When WWE messes up, it’s colossal. When they get things right, it’s right. WrestleMania 30 was one to ponder; so many mixed emotions and WWE knew how to get a reaction out of the crowd for better and worse. They almost broke the internet when Austin, Rock, and Hogan shared the ring together. Yes! Daniel Bryan has the title and as of now he still does, *phew*. We’re also now living in a post Undertaker streak world. If you were watching when Brock Lesnar got the three count after that third F-5, you’re first instinct was to cry foul and toss the TV out the window. There was no miracle restart to be had, no loophole that would get us to 22-0. I still have yet to find a cat meme to express the feelings after that result. But like time, we’ll move on and ask where do we go from here?
Typically WrestleMania marks the end of the WWE year and the post Mania RAW is kinda like opening day at Dodger Stadium. Rowdy and interactive crowd, lots of drunks who’ve been boozing since 6am that day, maybe eve some parking lot carne asada. Sometimes it’s a great show, sometimes it’s Vince McMahon laughing at us from his ivory sex palace. This one was a good one, though but only one of the above points got any kind of direction on the post Mania RAW.
It appears that the Daniel Bryan vs the Authority feud will continue, even going so far as to include an Evolution reunion between Batista, Orton, and Triple H. On RAW, Bryan and Triple H were suppose to have a match for Bryan’s newly won title. WWE played with everyone’s emotions like a child playing a video game. Bryan got a hell of a beating before the match even started, with last night’s Undertaker result it wasn’t far fetched that WWE would use up its good will and take the title away from Bryan so soon. Instead, not only did he NOT drop the belt to Hunter, WWE found a way to keep the Shield together for at least one more PPV. With the Shield being “over” as faces it only makes sense for the company to move some merch before they inevitably break them up. The next PPV, Extreme Rules, is also looking like it can be salvaged with a 4-on-4 match between Evolution with Kane vs. Bryan and The Shield (I’d like to be the first to name the faction “The Justice Beard”). It’ll be refreshing to have the first post Mania PPV not be a recycling of its main event. Though when you bottom line it, Bryan’s reign probably won’t last too long. WWE has it in their genes that there are only a handful of guys who can have a good title run story; Stone Cold, was the last to do it on his own. CM Punk had the longest run with the title but he also had a lack of talent that was over enough to take it from him. If the Yes movement shows even the slightest hint of going stale, WWE will see that Bryan’s story is in chasing the title and not possessing it.
WWE’s biggest challenge going forward is with the post streak Undertaker. Now I’m with everyone on this; making Lesnar the guy to conquer the streak was a bad call. One, the match itself was slow and unmemorable when there have been far superior ones even in the last few Manias’. Two, there isn’t much you can do with Lesnar post WrestleMania. His contract limits his appearances and it now looks like he’ll be off television at least till Summer Slam season. The audience can deal with the death of a major and even beloved character on TV or in comic books so long as there’s a payoff. It’s hard to see any possibilities with the Undertaker only wrestling once a year because of his age, and having a rematch next year with a history reversing- time travel implication would be too far fetched even for sports entertainment. The only character who benefits from Undertaker’s WrestleMania loss is Paul Heyman, which is looking more and more like he could put Cesaro in an even better position, maybe even a title run. Where does Sting fit in all of this? Many of the IWC were waiting for some sign that WWE had secured the last piece of the WCW empire, bringing in Sting to set up a retirement at WrestleMania 31. But it was not to be, at least for now. Plus, creative will have to stay up a few nights trying to figure out how to do a Sting vs. Undertaker match that will still have some dire stakes.
Last night could have also been the WWE’s stance on CM Punk’s future. We always knew that no matter who leaves WWE, it goes on. But like most of you, I held out some semblance of hope that either he would change his mind or this was some sort of work by the company. At WrestleMania having the Undertaker lose to a part-time Lesnar was a rebuttal to everything Punk was so outspoken against when it came to putting part-time wrestlers in main event spots. Then having Bryan come out on top in the spot Phil Brooks worked to get to but never quite reached could be seen as the final argument in the case.
Even though this weekend was a mixed bag of emotions, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
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