This may be the bumpiest road to Wrestlemania ever
Written by Brandon Lewis on February 28, 2019
Photo Credit: metlifestaduim.com
When Roman Reigns announced he was battling leukemia for the second time in 11 years on the October 22 of Monday Night RAW, all Wrestlemania 35 plans were thrown out the window according to ringsidenews.com. Since Reigns’ announcement, WWE ratings have gone down the tube, including a record low number in December because the product was arguably unwatchable. With Roman Reigns out along with John Cena, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt and others, WWE did not have anybody who could carry the company, and it showed. The record low ratings caused the McMahon family shakeup era we are in now.
The “new era” was presented on TV by the McMahons the night after TLC in December in a way that made it sound like they were going to actually start listening to the WWE universe. For the first month, they did just that, and the Royal Rumble was a fantastic Pay-Per-View(PPV) with great storytelling throughout the show. As I wrote on medium.com, the show was one where the whole family could enjoy. Seth Rollins overcame The Monster Braun Strowman to win the men’s royal rumble, Becky Lynch forced her way into the women’s royal rumble, winning the whole thing after losing earlier in the night to Auska for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, The Miz and Shane McMahon were able to conquer The Bar to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles, Erick Rowan returned as Daniel Bryan’s heavy, and Finn Balor took Brock Lesnar to the limit for the Universal Title.
However, since the rumble, the product once again became stale. The RAW and Smackdown LIVE(SD) after the rumble were both bad shows. The build up to the Elimination Chamber PPV on February 17 was one of the worst builds to a PPV in my estimation in a long time. It was too predictable. While the chamber matches themselves were fantastic, the rest of the show felt blah.
After Elimination Chamber, the theme of boring continued on WWE TV, and WWE tried to fix the issue, even hiring a new creative team according to Bleacher Report.
WWE may have fixed their issues though once and for all on this past week’s RAW.
Roman Reigns entered a WWE arena for the first time in four months Monday in Atlanta to give the WWE Universe an update on his health. Amazingly, Reigns announced he is in remission, and that the big dog is back! Truly an amazing story, considering back in October nobody knew if we would ever see Roman Reigns back in a WWE ring again. Reigns even got physical later in the night, saving his Shield brother Dean Ambrose from a beat down, an angle that possibly could set up a Shield reunion and Reigns’ return match at Fastlane March 10 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Not only did Reigns return Monday, but so did The Animal Batista, attacking his former Evolution mate Ric Flair before Flair could celebrate his 70th birthday LIVE on RAW. The former group leader, now COO of WWE Triple H, ran to the back to check up on Flair, and Batista disappeared. This angle was used to set up a Wrestlemania match between Triple H and Batista, a match that was rumored to be scheduled for Wrestlemania back in October, but it was in jeopardy after Triple H tore his triceps while working in a tag team match at WWE Crown Jewel.
Not only did Reigns and Batista return on RAW, but Kevin Owens and Matt Hardy returned on SD. Owens was handpicked by Vince McMahon to face Daniel Bryan at Fastlane for the WWE Championship over Kofi Kingston, and Hardy helped his brother Jeff defeat The Bar.
With these four returns, Wrestlemania 35, a show which once looked like it was going to be one of the worst in history, is turning into a decent show in my opinion. John Cena and Romans Reigns are in the plans for Wrestlemania according to cagesideseats.com. Kingston may win the WWE Championship from Bryan. Rollins will probably burn down suplex city. Miz and Shane may have a match. The Hardy Boyz should have a role in the show along with Owens. Triple H and Batista should have a classic match that will send Batista off into the sunset. Kurt Angle may also be wrestling his final match.
So, while the Undertaker may not be in the Wrestlemania plans for the first time in two decades, WWE it least has some draw power they did not have a week ago that will help Wrestlemania and the product in general down the line.
Two years ago, WWE tagged Wrestlemania as the ultimate thrill ride, and this year’s build for Wrestlemania has definitely been a roller coaster. I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I cannot wait till April 7 in MetLife Stadium in New jersey.
Brandon Lewis is a sports coordinator for blacksquirrelradio. He hosts a show on blacksquirrelradio.com called Brandon’s World on Saturdays from 10 am-12 pm.