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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - I've Completely Changed My Mind on WrestleMania 33: I Think It's Gonna Be Great!
Mar 22, 2017 - 1:03:57 PM

Tom Jenner rocks!

It was only a couple of months ago that amidst feelings of apathy towards the WWE product following the 2017 Royal Rumble that I strongly believed WrestleMania 33 would disappoint for the third consecutive year. WrestleMania 31 did not have a single match get a “4-star rating” or higher (at least in my eyes) and WrestleMania 32 was even worse in terms of quality, pace and booking. After John Cena won the WWE Championship, and Randy Orton won the right to challenge the new champion at WM33, I was worried we were in for another lackluster show. Fast Lane reinforced those feelings, as Goldberg beating Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship was such an eye-roller; Braun Strowman making Roman Reigns look strong in preparation for Reigns’ upcoming WM match with The Undertaker did nothing to excite me, either. With Seth Rollins’ WM status up in the air, I was not enthralled with Raw’s top WM feuds at all.

As much as I love SmackDown, I was quite down on their WrestleMania contributions as well. On paper, AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon and John Cena/Nikki Bella vs. The Miz/Maryse seemed like colossal wastes of some of the blue brand’s A players. Part of that stemmed from the resentment of not seeing The Undertaker take on either The Champ or The Phenomenal One in what may very well be The Deadman’s final match ever on April 2nd. Even the biggest Reigns advocators can’t really argue that Reigns vs. ‘Taker is more appealing than ‘Taker vs, Styles or Cena, can they? Maybe 10 years ago, when ‘Taker and Batista stole the show at WM23, sure, but The (Real) Big Dog hasn’t had a great match since he fought CM Punk at WM29. Can Reigns actually put on a better match with an aging Phenom than two of SmackDown’s elite? Sadly, we’ll never find out, as I truly believe this should be ‘Taker’s last WrestleMania. The guy is in so much pain and owes us nothing. It’s time to stop relying on ‘Taker to “sell” WM every year.

In all honestly, Reigns vs. ‘Taker is the only match I don’t care about with 11 days to go until the big show. Both shows – despite having some skippable segments every week – have done an amazing job of building the rest of the card (yes, even Raw). A few weeks ago, I finally obtained a DVR, and it has made Raw so much more enjoyable! The difference between a 3h15 show versus a 1h30 show (sometimes less if I skip non-Austin Aries Cruiserweight matches) is incredible. Watching live, you sometimes lose track of how many commercial breaks and recaps they constantly show. Was it really necessary – as cool as it was last week – to show the Rollins/HHH segment THREE times during the show? Come on, guys. You can use/waste time better than that.

Speaking of The Game and The Architect’s ongoing feud, I can’t wait to see them do battle on April 2nd. I assume Rollins won’t be 100% by then, which is why this will be an unsanctioned street fight of sorts, but that’s fine by me! I actually think we’ll see a LOT of shenanigans take place during their fight, as I fully expect Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, maybe even Mick Foley run interference. I really hope Seth wins with a new finisher, even though this is probably the one and only time winning with a Pedigree will make sense. Kudos to Triple H for nearly single-handedly carrying this feud since the Raw after the Rumble. He’s one part-timer I don’t mind seeing on the WM card each year because he’s there almost every week (more so than the current Universal Champion).

Oh, Goldberg. I didn’t think it would be possible for the Universal Champion to make fewer appearances on Raw before WrestleMania than The Rock did in 2013. Silly, me! I must have skipped at least three, maybe four recap/interview segments highlighting the Goldberg/Brock Lesnar rivalry this week alone. WWE couldn’t have asked Goldberg to show up to Raw to at least cut a promo or get physical a few more times between Fast Lane and WrestleMania? It’s only a month, for fuck’s sake. What’s worse, Lesnar was at the arena last Monday, but only appeared in a dark segment after the show. Why not have Lesnar come out during the taping and destroy the Raw midcard (Bo Dallas, Titus O’Neil, Sin Cara, etc.)? Angry, destructive Brock always makes for good television; instead, he only appeared in front of the live audience. Your next Universal Champion, ladies and gentlemen. I can’t wait for Brock to beat Goldberg and send him back into retirement so we have one less part-part-timer hanging around post-WrestleMania.

In my opinion, the two matches that could steal the show at WrestleMania are the two non-main-events in Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens and Neville vs. Austin Aries. The Jericho/Owens fallout has been booked perfectly thus far, and with only one Raw to go before WrestleMania, I expect both men to deliver some chilling go-home promos this coming Monday. As for the latter, I’m still pleasantly surprised that WWE are going through with a one-on-one match for the Cruiserweight Championship rather than cramming as many guys as they can into some kind of Cruiserweight Open akin to WrestleMania 20. I guess that goes to show how much faith they have in both Neville and Aries (as they should). If this match avoids the possible bump off the main card and gets some time to shine, this could very well be the match of the night.

I’m not even going to discuss the Raw tag team title picture. The champs are booked like jokes, Enzo & Cass are damaged goods, Sheamus & Cesaro have more value as singles competitors than a tag team, and if New Day aren’t building to a heel turn, then I don’t get what they’re doing with all three anymore – their segments are beyond pointless and annoying. But at least they have a match at WrestleMania (Kick-Off) unlike their SmackDown counter-parts. The Usos – who defeated American Alpha in an amazing match last night to win the titles – will likely defend against the former champs at WM33 (Kick-Off), but even that’s not a guarantee. Both tag team divisions either need a restructuring or a merge; both come across as complete after-thoughts on their respective show.

The good news is, this is where the complaining stops. Unlike the Raw world title scene, SmackDown’s has been compelling for weeks now. Every week since the Rumble, we were left wondering what the actual WWE Championship match would look like on April 2nd. It from being John Cena vs. Randy Orton to Bray Wyatt vs. AJ Styles to Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton. Hell, with Wyatt scheduled to face Luke Harper on next week’s SmackDown, could an upset victory by Harper turn the WM “main-event” into a last-minute triple threat match? With SmackDown, you never know, and that’s a good thing. No matter what happens, Wyatt vs. Orton is 100x more compelling than it was last fall. Win or lose, Wyatt will be facing a future WWE Hall of Famer for the third time in his young career. That’s an accomplishment in itself.

All it took was one week (or two, if you watch Talking Smack – and you should) for SmackDown’s creative team to change my mind on how I felt about AJ vs. Shane at WrestleMania. What started off as “they really don’t have anything else for AJ to do at Mania” has turned into a heated feud. AJ’s vicious attack on Shane in the parking lot was well-done, as was their altercation this week. Even though part of me still wishes Styles was facing a true dream opponent at ‘Mania, his feud with Shane is being presented as the TOP feud on SmackDown going into WM. If you’re an AJ fan – and who isn’t, really? – you can take solace in the fact that his pending match with Shane will be much better positioned than his match with Chris Jericho last year.

I really, really, REALLY hope Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin doesn’t get bumped to the pre-show at the very last minute. It would be travesty for one of SmackDown’s most beloved faces (Ambrose has actually risen in popularity since becoming the Intercontinental Champion than when he feuded with AJ and Dolph Ziggler for the main belt) to not make the final card. It’s already bad enough that Ambrose’s fellow Shield members will be battling two major stars in HHH and The Undertaker while Dean has to ‘settle’ for facing Corbin. That’s not a knock on Corbin, by the way. The dude is awesome and I think he and Dean could have a very entertaining match in two weeks. But Corbin is light-years away from being mentioned in the same breath as The Game or The Deadman. Let’s just hope Dean and Baron don’t get the shaft on April 2nd…

I still can’t believe how invested I am in the upcoming mixed tag team match. Ever since all four participants absolutely KILLED IT on MIz TV a few weeks back, I’ve been wanting to see more and more exchanges between the two couples. If you haven’t seen it already, “Total Bellas Bullshit” is hysterical and some of the best parodies WWE has done in a long time (I enjoyed it way more than Southpaw Regional Wrestling, which speaks volumes). While I have a hard time The Miz & Maryse will leave Orlando with a win, this feud has been way more interesting than I ever expected it to be. Props to everyone involved from taking an eye-roll of a match and making it “must-see”.

You may have noticed I haven’t commented on either brand’s upcoming multi-woman match at WrestleMania. That’s intentional on my part since I promised I was done complaining for today. In other words, I’ll leave my thoughts on both title matches to next week’s WrestleMania predictions so I can end today’s column on a positive note. What started off as a very unappealing, lazy WM33 card has evolved into a spectacle I wouldn’t mind paying for if the WWE Network did not exist. The card may not be perfect, but I haven’t been this excited for a WrestleMania since 2014. With an incredible Hall of Fame (and inductor) line-up, a stacked NXT: TakeOver card, and the show of shows all set to go down next weekend, it’s a great time to be a WWE fan. Overall, the WM build-up has been great so far – now let’s see if WWE can follow through on their end.


YOUR Two Centsss: What's your current excitement level for WrestleMania 33?

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