WrestleMania is the biggest show on the WWE calendar, typically drawing seventy thousand plus fans into live attendance and over a million live viewers via the WWE Network and pay per view. With so many eyes on the product, WWE has to be on its game in planning the show to feel like a payoff to hardcore fans who have been watching year round and to connect with more casual fans who may only tune into wrestling once a year. Additionally, there are part time talents like Triple H, Goldberg, and The Undertaker to plan around, besides the possibility of celebrity involvement with people like Floyd Mayweather, Rob Gronkowski, Snooki having stopped in over the yeas as special attractions.
But what happens after WrestleMania? The Raw and SmackDown shows after WrestleMania have unofficially become a reboot for WWE programming. Part time talent and celebrities tend to ride off into the sunset, and some of the biggest angles are typically blown off, leaving the landscape relatively wide open for what will happen at all levels of the company. In the last few years, this has been a period to feature a lot of call ups from NXT and high prifile returns from injury or from sabbaticals from WWE. It’s also a time for experiments with how performers are booked, which included AJ Styles getting his first crack at the main event after WrestleMania 32 and Dolph Ziggler successfully cashing in Money in the Bank after WrestleMania XXIX.
So what’s in store after WrestleMania 34? There are a lot of interesting possibilities, but they’re not all created equally. This article looks at fifteen terrible ideas for post-‘Mania that we hope WWE won’t pursue.
15 Roman Reigns Vs. Kane
There’s no question that Kane is a WWE legend and that he’s bound for the Hall of Fame one day, maybe even as a headliner. But Kane is not the star attraction that he once was.
Kane started to wear thin with fans a few years post-Attitude Era. He has enjoyed his resurgences, including his original unmasking and his fun tag team pairing with Daniel Bryan. However, Vince McMahon seems to have it in his head that Kane remains a main event level attraction, casting him as a challenger to Bryan after WrestleMania XXX, and most recently positioning him as an arch-rival to Braun Strowman.
Kane is well past his prime, both physically and as a draw. While he still has value as a part-time attraction, he has no business working at the main event level these days.
Still, if WWE’s use of him in recent years is any indicator, he may well be positioned as one of Roman Reigns’ first challengers for the Universal Championship. If that comes to pass, it will set up some lackluster and totally predictable matches for the months ahead.
14 Bobby Lashley Sends Brock Lesnar Packing
Rumors abound that Bobby Lashley is done with Impact Wrestling and is likely to return to WWE. Some reports say he's already signed. That sets up visions of a dream match between Lashley and Brock Lesnar. The two are so physically comparable, and both boast amateur and MMA credentials (albeit at different levels of competition). Add on that they’ve never worked for the same promotion at the same time and that neither man is getting any younger, and it could be time to make this match happen.
The match isn’t bad idea at all, and it could even make sense for Lashley to win, especially if he’ll be returning to WWE full time.
Still the prospect of Lashley destroying Lesnar to end his current WWE run feels pretty problematic. Lesnar has spent the last year turning back challenges from top full time stars like Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and AJ Styles. For Lashley to come in and beat him straight away, to send Lesnar out of the WWE landscape, would risk weakening the credibility of the rest of the roster. Worse yet, after Lashley clashed with management during his first WWE tenure, they shouldn’t be in a hurry to offer up Lesnar to him as a sacrificial lamb too quickly.
13 Ronda Rousey Ends Asuka’s Undefeated Streak
There’s no question that Ronda Rousey is the biggest female signing WWE has ever had, and the company has rightfully treated it like a big deal. Booking her directly into an issue with The Authority, and into a mixed tag team match for WrestleMania made good sense to capitalize on media attention and put her into a protected scenario for her first big time match.
Rousey comes to WWE with the instant credibility to justify booking her against top competition. However, she remains enough of an unproven commodity now that WWE shouldn’t compromise bigger angles and stars’ trajectories around her. In time, Rousey could be a viable challenger for Asuka, and maybe even justify herself as the one to end the Empress’s undefeated streak. For the time being, though, she’s still a rookie in the ring and hasn’t exactly thrived on the mic. WWE should exercise caution and go slowly in progressing her up the card.
12 Braun Strowman Stays Put On Raw
Braun Strowman has been the biggest break out star between WrestleManias 33 and 34, going from an impressive physical spectacle with a lot of potential to becoming arguably the most over full time performer on the roster.
It’s a real shame that Strowman hasn’t had a clearer road into WrestleMania.
He’s ostensibly locked out of the main event picture, and rumor has it WWE is keeping him in flux so he can play Roman Reigns’s understudy if his PED allegations catch up to him in the coming weeks.
Assuming that Reigns does move ahead with his WrestleMania showdown against Brock Lesnar, and assuming the Reigns wins the Universal Championship, Strowman’s prospects don’t look great.
No, Strowman would be better cast as the new face of SmackDown where he’d have an opportunity to escape being booked behind Reigns, and a legit chance to be the guy. Add in the potential for fresher matchups opposite Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn, and it’s clear enough the blue brand should Get These Hands.
11 Sheamus Vs. Cesaro
Sheamus and Cesaro represented the epitome of a makeshift tag team, thrown together for lack of anything better to do with two talented guys. It’s a massive credit to both men that they made the most of their opportunities to emerge as one of the best tag teams active today—a hard hitting, crisp, cohesive unit.
As The Bar approaches its two year anniversary, however, Vince McMahon may well be feeling the itch to have them split apart.
WWE doesn’t have a great track record for keeping teams together in the long run, especially if either performer has singles potential.
I’d be as happy as anyone to see Cesaro finally get a main event push. If the team fractures, though, it’s more likely these two would end up feuding with each other, and then returning to the directionless mid-card status they had before they were originally paired.
10 Jinder Mahal Returns To The Main Event
One of the biggest stories in WWE for 2017 was the Jinder Mahal experiment, with Mahal quite suddenly thrust into the WWE Championship picture, and getting to reign for half the year, ostensibly to appeal to the audience and business partners in India. The trouble is that Mahal’s in ring and mic skills never justified the push, and he didn’t exactly rise to the challenge when given his big break. Worse yet, Mahal’s reign reportedly didn’t have any meaningful effect on WWE’s business in India.
Now, Mahal is positioned as one of a relatively small handful of wrestlers with recent and lengthy world title credentials. We’re an injury or two, or a creative whim away from the Modern Day Maharaja getting thrust back to the top of the card. Hopefully WWE will think to give someone fresher and more deserving a try before they make another mistake with Mahal.
9 The Wyatt Family Reunites
Despite being consistently featured as a singles star, working high profile WrestleMania matches, and even winning a WWE Championship, Bray Wyatt’s five years on the WWE main roster have nonetheless been by and large directionless and repetitive. The Eater of Worlds is still an ill-defined gimmick without clear objectives, and when all else fails, WWE has more than once circled back to him reuniting with some permutation of Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, or Braun Strowman to reprise the idea he’s a charismatic cult leader.
Now more than ever, every Wyatt Family alum, with the exception of Wyatt himself, is better off with the groove. Strowman is a breakout world champion waiting to happen. Harper and Rowan are looking better than ever before as the rebranded Bludgeon Brothers tag team. Hopefully, WWE won’t think to sacrifice any of these stars’ momentum in favor recycling Wyatt’s most tired shtick.
8 The Revival Turns Face
Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson, The Revival, had a truly excellent run in NXT that included two tag team championship reigns. Things haven’t been as smooth for the duo since arriving on Raw, though.
The Revival has suffered more than its share of injury setbacks in its first year on the main roster, and now that both members are healthy, WWE doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. Part of the problem is a crowded tag scene, particularly on the heel side. By all rights, The Revival ought to at least be in the conversation for tag title contendership, but whether it’s being marked as injury prone, being smaller in size, or a more arbitrary preference, they’ve ben left pretty directionless.
One clearly wrong direction for them is to turn face now.
The Revival thrives on cutting off the ring and working brilliant heat segments in a way that only really works as heels. Here’s hoping they get some more face dance partners, and have an opportunity to find their footing post-‘Mania.
7 Baron Corbin Wins Money In The Bank Again
News broke recently that WWE intends to move away from single brand PPVs after WrestleMania. Under the single brand model, SmackDown had Money in the Bank last year, so Raw would get this year, but now it seems that matches like Money in the Bank will most likely become duel-branded. So, whether he stays put on Raw or moves to SmackDown, Baron Corbin remains a potential Money in the Bank winner.
Corbin made sense as the winner last year, as an ascendant heel who would benefit from this specific push to cross over to the main event level. He lost his first briefcase in unceremonious fashion, in what was rumored to have been a punishment for antagonizing a visiting concussion expert. The thing is, in 2018, Corbin no less fits the profile of a Money in the Bank winner. There are more interesting choices available, like Money in the Bank setting up a heel turn for Bobby Roode, or strapping a rocket to a new NXT call up. Hopefully WWE won’t “play it safe” by rebooting Corbin’s Money in the Bank push.
6 Matt Hardy Vs. Bray Wyatt Continues
When Impact Wrestling’s ownership dropped its claim to owning Matt Hardy’s Broken Universe and it’s related intellectual property, and Jeff Hardy went down to injury, WWE puled the trigger on Woken Matt Hardy—a riff off of the eccentric character he played for Impact and on the indies. While a lot of hardcore fans were excited for this innovative gimmick to get some play on the WWE stage, the results haven’t been great.
Rather than organically building to Hardy’s awakening, WWE hot shotted it after he lost a run of the mill match to Bray Wyatt.
As such, Wyatt got sucked into the Woken orbit and the two have been trading nonsensical promos, and trading wins in lackluster matches ever since. On paper, these two men’s gimmicks seem like brilliant fits, but as the program ambles on, it becomes more evident WWE just doesn’t know what to do with either man.
5 3MB Reunites
For the brief period when Jinder Mahal reigned as WWE Champion and Drew McIntyre reigned as NXT Champion, social media had a field day with the successes of these former members of the once dismal 3MB stable. Indeed, jokes came about regarding whether the other member of the trio, Heath Slater, might be lined up for a Universal Championship run. En masse, trolls pointed out that the 3MB alumni were enjoying more kayfabe success than the former members of highly touted Shield.
Now that things have settled, with Mahal back to the mid card (albeit the upper mid card) and McIntyre rumored to move back up to the main roster when he returns from injury, there are possibilities of a 3MB reunion. While it’s a cute enough idea, and could be fun for a one off segment in a six man tag match, hopefully WWE won’t take the idea too seriously. While Slater’s star seems to be fading in WWE, Mahal finally has some credibility of his own, and McIntyre in particular has proven that he can be an upper level star. Putting 3MB back together would diminish what the component members have accomplished, and risk devaluing them all back to the poor standing that made their success such a surprise in the first place.
4 Jerry Lawler Returns To Full Time Commentary
Jerry Lawler is a popular legend. He was regional wrestling icon in his day, and will always be remembered as the color commentating voice for WWE’s popular Attitude Era. However, if his most recent guest commentary spots have revealed anything, it’s that the game has most definitely passed him by.
WWE’s PG leanings nowadays have robbed The King of his go to dirty old man shtick, and left him over reliant on forced puns that feel outdated and like a distraction from what’s happening in the ring. Worse, when he called the 2018 Royal Rumble, he awkwardly shifted the conversation to himself and expressing that the rest of the commentary team wasn’t letting him get a word in. To the viewer, there was no sign of Lawler getting shut out, but rather struggling to find his footing in a four man broadcast team.
Lawler still has a place making special appearances, serving as a talking head for documentaries, and even working pre-show panels. There are far better options at the color commentary position, though, and hopefully WWE won’t be tempted to bring back the King full time.
3 Paul Heyman Is Let Go
In recent years, Paul Heyman has played a unique role for WWE. In era with very few managers, he’s been a consistent presence in that position, and moreover has been singularly attached to Brock Lesnar.
Rumor has it that Lesnar will be done with WWE after WrestleMania, and may be eyeing a return to the UFC.
So if Lesnar is gone, does that mean Heyman goes, too? While Heyman is now largely synonymous with Lesnar, he’s also quite arguably still the best talker on the WWE landscape and could do wonders as a mouthpiece and legitimizer for any number of up and coming talents. As one particularly intriguing possibility, Heyman could be a terrific sidekick and talker on behalf of Ronda Rousey, especially after her initial run gives way to a heel turn. Given the ways in which her real life MMA credentials resemble Lesnar’s, working with her would be very on brand for Heyman, and might be key to helping Rousey get comfortable cutting a promo in the WWE style.
2 Titus Worldwide Expands
When WWE decided position Titus O’Neil as Apollo Crews’s mouthpiece, billed as part of the Titus Worldwide brand, it was a bit silly, but a logical enough use of Crews as a talent without WWE style charisma, and O’Neil as a guy with a huge personality and limited ring talent. The addition of Akira Tozawa to the mix seemed more than a little random, and the most recent absorption of Dana Brooke, billed as a statistician reframed Titus Worldwide as a stable for anyone with nothing better to do.
The gimmick has been mostly harmless to date, particularly given that it’s not as though anyone involved had anything better to do. Still, it also feels like a dead end for anyone who latches on, given the faction's namesake has no real credentials to his name as a wrestler or manager. Here’s hoping the group stays at its current size until it finds better footing, or quietly dissolves as its members find better defined directions.
1 Absolution Stays Together
Absolution was a pretty hot act when it first launched, and posed a terrific symbiotic relationship for its members. Paige got an extra shot of credibility as the leader of a faction, not to mention having cronies at her disposal to help her win. Meanwhile, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville were gifted instant identities and credibility through their affiliation with Paige.
Were Rose or Deville to have gotten injured, WWE probably could have called up someone else from NXT to fill their spots pretty handily. However, in a particularly tough roll of the dice, it was Paige whose neck was reinjured less than a two months into her return from neck surgery, thus leaving the rookies largely adrift, particularly with the rumors that the injury is career ending.
Paige has stayed on as a manager for now, but the role feels largely toothless.
Without the credibility of Paige as an in ring threat, and without even giving her many opportunities to speak, she’s basically just a more famous wrestler standing in the corner of two rookies.
Barring a complete overhaul, it would seem the best plan for Absolution is for WWE to cut its losses and let Deville and Rose find themselves more organically, without the stench of a failed stable attached to them.