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WrestleMania 31

The rehabilitation of Reigns, HHH on Stone Cold’s podcast, Wyatt-Undertaker and more




The rehabilitation of Roman Reigns continued this week on what was, overall, a strange Raw.

Firstly, Daniel Bryan was wedged into the title picture in a rather awkward fashion and Reigns shifted from slightly heelish antics in his backstage segment with Bryan to an out and out babyface by the end. WWE is now in the fortunate position that other than a Raw in New Jersey on the road to WrestleMania, there are no other towns booked that scream out that Reigns will receive the type of reaction he did in Philadelphia. He has come out of the last two Raws in a far stronger position than he found himself at the end of that dreadfully booked Rumble match.

I fully expect the outcome of Reigns vs Bryan to ultimately still lead to a one on one encounter between Reigns and Lesnar at WrestleMania, though a three-way could still prevail should WWE decide to book an unsatisfying or inconclusive finish at Fast Lane. It has made what would have likely been a throwaway show, now an absolute must see event and should help with new subscribers leading into the Showcase of the Immortals in March. The match with Bryan is just what Reigns needs right now also, a strong showing will get some of the fans who are on his back more on his side. His promos must be kept short and not cartoon like – they should look at the blueprint of what WWE did with Dave Batista in 2005, make Reigns the cool killer, not 2015’s Cena-lite with goofy promos.

Going back a week, the blizzard that hit the north-east was an absolute blessing for WWE as not only did they not have to present a show in front of a live crowd following the negative reaction to the Rumble, they also had the chance to offer something altogether different. That lead to one of the most enjoyable Raws in recent memory, with excellent segments involving Rollins and Lesnar (Rollins pushing the chair down and Lesnar’s reaction was hilarious) and later a superb sit down with Reigns and Lesnar with Paul Heyman pulling the strings. This refreshing nature of this show proved again how much some kind of format change is needed on Raw. The focus doesn’t always have to be an endless repeat of the same meaningless matches, providing more background to the characters in different situations and allowing developing stars to cut promos without the crowd always involved could be a big help to getting new stars over.


Bray Wyatt’s strong recent push and promos seem to suggest that the planned Undertaker encounter at WrestleMania is absolutely happening. I’m sure WWE see this as ‘giving a rub’ to Wyatt but what will surely be another high-profile loss for him on pay per view won’t really help him at all. The same said can be said for Rusev and Cena, while there is more of an argument to suggest that the Undertaker shouldn’t lose two consecutive WrestleMania’s given his special attraction status, I really can’t see any reason why at this stage in his career Cena losing to Rusev shouldn’t be the result at WrestleMania. While they are currently slotted into face each other at Fast Lane, I suspect this will ultimately lead to a rematch and the result at WrestleMania is the one that is all important.

Elsewhere on the card, there was the tease for a Randy Orton return on Raw and I fully expect him to be up against Seth Rollins come the show in San Jose. Rollins showed in the excellent main event of Raw why at present he is the best full-time all-rounder in the company and he should be kept strong in the match against Orton.

The Triple H podcast with Steve Austin was a largely sterile, though entertaining, affair. As he did on the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ DVD, Triple H came across as likeable and amusingly whenever any tough question came up regarding booking he would be quick to confirm that Vince still held the ultimate say so. If NXT is anything to go by then the future of WWE is hopefully in safe hands, though that future is likely some way away. The third hour of Raw being such a problem to write is an interesting one, that third hour damages the product to such a significant affect that it reduces television ratings and possibly live attendance and Network numbers as a result. Any form of television program, whether it be drama or sports, want to leave their viewer satisfied and wanting more. While Raw sometimes does deliver a decent to excellent three hours of entertainment, it is so long that I doubt too many people are absolutely craving more product given how much they can consume for free with Smackdown also a couple of nights later at two hours.

WWE will have to consider at some point the effect that third hour is having and whether the additional ad revenue is worth it, however until ratings take even more of a desperate slide I can’t see a change being made.

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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