so love him because we tell you to, it won’t sit well with the WWE Universe.
18. Happy About – AJ Styles to Get a Prominent Feud With a Real Wrestler
No offense to Shane McMahon, who put on a better than expected match against AJ Styles, but Styles deserved better than to be placed in a match with a WWE character who, while clearly willing to do some crazy stuff for the benefit of a match, cannot hang regularly as a wrestler. Styles is arguably the best wrestler in the WWE and while his match with Shane was a pleasant surprise, it will be exciting to see him start a feud with someone like Randy Orton.
The silver lining for Styles fans is that his feud with Shane-O-Mac kept him high-profile and a new rivalry will feel fresh without AJ having lost any steam. On Tuesday, Smackdown Live will have to close out the AJ versus Shane storyline, but once the dust has settled, that drama will have been forgotten and Styles will find a new rival to show his unbelievable skill.
17. Dread – The Pointless WrestleMania Rematch
It happens every year. Whether it’s out of laziness by the writing staff or whether it stems from a need to give a buildup to new matches and rivalries, the first Raw and Smackdown Live post-WrestleMania will be filled with rematches from the Raw’s and SmackDown Live broadcasts that led to the biggest show of the year. If the matches aren’t direct copies, they’ll be some mashed-up version of them.
This means that for a couple of weeks, fans will be subjected to feuds they’ve already watched unfold and simply wish would end. Regardless of how potentially strong the matches are, how many times can we see Kevin Owens versus Sami Zayn? How many times can the WWE throw the same women on Raw in a match together? How often will the same tag teams work with each other before one team takes control of the division?
16. Happy About – A Singles Feud For Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe has been a force on Raw. Still, he wasn’t given an official matchup at WrestleMania 33 nor did he appear on the card. Something felt completely wrong about that and the WWE will be sure to correct that empty feeling by giving Joe a bonafide hero to go up against.
With Triple H on a part-time performer’s schedule and Seth Rollins moving on from his feud with The Game, will Samoa Joe and Rollins rekindle what was only the start of something entertaining? Joe did Triple H’s dirty work and nearly eliminated Rollins from the WrestleMania card. You’d have to think Rollins isn’t too happy about that. A Seth Rollins versus Samoa Joe battle would be one of the more entertaining feuds to come out of the WrestleMania weekend and it makes a ton of sense from a storyline perspective.
No matter who Joe faces, the WWE will put him in a feud worthy of his character’s tenacity and viciousness. It was too awkward watching as Cathy Kelley interviewed Joe on the WWE Hall of Fame Red Carpet Show for him not to get a decent singles storyline. She literally got flustered at what to say as she wished him the best of luck on Raw after telling everyone else good luck at WrestleMania.
15. Dread – The Potential Departure of Chris Jericho
There are rumours that Chris Jericho will be taking some time off to tour with his band “Fozzy” and that his build-up to WrestleMania was to put over Kevin Owens and give Owens the U.S. Title. With Jericho’s clean loss on Sunday, expect the storylines to work its way toward his eventual exit. Frankly, Owens needed the rub in a match that would show he’s still got the stuff as a wrestler who matches up against and can beat the best in the business. WrestleMania 33 accomplished that goal.
Future plans for Jericho aside, it doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been one of the most entertaining parts of the WWE lately. “The List” was a smashing success that no one could have predicted and the storyline that surrounded Owens and Jericho made for magical television. Jericho will undoubtedly be missed and any storyline on Raw that doesn’t include him is a story less appealing to fans.
14. Happy About – The Return Of Finn Balor
Finn Balor has some unfinished business with Seth Rollins. He’s also overdue a match versus the Universal Champion. Could we see Balor return and start up a prominent feud with The Architect or The Beast? Maybe we’ll see a renewed rivalry with the aforementioned Samoa Joe.
Honestly, it really doesn’t matter who Balor chooses to square-off against; fans will simply welcome his return. Balor is an extremely popular character who went down way too early and right when he became the first-ever Universal Champion. He’s healthy, has been ready to roll for a couple weeks and has been warming himself back up to in-ring competition at live events. It would be a shocker if he didn’t return at Raw’s WrestleMania Monday show.
13. Dread – Return of the Hardy’s Without the “Broken” Gimmick
Well, it happened and it was one of the biggest WrestleMania moments of the night. Matt and Jeff Hardy returned and won the Raw Tag Team Championship. Both former WWE Superstars were already in Orlando for other wrestling commitments and those commitments ended right around Sunday’s pay-per-view broadcast. Fans were ecstatic to see them back, chanting “Delete, Delete, Delete” throughout the stadium.
There’s only one problem. We still don’t know the status of the legal battle that seems to be surrounding TNA and the Hardy’s over their “Broken” characters. It’s these characters that likely have the fans so interested in Matt and Jeff and why the WWE is thinking they’d be great candidates for a WWE return. It’s not even so much that the WWE couldn’t just settle the lawsuit to make their return last, it’s that they wouldn’t want to. That could potentially translate into a return that has steam for a little while; but, ultimately deflates after a few weeks. Without the “Broken” characters, a Hardy’s return has the stench of a similar failed Dudley’s return written all over it.
12. Happy About – The Debut of Shinsuke Nakamura
How soon Shinsuke Nakamura debuts on the main WWE roster may depend on how the WWE feels about its depth in NXT. The outcome of his match with Bobby Roode at NXT Takeover: Orlando seems to lend credibility that fans will see him sooner than later.
Either way, fans can barely contain their excitement when it comes to one of the most enigmatic Superstars in NXT. He’s top-tier when it comes to wrestling talent, he offers a unique style that fans have fallen in love with and his charisma is simply off the charts. Not since The Undertaker, have fans been so enthralled with a WWE Superstar whose entrance to the ring has them as jazzed as Nakamura’s gets fans jazzed.
11. Dread – A Missing In Action John Cena
It seems strange to say that not having John Cena on television will be something fans miss; especially considering his role has been diminished to the mid-card level. That said, the beauty of what is going on with Cena right now is his ability to be involved in both must-see portions of SmackDown Live, but fly under the radar. It’s been a welcome change as Roman Reigns has taken the reigns (pun intended) as the most polarizing WWE personality.
Cena’s feud with The Miz has been some of the best moments on WWE weekly programming and fans seem to be less prone to throwing all their hostility toward him. Unfortunately, he’s turning a corner just in time to leave and film a movie — a comedy called The Pact. This may not be Cena’s only Hollywood commitment this year and if the trend continues, he might not be on WWE programming for the foreseeable future. It’s too bad because he and The Miz were becoming a really fun part of SmackDown Live to watch each week. That he got engaged on Sunday to Nikki Bella in the middle of a WrestleMania ring would be unbelievable material for The Miz to continue their feud.
10. Happy About – A Focus on Full-Time Superstars
With the likely exit of Goldberg and The Undertaker, the potential prolonged absence of Triple H, Chris Jericho and John Cena and the need for the WWE to create some main event stars, they’ll have no choice but to focus more of their efforts on characters like Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, American Alpha and a returning Finn Balor. From there, they’ll need to make new stars.
Both Raw and SmackDown Live have talent that who are being completely underutilized. The focus may shift to five-star matches between some of the best wrestlers the WWE has employed in a number of years. The trick will be to marry that in-ring talent to character development fans can invest in.
This could mean more focus on the tag-team division and the cruiserweight division. The women won’t feel all bunched together and fans will get to grow with WWE Superstars who will be around each and every week. We might even see a relatively quick Universal Title change if Brock Lesnar isn’t around to defend the title.
9. Dread – A Long Wait for Kurt Angle’s In-Ring Return
Kurt Angle and the WWE have taken the first of what fans hope will be many steps. How long it takes for the two sides to meet when it comes to Angle getting involved as a wrestler again is still up in the air and that may make fans impatient.
Angle says he wants to wrestle, but at this point, signs from the WWE are leaning toward that process taking a while. Before that ever happens, the WWE Universe may have to be subject to a variety of other ways for Kurt to involve himself in storylines before he has one of his own. He might be the new GM of Raw. He might move to SmackDown Live and get involved with American Alpha. At this point we don’t really know. All we know is that his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame is only the start of seeing Kurt Angle around.
8. Happy About – A Reuniting of the Wyatts and Debut of Sister Abigail
Something happened at WrestleMania that shouldn’t have. Wyatt lost clean in an underwhelming match to Randy Orton, essentially destroying any momentum he’d built up leading into the WWE’s largest card. This was right when Wyatt’s character was starting to get interesting again.
Imagine a Bray Wyatt, possessed by Sister Abigail, who had the ability to be overcome by the soul of her ghost and virtually unstoppable? On the SmackDown Live leading into WrestleMania, fans got a taste of Wyatt’s reverse “hulking up”. His defeat over Luke Harper made him look like a force. Alas, the WWE decided to kill that momentum again.
Wyatt has the potential to be the WWE’s biggest heel character in years. He could have one of the more intriguing character developments for the WWE in all of 2017. The WWE will need to find a way to get him over and potentially bringing back the Wyatt’s and introducing Sister Abigail could be a way to do it.
7. Dread – A Near Empty NXT Roster
We’ve been watching as NXT’s roster has been thinning out over the past few months. Every call up means less talent in the system and with WrestleMania Monday sure to mean the debut of a couple NXT talents, who’s left?
Rumours are already circulating the Asuka is staying in NXT simply because there are no women’s competitors ready to rule the NXT Women’s Division. Once Shinsuke Nakamura gets the call, who is next for current NXT Champion Bobby Roode? From a storyline perspective, NXT might be tough to watch for a couple months.
The good news is that one of NXT’s strengths is in their ability to find new talent. That’s really the sole purpose of the brand. Find talent, train talent and prepare talent for the main roster. It’s a completely understandable process, it just means fans can expect some painful moments on television as the roster tries to recover from another talent raid.
6. Happy About – Search For The Next Dominant Faction
If you’re a fan of factions, you haven’t had a lot to cheer about. The Wyatts came close to being the next dominant group but were split up inexplicably. Perhaps they’ll return. The Shield might be considered the most successful recent factions in the WWE but that was years ago and they too never got the chance to see their full potential. WrestleMania proved Dean Ambrose has lost the fans interest.
Rumours have begun to swirl that Triple H has planted the seeds of a new faction that includes Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and a surprise member. If you’ve watched Raw, you may have noticed how much Triple H has played into Owens’ decision making and why, for some unknown reason, Samoa Joe has been helping Owens in his matches.
Meanwhile, NXT is working on the development of SAnitY and while they haven’t captured the imagination of fans quite yet, there are still high hopes for them.
5. Dread – The Cancellation of 205 Live
This is a tricky one because as most will probably admit, 205 Live has been a major disappointment for fans and the WWE. It appears a lot of the WWE Universe isn’t watching the show anyways.
The success of the Cruiserweight Classic gave everyone the impression that a show about the Cruiserweights would be a good idea, but to date, the ratings have been a disaster for the WWE Network. Most of the negativity seems to stem from the fact that the WWE has done little to get fans invested in the characters of its Superstars and the matches have been short, rarely showcasing some incredible in-ring talent.
2017 could see the cancellation of the show. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean a removal of the Cruiserweights. But with talent releases always prevalent after WrestleMania, we may see some Cruiserweight action removed from WWE storylines.
4. Happy About – NXT Call-Ups
The tag team divisions on both Raw and SmackDown Live are in need of a serious boost. The Hardy’s will help Raw and The Revival will be the answer on Smackdown. A throw-back to the old-school ways of the tag team, The Revivial have the ability to become the tag champs on SmackDown Live and run away with that division.
On a recent episode of NXT, “The Drifter” Elias Sampson lost in a loser leaves NXT match. Is that the signal he may be coming to the main roster?
3. Dread – Remaking the Talents from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
There were about 19 WWE Superstars who got buried on Sunday so that Rob Gronkowski could create a WrestleMania moment. Mojo Rawley won the battle royal, but who really believes he’s in line for a major push by the WWE? Exactly.
Instead, the WWE will have to spend precious time rebuilding characters like Braun Stroman, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler and the Big Show, all of whom they essentially pushed to the side to make Gronk’s moment happen. Fans have seen this story before. There is such a thing as watching that build up one too many times. The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal would have been much better used to give one of these characters the push they needed.
2. Happy About – A New Raw General Manager
Mick Foley is set to undergo hip surgery that will keep him off of WWE television for at least six weeks. It’s the reason for his unceremonious firing on Raw a couple weeks ago. As such, Raw will be on the lookout for a new GM and the rumoured names are a who’s who of talent.
From Eric Bischoff, Triple H, Shawn Michaels or Edge to newly inducted Hall Of Fame recipients Teddy Long or Kurt Angle, there is no shortage of candidates. It will be interesting to see if Raw drags out the hiring or if the new GM makes his presence felt immediately. Foley had passion, but some of his segments were painful to watch. The WWE will do well with a change of pace.
1. Dread – Saying Goodbye to The Undertaker
If there is truth to the rumour that The Undertaker’s last match will be against Roman Reigns at this year’s WrestleMania, then it will be sad for fans to finally have to say goodbye. Will The Deadman have a farewell night? Will he go quietly into the darkness having left his gear in the middle of the WrestleMania 33 ring?
Despite being a very part-time figure that fans are used to only seeing once or twice a year, it won’t be the same if it’s common knowledge The Undertaker won’t be a part of WrestleMania 34. If he goes out having lost his final match, it’s going to be an even harder pill to swallow. His body clearly didn’t have what it needed to hold a five-star match any longer, but that doesn’t mean the WWE Universe is ready to say goodbye.
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