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Wrestling with my Thoughts: WrestleMania 33 booking issues



WWE currently has on its books without question the largest array of high quality in ring talent it has ever assembled. However, with just a few weeks leading to the biggest show of the year, once again strange booking decisions and patterns have left them in some awkward positions going into the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’. 

All indications are that Brock Lesnar vs Bill Goldberg will be the key promoted match for this years show, and likely will close WrestleMania. It is also highly possible that the match will be for Raw’s Universal Championship, with Goldberg booked to appear at Fast Lane likely in a main event match against Kevin Owens. That in itself is a really difficult match to book – a short destruction of Owens would be really counter productive given that he’s been a success as Raw champion. This could also lead to a backlash from the more hardcore fan base against Goldberg himself akin to the situation with Batista and Daniel Bryan in 2014. A longer match will likely expose Goldberg’s weaknesses, which were highlighted during his very short Rumble showing. A more 50-50 encounter also doesn’t really fit in with the ongoing story with Lesnar. 

Though it wouldn’t be much of a main event for Fast Lane, the best possible way out of this scenario would be a quick disqualification finish with Lesnar interfering and costing Goldberg the title. Lesnar vs Goldberg doesn’t need the Championship, and it would hurt the fledgling Universal belt if it disappeared from television post WrestleMania and a presumed Lesnar victory. 

The placement of Goldberg vs Lesnar at WrestleMania is a really interesting one too. Will an 8-12 minute encounter, and expecting anything more than that is expecting too much, really satisfy and send home happy the huge crowd in Orlando? Lesnar has largely been presented as a heel for the last few months, and while it would be far from the first time ‘Mania would have a flat finish, it seems WWE are setting themselves up for a possible failure. 

That leaves other potential options to close the show as Reigns vs The Undertaker or Wyatt (as Champion) defending against Orton as looks the most likely scenario on Smackdown. There are seeds that a full on Reigns heel turn is finally in the works, and I hope that WWE has the sense now to really push forward with that. Reigns may not be the strongest promo, but his in ring work is good and his attitude and demeanour fits a modern-day heel role so much better than a babyface. Vince McMahon’s ultimate goal of having Reigns as the good guy face of the company is likely still out there at the end of a 12-18 month run on top as a heel. Whatever the route they choose to take, a Reigns win (and a ‘Taker triumph would make no sense) last at WrestleMania would receive an extremely negative reaction. 

Wyatt vs Orton isn’t strong enough to close WrestleMania, regardless of the outcome, and that leaves whatever is left over for Cena (allegedly Corbin) or Styles (maybe Shane McMahon) neither of which are anywhere near WrestleMania main event worthy. It’s possible WWE could present Charlotte vs Bayley vs Sasha in the main match, especially if Bayley is successful. That could send the crowd home happy, but I still feel that is unlikely and with the probable addition of Nia Jax that match loses some of its sparkle. 

Triple H vs Seth Rollins is very mixed up in its booking as well. At this stage the crowd do not want to boo Hunter, they know he is the leader of NXT and fans want to get behind him as a legend. The Rollins turn should have happened immediately on his comeback, but was held off in yet another desperate attempt to keep Roman Reigns as a face. Ever since he’s felt largely flat  and some of the lines to Stephanie on Monday night were very heel like, and just didn’t get the desired reaction from the crowd at all. With the audience confused as to who they want to cheer or boo, I feel this match is really going to struggle to garner an emotional connection on April 2nd. 

Seth Rollins injured during Samoa Joe segment; WrestleMania 33 status uncertain

Given how absolutely fantastic the encounter was, I felt it was a little foolish of WWE not to have saved AJ Styles vs Cena until WrestleMania, especially with Cena tying Ric Flair’s, albeit fictional, 16 time World Championship record.  Both Cena and Styles find themselves on the outside of the major WrestleMania angles, and while AJ’s rumoured match with Shane McMahon would receive a lot of attention and built up, it is a real shame that he’s ended up in that position after such a stellar year.   

It is never a given that WrestleMania will deliver, with last years fiasco a prime example of when the booking is far outside what the paying public wants. WWE have found themselves in a similar position, albeit with far more star power, this year and need to tread carefully to ensure their most loyal fan base departs the Camping World Stadium satisfied with what they’ve traveled from all over the world to see. 

Near 30 year fan of Professional wrestling, I grew up watching World of Sport in the UK before getting into the WWF in 1990. Favourite performers of all time are Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage & Steve Austin. Highlights as a fan were being there live for Rock vs Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven, Hogan vs Rock at WrestleMania X8 & CM Punk vs the Rock at Royal Rumble '13.

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