State of the (WWE) Universe: The Alpha And The Omega
Throughout this piece, keep in mind the post-Wrestlemania article is usually one of the most non-traditional of the year. It's like bizarro world—it praises the people it normally criticizes, and criticizes the people it normally praises. EIGHT SCREENS LIKE TO HAVE FUN, MAGGLE!
Over the course of three days, I watched 13 hours of professional wrestling.
(Just for reference, that's about the same amount of time it takes to fly from Los Angeles to Istanbul.)
With all that content to recap, condense, and comment on, it took a little longer than I would have liked to write this post. But as Rim would say after hearing Jon Taffer say it a thousand times during a marathon session of Bar Rescue, "Don't embrace excuses, embrace solutions."
With that valuable bit of second-hand motivation in mind, let's break down the major moments from last week.
NXT Takeover: Dallas
If you're not watching NXT's Takeover events, #whatareyouwaitingfor?
Oh, we're done with that? Sorry. Old habits...
The combination of WWE's ability to put together great video packages before a match and Corey Grave's commentary means you really don't even need to follow the weekly episodes on the WWE Network to get the effect of a match at Takeover.
For the sake of time, I'll keep this part brief and cover the biggest moment of the night: Shinsuke Nakamura's debut.
There are two reactions you can have to this guy: bewilderment or bewilderment and awe.
His match with Sami Zayn was an awesome introduction for me, and the WWE Universe, to "strong style"—a quicker, harder-hitting version of wrestling popular in Japan. Whether it sticks in the PG-land of WWE's main roster remains to be seen.
Wrestlemania 32: Quick Hits
I get that it’s the Wrestlemania theme, but WWE could you maybe cut down just a tad on the number of times you play that goddamn Flo Rida song?
The United States Championship is totally irrelevant. It doesn’t help when it’s being fought over on the pre-show.
Looks like Brie and Daniel are going to be working on that family sooner rather than later. Brie officially retired after her match on Sunday.
Just when I thought New Day couldn’t get any better, they jumped out of a 20-foot tall box of Booty-O’s in full Saiyan armor.
- Shawn Michaels looked good, you guys. Really good. Like "Is He Coming Back For Another Match Sometime In The Near Future?"-good.
I’m still trying to figure out how a no-holds-barred "street fight" between Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose failed to be memorable or remarkable in any way.
Surprised that Undertaker beat Shane McMahon without any kind of interference or wonky finish. Thought this match took a loooong time to make something happen.
Everything about Shaq in the Battle Royal was amazing from entering to “Panda” by Desiigner to his post-match challenge for the Big Show.
Why was that segment with The Rock SOOOO LONG? And don’t try to defend that flamethrower shit. It was stupid. (Ed. note: the flamethrower was tight.)
Felt like Stephanie couldn’t decide if she was bitchy corporate boss or ruthless queen of a desolate wasteland.
State of the Intercontinental Championship
No one did a bigger 180 on Zack Ryder than ya boi.
When he grabbed the Intercontinental Championship belt during the seven-man ladder match at Wrestlemania, and his dad ran into the ring to celebrate, I was all-in. His interview later in the show about how much the title meant to him, and the photo he shared of himself and Razor Ramon was just icing on the cake.
Alas, all good things must come to an end
Just 24 hours later on RAW, Ryder lost the IC title to The Miz. The angle involved Miz's wife, Maryse, attacking Zack's dad at ringside and causing a distraction that Miz was able to capitalize on.
Ryder invoked his rematch clause on Smackdown but failed to recapture the title. I'm hoping (but not holding my breath) this storyline isn't finished.
In any case, Zack...it was fun while it lasted.
State of the ***Women’s*** Division
I don’t need to tell you how big of a deal it is that WWE eliminated the term "Divas." A quick Google news search for “WWE Women’s Championship” returns just shy of half a million results.
Suffice it to say, we now live in an era where women's matches are more than capable of stealing the show from the men.
State of the World Heavyweight Championship
After about six-and-a-half hours, we got the main event of Wrestlemania. And our reward was an okay match between Triple H and Roman Reigns.
Reigns picked up the win without much incident. Sure, there was the spear to Stephanie and the sledgehammer, but neither spot ended up being much more than a mild annoyance for Roman.
Come RAW on Monday, I was anxious to hear what Roman had to say about his win. When he appeared at the top of the second hour, the crowd delivered the kind of warm welcome we all expected.
It looks like they're going to try Roman in the "tweener" role for a while judging by his demeanor on Monday, and it's already a huge improvement. Methinks putting a smug, overconfident Roman against A.J. Style (the new #1 contender, as of Monday) at the next PPV is WWE's way of testing the waters for both Roman's full heel turn and A.J.'s eventual title reign.
New Season, New Faces
Wrestlemania is unique in that it serves as both a season finale and season premiere for WWE programming.
There's extra emphasis on the premiere portion this year, as we saw at least six recent NXT stars make their main roster debut shortly before, during, or after Wrestlemania 32.
- Sami Zayn officially said “goodbye” to NXT after his match Friday night. He and Kevin Owens are already slated to face each other at Payback in May.
- Baron Corbin is coming onto the main roster HOT. He wasn’t even in my top 5 people I thought would win the battle royal on Sunday, then he gets a singles match and a bit of mic time on RAW. I like the guy, but I’m not confident in his ability to consistently deliver entertaining matches yet. Hoping he proves me wrong.
- Apollo Crews looks, moves and acts like a primo athlete. His standing moonsault is a thing of beauty. If there’s one criticism I have of Crews, it’s that he comes off very generic in most of his promos. Though that’s just based on what I’ve seen of him in NXT.
- Enzo and Big Cass. So, I was a little premature with my prediction from back in February, but they’re here now. They had an AMAZING promo on Monday. I expect these guys to be chasing the Tag Team titles sooner rather than later. WWE’s got a big moneymaker in these two.
- The Vaudevillains made their main roster debut on Smackdown, which immediately lessens the impact. They’re a couple great workers, but the average WWE fan isn’t going to be able to get past the gimmick. Expect them to find more success than the Ascension, but not sure they’re going to be able to hang with teams like the New Day and Enzo and Cass. |ES|
All images courtesy of WWE.com.
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