I’m 27 years old and I’ve watched over twelve hours of WWE programming between Sunday and Tuesday this past week. You might want to ask me, “Jay, isn’t that too much wrestling? Don’t you have a job? Is this why you’re single?” The answer to these questions is, “Yes.” Yes, I do have a job, it is one of the many, many reasons I’m single, and it is way too much wrestling. But from this maelstrom of spandex, piledrivers, Kevin Owens, and renewed feelings of existential self-doubt, I have drawn insight about WrestleMania and what its proceedings indicate for the WWE’s next fiscal year. So, join me as I reflect on WrestleMania’s immediate past to predict its future!
Fabled Hero Rides Off into the Night: Roman Reigns def. The Undertaker
The Undertaker is the most captivating and enrapturing performer the WWE has ever had. With his spine-chilling entrances, his unbelievable athleticism and agility, and a persona that has managed to inspire WWE fans for nearly three decades, the shadow of The Undertaker transcended the confines of the squared circle and seeped into the fringes of pop culture. But for all of the foes and adversaries he’s defeated, The Deadman finally succumbed to the specter of time. In front of over 75,000 people in the Citrus Bowl and millions gathered around their televisions and computers, the conscious the WWE laid down his sword and rode off into the night as a legend to be remembered forevermore.
Roman Reigns is now public enemy number one. The man who ended The Undertaker was meet with hostility, anger, and pure vitriol from the Orlando audience the night after WrestleMania and must go forward carrying the burden of that hatred. Never before has there been such a polarizing character in the WWE as while he is naturally hated by the audience, he has been recently cited as moving the most merchandise for the company so portraying him as bad guy does not make sense. And while they faced a similar conundrum with John Cena in 2006-2008, Cena never ended the career of arguably the greatest WWE wrestler that ever was. While I am sad to see The Undertaker go, I am very excited to see how this plays out for Reigns.PowerPoint Slides Fail to Kill the Viper: Randy Orton def. Bray Wyatt to win the WWE Championship
Bray Wyatt came to the “show of shows” full of malice as he sought to avenge the loss of his “family” and home to Randy Orton. He brought his fury, his rage, and his PowerPoint slides of maggots, worms, and cockroaches to unsettle and defeat Orton but he, like so many others, failed to defeat The Viper as Orton claimed his 13th world championship.
This could have been a much better match had the allowed Wyatt and Orton to simply wrestle. Both men have a long catalog of fantastic matches, are phenomenal at using their physicality to weave storylines and narratives, and have even performed well together in the recent past. This should have been an epic WrestleMania match that could have provided a strong capstone to their rivalry. Unfortunately, WWE wanted to hype up the more supernatural aspects of Wyatt’s character by having the lights go out during the match and presenting the aforementioned slide show to the audience instead of, you know, fighting. I was disappointed and confused with the match but this feud also saw the revelation that Wyatt was a descendant of the Devil so, whatever.
What now? The obligatory rematch between the two in what’s being called a “House of Horrors” match before Orton moves on to fighting either a newly face-turned AJ Styles or whomever Smackdown receives from the “Shakeup” thing going on next week.Godzilla demolishes King Kong: Brock Lesnar def. Goldberg for WWE Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar felled Goldberg in a blockbuster, five minute, demolition derby of spears and suplexes to take the WWE Universal Championship. That’s right, Brock Lesnar finally defeated Goldberg by descending into a berserker rage and unleashing ten german suplexes to 2017’s father of the year. He now looks to use his renewed vigor and ferocity to tend his farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, far from the purview of WWE programming and stopping any storyline involving Raw’s top prize dead in its tracks.Continued below
Monday’s proceedings have hinted that his next challenger will either be Roman Reigns or Braun Strowman. WWE will most likely be moving towards that match for the main event at the Payback PPV and do the whole “winner fights for the WWE Universal Title OMG!!!” thing. Of course, this is a backwards way of saying that Roman will be fighting Lesnar for the title next.Told You So! : AJ Styles def. Shane McMahon
Go look at my WrestleMania predictions article. Go now and make sure you to close this tab and reopen it so I get the extra hit but, you’ll notice that I predicted that this match would surpass all expectations and steal the show. I realized that my wisdom truly knows no limit as I watched Shane McMahon do a shooting star press and counter the phenomenal forearm into a DDT. This match was awesome, AJ Styles is best wrestler on the planet, and Shane McMahon will always be a hardcore m’fer.
AJ Styles teased a face-turn this past Tuesday night and buried the hatchet with Shane McMahon. He also asked to stay on Smackdown Live which leads me to believe that he will in fact remain on the brand and be next in line for a title shot. It only makes sense. Why would a face commissioner, Shane McMahon, allow a now face AJ Styles be traded considering the value he adds to the show? Plus, Raw has enough top faces in Rollins, Reigns, Balor, and Jericho. What good would a face Styles do them?Kingslayer slays The King: Seth Rollins def. Triple H
The King of Kings, Triple H rode into the citrus bowl with malicious and ferocious intent atop a Mad Max style tricycle, tailor made for his midlife crisis, only to be vanquished by Seth Rollins and his bad meniscus. As I predicted, Seth Rollins limped his way to victory in an excellent bout. The dueling pedigrees, the phoenix splash, the Stephanie McMahon going through the table, it was a perfectly executed match that balanced physicality and storytelling.
Sadly, the whole affair was and forever will be overshadowed by that damn motorcycle. Many other writers and outlets have already spoken about its baffling design and I personally have concluded that an old-school gangster car must have done the dirty with a Harley Davidson in a night of drunken, regretful passion. And why the motorcycle club garb? It would have made perfect sense for Triple H to wear some sort of skull mask which would have fit with the “I’m a KING!!!” thing and complimented the Mad Max sensibilities of the bastard-child tricycle. It will forever remain one of WrestleMania’s mysteries.
Triple H will now be found in his office till about Summer Slam-ish and Rollins will probably go on to fight Samoa Joe. I’m sure they’ll produce an excellent series of matches but it’s very hard to get excited about the conquering hero going after his primary villain’s henchman after he’s dispatched of the big bad.Al Roker Showed Up and John Cena Proposed: John Cena and Nikki Bella def. The Miz and Maryse
I refuse to give this match any more attention than it already got. This had more coverage on mainstream, B-List outlets than Undertaker’s retirement did and that’s a shame. All I will say that it happened, Miz vs. Cena was wasted, and Maryse and Nikki barely tussled to warrant their inclusion in the match. Cena’s proposal was admittedly well-delivered but it still could have been delivered if the match was changed to a Miz vs. Cena match. Also, Al Roker was there for reasons.
What’s next? Miz’s momentum was greatly derailed and it looks like he’ll job to Shinske Nakamura to establish his credibility as a star on Smackdown. Cena and Nikki will probably be stepping away for the foreseeable future as Cena has movie projects on the horizon and Nikki has Total Divas to film or something.The New Face of America: Kevin Owens def. Chris Jericho for the WWE United States Championship
Kevin Owens trounced Chris Jericho in a brutal brawl between these two former best friends and became the new United States Champion. KO and Jericho are two of the most versatile wrestlers that WWE has on their roster and their match this past Sunday was a shining example of that. Whether it was Owen yelling “you have no friends” at Jericho, Jericho coming out with a giant “List of Jericho” and light-up scarf,” or Owen’s getting a rope break by putting literally one finger on the bottom rope, this match will be something that is remembered for years.Continued below
Now the United States Champion, Owens, a proud native of Montreal, Canada, has dubbed himself the “New Face of America.” I can only assume that Owens will be dusting off the good ole “America sucks” gimmick that many, many Canadian wrestlers have used before him and that Owens will be tapping into the more “cowardly heel” aspects of his character rather than the violent villain we have seen during the past month. He’ll have the standard rematch with Jericho at “Payback” or whatever their next PPV is called before Jericho, reportedly, leaves to work with his band, “Fozzy”The Lone Wolf Left Alone w/out a Title; Posts Frustration on Xanga: Dean Ambrose def. Baron Corbin to retain WWE Intercontinental Championship
I’m going to point you again to my predictions article. It’s right here. Click it and you’ll see that I was right again and that I dare say that I was one of the only people to predict that Ambrose would win on Sunday. The match was decent enough and was consistent with the storyline going into the match. Again, the whole feud was built around Corbin’s frustration at getting pinned by Ambrose during the Elimination Chamber match and was shouting about it like an angry child. So for weeks, WWE’s Edgelord of Angst would attack Ambrose and shout “I’m the best! I’m the Lone Wolf! I don’t need nobody!” or something to that extent. So it made perfect sense for Corbin to dominate the match and counter Ambrose at every turn only for Ambrose to squeak out a win at the last possible moment.
And as I also predicted, this would only serve to strengthen the feud as the two had a much better match this past Tuesday night that allowed Corbin to shine and certainly elevated the rivalry between these two. I look for them to have a final match at Smackdown’s next PPV where Corbin will finally be crowned the Intercontinental Champion.WWE just became…Brok…uh…FRAGMENTED: The Hardy Boyz won the Raw Tag Team Titles
Seven years after their unceremonious exit from WWE and, like, seven weeks after their also unceremonious exit from Impact Wrestling, The Hardy Boyz returned to the WWE with a pending lawsuit and won the Raw Tag Team Champions. After months of tension and a year worth of character development, Enzo & Cass, Anderson & Gallows, and Cesaro & Sheamus were thrown aside for a nostalgia act. Granted, the Hardyz are an exciting nostalgia act but c’mon now. Is Jeff ever going to be the top-player he was before he left? Without the “Broken” character, is Matt ever going to be more than the upper-midcarder-wanna-be that he always was? It was an exciting moment and it was the right move to make them the champions, but now what?Removing an Asterisk: Bayley def. Charlotte, Nia Jax, and Sasha Banks to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
In a criminally short match, Bayley outlasted Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Nia Jax and shut up critics of her title reign. Her ascension was slightly premature and has never had the emotional impact that it could but this match has solidified her status as champion. The opening portion that saw Nia Jax dominate all the other competitors was well executed and helped elevate her status as a monster, Sasha shined as always by making herself and her competition look fierce, and talking about how good Charlotte is cliché by this point. But no star shined brighter than Bayley as she scored the final pinfall against Charlotte much to the approval of the raucous, Orlando crowd. It was strong work by all involved and I’m excited to see who Bayley’s next challenger as she looks forward to the Payback PPV.Last Minute Patch-Job Proves Functional: Naomi def. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Natalya, Becky Lynch, and Carmella w/ James Ellsworth to win Smackdown Women’s Championship
If Raw is playing chess with their women’s division, Smackdown seems to be playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos as they just nonchalantly threw this match together when they realized they did not take the time to build a story behind a legitimate contender for Bliss’ title. This was certainly reflected in the match. While each woman did well individually and each did have their moment to shine, the match felt rushed and over choreographed. Granted, there were six women in the match and there’s only so much story you could incorporate into the mayhem but it felt like an afterthought in comparison to the rest of the card.
Rumors are running rampant that Bliss is a lock to move to Raw and that Charlotte is moving to Smackdown which makes perfect sense. Charlotte has already had classics with Banks and Bayley and would benefit greatly from working with Naomi in a fresh, brand new pairing that WWE fans have yet to see. Plus, consider the potential of her working with Mickie James and rekindling her feud with Becky Lynch and it this seems to be the best move for Charlotte to make. Meanwhile, Bliss would thrive in her mean-girl role on Raw as she’d have a natural feud with Bayley.Samoa Joe wasn’t at WrestleMania but Rob Gronkowski was: Mojo Rawley wins the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
I like Mojo Rawley. He has incredible enthusiasm and work ethic but the audience just isn’t embracing him. It could be we know nothing about his character besides the word, “hype,” or it could be his, uh, awkward moveset but he’s just not getting the reaction that WWE wants him to get. It’s gotten to the point where they had to bring in his former Patriots teammate, Rob Gronkowski, to get the crowd to give him any sort of reaction when he won the bout. Unfortunately, WWE forgot that WrestleMania took place in Orlando, the heart of Dolphins territory and Gronk was either met with boos from Miami natives or confusion from fans who don’t follow football.
Will carrying the Andre the Giant trophy around for the next few months help Rawley? Probably not from the cringe-worthy promo he delivered to the crowd on Tuesday. “I partied as hard as Andre did!” God speed Mojo, god speed.
This match lived up to every fans expectation of excellence. Aries got the opportunity to showcase his skills and establish himself as a legitimate contender for the Cruiserweight crown while Neville showed that his work deserves to be showcased on a grander-stage than a pre-show match that people were watching on their way in. It’s a shame that this match won’t get more attention than it will due to its place on the card but it still a strong case for why the cruiserweight division deserves more attention and better storylines.Now WWE goes into a holding pattern till about late July/August when they have to start advertising Summer Slam. Will I watch it? Probably because, again, 27 and single but I do have some hope for the immediate several months. I’m excited to see what happens with Reigns, the Superstar Shake-up could be a good thing, and AJ Styles turns whatever he touches into gold. So I’ll be back when I have something to rant about but till then “Praise Owens!”